how much difference does a quality bike make for ave joe



looseleftie

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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?
 

AyeYo

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Mar 21, 2014
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Your car example is a good one. It's not all about going faster. It's about improved overall experience. Less road vibration, crisper shifts, more solid feeling brakes, a less flexy frame, etc. That stuff doesn't always mean much to most people which is why few shell out the extra money for luxury cars and $6000 bikes. The speed difference will be negligible. The ride experience will be improved, but is it enough to justify the cost to a casual rider? Usually not, but that depends on what your bank account looks like. I think you'll find that most middle-class, enthusiast riders that partake in the occasional race will agree that for their purposes, something in the $2000-3000 range offers the best bang for the buck. Will it be faster than a $700 bike? Barely. Will it be more enjoyable to ride 200+ miles per week, have less annoying quirks/shortcomings, and be more reliable over time? Definitely. As for when it's actually NEEDED, not until the pro level where everyone is in such top physical shape that microscopic equipment gains can make or break someone's race. Go to a local crit race and watch the middle aged guys on stock aluminum bikes mop the floor with the carbon everything crowd. Amateur racing/riding is 50% luck, 45% skill, and 5% equipment.
 
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Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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After spending a lot of time reading about bikes and having a "groundhog day" routine with an Allez, noticed that the LBS had a full carbon Tarmac for a test-ride.

I arranged the test-ride and off I was to replicate the same route.


The Tarmac is lighter, much lighter.

It climbs fantastically (with a 28t cassette it feels that it climbs better then the Allez with the 32t cassette it has at the moment).

The brakes were scary-efficient. (They were almost blocking the wheel on the slightest activation of the lever).

On a straight line, pretty much the same, maybe it accelerates a bit faster.


The paintjob was good, you can lift it from the top tube and not scratch it with the cables because they are run internally, the ultegra levers dont have any "antennae - like" cables cluttering the handlebar. The shifting mechanism was a bit crisper (just a bit though).


It costed 4500 euro new.


Does it worth all that extra money? Not reaaally, but now it's on sale for 2000 euro.
wink.png
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Quote:

Originally Posted by AyeYo .

I think you'll find that most middle-class, enthusiast riders that partake in the occasional race will agree that for their purposes, something in the $2000-3000 range offers the best bang for the buck. Will it be faster than a $700 bike? Barely. Will it be more enjoyable to ride 200+ miles per week, have less annoying quirks/shortcomings, and be more reliable over time? Definitely.

That about hits it, although I'd extend the lower end of that range a bit. An upgraded aluminum frame with a mid-range drivetrain (105, Rival, or Veloce) makes a darned nice ride.
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by looseleftie

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.

What should u expect from in terms of what the $5500 or more carbon bike is giving you, that the $400 isn't?
If I leave my bicycle alone for a couple days, brake cables and shift cables would corrode enough that they do not work.

I now use electronic shifting. You will not find that on $400 bikes.

If you have a lot of hills to climb, 4kg of weight difference is a lot.

I wear out well over $400 in parts each year and that is on a $3000 bike.


But the most important difference is reliability of the bike. If the fork or frame fail, you can get hurt. Other issues just leave you stranded.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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quote by LL:
"however my Ford sedan does everything that I need it for..."

It all boils down to what you need. Or want.

In terms of performance there will be noticeable differences in almost every area. Even the 'average joe' cyclist doing 200 Km a week would notice these. Faster acceleration...quicker handling...more rugged components...faster shifting...quicker climbing...etc. Quantifiably, these would be small performance differences as the above posters have stated. Still, they would very likely be appreciated.



"When does it get to the point where u simply have to have this $5500 beast??"

Simply put; when you want one.

From freds to amateur racers to tourists to club-run addicts, almost every cyclist eventually wants a great bike. If only elite athletes wanted high-end bikes the sales figures for the USA might number in the hundreds instead of tens of thousands.



"What should u expect from in terms of what the $5500 or more carbon bike is giving you, that the $400 isn't?"

Well, unlike your Mercedes-Benz example a high-end road bike ain't going to get you laid. However, you can expect a more responsive, lively machine that responds more quickly to your inputs. It will likely be easier to maintain, be more durable and less finicky than a cheaper bike. You will, perhaps, go faster on it because it inspires to to greater effort.
 

jhuskey

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Oct 6, 2003
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"Well, unlike your Mercedes-Benz example a high-end road bike ain't going to get you laid'

I would say that neither will get you laid but either one might get you noticed. I all depends on who you are trying to attract.
Another comparison might be that when you are starving a hot dog tastes as good as a steak so a $1200.00 bike would seem fantastic if you are riding a department store boat anchor.
If it makes you feel better about your self screw everyone elses opinion, afterall they are not paying the bill.
 

Volnix

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2011
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Originally Posted by jhuskey
"Well, unlike your Mercedes-Benz example a high-end road bike ain't going to get you laid'
Couldn't resist.
big-smile.png
"He drives a Camaro, I'm in heaven!"
big-smile.png


Hey, what if you like these blasé Eco-Conscious girls? A "Mercedes" wont do it...
big-smile.png


 

gs12

New Member
Jul 30, 2013
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I've been into biking for 2 years now, still feel like a newbie. I average approx 100 miles a week @ 16.5 MPH... I love the Trek 1.2 (2013) i bought, it is a great entry bike - yet doesn't feel like one. It is light, fast and efficient... I think i paid $1,200 for it. I have absolutely no complaints. Could i upgrade, probably but...why? I love this bike, i've bonded with it. I know, no better either, so i haven nothing to really compare it to, but for now...i'm pretty happy. Might look to upgrade in another year or two.
 

Dansky

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Jan 25, 2010
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I think it’s a great idea to stick to an entry-level bike for your first couple of cycling seasons while you continue developing your bike handling skills and learning how to get stronger/faster.
I can’t speak with regard to a $5500 bike, but my carbon Giant TCR is about half that price, and gives me what I consider a significant upgrade to my “fun factor.” The Ultegra components shift more smoothly and reliably than they did on my entry-level bike with Tiagra parts. The bike looks a lot cooler too, which I like to believe motivates me to ride it more often, and that’s always a good thing.
Everything is also much lighter, and although I’m definitely not one of the über-conscious “weight wienies” out there, this fact tends to make my cycling experience more enjoyable. Somehow, the idea of slugging a 23 lb bike up the mountains in Colorado - straight into a headwind- doesn’t leave me feeling quite so unpleasant inside anymore on a bike that weighs 17 lbs. Granted, I actually took a bit of pride in being able to do so, but here’s another angle to consider. One of the unique aspects of cycling is the fact that any of us non-pro mere mortals can go out and essentially purchase (if you’ve got the cash of course) the same exact equipment that is used in a pro cycling team. Speaking for myself only, I’d feel silly riding the highest-end equipment if I didn’t have the legs to back it up.
To answer your question, “When does it get to the point where you simply have to have this $5500 beast?” I’d first suggest that you may not wish to go nearly that high in price in order to enjoy a significantly better riding experience. And to answer your question even more directly, — perhaps the time to make that jump is when you feel you’ve earned it. Specifically, once you’ve built up your speed, power and endurance…as well as your own bike skills and knowledge. I figure if you’ve invested that much time and energy to develop yourself as a serious cyclist, then it would certainly seem appropriate to invest in a bike that would suit your development.
 

looseleftie

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Apr 17, 2014
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Cheers guys, awesome responses, and ALL have given me something to think about.. Ok, another question (or two! :)) .. So, if aside from a much smoother ride, easy and more responsive gear changes, then for a middle age bloke looking at riding 200km a week, and if the speed is relatively similar from a cheapy to a more high end carbon bike, then why would anyone in their right mind spend that amount of money, unless it's vanity?.. If u are a pro, and every minute detail counts, then get what u need, but why are there so many middle aged men riding expensive bikes, most of them are stronger riders than me, but not by a great deal, and I have only just started really!! So, getting a quality aluminium frame, with good components and perhaps light weight rims, at a price range of around $1000-$2000 or a tad more, should keep me up with the average joe cyclist, shouldn't it?? With the added benefit of frame strength and longevity with the alloy frame (hope I am write in thinking this). Love all thoughts here guys.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by looseleftie


why would anyone in their right mind spend that amount of money, unless it's vanity?..
Maybe they raced as kids but were too poor to afford the good stuff but now make a little more and can finally afford the bike of their dreams, maybe they don't make enough to afford a nice car but they make enough to afford a nice bike, maybe they were upsold from their original selection by a good salesman, maybe they bought into the marketing hype that the bike was "faster", maybe they make more money than they know what to do with, maybe they just got dumped by their girlfriend and needed a little shop therapy to cheer them up, maybe they just started a training regimen and were hoping the considerable expense would give them more motivation to stick to the plan, maybe their colleagues did something nice for them and all chipped in to buy them a new bike because they'll never be able to afford one on the salary they make.

All true stories.

Riders who judge other riders without knowing them based on their expensive equipment choices are just as bad a those snobs who look down their noses at riders who can't afford pro gear. I try to avoid both.

You'll do fine on a bike in the $1000-2000 range and will have zero problem keeping up with blokes riding fancy gear as long as you put in the miles.
 

Dansky

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Jan 25, 2010
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Originally Posted by danfoz
You'll do fine on a bike in the $1000-2000 range and will have zero problem keeping up with blokes riding fancy gear as long as you put in the miles.
Bingo. I own a 2nd road bike with slightly lesser-grade components (Shimano 105), and the frame is aluminum. It falls right within the range of $1000 - $2000, and I cycle just as fast on it as my more expensive "Sunday ride/event bike." Better to tinker with as well; I don't fret trying to do my own maintenance on it, versus on the pricier and less-forgiving carbon fiber frameset.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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Bike manufacturers make some really attractive machines that perform beautifully but you have spend a lot of money to get a second or two advantage over another. The people I know bought more expensive rides because they enjoy having something nice. The new rides did not make them faster or a better cyclist.

Performance can only be marginally improved by spending loads of cash. Here is why:

Weight: The rider is the most massive part. Intermediate priced bikes are sub 20 pounds, more expensive closer to 15 pounds. A 5 pound bike weight reduction is a 3% reduction for a 150 pound rider and bike. Bike weight is only a small factor in overall speed, climbs need to get pretty steep and or long to make small weight changes significant.

Comfort: A good frame can absorb some vibration, but the majority of comfort will come from the fit of a bike, the saddle and the tires.

Speed: Speed comes from the engine and aerodynamics. Again having a good fit is important, you need to be in a position to create power and also be aerodynamic (not upright).

Shifting/Mechanicals: I have never had issues shifting modern, well adjusted, indexed systems. Differences in performance are very small. I can't speak for electronic systems, people do love'em. More gear ratios are desire-able, but you can get 9 or 10 speed shifters in reasonably priced groups nowadays.

As long as your bike is reasonably light weight, fits well, puts you in the right position and is mechanically sound you are good to go.

For fun I recently built up a bike with a nice, inexpensive steel frame, hulking steel fork, heavy 36 spoke wheelset, rear rack and a well worn sora 8 speed brifter and derailleur set. The bike weighs 30 pounds - but you know what? It is a dammed comfortable and acceptably fast ride. In fact, it is my preferred ride for long solo centuries. I have even taken it to a few spirited group rides and was able not only keep up but challenge the strongest riders on a few sprints.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Don't forget color. The color of the bike can have a great effect on speed. I think black bikes are generally faster. :)
 

AyeYo

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Mar 21, 2014
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Flat black must be the fastest color of all, because every new model bike this year seems to be some variation of a flat black paint scheme. I'll stick to my bright red for fast colors. The automotive world decided long ago that that was the fastest color. Plus I heard gloss paint is more slippery than matte paint and can save 0.342 seconds in a 40k TT.




Quote:
Originally Posted by danfoz .
Riders who judge other riders without knowing them based on their expensive equipment choices are just as bad a those snobs who look down their noses at riders who can't afford pro gear. I try to avoid both.



Good advice for sure.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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The fastest color depends on what direction is shining from. If the sun is in front, black it better because it will absorb the photons instead of reflect them and transfer less momentum. If the sun is at the back, then choose white as the photons will be reflected adding to the forward momentum of the bike.

I better quick get the patent for the black in front, white in back color scheme!
 

pvillemasher

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Sep 29, 2013
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Originally Posted by looseleftie

then why would anyone in their right mind spend that amount of money, unless it's vanity?..
Why would anyone in their right mind buy anything besides a Honda Civic?

And never forget - To many people, $5,000 or $10,000 is not a lot of money.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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pvillemasher said:
Why would anyone in their right mind buy anything besides a Honda Civic? And never forget - To many people, $5,000 or $10,000 is not a lot of money.
I will answer as soon as I stop laughing.
 

Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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The fastest color is pink, especially fast with pink lycra and shaved legs in a "redneck is it?" town. You -will- go faster in that situation. :D Getting wrapped in sausages makes you faster in cross country in the wilderness in Africa too. :D Btw aluminium is not more durable under normal use then carbon (allthough carbon stuff breaks too) but it might not get too seriously damaged in a crash... Might.