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New bikes, and the creeping cost of entry to our favorite sport

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New bikes, and the creeping cost of entry to our favorite sport

Old 04-01-21, 11:05 AM
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MRT2
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New bikes, and the creeping cost of entry to our favorite sport

This is a variation on a theme I see from time to time. I am not really concerned for myself, as I have a nice bike that I have invested in new wheels, and have otherwise maintained over the years.
I have seen a creep up in new bike prices in recent years. Where as if you asked me 5 or 6 years ago, what it the minimum price to pay for a good basic bike for al around use, such as neighborhood ride, MUPs, light off road, or even group or charity rides of 50 miles or less, I would have said, $400 to $500. Today, I would say $700 to $800. And I don't really like telling people this. Often a beginner will be looking for not one, but maybe two bikes. One for themselves, and one for a spouse. So where as in the past, I would have said, you can probably get started for $1,000 or less, now that price is almost $2,000, for two people.

So what happened? Is it tariffs? Corporate greed? Demand for bikes boosted by the pandemic while supply chain got interrupted last year?
Hard to say.
One thing I have noticed with the big brands is pushing disc brakes, which is pushing up the price of the entry level, while leaving the budget bikes without disc brakes also seriously under spec'd. For example, the Trek FX1 retails for $500, but has a 7 speed freewheel. Not so long ago, you could get an FX 7.2 with 8 speed freehub for around $500, and Giant made an 8 speed Escape 2 for $460, and you could even get a carbon fork 9 speed Escape 1 for $650.
Today, if you want an 8 speed Trek or Giant (or any other major brand), you have to get one with disc brakes, and it will cost you $700. If you want carbon fork, or 9 speed, you are talking about $800 to $900.

I find this frustrating not so much for a bike enthusiast like myself, but for those looking to get into the sport. The entry level price seems high for what you are getting, especially compared to just a few years ago. It would literally cost the major brands a couple of bucks per unit to offer a $500 bike with an 8 speed freehub and cassette over the barely better than department store bike 7 speed freewheel. And, for $700, I hate to seem like a Luddite, but better wheels, and drivetrain seem like a better thing to offer the customer at that price point than disc brakes.

So to put a finer point on this, I think $500 is a reasonable entry point into the sport for a good, basic bike. But is it too much to ask that the manufacturers at least equip said bike with a freehub, and decent drivetrain components?
Anybody else have thoughts on this?

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Old 04-01-21, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
Not just for the entry, for all of us! My Madone is a 2014 ($2100), perfect condition as are all my bikes being older than my Madone. Well maintained and smooth running.

But I looked last year before the virus and the cost of a Madone was $5000+. I thought about getting another bike just to add to the stable but forget about it!

My honest opinion is corporate greed, as it is in most other industries as well.
They are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg at this rate. I used to be an audiophile, but they kept raising prices and at a certain point, I just stopped buying gear. It was one thing to buy a stereo that cost 50 or 60% more than a mass produced junky stereo, another matter to spend thousands of dollars on just a turntable, or tonearm.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:18 AM
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I agree with you. I've been around and riding bikes for just about as long as I could walk. The cost of today's bikes, especially when you consider the level of components which come stock, seems way high to me. Our mountain bikes, which weren't considered top of the line when purchased, came with Alivio as the components. My wife's Kona came with Alivio and LX. Our LeMond road bikes-Reno model-came with Tiagra components, 105 rear der. decent Bontrager wheels and crankset, and carbon seatpost and fork. None of these bikes were expensive at the time, but when I look at today's bikes, those level of components only come on their more expensive bikes. The money that is being asked for bikes with Tourney, Acera, or Altus derailleurs, and other similar grade components just seems out of line to me. Yes, inflation pays a part, but still seems you get less "bang for the buck" these days.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Anybody else have thoughts on this?
Okay, I'll bite.

About ten years ago, I took a deep dive into the low-priced city bike market in order to buy about three dozen bikes for a rental fleet. We ended up with a name-brand SS bike that came with fenders, chain guard, and basket and retailed for $550. We thought that was the best option. Another $100 would've gotten a 3 speed igh, another $200 (or so) an 8 speed igh.

Just with a quick google search, I can come up with this and this, which look to be pretty solid entry-level bikes at very reasonable prices. They do have 7 speed freewheels; you seem dismissive of that, but I think the sort of consumers you are describing don't care. Rather, they will think, "Wow! It's got 21 gears!" And it will serve them well. (Don't forget that you are a cyclist, so you understand the difference between a freewheel and a freehub. Consumers interested in this price point don't know and won't care.)

By the way, the "corporate greed" argument doesn't really hold water, as the market for new bikes is pretty competitive in an economic sense: many producers, low entry barriers, etc. Competition prevents massive markups. Perhaps someone from the industry can tell us whether I am correct, but I'll bet my lunch that markup percentages haven't changed significantly in a long time.

tl;dr: I think there are plenty of reasonable options. Just got to hunt them down.

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Old 04-01-21, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
I agree with you. I've been around and riding bikes for just about as long as I could walk. The cost of today's bikes, especially when you consider the level of components which come stock, seems way high to me. Our mountain bikes, which weren't considered top of the line when purchased, came with Alivio as the components. My wife's Kona came with Alivio and LX. Our LeMond road bikes-Reno model-came with Tiagra components, 105 rear der. decent Bontrager wheels and crankset, and carbon seatpost and fork. None of these bikes were expensive at the time, but when I look at today's bikes, those level of components only come on their more expensive bikes. The money that is being asked for bikes with Tourney, Acera, or Altus derailleurs, and other similar grade components just seems out of line to me. Yes, inflation pays a part, but still seems you get less "bang for the buck" these days.
IMO, there is no excuse for putting Tourney level components on any bike shop quality bike. Acera is better than it used to be, and Altus is OK for entry level. But seriously, they can do better for $700.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
My honest opinion is corporate greed, as it is in most other industries as well.
Agreed. Look at the auto industry. You cant even touch a decent car for less than $30k now. I feel so sorry for all of the younger people who are forking over a weeks pay or more per month just to support their transportation costs. Not exactly apples-to-apples alignment with the thread topic, but I guess I'm trying to illustrate that this sort of thing is happening in every market. Companies are instilling value-added (supposedly) to their products in order to gain more revenue. In cars again, do we really need all of the electronic garbage they feed us? Do we need lane departure sensing and all that? I don't feel like we do, but at the same time, its becoming hard to find a car that doesn't have it. Manufacturers are adding disc brakes to their bikes and charging more for them. See the pattern repeating itself? They know that if you want to be a-peddlin', then you'll be a-payin'.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Okay, I'll bite.

About ten years ago, I took a deep dive into the low-priced city bike market in order to buy about three dozen bikes for a rental fleet. We ended up with a name-brand SS bike that came with fenders, chain guard, and basket and retailed for $550. We thought that was the best option. Another $100 would've gotten a 3 speed igh, another $200 (or so) an 8 speed igh.

Just with a quick google search, I can come up with this and this, which look to be pretty solid entry-level bikes at very reasonable prices. They do have 7 speed freewheels; you seem dismissive of that, but I think the sort of consumers you are describing don't care. Rather, they will think, "Wow! It's got 21 gears!" And it will serve them well. (Don't forget that you are a cyclist, so you understand the difference between a freewheel and a freehub. Consumers interested in this price point don't know and won't care.)

By the way, the "corporate greed" argument doesn't really hold water, as the market for new bikes is pretty competitive in an economic sense: many producers, low entry barriers, etc. Competition prevents massive markups. Perhaps someone from the industry can tell us whether I am correct, but I'll bet my lunch that markup percentages haven't changed significantly in a long time.

tl;dr: I think there are plenty of reasonable options. Just got to hunt them down.
$700 for a bike with Tourney level components is a rip off. Even Tourney at a $500 price point isn't great, IMO. I am sorry but Specialized is just being greedy. And while I get it that the consumers maybe don't know, I think what they are doing is pushing people up to higher price points. My thought is, they could offer better quality, with a different trade off. Better drivetrain components at the entry level. Better Wheels and tires at the next level. If you need to save money, go with V brakes rather than discs. That is my thought.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by J.Higgins View Post
Agreed. Look at the auto industry. You cant even touch a decent car for less than $30k now. I feel so sorry for all of the younger people who are forking over a weeks pay or more per month just to support their transportation costs. Not exactly apples-to-apples alignment with the thread topic, but I guess I'm trying to illustrate that this sort of thing is happening in every market. Companies are instilling value-added (supposedly) to their products in order to gain more revenue. In cars again, do we really need all of the electronic garbage they feed us? Do we need lane departure sensing and all that? I don't feel like we do, but at the same time, its becoming hard to find a car that doesn't have it. Manufacturers are adding disc brakes to their bikes and charging more for them. See the pattern repeating itself? They know that if you want to be a-peddlin', then you'll be a-payin'.
Maybe it comes down to marketing. Disc brakes look cool, but they add a lot to the cost. Better drivetrain components, or 8 speed instead of 7, or a freehub instead of freewheel are things you maybe need to educate a consumer on.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:31 AM
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If only there was a mechanism that countered all this corporate greed like, you know, competition? Nah ... there's no room for that.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:42 AM
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I bought my first road bike in 2010, after extensive hand-wringing and coming to understand the market pricing. Adjusting for inflation, you're now getting better bikes for less money.

But yeah - down with Big Bike!
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Old 04-01-21, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
If only there was a mechanism that countered all this corporate greed like, you know, competition? Nah ... there's no room for that.
If you believe we are living in the best of all possible worlds.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I bought my first road bike in 2010, after extensive hand-wringing and coming to understand the market pricing. Adjusting for inflation, you're now getting better bikes for less money.

But yeah - down with Big Bike!
I gave real world examples of how you get less quality for more money today as compared with just 5 years ago.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:57 AM
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Oh no normal inflation is doing the same thing it always does and has done since the beginning of capitalism. The horror. Things change over the years and prices will generally go up.

Also disc brakes are not that expensive these days plenty of low end options even in hydraulic. Yes I agree that tourney shouldn't be on bikes in shops but it is. Also 8 speed isn't that great. The 8 speed era was late 80s to early 90s for mountain bikes it continued to 1998. You can get Tourney level 8 speed it isn't good but it is 8 speed.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by J.Higgins View Post
Agreed. Look at the auto industry. You cant even touch a decent car for less than $30k now.
Depends on your definition of "a decent car". Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima.... All start between 22K and 25K.
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Old 04-01-21, 11:58 AM
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Shouting at clouds ...
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Old 04-01-21, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by J.Higgins View Post
Agreed. Look at the auto industry. You cant even touch a decent car for less than $30k now. I feel so sorry for all of the younger people who are forking over a weeks pay or more per month just to support their transportation costs. Not exactly apples-to-apples alignment with the thread topic, but I guess I'm trying to illustrate that this sort of thing is happening in every market. Companies are instilling value-added (supposedly) to their products in order to gain more revenue. In cars again, do we really need all of the electronic garbage they feed us? Do we need lane departure sensing and all that? I don't feel like we do, but at the same time, its becoming hard to find a car that doesn't have it. Manufacturers are adding disc brakes to their bikes and charging more for them. See the pattern repeating itself? They know that if you want to be a-peddlin', then you'll be a-payin'.
Cars aren't necessarily a great example here - many of the features that make modern cars larger, more complex and more expensive are federally mandated and out of the hands of the manufacturers - anti-locks, traction control, airbags everywhere, rear cameras, crash protection etc etc. And for the featured that aren't required - AWD, for example, the industry has done a good job convincing the consumer that venturing out without essentially an all-terrain combat vehicle will result in instant death for themselves and their families. I'm pretty sure that in less stringent markets like India, for example, you could buy a cheap car with none of these features for under $10k, but you couldn't sell it in any Western market, and very few drivers would venture into this country's roads in such a vehicle, even if they could acquire one.
Bicycle are different, in that only the most basic features are required.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Oh no normal inflation is doing the same thing it always does and has done since the beginning of capitalism. The horror. Things change over the years and prices will generally go up.

Also disc brakes are not that expensive these days plenty of low end options even in hydraulic. Yes I agree that tourney shouldn't be on bikes in shops but it is. Also 8 speed isn't that great. The 8 speed era was late 80s to early 90s for mountain bikes it continued to 1998. You can get Tourney level 8 speed it isn't good but it is 8 speed.
I agree, and yet, Trek, Specialized, Giant, all sell 7 speed bikes.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
I gave real world examples of how you get less quality for more money today as compared with just 5 years ago.
You gave me examples, but I don't know that they're good examples - those kinds of sleds aren't exactly in my wheelhouse, but knowing the road bike market, and how much it's improved, I would be surprised if you weren't overlooking something. Or multiple somethings.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
You gave me examples, but I don't know that they're good examples - those kinds of sleds aren't exactly in my wheelhouse, but knowing the road bike market, and how much it's improved, I would be surprised if you weren't overlooking something. Or multiple somethings.
I am not. I surveyed all the major brands, and a lot of the minor ones.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:13 PM
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MRT2 seems to think that good entry level bikes should cost less simply because he thinks they should. I'm not sure that is how it works.

MRT2 even identifies, in his first post, some factors that may be driving costs (and hence prices) up right now, but seems to have already forgotten about them. Even though such factors have been widely reported and discussed here at bf.

A few of us have given counterexamples, but they seem to have gone unnoticed.

I'm recalling Microeconomics 201: if a market is reasonably competitive (and as I explained above in post #5, the new bike market does meet the description), then prices will not rise to extraordinary levels (relative to production cost) for long - because of competition.

But instead of using solid theory and empiricism, I guess it's more fun to pin it on greedy capitalists.

Carry on.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
MRT2 seems to think that good entry level bikes should cost less simply because he thinks they should. I'm not sure that is how it works.

MRT2 even identifies, in his first post, some factors that may be driving costs (and hence prices) up right now, but seems to have already forgotten about them. Even though such factors have been widely reported and discussed here at bf.

A few of us have given counterexamples, but they seem to have gone unnoticed.

I'm recalling Microeconomics 201: if a market is reasonably competitive (and as I explained above in post #5, the new bike market does meet the description), then prices will not rise to extraordinary levels (relative to production cost) for long - because of competition.

But instead of using solid theory and empiricism, I guess it's more fun to pin it on greedy capitalists.

Carry on.
Give me a break. If you read my original post, my concern isn't for myself. I will pay what I have to for the quality I want. So this isn't about me. And it isn't about blaming it on greedy capitalists, though that might be a factor here. This is about those looking to get into this game. And no, the Trek and Specialized you linked to are not counter examples. They are indeed examples of my original point.
As for the economics lesson, thank you, but I do not believe that markets are perfect. There are supply interruptions, and there is short term profit seeking that may hurt the industry in the long run.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:26 PM
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Maybe this thread should be merged with this one:

https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...sic-bikes.html
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Old 04-01-21, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Give me a break. If you read my original post, my concern isn't for myself. I will pay what I have to for the quality I want. So this isn't about me. And it isn't about blaming it on greedy capitalists, though that might be a factor here. This is about those looking to get into this game. And no, the Trek and Specialized you linked to are not counter examples. They are indeed examples of my original point.
As for the economics lesson, thank you, but I do not believe that markets are perfect. There are supply interruptions, and there is short term profit seeking that may hurt the industry in the long run.
I never stated that this is about what you want to pay for a bike. Read my posts.

This line sure makes it seem like you are indeed blaming it on greedy capitalists: "$700 for a bike with Tourney level components is a rip off. Even Tourney at a $500 price point isn't great, IMO. I am sorry but Specialized is just being greedy."

I never claimed that markets are perfect, only that the new bike market is "pretty competitive." (Read my posts.) I also noted that YOU noted that there are supply disruptions right now - disruptions which raise costs for the entire supply chain and hence drive up prices. (Read you own post.)
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Old 04-01-21, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
I agree with you. I've been around and riding bikes for just about as long as I could walk. The cost of today's bikes, especially when you consider the level of components which come stock, seems way high to me. Our mountain bikes, which weren't considered top of the line when purchased, came with Alivio as the components. My wife's Kona came with Alivio and LX. Our LeMond road bikes-Reno model-came with Tiagra components, 105 rear der. decent Bontrager wheels and crankset, and carbon seatpost and fork. None of these bikes were expensive at the time, but when I look at today's bikes, those level of components only come on their more expensive bikes. The money that is being asked for bikes with Tourney, Acera, or Altus derailleurs, and other similar grade components just seems out of line to me. Yes, inflation pays a part, but still seems you get less "bang for the buck" these days.
Until a few years ago, it seemed like the bike industry was pushing more and more features down to lower price points. Carbon forks, 9 speed drivetrains, for example, were obtainable for less then $700. Then all of a sudden, things go the other way. And we are really only talking about a couple of years.
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Old 04-01-21, 12:30 PM
  #25  
Koyote
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Maybe this thread should be merged with this one:

https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...sic-bikes.html
Shoot, I initially wondered if the two OP's are the same person. The two threads are eerily similar.
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