how much difference does a quality bike make for ave joe



looseleftie

New Member
Apr 17, 2014
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Hello, I was having this discussion with another cyclist, who is very experienced and more than capable, whilst I am only 4 months into cycling to paint the picture here.. Anyway I asked him if he had a twin brother, identical in every way in terms of weight, muscular strength and cardio endurance, however the only difference is that this brother rode a $400 alloy 10-11 kg bike, and he rode a $5500 full carbon 6.5-7.5kg bike, how much difference would there be in terms of performance, in particular, time and speed, not so much interested in the comfort stakes here.. Just performance.. Is the difference really worth it, if u are a ride who rides 1-2 a week, or if u ride 200 km a week, to a guy who races in competitions every other weekend... When does it get to the point where u simply have to have this $5500 beast?? Love some thoughts on this. I'd like to have a Mercedes luxury sedan, however my Ford sedan does everything that I need it for... The price difference is simply too great, and certainly would not even consider spending thousands extra for better seats, or nice interior to better duco!! What should u expect from in terms of what the $5500 or more carbon bike is giving you, that the $400 isn't?
 

Damien Lee

Well-Known Member
May 16, 2015
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The $ 5500 carbon bicycle is aimed at the cycling enthusiasts and professionals. It's not necessary to spend so much on a bicycle in order to enjoy cycling. In fact, I always recommend to those that are planning to take up cycling to not spend much money on a bike. Even a $ 250 bicycle should suffice for those that are starting out. It's wiser to spend that $ 5 500 on real necessities, investments or savings. One can even purchase a car with that amount of money which may be useful for someone with a family or for commuting to work.
 

Kakashi

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2018
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In my opinion if your just doing recreational cycling and you're in a budget, you can opt for a cheaper Mtb, those with a $250-$850 price tag would do.

If you're a professional or a competitive cyclist, then you need something that can give you some edge and lighter bikes do help in improving your speed.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
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Problem with cheap new MTB's is the suspension fork, they're all junk if the bike is sold for less than $700. Suspension forks cost more money than a rigid fork, so compromises are made in the frame and components to get the bike in a certain price point. In addition to that suspension forks that are cheap are heavy, they are not responsive, they are not intended to be used in rough terrain, they actually take considerable amount of watts away from powering the bike forward, and they are problematic. I use to ride in some pretty tough terrain in the mountains of S Calif and never used a suspension fork and never had any problems where I wish I had one.

Since very few MTB's come with rigid forks these days you may have to look at cross or gravel bikes.
 

treecko142

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2018
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Opt for the cheaper but reliable bikes that you can find, since essentially it's just a hobby so think of your other hobbies and how much you're willing to spend for them.
 

DenisP

Member
Apr 13, 2018
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My opinion might be a bit controversial, but here it goes anyway. I honestly feel that investing that much into a bicycle is only necessary if that is all that your life is about (in the sense that it is your main hobby), or you simply have that much disposable income.

When it comes to most products out there, you get to a point where the price to quality ratio simply goes way out of proportion. In a typical scenario, you get what you pay for, up until a certain price range that is. At that point, the cost to benefit ratio simply starts leaning more towards cost, and while the price may go up exponentially with the next model, the quality does not go up relative to the cost.

The average person isn't going to ever need a bicycle more expensive than $800.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Cheap bikes toys. They don't work well and wear out in no time. A $5000 bike is not necessary but if you are going to ride on a regular basis you should at least get decent bike with reasonsble components. You can usually get used one for less than a $1000. On the othet hand buy whatever you like if you can afford it. Life is too short.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
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I think if a person may be just an average rider BUT rides the bike religiously and does long distance rides on weekends I don't think an $800 bike will be satisfactory, but I do think that they can find a $1,400 bike with Shimano 105 and be completely satisfied. However if the average rider only rides short distances and a couple of times a week then a $800 bike would be more than adequate. Of course my statement is for those who don't have a lot of money to blow on a $5,000 bike, those who have the money to blow like that simply don't care about how much money they spend they just want the best and look like they can afford the best; kind of like when people buy a Maserati but never take them over the posted speed limit! But that's fine, it's what they want so they buy it for enjoyment and for showing off.
 

jhuskey

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Oct 6, 2003
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I will add that a department store bike is "one size fits all". If the bike is not a good fit the bike will cause you fits. In other words discomfort. Of course you will not notice it so much on a 2 mile flat ride with frequent stops.
 

Steve5

Active Member
Feb 3, 2018
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Quality bikes are better because you get what you paid for. I don't like getting discomfort from bikes with inferior quality. They're not meant for long-term use. I'm happy with the bike I'm using since it's lasted me a long time.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Grant Petersen from Rivendell bikes once said that his $2700 production made Atlantis frame was 98% of the bike that his custom built $3,500 Rivendell frame only was. And a $1500 bike built with Shimano 105 will be about 95% of what a $5,500 would be. So the question is would the average joe even know that's he's missing 5% of what he could have? NO, because he's not riding at semi or pro level. Neither of those two bikes will have nothing to do with fit, the more expensive bike will NOT fit you better why you scream? because it's a production bike and production bikes only have a few size choices, so unless you are going to have a bike built custom just for your body you could be more uncomfortable on a expensive production bike then a low cost bike if the geometry of the less expensive one happens to fit your body type better.

Still don't believe me? then see this:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3RG5dztrXM
Note, they claim that the better bike handles better but that is only if pushed in a racing type of cornering, the average joe will never push their bike that hard into corners so you'll never notice the difference. Note too they talk about how much faster the more expensive one is, but again that's something the average joe will never realize either (personally I think the 25 second thing was falsified to get people to buy CF bikes, read on and you discover why I said that). Realize that the difference in price between those two bikes in that film is almost a $1,000, for what? to save 8.8 ounces? What I find weird is that I can be out riding my 1984 steel 22 pound Trek and pass a guy riding on a $7,000 13 pound racing machine...hmmm. Ok, then take a look at the below chart to see in graphic detail what I'm talking about:

310px-Overall_Speed_Tour_de_France.gif


This chart is showing the average speeds of the TDF race that is raced by pros obviously, look at the speeds in 1980 when steel bikes with aluminum rims were still being used, it shows about 38 km/h, now look at what the CF wonder bikes have given us in about 2015, where the graph ends, it shows about 39.5 km/h, that's less than a mile per hour! This is why I have some serious doubts about the CF bike being 25 seconds faster than the AL bike in the video. But the thing that chart doesn't show is that since the 80's (2,387 miles) the race has gotten shorter (to 2,088 miles in 2015) this means in reality the average speed probably hasn't changed at all since the race is now 300 miles shorter. So if the pros haven't seen significant speed increases riding on $15,000 14 pound super aerodynamic bikes and wheels since the days of heavier less responsive steel bikes that were not aerodynamic do you seriously believe the average joe is going to gain something noticeable on a more expensive bike? Plus medium level components are designed to hold up to the rigors of street riding BETTER than the highest end components that are designed for racing and not rough potholed cracked pavement.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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I am referring to the difference between a department store bike, which is a toy and a good quality $1500.00 bike. Of course I can tell the difference in an lower end aluminum frame bike and a 5k carbon frame.
 

treecko142

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2018
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Yeah, you don't really need an expensive bike to enjoy biking leisurely or even for a decent amount of road biking. Of course, it will help if you invest in a really good bike in the event that you take biking more seriously than you first intended to.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
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Point is for someone who rides maybe once a week and goes around some small park or their neighborhood a $600 or so new bike is just fine, in fact the Schwinn Volare 1300, GMC Denali, Tommaso Imola, Tommaso Forcella (for women), or the Giant Contend 3 (in order of lowest cost to highest) are really good bikes for the money and have gotten high reviews from users. Walmart branded bikes suck big time, so stay away from those.

The best of the ones that I mentioned is the Giant, however the best lowest costing one is the Schwinn with the GMC Denali not much more than the Schwinn but with slightly better components, the other two are middle of the road in regards to lowest costing bikes. Will those bikes last 50,000 plus miles? highly doubtful, but they'll easily last 10,000 miles, and for a the casual user that could be a lifetime of miles, if the casual rider decides to ride a lot then they will automatically want to graduate to a better bike when the low costing ones start to have issues.

Or buy a nice mid level quality used bike for around $300 and have a much nicer bike and last far longer than the ones I mentioned that are new, and will be far easier to get replacement parts for should that ever be required. Finding a good condition mid level used bike will take patience depending on where you live, I live in a city of 250,000 or so people and it's difficult to find a good brand mid level bike, in fact I haven't seen one for about a year, but larger cities these bikes are more plentiful. Also check garage and estate sales and places like Goodwill, sometimes even police auctions will have a few nice ones, and recycle yards...yes people throw away stuff they think is junk, or maybe needs $80 or so in repairs and they just toss it not thinking it's worth repairing. The bikes I found in the trash, the mountain bike I gave to my daughter needed $80 in parts, the bike sold new for $750 in 1997 and is extremely lightweight, it was a Kona Lava Dome ridgid; the other bike I found in the trash is a 83 Schwinn Voyager, I've ridden the bike and all it needs is new cables though the old ones work (newer modern cables have a lot less friction than the old school cables had and will make the system perform a lot smoother), and tires. And I've known people who found nice bikes in the recycle yard in town, they paid the recycle people $20 for the bike and they would fix it themselves, some people get those recycle yard bikes and resell them!
 

rob nol

New Member
Jun 21, 2018
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Hello, I was having this discussion with another cyclist, who is very experienced and more than capable, whilst I am only 4 months into cycling to paint the picture here.. Anyway I asked him if he had a twin brother, identical in every way in terms of weight, muscular strength and cardio endurance, however the only difference is that this brother rode a $400 alloy 10-11 kg bike, and he rode a $5500 full carbon 6.5-7.5kg bike, how much difference would there be in terms of performance, in particular, time and speed, not so much interested in the comfort stakes here.. Just performance.. Is the difference really worth it, if u are a ride who rides 1-2 a week, or if u ride 200 km a week, to a guy who races in competitions every other weekend... When does it get to the point where u simply have to have this $5500 beast?? Love some thoughts on this. I'd like to have a Mercedes luxury sedan, however my Ford sedan does everything that I need it for... The price difference is simply too great, and certainly would not even consider spending thousands extra for better seats, or nice interior to better duco!! What should u expect from in terms of what the $5500 or more carbon bike is giving you, that the $400 isn't?
you dont have to buy a high dollar bike to be fast ive whipped past countless high dollar bikes and their high dollar wanna be riders...….very satisfying I might add....no amount of money will make up for a weak ass riders lack of muscle or ability
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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you dont have to buy a high dollar bike to be fast ive whipped past countless high dollar bikes and their high dollar wanna be riders...….very satisfying I might add....no amount of money will make up for a weak ass riders lack of muscle or ability
It is not about who is faster. It is about the quality of the ride and the quality of satisfaction. Every individual needs to find their own level.
 
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Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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you dont have to buy a high dollar bike to be fast ive whipped past countless high dollar bikes and their high dollar wanna be riders...….very satisfying I might add....no amount of money will make up for a weak ass riders lack of muscle or ability

this is absolutely correct. I've told people this example before but I bet you could put Lance Armstrong, when he was in his prime, on say my heaviest road bike that weighs 25 pounds, made of steel, and I bet he could beat everyone on this forum, heck he might be able to do that even now!

I've been riding for over 40 years, I even use to race, but no higher than a cat 3, I like bikes, I have the money to buy an expensive bike if I choose too, but I don't have the need for such a bike, even if I was racing today in my prime I still wouldn't buy an expensive bike! Why? because having raced I've seen A LOT of accidents because they're all amateurs and they don't know what they're doing, and in those crashes frames and or components would get destroyed, so even in the old days I didn't buy the most expensive bike to race on because I knew the risks. So yeah, just because a person went and bought a $13,000 wonder racing bike doesn't make that person the fastest in town.

Cycling has become what golf use to be, the wealthy corporate types, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc have gone to cycling, and just as what happen to golf with golfing products advertising $2,000 for ONE golf club will improve your game, and they had all the scientific mumbo jumbo baloney to make it sound like it could, but quite simply could not improve your game, because it was all about the person swinging the club and not the club; and so it is now with bicycles who have taken up the same mumbo jumbo baloney in an attempt, and they are successful in their attempts, to sell you product that won't do a darn thing for you to improve your speed.

Let's look at this another way so as one can see the utter ridiculousness that's going on in the industry; here is a commonly known bicycle company called Trek, and this is a picture of their Madone 9.9:
That little gem cost about $12,000! Please take a real close look at that bike, in fact google it and get all the juicy specs about it. I love marketing phrases they used like "Kammtail Virtual Foil aerodynamic tube shaping", or "H2 fit" what about the Aero 3S Chain keeper; and then they say BS like "This is the benchmark platform for race bikes: it's smooth, light, and aero in one complete package, and this is a recipe no competitors can touch"; really, no competitor? I beg to differ but I'll leave that arguement for the other bicycle manufactures who will take odds with that statement; and this one I really love; "It looks like it can out-match a motorcycle—and with the right legs, it probably can"...really? LOL!! I'm laughing because I'm now going to make Trek eat those words! Because now I want you to compare for the same amount of money that Trek with this: https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/hyper-naked/models/fz-10 this motorcycle puts out 158 horsepower, please let me know if you will ever find the right legs that will out match it riding on a Madone 9.9! But I also want you to look real close at the pictures of those two bikes and the specs, and please tell me where the Trek has so much technology in it that it's equal to the price of that motorcycle or any other motorcycle as far as that goes!

This is the type of BS we've bought into, somehow a simple bicycle is now worth more new than a much more complicated motorcycle. I dare to say but that Trek Madone 9.9 is probably worth closer to $3,000 and I think I'm being way over generous on that!

I can hear the mobs of people screaming at me while they buy their $64 CF water bottle cages...but it's made by Wings so it must be aerodynamic and it might help the bike to fly.
 

cyclintom

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2011
1,274
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Hello, I was having this discussion with another cyclist, who is very experienced and more than capable, whilst I am only 4 months into cycling to paint the picture here.. Anyway I asked him if he had a twin brother, identical in every way in terms of weight, muscular strength and cardio endurance, however the only difference is that this brother rode a $400 alloy 10-11 kg bike, and he rode a $5500 full carbon 6.5-7.5kg bike, how much difference would there be in terms of performance, in particular, time and speed, not so much interested in the comfort stakes here.. Just performance.. Is the difference really worth it, if u are a ride who rides 1-2 a week, or if u ride 200 km a week, to a guy who races in competitions every other weekend... When does it get to the point where u simply have to have this $5500 beast?? Love some thoughts on this. I'd like to have a Mercedes luxury sedan, however my Ford sedan does everything that I need it for... The price difference is simply too great, and certainly would not even consider spending thousands extra for better seats, or nice interior to better duco!! What should u expect from in terms of what the $5500 or more carbon bike is giving you, that the $400 isn't?

Yee gods! Wannabee racers talking ****. Wannabee experts talking ****.

You were pretty clear what your question was.

Should you buy a carbon fiber bike because it climbs faster? Hell no. Ride any moderately good bike that you can still get parts for. This means that you are pretty much stuck with an 11 speed double - if you're in the hilly area you buy a compact crank and if you're not a standard crank. Don't pay 3 times as much for parts because they are made out of a lighter material - get to be a better rider.

Don't buy ANY bike if you are going to pretend that you're a better rider than they are because you're faster. I can't tell you how many riders have sailed past me only to be laying over the rail at the top of the climb puking. As I ride over you can see them jumping on their bikes because like dude they're faster. Trouble is that they are afraid of the downhill speeds and they can't take turns at speed.

There was an ex-pro that was helping to train the Oakland Yellowjackets racing team. The first time I saw them they were going up Tunnel Rd with him riding alongside 6 or 8 black riders and explaining things to them. The last time I saw them he could hardly keep up with the 20 year difference in their ages and their growing abilities. He was proud that he could be a part of that and not pushed out of shape because he couldn't beat any one of them.

I've returned to old steel bikes. I have a Pinarello Stelvio, a Basso Loto and an Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. I'm trying to unload the rest of my stuff but no one seems to be buying anything but new top of the line stuff for $10,000 a whack and this from people who walk bikes over a freeway overpass.
 

Uawadall

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Jun 14, 2015
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I'm no expert, but 4 years in and 2 bike purchases later (1 alloy endurance, 1 carbon aero), I can say that bikes don't make much of a difference if......You have a competent bike. A "entry level" road bike of any popular brand will suffice. People may disagree with this statement, but comfort and gear range are the 2 most important things for a road bike. If your bike causes you discomfort or an overuse injury, thats time of the bike that will lead you to get out of shape. Your bike can be as light as a feather, but if you can't spin up a hill, what good is that lightness? 18 pounds with a compact crank will get you up the steep stuff faster than 12 with a standard for most people. I'm an admitted gear masher, but this is fact.

I do like shiny new bikes even after acknowledging all of this. Comfort on a bike seems to come relatively easy for me and if it remains that way, looking cool and having the right gear range may be enough reason to me to purchase one bike over the other. I see nothing wrong with purchasing for aesthetic reasons, just don't believe the hype that it will make you "so much faster).

Wheels are a bit of a different matter. Changing from 100 dollar budget shimano r500 to Mavic Kysirium Elites added around .75mph to my speed, that is pretty significant. Even so, I use 100 dollar wheels on rides all the time and they are fine unless i'm trying to time myself or keep up with a fast group.

Bikes are cool, but the 8000 bike marketing gimmicks are just gimmicks.
 

cyclintom

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2011
1,274
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I'm no expert, but 4 years in and 2 bike purchases later (1 alloy endurance, 1 carbon aero), I can say that bikes don't make much of a difference if......You have a competent bike. A "entry level" road bike of any popular brand will suffice. People may disagree with this statement, but comfort and gear range are the 2 most important things for a road bike. If your bike causes you discomfort or an overuse injury, thats time of the bike that will lead you to get out of shape. Your bike can be as light as a feather, but if you can't spin up a hill, what good is that lightness? 18 pounds with a compact crank will get you up the steep stuff faster than 12 with a standard for most people. I'm an admitted gear masher, but this is fact.

I do like shiny new bikes even after acknowledging all of this. Comfort on a bike seems to come relatively easy for me and if it remains that way, looking cool and having the right gear range may be enough reason to me to purchase one bike over the other. I see nothing wrong with purchasing for aesthetic reasons, just don't believe the hype that it will make you "so much faster).

Wheels are a bit of a different matter. Changing from 100 dollar budget shimano r500 to Mavic Kysirium Elites added around .75mph to my speed, that is pretty significant. Even so, I use 100 dollar wheels on rides all the time and they are fine unless i'm trying to time myself or keep up with a fast group.

Bikes are cool, but the 8000 bike marketing gimmicks are just gimmicks.
We pretty much agree.

Though I will say categorically do NOT buy Shimano wheels. If you're over 180 lbs the lighter Mavic wheels won't last long. I stay away from Carbon wheels for many reasons but sometimes you can get some spectacular deals on closeouts. I went with the aero-wheel fad and got off of that damned quick when getting blown all over the road unpredictably in gusting cross winds. But this still gives you a great choice of wheels. Though we no longer by hubs and rims separately and spoke them up ourselves, the only advantage you could get from that was wheels that would stand heavier riders. And these days there are some pretty heavy riders and quite surprisingly some of them are fast despite their weight.

One of the unfortunate trends is the million speed drivetrain. We had 5 then 6 for a long time. Then 7 came along and we have that for a long time. Then 8 speeds which worked very nicely. Then 9 speeds and the wheels started getting wider. And the chain narrower. And the cassette cogs were narrower and wore faster. Then the 10 speed with narrower cogs and chains but they started catching up with the cog wear while chains started breaking for the super-light models.

Now it is difficult to get descent cogsets for 8, 9 or 10 speeds which was why I was mentioning 11 speeds if you're getting a new bike. Also it is getting very difficult to get cranksets that aren't BB286 or BB30. Most standard ratio cranks are still 130 mm c-c but there are some that are 110 mm so you have to know what you're buying.

In the end it is better for any new rider to buy a complete bike rather than an expensive one that is built up custom builds. I have modern components on old steel bikes and have finally stopped looking at all of the new stuff out. But the Campy group is 10 speeds and Campy doesn't make parts anymore. So when the distributors run out of 10 speed parts I'll have to break down and by that time you'll have to use 12 speeds.

Someone is going to make a killing making replacement parts of Campy, Shimano Ultegra is cheap the way it is as long as you use ALL Ultegra and don't mix them with anything other than 105 or Dura($$$)Ace.

So the best bet if you're buying new is an Ultegra groupset on an Al bike with 28 mm tires to keep the ride soft enough.