Bike price "elbow" (was junk bikes)

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Robert Haston

There is much contention about how much money a "good" bike costs. I like to think of it in terms of
a price/performance curve; which rises precipitously from the $100 "disposable" Wal-Mart bikes with
mild steel frames to the $250 or so entry level "real bike". Maybe "real" bikes aren't much faster,
but they shift well, don't rust as much, and not having an extra 10-20 pounds of steel to pedal
uphill is great. Furthermore, you can typically sell a real bike for half what you paid for it, so
at most you are paying an extra 50 bucks or so versus a disposable bike. This means you are wasting
your money if you aren't buying a quality bike.

Junk bikes are a big problem for other reasons. Kid's bikes make up the biggest percentage of throw
away bikes (often with several extra pounds of useless but fancy looking cheap suspensions, etc.) So
a kid's first experience is riding a heavy clunker, and his parent's experience is regularly fixing
a piece of rusting ****, and worrying about the kid being killed because of his slipping chain and
slippery brakes. This isn't a very good environment to promote cycling. Because of this, I wish
there were min performance specs (such as maximum weight, shifting reliability, corrosion
resistance, braking, etc.) for bikes. It would save money over disposable bikes in the long run.

To me, the curve starts at the current price for big name entry level bikes ($250) and tapers to
almost flat around $1000. The bike for you is really based on how much and what type of riding you
do (and how much money you have to burn) more than any physical aspects of the bike. Those of you
who have seen morbidly obese people riding 10 kilo bikes know what I mean.
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