I was sent the link to the above video. It drags on for 37 minutes, and it could have said the same thing in a third of that time. However, it does raise some interesting points. The main one being, why do the top end bikes cost so much?
It is pointed out that a Trek carbon fiber bike can cost $13,500 and a Kawasaki motorcycle $4,000. Maybe there are more motorcycles sold worldwide than carbon fiber bikes, but when you take into account the number of parts in a motorcycle compared to a bicycle, and what the labor costs must be to just to assemble a motorcycle, how and why should the bicycle cost almost three times as much?
The video also compares the $13,500 Trek to a $650 Motobecane. We all know the Trek has a better frame, better wheels, better group of components, but is it 20 times better? Is it really worth almost $13,000 more?
I’m not sure how much flexibility a bike dealer will give a customer, but the video points out that when a cyclist reaches the level that he wants a high end bike, he wants certain gear ratios, crank length, handlebars, saddle, etc. etc.
Back in the 1980s when I had my business, I built frames only. I sold them to bike dealers and the built them into bikes. The customer got to choose every part that went on the bike.
There were Motobecanes back the then, along with Nishikis, Centurians, and other production bikes. When a customer test rode one of these bikes and compared it to a Fuso that I had built, there was no comparison in the way it performed and handled. One was a production bike, the other had a hand built frame.
But pricewise the Fuso was not 20 times more than the production bike. In fact if the dealer put lower price components on the Fuso, like Sugino, and Sun Tour, the Fuso would come out at about the same price as the Nishiki or Centurian. However, the Fuso would outperform the production bike even with cheap components.
There is a culture within the cycling community now that almost wants to pay these high prices. I guess that is okay, it is up to any individual how they spend money. And there are plenty of lower priced bikes for those who can’t or don’t want to pay these prices.
You can go to the National Hand Built Bike Show and there are hundreds of craftsmen framebuilders who will build you something really nice for probably less than the $13,500 Trek.
A lot of the money companies like Trek make go into marketing and sponsoring professional teams that ride in the Tour de France and other events, which in turn creates the demand for more $13,500 bicycles. I am just grateful I am no longer part of this crazy business.
Footnote: For some reason the video starts 15 minutes in. If you have that problem drag the red bar back to the start.