Disclosure: I’m a 50-something, slightly better than average bike rider who owns one pretty expensive bike and I don’t really care who rides what. I have personally spent more money on inner tubes than a decent 3-course meal in France. So I know of which I speak.
When I look over at my Colnago hanging on the wall, I don’t always see a machine that is just fine the way it is. I sometimes see a conglomeration of incomplete equipment. Why don’t I have a Super Record groupset? And that old stem/bars set-up should really be replaced by an integrated unit. I could probably climb better with a set of Lightweight wheels, too. You know what I mean.
I blame my human nature (and ads on Facebook). After all, if it wasn’t for people like Louis Pasteur being unsatisfied with the way anthrax and rabies were killing people left and right, we wouldn’t have a world where everybody believes wholeheartedly in vaccines….wink wink.
And so it is with everything, including bikes. 30 years ago, bike tech was pretty simple and cheap, so perhaps many people could keep up with their buddies in the weekend cycling club; but today many of us are faced with serious financial questions if we want to upgrade (and really, who doesn’t?). There are the disk brakes we talked about in the previous article (although that’s not really even a choice now), carbon wheels, electronic shifting, a power meter (the bike computer is now so universal that I wouldn’t even consider it an option) and €300 (or more) shoes. If you built a top-end bike yourself you could reach €10,000 fairly easily. For some people that’s peanuts, but for the rest of us it might involve putting off buying a new car for another year. And then there’s trying to sell the idea to your non-cyclist partner. I don’t have this problem because it’s a ‘business expense’ for me, but I can only imagine the negotiations involved!
I think that there’s a GCN video out there that will tell us that a €10,000 bike is, indeed, better than a €2500 bike (the price I paid for the ‘2nd bike’ before upgrades), but it is probably not 400% better. Maybe it is. And then we come to the crunch, i.e., as Pierre commented on my last article, for the vast majority of riders out there, there is really no ‘need’ for disk brakes or 9 gram water bottle holders, or a superbike frame for that matter. It might be the equivalent of owning a lamborghini and never going over the speed limit. What’s the point?
Well, the point is that it makes you feel better, and if you can afford it then there’s no reason not to buy the best you can. There’s also no reason not to stick to what you have, no matter what the rest of the club is doing, if you are satisfied. Sometimes in life there isn’t a right and wrong answer. As a wise man once said (two days ago, in the comments section), ‘ride the bike you want…as long as you ride’!
But man oh man, wouldn’t you love to have a beauty like this?!