The Angry Singlespeeder: Stop whining about cost of bikes

Nobody cares whether you can afford a new one or not

A 1993 John Tomac Championship Edition Titanium Raleigh mountain bike ran upwards of $6,000 – nearly $10,000 today. Photo by Mtbr user First Flight –

A 1993 John Tomac Championship Edition Titanium Raleigh mountain bike ran upwards of $6,000 – nearly $10,000 today (click to enlarge). Photo by Mtbr user First Flight –

Back in my high school days of the early 1990s, I lusted after a John Tomac Championship Edition Titanium Raleigh mountain bike. For its time, Johnny T’s Raleigh was the epitome of racing technology; a titanium-lugged, carbon fiber-tubed wunderbike built with M900 Shimano XTR, a Rock Shox Mag 21 and the unmistakable Tioga Disc Drive rear wheel. And what I remember more than anything else was the price – a whopping $6,000 in 1993 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to more than $9,800 today.

The Raleigh was a hardtail, had cantilever brakes and 60 millimeters of suspension that flexed so much you could make the tire rub the brake arch under hard cornering. By today’s standards, Johnny T’s high-zoot Raleigh race bike is considered prehistoric, yet when some people see a modern carbon fiber full-suspension mountain bike approaching $10,000, they flip their lid and wax poetic about how the bike industry is raping the consumer.

A bike like the $9,300 Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 is an incredible feat of engineering. It’s one of the most versatile and well-balanced trail bikes I’ve ever ridden. Sporting 29-inch wheels, short 430mm chainstays, 155mm of seemingly bottomless suspension and weighing in at only 28 pounds, the Enduro 29 makes Johnny T’s old Raleigh look like an unrideable death trap.

The Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 is regarded by many as the most capable and versatile trail bike ever built.

The Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 is regarded by many as the most capable and versatile trail bike ever built (click to enlarge).

The amount of technology and innovation that’s packed into today’s mountain bikes is simply astonishing, light years better than even a decade ago. And adjusted for inflation, today’s ultra-premium mountain bikes are no more expensive than they were in 1993. In fact, adjusted for inflation, that seemingly exorbitant S-Works Enduro 29 costs less than Johnny T’s 1993 Raleigh.

So if this is the case, then why do people get so bent out of shape about how expensive new bikes are? The whining and moaning over social media about the expense of mountain bikes lacks any and all perspective. Some people try to point out that a new Honda CRF 450r costs as much as a S-Works Enduro 29, as if this point proves how much of a rip-off the Specialized is.

Aaron Gwin en route to his 2013 Sea Otter Classic Downhill victory on a S-Works Enduro 29 (click to enlarge). Photo by John Shafer

But these people are missing several key pieces of information, the most important of which is that the S-Works Enduro 29 a consumer can buy is the same exact bike that downhill world champion Aaron Gwin raced to a victory at the 2013 Sea Otter Classic downhill. The showroom CRF 450r most definitely is not the exact bike seen ripping around the AMA Supercross circuit. There’s at least another $15,000 in custom suspension and componentry on those bikes, so comparing the cost of a showroom Enduro 29 and CRF 450r is moot.

The same people I hear bitching about the cost of a new mountain bike are often the same ones who wouldn’t hesitate to drop two hundo in a night at the local watering hole. For those who ride nearly every day and draw incredible amounts of pleasure from riding, depending on their socioeconomic status, spending as much as $9,000 on a bike might be money well spent. Just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean it’s absurd. Looking for a more affordable alternative? The Enduro Comp 29 shares the same design as the S-Works model and is $3,600.

I see plenty of people in Downieville rocking mountain bikes worth more than my car. What the hell do I care? If they’re having fun, then the money spent is worth it. Blasting Downieville on an Enduro 29 is magnitudes more fun and less perilous than just trying to survive it on Johnny T’s old Raleigh. And the broken bike and body parts from attempting Downieville on the Raleigh makes the Enduro 29 look like an even greater bargain.

For the past ten months I’ve been riding a RockShox RS-1, a suspension fork with a $1,865 retail price that requires an additional $238 for the proprietary Predictive Steering hub. The RS-1 seems to garner the same price outrage that the Enduro 29 and its brethren get. But the RS-1 is like the Ferrari of suspension forks. Do people bitch about the cost of a 458 Spider when driving by a Ferrari dealership in their Chevy? Unless they’re an unmitigated toolbag, no. The RS-1 represents the epitome of suspension innovation, so naturally, it’s going to be exorbitantly expensive. Don’t hate on it because you think the cost is outrageous.

The RockShox RS-1 represents the pinnacle of the brand’s suspension engineering, hence it’s $1,865 retail price.

The RockShox RS-1 represents the pinnacle of the brand’s suspension engineering, hence it’s $1,865 retail price (click to enlarge).

While I can sort of understand why someone would whine about a $9,300 mountain bike, what really pisses me off is when someone complains about not being able to afford even a $2,000 mountain bike. The old adage “buy cheap, buy twice” is universally relevant, especially with bikes. Below a certain price point, performance drops off considerably. For anyone who is serious about riding and rides at least three days a week, $2,000 is the minimum you should consider for a new mountain bike – especially if it has full suspension.

Whining about how expensive bikes and bike components are only makes you look like a bitter and begrudging schmucktard. Jealousy is not an endearing trait. Can’t afford it? Then either get a better paying job, get an industry hookup, or keep your mouth shut. Nobody cares that you think it’s a rip off. Besides, a well-designed mountain bike that gets ridden almost every day is never a bad investment, regardless of how much you paid for it.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at [email protected]. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • Chicken_Rider says:

    Irony: Whining about people whining about the price of a mountain bike.

    I would have loved to see you compare the Raleigh to the “middle of the road” mtn bike in ’93, vs. the S-Works and it’s “middle of the road” bike for today. For example, was the Raleigh that much better than a basic mtn bike than the S-Works is today, to justify such a huge increase in price.

  • Dane says:

    “Below a certain price point, performance drops off considerably.” So true. Also true that there are considerable diminishing returns above a certain price point. I think $3.5-5k is the sweet spot for most of us.

    • joe says:

      I agree – however I think the point of considerable diminishing returns starts somewhere around $499 to $899 depending upon your riding needs. Then really starts dropping off rapidly around $2,000

  • ziscwg says:

    One of these days we have to get the A.S.S. on a Lefty so he can compare it to that Rock Shock thing. We already know which one is lighter. With both needing special hubs, it comes down to what performs better.

  • jay says:

    This is not factoring in the increased growth in the sport as well as the internet. There are more voices (increase in the sport) and more outlets and louder megaphones for them to use (the internet).

    I bet you the ratio of price complainers back then is the same as it is now. You just hear about it more because of the afore mentioned changes.

  • Russ says:

    ASS rides a lefty too. He’s a connoisseur of fine suspension. I saw his bike in Downieville a week ago. He’s on a Lefty Ripley.

  • Bokchoi Cowboy says:

    Kurt, I get your logic, explanations, and reasonings in your article.I understand cost, price, and value of what you can buy. Many of your points are valid. Nothing to complain about on the majority of your article.

    I do take exception to this line: “…what really pisses me off is when someone complains about not being able to afford even a $2,000 mountain bike”…this strikes me as very insensitive and elitist.

    There are many people who simply cannot put $2,000 down on a mountain bike who are avid passionate riders. They have a variety of reasons for this to be, all legitimate. There may be family costs, limits to income, other responsibilities they must attend to with their hard-earned money. They may wish to be able to purchase bikes and parts in excess of your $2K threshold, but their reality just does not allow it. They want to ride, they wish for performance or durable parts, but they just cannot afford it.

    And you are pissed off by this? I know, Angry Singlespeeder…it is your shtick.

    Your comment of: “Can’t afford it? Then either get a better paying job, get an industry hookup, or keep your mouth shut.”…goes a bit over the line as well.

    I like you Kurt, and your usual take on the world of mountain biking. I enjoy reading your articles when they come out, knowing I will get to read something that is not bound by the usual marketing influence, something that shies away from hawking the “latest big thing”. A bit of appreciated honesty seasoned with vitriol.

    But there is too much of the vitriol this time my friend. Perhaps the mirrorball is getting a bit too tight?

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Bokchoi – I’m not talking about those who want to get into mountain biking and can’t afford a $2,000 bike. I’m talking about those people who get pissed off and spew the same vitriol you speak of when presented with the fact that a solid performing full-suspension mountain bike costs at least $2,000. Sure, you can easily find a used mountain bike for half that, but price and performance have a direct correlation to a certain point (for me its about $5,000, above that, the correlation drops off quite a bit).

    And yes, I’ve been known to dabble in hyperbole. If you think I went over the line, then that means I’m hitting the mark I aimed for.

    – ASS

  • Aaron says:

    I don’t think the problem is that bikes cost so much. It’s the problem of the newer, better, lighter, stronger, faster bike that comes out next year, and all of a sudden, your $9,000 bike that was the cream of the crop last year is now a relic in industry terms, and you’ll be happy to get half as much from it in the used market. The value of Mountain bikes (bikes in general) depreciate worse than even the worst possible investments. Asking people to drop $10,000 on a bike that won’t be worth half that a year later, AND technologically “obsolete” is absolutely ludicrous and is going to leave people isolated and frustrated with the industry. The industry shouldn’t get in the way of its own progress.

  • Lummox says:

    The same “you NEED to spend this much” has been going on for 25 years that I know of. Mountain bikes are like computers there is a price point people will pay and not bitch and there is everything over that. FOREVER bike elitist have looked down on people that don’t pay 2.5K or higher for a bike, well guess what 2K seems to be the historical amount people are willing to pay for a TOY, like it or not this hobby is just playing with really cool toys.

    If you can afford a 3K or higher bike good for you, but I find if funny when a noob with more money than skills shows up with a 9K carbon 29er and can’t even do a creek crossing.

    • Lukas says:

      “2K seems to be the historical amount people are willing to pay for a Toy”…you apparently don’t know anyone who goes fishing in a boat, or has an ATV, or a gaming computer, or a track car, or a nice bicycle. It’s only funny when a noob has a nicer bike than you and less skill because if it weren’t funny it would be infuriating. So just admit you’re jealous, stop snickering, and give the guy some pointers. You’re living proof that everyone is elitist is some form or another.

  • turbodog says:

    I’m afraid single speed riding may in fact cause brain damage.

    Aaron Gwin is certainly not riding the same 29er Special-ed bike that the average dentist buys for $10k. It’s at least been modified and tweaked by pro mechanics, and in all likelyhood was built from scratch in the first place with a custom frame.

    Plenty of people won’t spend $2000 on a mountain bike. In fact, I would argue that someone walking into a shop and dropping $2k on a bike is either stupid, or stupid with their money. You can pick up a lightly used bike for under $2k and set it up well quite easily.

    I’ve built custom built a sub 28 lb, 6″ travel bike for about $3k, that will completely out ride that POS 29er specialized (and its typical owner) any day of the week. Just because a bike is shiny and high tech, doesn’t mean it’s well set up and fast.

  • professor says:

    All I have to say is learn how to build-up your own bikes and purchase slightly used equipment. You will save thousands and yield the same, if not better, build.

  • Phil says:

    Another point is the middle class has shrunk and real wages have dropped since 1990 thanks to NAFTA, etc, while the cost of living and everything else, including bikes, has gone ever upward. Fortunately for the high end bike market, the target demographic is as fanatical as ever so there is enough disposable income, or the will to spend, to obtain the equipment. There are also enough of them, the target demographic, because companies continue to have the budgets to innovate and bring these wonderful products to market. Perhaps the main gap, and this was the gap I remember, was being young drooling at the fantastic bikes on the showroom floor that I could not afford as a teenager or collage student. I worked all summer in 1992 to pick up a Giant ATX 760 (my first real mountain bike). Not the bike I wanted, but the bike I could afford. A year later, I sold the Giant and picked up a Klein frame and landed a bike shop job so I could afford to build it (at a discount). There is a noise gap though. When Specialized et. al states the MSRP of their S Works whatever there is always a collective groan. Truth is, no body but a handful of extremely well healed dorks buys this bike for full price. Most go as pro deals to shop employees or to sponsored riders, etc. The rest of the folks walking onto the showroom floor (I’ll say uneducated) have no idea the place an S Works bike hold in the lineup and are not really the customer for that bike. The rest of the folks educated about the state of the market say “Yeah, but you can get this or that, or do this or that, to achieve the same or similar level of performance.” So there is the groan; that is what the groan is. My personal case in point is I just built my wife a Turner Czar with custom everything off the shelf for $4,700. That is crap load of money, but nearly half of what Specialized is asking for a full carbon race bike. My wife’s bike is no slouch, either. Hope hubs and brakes, Race Face Next SL cranks. 2 x 10 with X9 Type II, XO twist shifters, hand built wheels, etc. There was a discount on the frame, and a few of the parts I got a good deal on, but that is the point, who is paying full price for anything anymore when if you are moderately savvy you can piece together what you want for a much better price than MSRP. MSRP in the high end has always been bravado anyway. Like the high end audio systems I used to look at when I was a kid “Investment $20,800”. Hubris calling anything retail an investment, but it certainly is a ballsy flag to wave and signals just the same that at least you think you have the complete confidence in the product to back up the claim.

  • Heffe says:

    I agree with the comment above, that mountain bikes are in essence really cool toys. Really expensive cool toys. In that light and slightly off topic, I’m considering purchasing either a Rockshox RS-1 27.5, or a DT Swiss OPM ODL RACE fork for my XC hardtail. Any thoughts about these 2 forks, ‘mano a mano’?

  • scott says:

    Writing about people whining about how expensive bikes and bike components are only makes you look like a(n uninspired) bitter and begrudging schmucktard.

  • Maromaco says:

    How much money did you receive from Specialized and Rock Shox?

  • dave_f says:

    I built up two bikes last winter, a 160/160 travel bike that does everything I would want for about $2700 and a dirt bike that got most of the parts from my old bike for about 1/5th of that. Fun factor of both is about equal. You just have to ask yourself if that raceface next crank performs that much better than an SLX to justify making that decision, if it’s really performance you’re looking for. There is no technology in the piece of aluminum with two holes in it that is labelled “Chromag Ranger” that makes it worth $100. I would like to see a follow-on article about women’s shoes.

    If you want to, you can just say no. Vote with your feet.

    Don’t get me wrong, my wife thinks she needs a new handbag. That’s fine, I like to see her happy. Just don’t expect me to empathize with people that think they need a new Prada (or was it Specialized) bike to have fun.

  • Dee Zee says:

    Where were high end bikes / components sourced in the 80’s 90’s? Where are they sourced now?

    Labor and material prices have come down (adjusted for inflation) so yea……..$10K for that Specialized is a rip off.

  • Wills says:

    In 1991 I built up a Fat Chance with at least 75% American made parts that was about $2400. Last year I built up a Yeti with maybe 10% American made parts for over $4500. The manufacturing has mostly been moved offshore where labor is a small percentage of American labor costs. The new carbon wonderbikes have a very limited lifespan compared to the american made 90’s bikes. You’re paying top dollar for a bike that will last a quarter as long. I’d really have to consider a FS titanium and have it last 10+ years vs carbon.

  • Gambit21 says:

    Points would have been better illustrated if ultra high end/high priced bikes were left out of it. Instead the piece should have concentrated on mid-range and entry level models and what we’re getting for our money vs 1993. As it is, it went off the rails, especially with the silly CR 450 analogy.

    Motocross bikes are expensive for what they are, bikes are even more expensive for what they are. You can throw around “adjusted for inflation” all you want, but with wages and the cost of living being what they are now – it’s an expensive hobby. Period.

    It’s an ironically whiny piece, and I think the A.S.S. got in his own way with shtick this time around.

  • tyrebyter says:

    Bikes, cars, yachts and horses cost what they cost because people will pay it. It’s called capitalism. It has NEVER had anything to do with utility, durability, performance or manufacturing cost. $10k bike? Sure, why not. $10k for a bike with a Horst Link… have you lost your mind? That’s some awesome marketing.

  • Smitty says:

    I’m happy with what I have and I like new stuff too. But my biggest issue is that everything I buy for the bike has to be bargained and negotiated with my CFO wife. I know, “don’t care” and “stop complaining” but when I see something I like/want (RS-1), and I see the price, I know I have no chance to justify the price to someone who does not ride a mountain bike. I just built up a new wheelset, so I have no negotiating power currently.

  • Frosted Flake says:

    My rebuilt 2003 Ironhorse Rouge Race is up to about $650 now. What with the NOS Manitou Mars Super. The new ultralight bar &stem &foam grips.The new WTB Rocket V saddle. The Mavic 819s on Swiss 370s with 500 gram tubeless tires. the 180mm XT 751 crank. The XT 765 shifters and brakes. The XTR 953 cassette. And the XTR 952 &953 derailers. Can I wine about it just a little?

    Okay, thanks.

    The damn thing weighs 23 pounds ! I could get (make) light wheels, get under ten kilos, but that’l bring the price of admission to over $800 !! I can’t afford that !!

    Okay, I’m done. What does that brand new $10,000 techo-marvel atop the page weigh in at? 28 pounds? Well I GUESS that’s okay. If you are racing DOWN hill

  • singletrackmack says:

    @Aaron makes a good point. Standards change so quickly that your whatever K bike will be worth less than half what you paid in a couple of years.

    What do you think that 1993 John Tomac Championship Edition Titanium Raleigh is worth today and what do you think that spec enduro will be worth in 5, 10 or 20 years? Hmm…….

  • tl1 says:

    Let them eat cake. The bike industry has spoken.

  • JD says:

    Mr Ass –

    you are quick to jump on others about the economy of scale issues, but look at your own examples.

    How many special edition Tomac’s were sold back then? How may did you see in a magazine vs actually ON the trail? I’ve see an handful of these live in my life. ……now think about your Enduro remark… man of those do you see on the trail? I see a handful every day

    Bike culture has changed a lot – its become more mainstream – and theres good and bad associated with that for sure, but the volume of high end bikes being sold is a ton, and when you factor that economy of scale in, yes – prices are too high.

    companies should stratify their lines less, and have fewer models that are solid values. they’d sell more bikes, and more people would be on bikes. and more people on bikes is better than one of your articles.

  • Cracker69 says:

    Dear Provocateur et al.,

    May I direct you all to an earlier article by the ASS where there is plenty of whining about prices:

    The ASS is not immune to the niggles of the hip pocket nerve – he just enjoys pushing our buttons.

    High end bike prices were and are laughable & the ASS knows this. The performance return per extra dollar beyond the middle of the range is astonishingly low. As objects of beauty there is something to be said – personally I don’t care for jewelry, I prefer no-nonsense performance.

  • Lew says:

    It’s not about the consumer cost as much as the environmental and manufacture costs. When you have slaves putting together disposable consumer electronics that are $200 of parts and putting a $1000 price tag on because you market it to saps as being ‘good’, that is a business strategy that every money capitalist will love. There being the temptation to copy the likes of Apple inside the cycle industry. An industry that should be sustainable industry done for the love of it, for a modest income. If you want to make serious money piss off and work in the mining, automotive or consumer electronics industries and stop darkening my door with overpriced and pointless new standards every five minutes that make hardly any difference and ruin any chance of interchangeability and cause landfill.

  • Sun says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. For the record the same asshats complain about prices on car websites, motorcycle websites, and I’m sure on knitting websites as well.

  • Colin M says:

    The ASS is such an industry brainwashed bicycle fan boy. I hope you wrote this to generate clicks because your comparisons are such shit it is laughable. Keep that well oiled machine running and us regular Joe’s will keep working to get this arrogant industry to stop the madness.

  • shawn says:

    I don’t care what anybody says. These companies are price gouging like crazy just because they can. Carbon fiber is a nice material but it is still not as durable as a metal frame. They complexity of designing the frame is a hazy barrage of technical talk that leaves consumers believing in anything they say. The fact of the matter is, once you develop it and mass produce it, the price goes down. These companies like carbon fiber because its new and a way to justify these ridiculous prices without ever stating the actual cost to actually produce a frame. Other materials work just as well and are more durable. The real problem is its getting harder to find a decent spec bike that’s not made out of carbon fiber at a reasonable price. And just because a bike is a 29er or 650b, that does not mean that it cost the company more to make it. They want to sell you a bike for $2000 with below SLX or Deor level components and always with a weak wheelset.

    However, there are good deals out there for those who know how to shop for deals and build their own bikes. You just have to ignor all the hype. Depending on your riding style, size, and other needs, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an aluminum 26er that fits you well and is well spec’d for its use. I think they should still be made available for those who do not race but just want to enjoy a nice bike at a decent price.

  • w says:

    Kurt knows his mission and his audience well.

  • lazyMe says:

    Because the market is always innovating for innovation. Prices will always be up. With basically three options to choose from SRAM Shimano and Camp the market is artificially inflated. keeping a good bike price outside of the Average beginner increases sales because they will have to buy several cheap bikes to test the sport instead of getting on a machine 2k+ and loving it from day one and holding on to it for years. 500 first bike + 1k of upgrades (wheels rubber broken stuff) + new bike 2k + 1k upgrades. a person will destroy any bike thats to cheap and will only last a year or two. so the consumer can pay one time fee of 2-3k for a one time buy or 7k over a ten year span including all bikes plus upgrades + 2.5 -3k (bike that’s made to last should had been bought the first time). what do you think the markets going to do? Keep being angry but dont spit apple and oranges to people its not the 80s.

  • Sun says:

    You guys/ gals act like someone else buying a $10K bike precludes you from buying a $400 bike. It seems like your mad that you can’t afford the $10K bike more than anything. At the least you should realize that you are able to buy the technology in that $10K bike, in 5 years for a fraction of the cost. In that way, you should be thrilled that someone can buy these products.
    Skill level has nothing to do with the bike you deserve to ride either. Maybe you should have spent less time riding your bike building your skills and instead have spent more time building your career?

  • Kevin Gorzny says:

    I can’t stand it when people claim that they comparison from a motorcycle to a mountain bike isn’t valid. It sure as hell is.

    I can buy a FACTORY EDITION KTM 450 SXF that is “based” on, for example., Ryan Dungey’s personal KTM 450 SXF – for about $9500. Yes of course it is not the same as Dungey’s – his suspension is “full factory” and other elements are different / better / more exotic or impossible to get.

    But guess what? I don’t NEED that factory bike – NO ONE DOES! For any mere mortal, their regular production-based motorcycle (the KTM 450 SXF in this example) is more motorcycle than any normal rider can even remotely utilize to its fullest, for about $8800. The production suspension is fantastic as-is. Set it up for your weight and with the possible exception of aspiring professionals, it is more than enough for 99% of the consumers out there.

    There are numerous great options for even less. KTM is king and has a ton of incredible motorcycles in the 7-8k range.

    Don’t compare a 10k bicycle and say its a great value because you’re getting the equivalent of a factory machine. Who cares – its totally ridiculous that they are reaching that price-point.

  • Lukas says:

    Wow…whole lotta nonsense in this thread. Run what you brung, people. I don’t care if it only cost two hundred bucks on CL. Rock it.

    @Aaron — if you’re worried about the resale value of your bike on the used market, you have no business buying a $10000 bike. People talk about fricken $10000 bikes like they’re the only option. I once rode with a guy at a local trail center…he was on a full rigid Huffy that he got at the police auction for $15. He rode everything I did (black diamond loops included) and had more fun than you do. We have this annoying assumption that bikes are mechanically simple and therefore should be “affordable,” so we freak when they’re not.

    @Kevin Gorzny — seriously? You don’t need the factory 450 SXF, you’re right. You also don’t need (and won’t know the difference afforded by) an S-Works. So buy a cheaper bike…it’s all you need. You say it’s ridiculous that bikes reach the prices they do…is it also ridiculous that cars can cost over a million bucks, homes can cost dozens of millions?…capitalism and “ridiculous price” are mutually exclusive. Get over it, and ride your bike. The one you have.

    I am reminded of a friend I had in college…completely owned me in every sport, mountain bike, snowboard, whitewater kayak…all on the crappiest, most garbage equipment available…he had not a care for the equipment and he had 10 times the fun I did, too. Capitalism, folks. There will be stuff that you want but can’t afford. There will also be serviceable options at more attainable prices. Praise the Lord.

    All that said…the “get a better job” bit was a low blow, Kurt.

  • FSR.Dude says:

    Ride whatever you can afford, look for the same bike with less chi-chi’ed components, or look on Craigslist for a used one. You don’t NEED a $10,000 bike. Many years ago, I consistently beat my friend in DH races when he was aboard his $5,600 Foes LTS that was spec’ed out to the max, and I did it on a $750 DBR V-Link 1.0 spec’ed with a 2.5″(?) travel RS Quad-21R and 3.18″ of rear travel. A buddy did an XC race at Big Bear on a beat-up 30+ pound rigid Trek, and half-way through his rear derailleur cable broke, and he still finished in the top 1/2 of the field despite being terrible on all of the descents.

    I own an FSR, but am equally as happy riding my 1998 and 1997 M2’s. Just Do It. You don’t NEED a super-expensive mountain bike to have fun or get into great shape. It does you no good complaining about the price of bikes. Just ride whatever you can afford.

  • Scotch Hennessy says:

    I too slobbered over that Johnny T machine back in the day! Over the past 25 years I’ve owned too many bikes to count. Each bike held a bit of a rush when purchased new..and each lost it’s importance once held as the next one took its place. I’ve really enjoyed the trip the industry Engineers have taken me on over the last 25 years. Can’t wait to see what I’ll be riding in 2030!

  • duder says:

    Its funny watching the transition of people from casual biker, to full on enthusiast. I for one am a prime example. Bought a Rockhopper for my first bike was in the $800 range and felt that was expensive, and the FS they tried to get me on for $2000 was down right absurd. A decade later, I have an HD3 and a Hakkalugi Disc that sticker in the $3-5000 range along, with a commuter and fully rigid 29er both in the $1500 range. I’ve noticed it with a couple friends that stuck with cycling too. We all wished we’d bought more bike to begin with than we did, hindsight. Funny that the ones that ignored my advice to get all the bike you can afford upfront end up going cheap, and then eventually give up riding as the bike craps out or they just cant keep up.

  • Shane says:

    You’re way off, here’s a real comparison of bikes normal people actually ride just in the past 7 years. All xt/lx bits, similiar suspension, almost double in price from 2008-2015.
    2008 Trance x1: msrp $2,300-$2400

    2010 Trance x2: msrp $2,725

    2012 Trance x1: msrp $3,150

    2015 Trance x1: msrp $4,050

  • Ryan says:

    This thread is hilarious, I’m pretty sure Kurt is another elitist who has no problem dumping what would afford the rest of us mortals reliable transportaion into a bike, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a little about the value of a decent bike. To say that these big bikes from the S-works lineup aren’t worth 10k is equally bad. In auto racing there’s a saying, you spend 10% of your money to get 90% of your speed and you spend 90% of your money getting the last 10% of your speed. And it’s true, that that is the difference between the 6k FSR Carbon Enduro and the S-Works. So you me, and anybody else probably would be fine paying 3k for a 2014 FSR Carbon Stumpjumper (or more xc oriented machine for those of you who are into that).

    Gotta love it when two extremes come together for a hilarious internet debate!

  • Thomas Locher says:

    Wow, the “financial” elite argues on high cost…

    You cannot tell that a bike is worth its money when you don’t know about the development and production cost. Just compare Retail and OEM prices of certain components.
    Paying for a brand name and other marketing tools is in my eyes not worth its money.

    As I’m more a fun biker and believe in the riders abilities first, I’m quite good off with a 2500 – 3000$ bike. Brings me up and down everywhere I dare to ride.

  • T-Bone says:

    Great article Kurt, got a few people talking. You have done well.
    I don’t know why people get wound up by bike prices. Spend what you want to on your sport of choice. Just take a look at what a boat,ATV, Horse, Track car, motorcycle can set you back.
    I just want to have fun riding my bike & see others doing the same, doesn’t matter what you got. Just ride

  • Swim Dad says:

    I totally agree with ASS. Personal experience, I have always had top end rides – as a kid, sponsored and rode the very best bikes. As an older middle aged guy, older and a lot slower now, I still love bikes. Two carbon MTB’s, and planning to get a new one this year.

    I think bikes are articles of beauty and have no problem spending lots of money for them. Took a lot of work training when I was a kid, and then it took a lot of effort and risk starting and running a business – both which allowed me to own great bikes. Trying not to be a jerk about them either, I just really like them, like the way the way they look, and really enjoy riding them. I would own a nice bike, even if I was the only one that ever saw it. My kids and wife also ride nice (but not carbon) FS rigs too, so we are sharing the bike love in our family.

    Also drive older used cars, and have very little interest in driving an expensive car, which helps greatly in affording a great bike.

    A fact for the complainers out there – did you know that according to the IRS, that 5% of folks in the US make OVER $159k per year? And 10% make OVER $113k per year? There are a lot of people that make enough to be able to splurge every once in a while on a really nice mountain bike. In sports and business, it is productive to look at the folks who are better than you and ask yourself, what do I have to do to be like them? If you are not in the top 10% – what will it take to get you there?

    ASS is right – get a better job, start your own business, learn how to invest – if you can’t afford a nicer bike, then you might have money problems in other areas of your life too.

    Or wait and buy that sweet bike next year used for half price – but sheesh – quit whining about prices! $3-4k today buys you a WAY better MTB than the very best top end ride of just a few years ago. Mountain bikers at all price levels have it really good today.

    Quit whining, ride your bike more, enjoy the bike you have, and figure out how to generate more income if you want a better bike.

  • Krash670 says:

    I paid $1,000 for my SS Karate Monkey. Best grand I ever dropped on a bike. Fully rigid, heavy, plain, no whiz bang doo-dads, and tons O’ fun. I’ve outridden many a men on their full suspension $5,000+ bikes in 6 and 9 hour races. I’m not the fastest. I just like riding, and I can can ride longer than they can.

    I tell my 16 yo son all the time, a crappy rider on a $10,000 bike is still a crappy rider, and a great rider on a $1,500 will beat him every time.

    For me it’s not about keeping up with the Jones’s. I just like to ride. I’m not going to win anything significant, if anything at all. I’m just out to enjoy being in the woods. I’ve switched to a Surly Krampus now set up as a SS. At about 33 lbs., and fully rigid, it’s nowhere near a Specialized 29er super bike. It’s just a big old steel bike that I have a blast riding, and that’s what it should be all about. If you need to spend $5,000+ to enjoy mountain biking, then you’re doing it wrong.

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