Does a More Expensive Bike Make a Better Cyclist?


You’re out riding, and you see a guy (or girl) on a pimped out $6,000 road bike….what’s the first thing that goes through your head?  Probably a few different things (and feel free to let me know what those things are with a comment below), but one possible thought is “man, this person must be a really good cyclist to have a bike like that”.

Possibly….but it could also just mean that he or she has a lot of money available to sink into a bike.

Okay, so lets flip it and put a really good cyclist on a cheap no-name road bike….what happens?  A lot of discomfort, perhaps….but I’m thinking that they’re still going to kick my butt as long as it’s in good working condition.

There is no doubt that buying a good quality bike is worth the money and will alleviate a lifetime of unnecessary repairs and grief.  But once you buy a good quality bike, what is the increased performance/amount spent graph look like?

I debate this question quite often.  Maybe I use it as a way to justify the thought of me walking into a bike shop and dropping a few thousand on a bike, so that I can upgrade to a new one.  Maybe it really would help with my performance.  It’s a tough call.  I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this one.

What I do know, is that Canadians are buying less bikes, but ones of better quality.  Momentum Magazine has listed that:

Companies that supply bicycles to independent Canadian bike shops have reported an increase in overall sales for 2009, but a decrease in the number of bikes sold. Combined with a 23 per cent spike in the average price of bikes that were sold to retailers, the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC) says this indicates a trend towards consumers buying higher quality bikes in the independent bike shop sector.

It looks like Canadians have got the first part right, and realize that it makes good sense to buy quality… where are the studies showing me performance vs price?

Okay, Alleycat Racers, it’s your turn to voice your opinion.  Please leave a comment with your name and race number…but before you click the ‘Yehuda Moon’ image to go to the next checkpoint, let us know what you think. Does a more expensive bike make a better cyclist?

Enjoy Your Ride

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  • jollytin

    jollytin #5353

  • jatravartid


  • Ludgero

    It depends on your ego…

    Ludgero #7678

  • microzen


    A better cyclist makes a more expensive bicycle worthwhile.

  • SVC

    Of course not! It’s how you feel riding the bike that matters

  • Gary #5039

    No, but it may make cycling easier and faster.

  • Kendall

    Hey Darryl!

    No, a more expensive bike doesn’t make you a better cyclist, getting out and riding your bike – whatever it may be – makes you a better cyclist


  • AuntN

    probably if you’re a pro racer it might help you a bit. i’m not a pro but would like to try an expensive bike & find out! #9556

  • Luke Wilson

    I don’t know, I am broke

  • Jason

    Nope. It’s all about the rider. #3175

  • Revolutionary mama

    Some of the best riders I know ride old crappy bikes. But they ride everyday! So I say no. expensive bike does not make a better rider.

    Revolutionary mama is racer #1873

  • Mr. Wakiki


    putting the crank in cran\ky

  • Sean

    A custom fit is one thing that costs more (and is only found on higher end bicycles) and can improve the performance of those with non-standard bodies…mainly comfort over long distances though. And I’ve always believed in more expensive components when reliability and longevity come into play. But I think it’s more about the cyclist moving the bicycle as opposed to the bicycle moving the cyclist.

  • Tony


    damn this one made me think

  • EPIC! Stratton

    NOT AT ALL! I think that better bikes can make people cycle more, or help them preform better, but you can give a $10,000 bicycle to someone and still not make them ride more than around the block.

    • EPIC! Stratton

      oh, and EPIC! Stratton #1904

  • Rudi Riet

    No, it doesn’t. Sure, there are a lot of very talented, courteous, skilled cyclists on pricey bikes, but there are a greater number who show the same talent, courtesy and skill on less expensive machines, from box store pig metal contraptions, to junk yard salvage and everything in between.

    Alley cat races often happen on less expensive bikes, and many racers in these events are great cyclists.

    Rudi Riet, #2975

  • Jesse

    #8352 a more expensive bike makes me a shinier cyclist

  • welshcyclist


  • shanerh

    If by being a better cyclist you mean “riding more and having more fun” then yes. I’m able to ride for all my errands including hauling my kids around and we have fun doing it! A cargo bike is pretty expensive but I’m a better biker because of owning one- i.e. I get to ride more and have fun doing it!

    shanerh #9708

  • HoppyOkapi

    Buy me a new bike, and I’ll let you know!

    • HoppyOkapi


  • Opus the Poet #899

    Up to a certain point a more expensive bike is better, it gets you out of BSO, past that and it just makes the ride a little bit more enjoyable.

  • locus

    locus #2537

    Nice site!

  • Alex Clark

    I use what I have, but having a quiver of bikes to choose from for any situation would be ideal. My bike will do it all, it’s just not the best at it.
    Alex Clark

  • Derrick

    Derrick S. #226

    A more expensive bike only really means a literally greater investment in their ride. Those of us who ride cheaper bikes make up for that investment in riding time. Both are great and the distinction is not really that important to me.

  • Blue Fish


    For the very small market that makes what I ride (a cargo trike), yes, the more expensive ride is better (the Nihola costs 3 times what the model from China does, but it is much more than three times better.)

    I think it depends on what you need/want in a ride…

  • ScottPost

    #9928 ScottPost
    I think sometimes the expense keeps people away from the joy of cycling. “Gotta have this,” or “I can’t be a serious cyclist unless…” Desire and joy go a long way in creating a lifelong love of cycling.

  • cb

    Thanks for the checkpoint! CB, #2082

  • Bryan Lewis

    The goodness of a bike is mostly how well it fits you. Cost is secondary. When shopping for a bike, try to avoid looking at the price tag until after the test ride.


  • Patrick Kitto

    the price tag on the bike has no affect on the cyclist. more expensive may mean lighter, which will climb faster. more expensive may mean more durable which will reduce mechanical failures, more expensive may mean nothing but flash.

    proper fit and attentive maintenance will make any bike a great bike


  • Jay

    #4776 says I wish I had a better bike but the truth is it doesn’t matter that much.

  • Richard Wezensky

    BTW, A better bike doesn’t make a better cyclist.

    Richard #4540

  • Richard Wezensky

    Richard #4540

  • caroline

    caroline #3074

  • Veloflanell


    No way, as long as the wheels are true…

  • Veloflanell


  • jameslee

    yes, but any bike is better than none.

  • sinred

    #9125 sinred
    It’s more important for a bike to be reliable than to be expensive.

  • Bikergram

    #4811 – adding my alley cat number

  • Bikergram


  • Bikergram

    Cost of a bike has nothing to do with being a “better” cyclist. It’s all about Riding – as much as you can, wherever you can, whatever fits in your life.

  • erikJ

    It’s the rider, no doubt. erikJ @2787

  • Archergal

    My bike is expensive for ME, though not expensive in the spectrum of things. But it’s the most comfy bike I’ve ever ridden, even when it’s 27deg F outside. (I rode in that much cold this morning — a first for me!)

    Archergal #1498

  • nightbreed

    Nightbreed = 3026 I test rode an expensive bike and I liked my budget one much better

  • Erik

    Erik 8049. I generally agree w/ your opinion. A better bike helps to a point. Having said that, every upgrade I have made has always helped at least subjectively in boosting my overall confidence. So the knee of the curve might be quite high.

  • Ryan

    Oh Hell no, what makes you a better cyclist is riding a bike that fits and makes you want to ride! That can be done for $10 yard sale bike or $10,000 custom unobtainum bike

    Ryan #1578

  • Christopher

    I am often embarrassed over my bike, a schwinn I bought at target, but you shop in your price range. It works, but at the same time I got what I paid for. Some problems with gears that I have been in and out of the shop trying to fix.


  • Allium

    It’s the shoes. No. The spandex. No. The bike.

    Many years ago, I lived in Philadelphia. The “city of brotherly love” had (probably still does) a high crime rate. I bought a very inexpensive Huffy BSO road frame for use as my main commuter/utility bike. Upgraded a few components, including north road-style bars. The result was about as hideous as you can imagine, which was the idea. In five years, no one messed with the bike. It was parked outside for long hours everyday.

    One year, I rode in the Freedom Valley Bike Ride with a few thousand other people. I found myself riding alongside a group of roadies riding very expensive bikes. One was wearing a shirt that said “Friends don’t let friends ride junk.” I matched their pace for about half an hour. I couldn’t keep up, and certainly would have been a bit faster on a lighter bike with better wheels and tires and a more aerodynamic posture.

    It wasn’t a bike built for racing, and touring would have been a disaster. But the bike was comfortable, useful, and cheap. It served my needs perfectly for five years of year-round riding (until the frame broke on a killer combination of potholes and trolley tracks one day).

    Allium 8247

  • Glenn Girtman

    Glenn Girtman , #6163

    Ride what you can afford. Big bucks do not make a great rider. Only riding does.

  • All Ice

    It’s the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight…


  • Hunter

    Hunter #9782, yes, no, maybe, it depends

    • Sweep, #6313

      YAY!!! I know my fat ass makes the nice bike slow.


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