Does a More Expensive Bike Make a Better Cyclist?

08
Oct
2010

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…..now 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?


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

  1. Videoboy Matt on April 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I think the question is not when a more expensive bike make a better cyclist, but when is it worth stepping into the big leagues if at all from a reasonably respectable quality bike. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since the mid 90s, and am an avid racer along with my girlfriend who is sponsored on a regional level team, as well as we help organize local bike shop rides. For most people a $1100-2k bike is really where they need to be to get a good quality bike that won’t break, is decently light, and will have enough engendering/design to have real fun with. I say match the level of the bike with the level of the rider. If you are a enthusiast recreational rider, you will have no qualm about buying a $1100 bike, as you will see the value. Once you start racing, and getting serious about it, you really need to be in the minimum of $1800 range, as you will start to notice a real difference in performance and weight. After $2300, you really are now looking at grams weight difference (unless you are talking about Enduro or Downhill mountain bikes..that’s a whole different animal). Most people will never need a $4k bike. If you ride every day all day, and you feel you need it..you will know when it is time to invest. If you race..you will know when it is time to invest. If you have to ask if it is too much..it most likely is too much.

  2. pdx2wheeler on April 13, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    No, my $30 garage sale bike from the late 80’s, and I typically crush the “competition” in PDX, everyday, year after year, rain or shine. 7000 or so miles, multiple spills, no problem. You can pay more though…

  3. Declan on December 19, 2014 at 8:02 am

    For the avarage rider an average bike is fine

    When you start to race a 2grand bike is entry level, if you’ve put in all the winter training, lost all the weight and eaked the most from your legs the next “easy win” is a mechanical upgrade. OK start with the helmet then the wheels, but eventually you’ll have to upgrade the bike and it’s not more comfortable, its more ridged its lighter and its going to allow you to put all of your power into forward momentum, instrad of twisting the trame of the softer bike before propelling you forward

    the extra 8k will allow you deliver all your energy to the rear tyre. if you spent the winter out on the cold, wet, dark roads trying to gain a few seconds for the summer races and you can afford it then you should. if you’re a city/summer cyclist better not stray too far from the 1k bikes, you don’t need to

  4. sam on July 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Every time I read these threads I crack up. Always remember this…you get what you pay for. Stop kidding yourself. I’m a very experienced rider and I ride everyday (except Sunday) and there is no way I would perform the same with a Wal-Mart bike. Again you get what you pay for.

    • Darryl on July 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      There’s a huge difference between a Walmart brand and a decent bike. But the differences between $1,000 and $2,000 are different. There is a point where more money on a bike won’t make you a better cyclist.

  5. Turkylurkey on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I have never owned a super expensive bike but I do disagree with those who think you need an expensive bike to be fast, comfortable, and/or a serious cyclist. I do think it is very important to have a well maintained bike that has geometry appropriate to its purpose, fits well, and that has reliable components.
    I also think it depends on the rider, if you are mechanically inclined and enjoy working on your bikes then you can get a garage sale/craigslist former gem of a bike for under a $100.00 put some time and another $50-$100 into it and have a very reliable and fast ride that you love because you know that the bike is beautiful on the inside! With its new bearings freshly greased and well adjusted, derailleurs and brakes operating smoothly with its new cables you will be ready prove that you don’t need to spend thousands to be fast.

  6. JC on September 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    If I get off my 1,400 Giant Defy 1 and into a 12,000 Cannondale Super 6 Evo Di1 I will probably feel it lighter hence I might be a tad faster, but that’s about it. My legs and lungs will not change so no, a more expensive bike does not make you a better cyclist.

    • Jonathan on December 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Old article/post but this, exactly. I use to own an approximately $10,000 bike. Now I own a $1,500 bike. Frankly, there is nothing wrong with the expensive bike under the right circumstances. It was faster. The problem is that the difference in my speed on the expensive bike vs the less expensive option is not worth the cost. The total system weight of rider + bike on the $10,000 bike was about 3-3.5% lower. It was also likely about 2% or so faster due to aerodynamic wheels. So is being 3% faster (on normal gradients, maybe 2.1% on flat ground and a bit more on steep hills) worth $8,500 more? If I was a multi-millionaire or raced professionally, I would say maybe. Given that I am not a multi-millionaire or a pro, it’s simply not worth the $2400 annual cost (opportunity cost and the bike itself which needs periodic new parts/replacement) to own a $10,000 bike over a $1,500 bike to see a 3% gain in performance. If $2400 a year was pocket change to me or if 3% would seriously affect my career, I would think differently.

      • Darryl (@lovingthebike) on December 17, 2014 at 8:05 am

        Thanks for your input, Jonathan. The cheapest way to lower the weight of rider and bike is for the rider to lose weight. Aero wheels are nice, but not necessary for everyone….I’ve also read that an aero helmet does more than aero wheels, and much cheaper.

  7. Paulevans on July 11, 2011 at 3:02 am

    A better bike will be more comfortable and ride easier than a less expensive one.  Seems like it would be obvious that a rider would perform better with a better ride.  As i have gotten older I have upgraded my bicycles and find them easier to ride and more fun.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

      It’s an interesting debate and I would like to thank you for joining in.  I appreciate your comments.

      Darryl

  8. Ian on February 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Never mind the bike, where can I get the T-shirt?

  9. Miss Lynx on December 29, 2010 at 1:32 am

    I certainly don’t think so – but then, I may be biased, since I have been riding regularly for the past two and half years on a $200 Canadian Tire SuperCycle (which I actually got on sale for $139, for the record). And really, it’s been pretty good. Not perfect, no, and I do expect I’ll move up to something a little better sometime in the coming year, once finances allow. But despite being a cheap bike from a big-box store, it’s been a sturdy little workhorse, and gotten me all around the city on a regular basis. And has never needed any serious repairs other than the one time I was in an accident – just the occasional tuneup.

    Now, there are a lot of things I don’t do that others here might – I don’t race or do cross-country touring or anything like that. I’m just your basic urban bike commuter. But some people in the comments seem to be convinced that even that requires a $1000 bike, and it’s just not true.

    That said, I don’t think all cheap bikes are necessarily going to be as sturdy and reliable as mine turned out to be. The mechanic at my local bike shop said that Canadian Tire bikes are highly variable in quality and the particular model I got was one of the better ones. And I did look at user reviews on their web site before buying it, and noted that everyone who’d posted one seemed to be happy with it. So I certainly don’t think all bikes, expensive or inexpensive, are created equal – anyone looking at buying a bike needs to do a bit of homework. But I do think it’s OK to buy within your price range – it’s just that if your price range is low, you may need to do a bit more digging through reviews to find something that’s cheap enough but still decent.

    My main concern with all the you-really-need-an-expensive-bike stuff I see constantly is that, as ScottPost posted earlier, it can put people off cycling completely. I know that if I’d been convinced I needed a $1000 bike to be able to start cycling, I’d never have gotten one at all, because there was no way I could afford that at the time – hell, I can’t really even afford that now, so when I do move up from this one, it won’t be to one quite that high. And the ironic thing is that a lot of the same people I see, various local cycling sites in my city, that you just have to have a high-end bike or there’s no point in riding, are the same people who in other threads keep asking what it will take to get people out of cars and buses and onto bikes in larger numbers. I don’t claim to have any definitive answer to that, but maybe we could start by NOT constantly giving people the message that they can’t afford to make the switch…

  10. Daniel on December 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I agree, the bike does complete the image. Have you ever turned up to a race and felt intimidated by the amount of high-end bikes sitting around? But it is always the legs that have the final say…

  11. conjob on December 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

    i am currently in nepal, riding a bike that cost me $35. i am still the same kind of cyclist that i am when i’m home in the u.s., riding one of my four other (more expensive) bikes.

    conjob #5853

  12. SilverbackWino on December 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Yes! It motivates me to ride more and become a better rider. When I see it hanging in the garage I think to myself “Time to ride”.

  13. greg on December 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

    No. The subjective quality of being a better cyclist and the very fact that having more money could make someone better than someone else is really problematic. There are at least as many types of people riding bikes as there are types of bikes. I have met plenty of roadies who wont go out for a ride unless they are in full spandex and its a sunny day. (I really like passing them on my fixie) I have also known plenty of people to tour on old huffies that I wouldn’t want to work on let alone ride. If anything I would say having a less good bike and still being able get where you want in the time you want to get there makes you better cyclist.

    To me the best bikes are old steel frames resurrected with a good set of wheels and the rest is just personal preference.

    2755

  14. Olev on December 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    There’s an optimum bling level for every cyclist. Average riders need a slightly better than average bike to be the best they can be… whereas pro cyclists or olympians need the absolute best bike and parts/equipment available to them to eke out the last little advantage of a few hundredths of a second (or less).

    #6386

  15. Jeffro on December 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    In a word, no. I always maintain that time riding helps more than time earning the money for a more costly bike.

    Jeff #9825

  16. Chris Nygaard on December 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Expensive bikes are not always good, and cheap bikes are not always bad. If buying new, there is a sweet spot at about $750-$1250 for a quality bike which will handle daily/regular use. There are things people will want to upgrade in time, but these are usually the parts which wear out, or the rider discovers they want to change after riding it for a while. Used bikes are nothing to turn your nose up at either. I have riden used or recycled bikes as my commuter bike which cost me $200, that I rode 30K miles or more with very few additional costs.

    7316

  17. Darryl on December 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Huge thanks to all the Alleycat Racers for leaving your comments behind as you dropped by the site for your checkpoint. I know you guys were in a hurry to finish up and be the first to report your findings, so I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts.

    Well done.

    Darryl

  18. Ruth Turner on December 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Yes! Once you’ve spent a month’s salary on a new bike, you will feel obliged to go out and ride it. And the more miles you ride, the better you’ll get! And you’ll definitely be having fun.

    Anyway, even if your speed doesn’t get better, and your skill doesn’t improve, you’ll still feel like a cycling god, because you’ll be on your new bike.

    Ruth Turner #6691

  19. Slowvehicle on December 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    No. A more expansive bike will not make you make better traffic choices, or choose better routes, or make better situational decisions…and it is even doubtful whether it will make you faster.

  20. Slowvehicle on December 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    No. “Faster” is not “better”…a new bike will not make you handle traffic better, or prepare for the unforeseen better, or make you choose better routes…

  21. Kowenn on December 8, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    A good bike won’t make a bad rider better, but it helps a good rider shave 0.01 seconds off a lap. My boss races and the sponsors buy her a new expensive bike every year.

    kowenn #3784

  22. Sschroeder on December 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    #3731 – No, but better cyclists appreciate more expensive bikes. Inexperienced cyclists may not realize the difference at first, but they’ll keep riding a quality bike. And I’m tired of people telling me “the bike at Walmart is just as good as the one at the bike shop, it’s just cheaper”. These same people buy the cheap bike, ride it a few times, can’t get comfortable, then decide they “just don’t like biking”. More people should agree with my humble, but highly accurate opinions. : )

  23. Michael on December 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Michael, 8774

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an expensive bike, but there are a lot of things that can be done before buying an expensive bike. Like if you’re overweight, you should put the time/energy/resources into losing the weight first and worry about a nicer bike later. Things like that will help you get better race times more than the bike anyway.

  24. Ben on December 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

    A more expensive bike only makes you a better rider in the way a newer car make you a more careful driver. You want to take care of the bike and use it’s full potential as opposed to buying a beater bike you can abuse without caring.

    Ben #9356

  25. Daniel M on December 8, 2010 at 9:20 am

    A more expensive bike will definitely go longer before needing repair than a cheap bike. For someone who is new to biking or doesn’t do their own repairs, this could certainly make them more likely to ride more consistently.

    On the other hand, those with mechanical skills can take a garage-sale bike and either fix it up or limp it along nearly indefinitely. Desire is what matters most.

    I fall somewhere in between the two camps.

    Daniel, #592

  26. Andrew on December 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    The bike may give you an edge, but it’s always the rider.. and perhaps a good mechanic.
    Andrew #3481

  27. Andrew on December 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Better bike may give an edge, but it’s always the rider.. and a good mechanic doesn’t hurt.
    Andrew #3481

  28. BykMor on December 7, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Ok, seriously for this one… I think it’s hard to do any serious cycling, be that mountain, road, cyclomuting, touring, etc, without spending close to $1000 (these days). Beyond that, bigger differences come from the motor.

    Cheers,
    BykMor, #5113

  29. flaneur brian on December 7, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    …no! But a better bike makes a less expansive cyclist.

    Get one that suits both your purpose and your budget and you’ll really use it.

    Flaneur Brian #2966

  30. mathieu lapointe on December 7, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Racer #5121

    No way. I know a really fast guy (for exemple 600k in less then 24h) that would be faster for sure with an less expensive but more reliable bike

  31. Brady on December 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    No way. It may make you faster (the speed benefit decreases exponentially as costs increase exponentially), but it won’t make you a better cyclist. #823

  32. Brady on December 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    No way. It may make you faster (the speed benefit decreases exponentially as costs increase exponentially), but it won’t make you a better cyclist.

  33. JWM on December 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Better bike helps, but it doesn’t have to be more expensive. Get something solid, comfortable. It doesn’t have to be $2000 and up.

    #9921 / JWM

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

    jollytin #5353

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

    #2957
    Borcsa

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

    It depends on your ego…

    Ludgero #7678

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

    #8315

    A better cyclist makes a more expensive bicycle worthwhile.

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

    Of course not! It’s how you feel riding the bike that matters
    #6956

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

    No, but it may make cycling easier and faster.

  40. 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

    #9729
    Kendall

  41. 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

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

    #2871
    I don’t know, I am broke

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

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

  44. 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

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

    #6669

    putting the crank in cran\ky

  46. 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.

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

    #4996

    damn this one made me think

  48. 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.

  49. 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

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

    #8352 a more expensive bike makes me a shinier cyclist

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

    #6164

  52. 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

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

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

  54. 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.

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

    locus #2537

    Nice site!

  56. 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
    #4358

  57. 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.

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

    #5080

    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…

  59. 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.

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

    Thanks for the checkpoint! CB, #2082

  61. 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.

    #5035

  62. 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

    #6968

  63. 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.

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

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

    Richard #4540

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

    Richard #4540

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

    caroline #3074

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

    #4023

    No way, as long as the wheels are true…

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

    #4023

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

    yes, but any bike is better than none.
    850

  70. 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.

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

    #4811 – adding my alley cat number

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

    #4811

  73. 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.

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

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

  75. 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

  76. 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

  77. 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.

  78. 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

  79. 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.

    #892

  80. 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

  81. 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.

  82. 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…

    #9806

  83. 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.

  84. JM on December 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    a better bike can make a better cyclist. compare a $100 bike to a $1000 bike. The person on the $1000 bike will go faster with the same effort. However, the difference between a $3000 and a $4000 is a lot smaller.
    4889

  85. Debbie on December 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Debbie #4848 – I don’t think it matters.

  86. Iwakura on December 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Another site added to my favs ;)

    Iwakura
    #772

  87. ryan on December 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    #3313.
    For less than one percent of cyclists a more expensive bike will make a better cyclist. Much more of it can be attributed to natural ability and training. If you aren’t pro- then your $500-1000 bike is more than likely just fine.

  88. samh on December 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    A better bike does not inherently make a better cyclist. – #1565

  89. Tom on December 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

    If we’re talking about someone going from a janky wal-mart bike to a real bike shop bike, yes, the proper bike does make a difference.

    #9501

  90. Dan Harrelson on December 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

    #2913

  91. Widsith on December 6, 2010 at 11:47 am

    #1330 thinks it’s the cyclist that matters, not the price of the bike. As an astronomer told me in my youth, when I was describing my cheap, difficult-to-use telescope to him: “Learn to do a good job with the equipment you have, and someday, when you get something better, you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll do because you’ve already had to learn to do your very best under difficult cirmcumstances.”

  92. Mark Balawender on December 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

    2530–It all depends what better means for you. More expensive right now seems to mean lighter and more stylish, but with all the focus on bike commuting I think we’ll see it shift to more reliable, more comfortable, and better utility. In all seriousness, does anyone really believe that a dura ace shifter is twice as good as a 105 shifter, or however many times better than deore or acera? Could one even tell the difference between those rear derailers without seeing the name printed on them or a gram scale? I venture that it would be impossible to tell just from shifting and that any of the deore and up level stuff would last the same amount of time. In fact, the heavier stuff might last longer. The focus on levels of components seems to have gone the way of high end audio stuff–the perceived benefits are just perceived (not actual) and are manufactured by advertising to justify a ridiculous price to the rich.

  93. Mark on December 6, 2010 at 11:39 am

    #2530–It all depends what better means for you. More expensive right now seems to mean lighter and more stylish, but with all the focus on bike commuting I think we’ll see it shift to more reliable, more comfortable, and better utility. In all seriousness, does anyone really believe that a dura ace shifter is twice as good as a 105 shifter, or however many times better than deore or acera? Could one even tell the difference between those rear derailers without seeing the name printed on them or a gram scale? I venture that it would be impossible to tell just from shifting and that any of the deore and up level stuff would last the same amount of time. In fact, the heavier stuff might last longer. The focus on levels of components seems to have gone the way of high end audio stuff–the perceived benefits are just perceived (not actual) and are manufactured by advertising to justify a ridiculous price to the rich.

  94. Den on December 6, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Den #7685

    A more expensive bike DOES NOT make you a better cyclist. It’s not the price of the bike… it’s the ability of the rider!

  95. Mister A on December 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

    8310 Money doesn’t make you a better cyclist only the desire to move forward.

  96. welshcyclist on December 6, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I honestly dont know, I’ve only ever ridden “cheap” bikes, when I was a boy, my mates and I made our own bikes from pieces scounged from the scrapyard, that was in the 1950’s. Since starting to ride again about 7 years ago, the most I’ve paid for a bike is £199, which has proved fit for purpose.

  97. Reuben Collins on December 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

    #5290 expensive better!!!

  98. Badda Skat on December 6, 2010 at 11:18 am

    It definitely does NOT make a better cyclist. To me, I find that the riders that don’t have much money to blow on bikes tend to be those that not only know the most about their bike, but also put in more hours on it.

    Badda Skat #6233

  99. John J Wilde on December 6, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Wow this is addicting.
    Xtrajack #1455

  100. Xander on December 6, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Hi. #2293 here.
    I’m not going to read every post, so maybe its already been stated: but I think generally your dollar/quality ratio goes up pretty fast up to about $1000. After that, it tapers off slowly, then rapidly and you get into law of diminishing returns etc.

    Now, if the question is does a “quality” bike make a better cyclist? Then yes. Put two cyclists of equal ability each on a high end bike and a low end bike and have them race. Then swap and have them race again. The better bike will be with the winner each time, I hypothesize.

  101. cycler on December 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I think that to a certain minimum threshold of good quality components, a more expensive bike helps, but after that there’s no real correlation
    Cycler 4505

  102. Ian Prust on December 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Ian Prust
    #9475

  103. Thomas on December 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

    It really is not the bike it is how you use it!

    #7804

  104. DK on December 6, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Heck no. Riding your bike a bunch makes you a better cyclist. Now, having a nice bike can make your experience more pleasant, lead to more riding, which in turn will make you a better cyclist…but it’s not a direct result of an expensive bike.

    #812 DFL?

  105. Jami on December 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I definitely don’t think that you need an expensive bike…actually a pricey bike might actually make you a worse cyclist since you don’t have as many obstacles to overcome.

    #5635

  106. Alan@EcoVelo on December 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

    #5016

    Feelin’ the bonk coming on…

  107. Brent Strange on December 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

    #2277 for the Alleycat. No a more expensive bike does not make you a better cyclist. If anything it makes you a bit more paranoid about having something damage the bike.

  108. goathens on December 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

    goathens # 7561
    I think once you are beyond the absolute cheapest bike (in it’s class, a cheap folder costs much more than a cheap mtnbike, but it is still crappy), it doesn’t matter so much. just so long as it isn’t falling apart- but who cares about titaniums and all of that.
    If anything, it’s a correlation without causation that bike$$$ = better appearing cyclist.

  109. Jean on December 6, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Jean/5162

    You need functional equipment, but the cyclist is so much more important than the bike.

  110. NewGirl! on December 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

    This post starts with the assumption that the cyclist is a roadie. Like Yehuda and Joe demonstrate, there are many different attitudes and views on bicycles. Price should never be the differentiater between a ‘good’ cyclist and a ‘better’ one. But I resist the ‘good’ descriptor anyway – we’re all cyclists, why try to make someone better than the other?

    • NewGirl! on December 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

      I’m #8706 if that matters :)

  111. andy on December 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

    thanks for helping host the alleycat! Andy, #6749

  112. Aaron on December 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I agree that there is a minimum threshold for bike quality/price. However, once you cross that threshold (i.e. the bike fits and has no major mechanical problems) only the most elite athletes will reap any benefit from more expensive gear. So no, a more expensive bike does not make the cyclist better. 5827

  113. Claire on December 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Claire #1186

    A higher-end bike probably brings more convenience, durability, and comfort, but if a person really loves cycling I think they will bike no matter how “cheap” their trusty steed is (provided it actually works). There’s probably a point at which higher prices deliver diminishing returns as well.

  114. aaron 8363 on December 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Nope. steel is the only material that will overcome the zombie war!

    • Darryl on December 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

      Congratulations on finding this checkpoint.

  115. mrben on December 6, 2010 at 10:02 am

    checking in #3089

    Plus…. I hope not – my bike was given to me free :(

    In my experience the quality of the biker cannot be determined by his bike, be it the price, the condition, or anything. It’s mostly aligned to the frequency of riding, and the attitude of the rider. ref. Yehuda and Joe – very different bikes, looks, styles, but both “better” cyclists. (Although you could debate about Yehuda).

  116. Nico P on December 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

    nico.p, #9302

    I think all bikes, both low and high end have a place. That said, it’s hard to get into commuting, etc. with a bike that breaks down all the time, so there is *some* threshold for quality needed.

  117. caribbeancwby on November 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

    what’s the title of this post? oh yeah here’s my two cents for it’s probably worth half of a penny.

    1) the right bike has to start with sizing, honestly many associates have not the slightest clue to even start with this important subject. just cause you ride a mountain bike, work in a bike shop doesn’t qualify for you as an expert. to better help the customer find the right bike, seek knowledge, ask questions and act cordial. there’s no excuse to act like a hot shot.

    2) well bike fitting is a huge key to becoming a better cyclist. so we’ve got the size down, now comes spending extra money: shoes, pedals, seat, possibly a new stem or handlebar. what does all this mean? the feet, butt, hands these are all contact points, keys to comfort wether its quick or an all day jaunt rely so much on proper bike fit. seek out someone who at least understands anatomy also.

    3) its attitude to simplify things. I cannot stress how many folks I’ve met over the years who walk in really with a pessimistic mindset. “oh I’m afraid, gonna fall on these skinny tires, this handlebar is foreign to me?” failure in every way possible. as the sale associate its your job to sell them not only a bike yet to convince them its fresh, exciting, healthy even instill confidence in a novice.

    so back the question “does a more expensive bike make you a better cyclist?” absolutely not, find a local bike shop you can trust in, they will help you grow to be a better cyclist.

    • Darryl on November 26, 2010 at 7:34 am

      Great tips. I appreciate you including your professional opinion….and adding to this post.

      Darryl

  118. JD on October 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’ve enjoyed all the comments on this post so far. Some really open and honest ones that question, and congratulate, the value (or “investment” as I like to say) sunk into a high-end bike. I spent just under a £1K on my new road bike, but have clearly spent several hundred more in support of my bike on shoes, helmet, specs, lights and that “oh-so-lovely” lycra wear!

    I don’t think it’s instantly made me into a GC rider, but my interest sure has shot up: I’ve joined a local cycling club; and I fully intend to take my training much more seriously – I’m even looking at riding track too!

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    • Loving the Bike on October 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks, John, for jumping in and including your comments. I appreciate your feedback and information from your side of the world.

      Darryl

  119. victor on October 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Spending 1k gets you a decent road bike so why on earth would someone spend 3k, or even 15k on a bike? I have built many high end road bikes over the years and have seen one common thread with almost all riders that buy an expensive custom road bike. They become better riders… Is it the bike? No not exactly. Its how the rider interacts with the bike. Maybe its that you spent all this money and your wife or husband is going to kill you if you dont ride it. What ever the reason out of all the riders that I work and have worked with, the ones that seem to get the most out of their cycling have super high end bikes.
    Certainly we dont need the super duper bikes but if its something you enjoy?????

    • Darryl on October 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Interesting perspective, Victor. Thanks for sharing it. Yeah, I’m sure the pride of having a nice expensive bike (and a spouse making sure you get good use out of all that money) helps people become better riders when they purchase a high priced bike.

      Darryl

      • Annalisa on October 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

        To this point, which is sort of what I was getting at in my reply, I am waiting for a custom ANT lady Boston Roadster (and could not be more excited). It was spendy for sure! But I know that it will fit and handle extremely well, based on my test ride. And once it gets properly fitted? Watch out, Boston. :)

        To me, it’s worth it, because it will be my primary mode of transportation.

        I also plan to build up a Surly LHT for touring. That will be a much lower cost bike, but as long as it’s properly fitted, it will be great.

        • victor on October 13, 2010 at 8:36 am

          Annalisa

          I agree. Congratulations on making the leap. The ant bikes are awesome! Post some pics when its done. On your fit though. You should always think of fit first then select a bike based on your specifics. Not all bikes can be adjusted to fit your body. On a commuter bike certain aspects of your position may not be that important but on a touring or racing bike small tweaks can make a huge improvement in your overall enjoyment.

    • Beginner on May 11, 2014 at 1:47 am

      That’s the coolest comment!
      Yeah is it something u enjoy doing not fear of someone, fear of being looked down upon, fear of losing a competition by a lower end bike. We really do not need a carbon bike to go from point A to B.

  120. Nathan on October 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Stress the engine.
    The engine!!

    Even on a solid entry level road bike with a good fit – ahhh – stress the engine.
    It really is a game of chess on wheels. A nice board and pieces makes for an more enjoyable game – break it down – the player is the one who will win the game.

  121. smoke remedy on October 9, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Thats exact what I have searched for. I imagine with this basics I can get much more details.

  122. Darryl on October 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I just re-read over all of your comments tonight. I feel that out of all the posts I’ve written since starting this blog, this post has generated the most incredible responses. Thanks to each and every one of you. Sell42, Clive, Tim, Torsten, Welshcyclist, Clay, Michelle, Bikerly, Annalisa, Charlie, and Megbikes….thank you. Well Done.

    Darryl

  123. Charlie Quimby on October 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Riding “a” bike is an odd concept to me. I may have spent more than six grand for my rides, but nothing more than about $1.6k on my best one. They cover riding in two different states and all kinds of weather and purposes.

    Today, I rode a fat-tire one speed cobbled together from a bunch of different bikes and rode home with a case of beer in the basket. Never have to lock it because it’s too weird and rusty, yet it gets the most compliments for the same reason. Later, I took my dog for a trot with a Swobo 3-speed I ride all winter. This weekend, 40 miles or so on my road bike.

    You get the idea.

  124. Megbikes on October 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    All of these points are very good. I have to admit, though, that having a really nice bike, which was custom built for me, definitely makes me want to ride more than a less expensive bike. It doesn’t necessarily make me ride any faster, but it is more fun to ride and it fits me better than other bikes, so I am more comfortable and enjoy myself more on it. I got a chance to do a kind of field test to prove this, actually- my nice bike was stolen and I wound up borrowing a $600 Bianchi road bike from a friend, which I rode but kind of loathed because it was a bit heavy and, more important, it didn’t fit me well and I was always reaching too far for the handlebars. I thought I was probably glorifying my old bike in my mind, imagining it to be better than it was- however, 8 months later, I miraculously recovered my bike, and the first time I rode it again after I got it back was absolutely glorious. It really did handle better, it fit me better, it was faster, and it was all around more fun to ride than the other bike. I think a $600 (or a $200 or $100 or free) bike can be great, as long as it fits you and you enjoy riding it. In my case, getting my nice bike back was really the instigating factor in me getting back to a more regular riding habit. And, although I invested about $2500 in it initially, that was almost 10 years ago, and I ride it nearly every day, so I feel like I’m getting a good value out of it.

  125. Loving the Bike on October 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I really like how everyone commented with a lot of detail. It means a lot to see you guys digging in and expressing yourselves like this. Very cool.

    This topic is a very interesting one to debate and it’s great to see your comments.

    Darryl

    • bikerly on October 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Great post, Darryl. I’m preparing an infograph response.

      • Darryl on October 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

        If anyone could sum up and clear up this topic, it is you (and one of your graphs).

        Darryl

  126. Annalisa on October 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I think it all boils down to how to quantify quality.

    There is a significant difference between a $100 Walmart bike and the $600 Giants and Treks of the world in terms of build quality, how they are assembled, and how long they will last without problems for sure.

    It gets tricky when you start talking about the differences between that $600 bike and a higher-end model. At some point, there is a law of diminishing returns in play and it’s time in the saddle that will make the difference as a rider.

    Like I told my friend who was considering two frames with a 1lb and $500 difference – “OR, you could just lose a pound or two.” :) If he was an age-group competitive triathlete that would be one thing, but as a “weekend warrior” it probably won’t make a bunch of difference, day to day.

    Then again, if having a fancy bike means you get out on the roads more (and thus start improving as a cyclist), then perhaps it’s worth it to you. In any case, it’s not my place to pass judgement on how much you spend on your bike, how much you ride it, or what your form looks like.

  127. Michelle (mksinmd) on October 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I don’t care what people ride. I think it is good that they are out there riding. If you maintain any bike it will last for years to come. I went from a tank of a hybrid/communter bike to Cannondale Fem C4 when I made the decision to do more road cycling and get into doing triathlons. Yes I spend a few $$ on my bike, but I had made the decision that I wanted carbon after trying many different bikes in prices above and below what I spent. I planned for this expense in my budget and I knew I would be riding it for many years and many miles. Never once have I regretted this decision. I have a bike I love and that fits me. Does it make me faster? Well compared to the tank I was riding – yes. Compared to a lower end model of a Cannondale – I don’t know. I have become a better cyclist since I bought this bike, but that is mainly because I have been foucsing on cycling, riding year round and learning from better cyclists. Those gains could have happened on any bike I am sure.

  128. Clay on October 8, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I look at the rider to see how they ride.
    I pity this combination: expensive bike + poor form.
    I respect this combination: expensive bike + good form OR cheap bike + good form.

  129. welshcyclist on October 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I’m with Sell42 on this one, if you’re a real cyclist, you just want to be out there pedalling. My bike cost £250, it does the job fine, and I’ve just paid £38 for a new chain and rear cassette fitted. That’s after 7000 miles plus in 9-10 months use, good enough for me. Sure I’d love the daddy of all bikes, but would it make a whole lot of difference to me, or my present lifestyle? I think not.

  130. Torsten on October 8, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I recently upgraded, but I went used. Riding comfort is a big deal to me and I’m happy with my choice: 2008 Trek Madone 5.1 w/ a couple of upgrades. I was riding a 1997 Lemond Buenos Aires, which is still in good working order.

    As for seeing that really expensive bike on the road, it makes me want to chase it down…but that’s pretty much true of anyone I see out there when I’m riding alone. :)

  131. Tim on October 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    For most cyclists there is a diminishing return curve. For the average weekend warrior is there really a performance benefit to buying that pricey carbon fiber handle bar? Does the few ounces you save on a set of SRAM Red component get you anything more than a bigger credit card bill? Probably not.

    For my own part, I bought a mid-level Specialized road bike. Why did I pick that particular model? Not sure other than it met my price point and had a good feel. The shop had models with slightly less cost and the same performance. However, I knew that I didn’t like the entry level bikes.

    And I’ll echo what Clive said. For certain styles of bike there are definitely minimum standards you want.

    But no, a more pricey bike does not guarantee a better cyclist. Just as in the motoring world, where the skill of the driver seems to have an inversion relationship to the cost of their car.

  132. Clive Chapman on October 8, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I use a Giant Defy 2 for my roadbike, very much an entry level road bike and costs around £900, according to my iPhone currency converter that’s roughly $1400.

    That’s expensive to some (me for instance) and mere small change to others.

    I think most committed cyclist will pay the max their budget will allow. I know that committed cyclists will also spend the money to get a better experience in the saddle.

    As for MTBing then you do need to spend due to safety, I cringe when out on my trails and I see folk launching themselves off various drop offs and slopes on what we call in the UK £100 Halfords specials. They’re not bikes but bike shaped objects totally unfit for purpose and some are downright dangerous used as a proper MTB!

    So I can’t really answer your question Darryl, just spew forth random observations. Although sometimes with some of the bikes I see a phrase we used in the Army a lot keeps coming to mind. “All the gear and no idea!”

  133. Sell42 on October 8, 2010 at 5:34 am

    I use to think having a higher quality bike was a must. However, this summer has changed my mind on this. I ride a lower end Trek 2.1 and have had zero issues keeping up with anyone. In fact it’s often been quite the opposite. I think roadies are big on spendy bikes. Cyclists just don’t care–just pedal–anyway–anyhow.

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