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

Tags: ,

Pin It

153 Responses to “ Does a More Expensive Bike Make a Better Cyclist? ”

  1. jollytin on December 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    jollytin #5353

  2. jatravartid on December 7, 2010 at 10:55 am


  3. Ludgero on December 7, 2010 at 6:26 am

    It depends on your ego…

    Ludgero #7678

  4. microzen on December 7, 2010 at 3:05 am


    A better cyclist makes a more expensive bicycle worthwhile.

  5. SVC on December 6, 2010 at 11:32 pm

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

  6. Gary #5039 on December 6, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    No, but it may make cycling easier and faster.

  7. Kendall on December 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    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


  8. AuntN on December 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    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

  9. Luke Wilson on December 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t know, I am broke

  10. Jason on December 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

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

  11. Revolutionary mama on December 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    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

  12. Mr. Wakiki on December 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm


    putting the crank in cran\ky

  13. Sean on December 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    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.

  14. Tony on December 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm


    damn this one made me think

  15. EPIC! Stratton on December 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    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.

  16. Rudi Riet on December 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    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

  17. Jesse on December 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    #8352 a more expensive bike makes me a shinier cyclist

  18. welshcyclist on December 6, 2010 at 4:46 pm


  19. shanerh on December 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    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

  20. HoppyOkapi on December 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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

  21. Opus the Poet #899 on December 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    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.

  22. locus on December 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    locus #2537

    Nice site!

  23. Alex Clark on December 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    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

  24. Derrick on December 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    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.

  25. Blue Fish on December 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm


    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…

  26. ScottPost on December 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    #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.

  27. cb on December 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the checkpoint! CB, #2082

  28. Bryan Lewis on December 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    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.


  29. Patrick Kitto on December 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    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


  30. Jay on December 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm

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

  31. Richard Wezensky on December 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm

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

    Richard #4540

  32. Richard Wezensky on December 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Richard #4540

  33. caroline on December 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    caroline #3074

  34. Veloflanell on December 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm


    No way, as long as the wheels are true…

  35. Veloflanell on December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm


  36. jameslee on December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    yes, but any bike is better than none.

  37. sinred on December 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm

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

  38. Bikergram on December 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    #4811 – adding my alley cat number

  39. Bikergram on December 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm


  40. Bikergram on December 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    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.

  41. erikJ on December 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

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

  42. Archergal on December 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    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

  43. nightbreed on December 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

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

  44. Erik on December 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    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.

  45. Ryan on December 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    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

  46. Christopher on December 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    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.


  47. Allium on December 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    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

  48. Glenn Girtman on December 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Glenn Girtman , #6163

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

  49. All Ice on December 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm

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


  50. Hunter on December 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

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

    • Sweep, #6313 on December 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm

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

Leave a Reply


Featured on these top sites

Blog Partners

Cycling 360 Podcast


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to

Nutrition Tips