Inflation

My first bike was a Sears Moonlight Special. It was literally a piece of shit – figuratively. I mean, it would only “literally” be a piece of shit if shit was made of sand-filled steel tubes salvaged from the plumbing of the local sewage facility. Which it might have been, but I simply don’t have the peer-reviewed evidence to back that claim up.

I feel comfortable stating that this bike cost less than $50 USD back in the early 70’s, and it was yellow. It also had a saddle which, upon my personal dissection (Go Science!) was conclusively comprised of a shaped steel plate covered by a thin foam pad and a faux-leather shell. Made in America, fuck yeah. That’s one reason right there that the United States doesn’t have the same over-population problems China does.

After that, I was given my dad’s Raleigh, made of Reynolds 531 tubing which I loved deeply, apart from the exposed brake cables and Weinmann centerpull brakes. I installed some aero brake levers on it and quickly learned the value of owning some proper brake-adjustment tools like the Third Hand. (I’m not sure why a Third Hand is a bicycle-specific innovation; having one more hand feels like a genetically-viable mutation.)

Finally, after a summer of saving up, I bought my own proper racing bicycle, a Cannonwhale SR700 with Shimano 105. In hot pink, for $700. I loved the shit out of that bike, crowning it with every accessory (apart from an EPMS) that one can think of: I couldn’t afford Scott Drop-ins, so I happily accepted my brother’s bar-ends from his Bridgestone as substitutes. I saved up for ages and bought a Selle San Marco Regal and got one step closer to looking like Greg LeMan. Benotto bar tape was a no-brainer at only a few bucks a roll. So Pro, so cheap. And it never wore out and it didn’t matter how bad you were at wapping bars; if you needed four rolls to cover the real-estate (wrapping the brake levers cleanly is the crux), then you were still only out about $10.

It was such a great bike. I rode it in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, not to mention most of the northern United States. I rode with my family, my friends; I rode with my dad the most. In fact, the only time I dumped that beautiful Regal saddle was with him, five minutes into the first ride with that saddle when he decided to change the route and hang a louie when I was overlapping wheels with him. Scraped the leather clean off the right-side of the saddle. No worries, a little super-glue and the saddle lasted me another 10 years.

I lost and found my way back into Cycling two or three times during the lifetime of that $700 bike. If I was the man I am today, I’d have kept it, too. I still have many of the parts, but I dumped the frame because it’s too big for me, and I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me today. We all walk the path of La Vie Velominatus in steps; it is only natural to wander off the path from time to time.

My #1 is worth something like $10k, maybe more, maybe less. Which in any case is a stupid amount of money for a bicycle. My Nine Bike is the hand-me-down, worth a bit less but in practical terms, almost the same. An entry-level bike, like my ‘Wale SR700 would cost a few thousand dollars today, well out of reach of a young Velominatus hoping to get into the sport.

Cycling is supposed to be the accessible sport, the sport of The People. What happened?

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93 Replies to “Inflation”

  1. My current number 1 is down with a cracked frame. I’m working with Kane bikes to get it repaired though it may not be economically viable. It’s a Planet X and the frame new is only 400 bucks or so.

    However this situation forced me to reconnect with my first road bike. A 1985 (born the same year as me) Lotus Excelle.Tange 2001 frame with Shimano 600 components. Dropped in a 7 speed freewheel, and aero brake levers, and new panaracer paselas.

    I paid 35 bucks for it and it is single handedly responsible for my obsession with cycling. I love the carbon bike and its SRAM Force 22 group set, but damn if that Lotus doesn’t encourage me to ride a bit longer every time we head out.

    I hem and haw constantly on upgrades, selling it, or leaving it be. Every time I just go ride and my mind is even farther from a decision. This bike has wormed it’s ways into my heart. It has personality, a life, it’s my Lotus and none can compare in my eye.

    In the end, I know I will keep it and just ride it senseless as is, maybe restore it with period correct Dura Ace. Alas I’m rambling again. No other bike I have makes me do this. God I love it.

  2. My first road bike was a Kuwahara bike that weighed a ton and though from a bike shop, was not at all race worthy and a complete menace when pointed uphill. I saved for a solid year to get my first race bike, a 1986 Trek 770 for $1000 in 1987. Some knucklehead put down $300 on it on layaway and walked away allowing me a discount. Full Campy. Paid more for it than my car. I still have the bike and ride it almost daily, now a nice shade of midnight blue rather than the Pink which got me so much love from the north Georgia rednecks. I coveted a Bianchi at the time but it was out of my price range, even the entry level one. I used to scrap and save every where to keep that sucker tip top. I’d repair flatted tubulars by resewing them and shopped Nashbar because the stuff in cycling shops was beyond my pay grade.

    I disagree a bit, cycling was then an expensive sport then and remains so today. The price per pound of a bike has escalated to the point of nausea, but the quality of an entry bike is better than what it used to be. That said I probably would never buy a pair of shoes for $400, but if it for a bike, I will give it every consideration.

  3. You have to wonder about the state of things when my early/mid 90s Bianchi reparto corse TSX/UL with Record is  worth more today (judging by eBay comparables) than I put into it back in the day.

  4. @Frank

    Have you shopped for a new car, SUV or truck in recent years?  Same as going into your LBS. Sticker shock!  If you own a business that manufactures goods or worked in the financial end of one then you know all about profit margins. Some (not all) auto and bike manufacturers actually lose money on their high-end products when you consider the many years of R&D necessary to bring the product to market.  Of course they make it up with their low to middle of the road offerings.  I have a friend that owns a bicycle shop and another that owns a automobile dealership.  I know what their profit margins are and net income.  Surprisingly low. Strange, but true, we are actually getting a better deal buying the high-end product, like the $10K bike.  Unless you have a mishap and buckle it.  Knock wood.

    There was a time when I said, who needs a $10K bike.  Then I found myself owning multiple and loving them.  If you are really into cycling and ride with others of the same mind, then you quickly discover that the $10K bike is becoming more commonplace.  Just add a carbon wheelset with FMB tubs to your #1 and you may quickly approach $10k.  Ludicrous.  Consider about how much we spend on our kits (Bont, Sidi, Ralpha, Assos), and they eventually end up in the trash.  Want a reality check?  Next time you kit up, tally up the cost of your jersey, bibs, socks, shoes, warmers, vest, helmet, sunglasses, and gloves.  On the low end you are kitted out at around $500.  However, $1000+ isn’t out of the equation.  Seriously, do it.  It may make you blush.

    In no way am I trying to justify the inflation.  Many of us here spend plenty on our sport with good reason – it is our passion.  That same passion has fueled the costs associated to spin our wheels.

    Aside: I am always amazed at how much money some bicycle manufacturers spend on advertising and sponsorship.  Can you imagine the size of Specialized Bicycle Components operating budget for the 14 teams it sponsors?

  5. “Cycling is supposed to be the accessible sport, the sport of The People. What happened?”

    Cycling for sport has not been an accessible sport of the People in the USA for a very long time. Road cycling especially has been the playground of college kids, engineers, and the like for over fifty years. The punks were in BMX and the hippies riding mountainbikes back when that was a disputed trademark, not a generic term.

    Cycling on roads is bimodal in the USA, anyway: the transportation of the young, the very poor, and the poor drunk on one side, and the sporting plaything of the wealthy and well-supported on the other.

    For the latter, a CAAD12 with 105 is well under $2K, and used? Cut the price of a year-old bike in half. The legbreaker semipros are all on that kind of bike, and it is the masters CAT4s and the like on high-end bikes, because they can afford to support their local bike shop at retail.

    For the former, any BSO will do..

  6. Given away a bike, shoes and pedals so far this year, all gratefully received- that’s how to do it. All you really need, still, is a bike and the inclination to ride it! As far as value for money goes any used entry level bike selling 2nd hand for half it’s sticker price is excellent buying.

  7. Same reason Id like to have in the garage a 1971 Porsche or an 80’s Countach.

    A Ti BAUM would also be nice, but ill have to do with the Fuji for now as the latter 3 are out of reach.

    Isn’t inflation  a bitch.

  8. The bike was the ticket to childhood freedom. Hop on an go. The teens hit and suppose I didn’t ride for 5 years or more. Fortunately I had the sense to ask for a Ten Speed for High School graduation. Yes, 2×5 drivetrain like everyone else; maybe pros ran a six back then; I sure didn’t know.

    Standard issue back then was the Peugeot UO-8, but I ended up with a Puch because that’s what the local shop had. Just about the same as the UO-8 but Weinmann brakes instead of the Mafac Racers. Heavy as all get-out, but I thought it was pretty cool, built up a set of tubular wheels, rode a bunch. Then one day at college, one of the preppy kids rolls up on something amazing. It’s a Raleigh Professional, but he’s painted it primer grey. I’d never seen a Campy gruppo before, but one quick look and it was full on bike lust.

    Next upgrade was a Raleigh Competition. Weird collection of parts, but an OK frame with 531 main tubes, and at least it had a cotterless crankset for god’s sake. 1976 my best buddy Paul spends $750 on a Raleigh International. Serious dough, but it’s all 531 and full Campy.

    Today that is my nine bike. He gave it to me after neighbor’s scumbag son stole the bike that replaced my Competition: Bianchi  Superleggera, Raparto Corse, Super Record. Oh I miss that sweet Celeste machine, and curse that little bastard even now. Little Bastard!

    Current #1 is a ’97 Litespeed Classic, Chorus 8 gruppo. Bought when my wife worked at REI, still cost a chunk of money with the discount. Heck, you CAN NOT go wrong (barring tragedies such as crashes and theft) spending good money on a fine bicycle. Those two bikes in the basement, with regular maintenance and occasional part replacement, are still 100% functional, loved, and used to this day.

    Sure, I could get with the program and start riding some carbon fiber, but why? After all, as we know, it doesn’t get any easier.

    PS: Some day I AM going to replace those old Record side-pull brakes though. Even I must admit, they pretty much suck.

  9. I don’t know about this one, @frank.  My first good road bike was a 1987 Bianchi Campione d’Italia that I bought for about $650.  Looking at the Consumer Price Index between 1987 and today, we’ve about doubled the cost in dollars to buy products; in other words, those 1987 dollars had about $1300 in current purchasing power.  That should get you a tidy current bike with Shimano 105, and today’s bike will be a hell of a lot better, objectively, than that Bianchi.

    There’s no question that the top-end bikes have far outpaced inflation, but the entry-level models are probably a better value today than they were thirty years ago.

    Merckx almighty, though, it doesn’t feel like that.  On my good days I’m still budgetatus status; other days I’m pushing dirtbag status compared to some here.  My next bike, my biggest splurge cycling-wise ever, will be pushing $2000-$2500 with the entire thing bought second hand.  It’s going to be awesome!  But it still feels like a hell of a lot of money.  Perhaps the issue is that real wages haven’t kept up with inflation…

  10. Nothing happened to the affordability of cycling. Just peoples expectation of owning the best, top shelf products and yes, that price point is getting out of hand.

    A $1000 alloy (CAAD8 / Allez / Defy) frame running Sora is well good enough. I started racing on a Sora Equipped CAAD8. Lasted me 18 months as the sora died piece by piece and was replaced with second hand Ultegra but I was riding it 10-15hrs a week.

    Minimum wage is something like $12/hr for a 15 year old and goes up each year. Three hour shifts, three times a week nets you $100 a week. That bike is only 10 weeks away.

  11. Great minds think alike or all we all just OCD? I was going through the “Celeste” comments yesterday and browsing the internet for a carbon celeste Bianchi. And that got me thinking that my “own” brand -Koga of course- also is known for its colour (royal blue), which got me thinking about writing an article about my first bike -a Koga of course. And here @Frank is doing just that.

    Back when I was I think 13 or so, I was looking for a road bike. There were many famous Dutch brands to choose from (Gazelle, Batavus, RIH, Raleigh – which I did not know at the time was not Dutch, since every kid of my age seemed to have a green metallic Raleigh citybike with drum brakes and 3 gear Sturmey Archer, I didn’t) but a friend of mine told me Koga Miyata was the shit. Sounded Japanese, not Dutch. (Koga is Dutch, but they used frames built by Miyata. The cooperation ceased a couple of years ago and now is named just Koga).

    So I looked for used Koga’s, almost got me a Miyata Cycle, but fortunately discovered in time the difference between a Koga Miyata and a Miyata Cycle.  My dad eventually found a used red Road Winner for 600 Guilders (around 270 EUR) in the LBS, so I bought that, Although it was shiny metallic red and beautiful, I did not really like it: I thought the framesize 56 was too small for me (I wanted to be taller, rather) and I did not like the brazed on eye for mounting fenders, because it did not look pro, besides the fake-leather saddle. So soon after that, I started looking for another NEW Koga, this time 60 cm size, and this is still my 33 yr old or so Nine-bike. I got it then with a discount for 800 Guilders or so (363 EUR)and returned the red one. Funnily enough: 60cm was/is too high for me but I thought I would still grow when I bought it. And when I got my new Koga in January this year, I put fenders on the old one to celebrate its Nine-bike-status, although it does not have the mounting eyes for them. This year’s new Koga is 56cm and finally in the colour I want it: blue. I ordered it via the internet, where you could put it together (Signature series) and the total cost was around 2250 EUR, but with VAT return, rebate for late delivery (6 months waiting) and employer paying 50%, the total net spend for me was way less, so I spent the rest on a used blue Koga MTB and a used blue Koga for the Mrs, which I use in winter on the turbotrainer. Anyway, could ramble on for ages…

  12. I had a Raleigh with Weinmann centrepull brakes – I couldn’t stretch to 531 in 1976 – or for that matter a front mech so five speed Sachs Huret was my lot through secondary school and early adulthood (yeah even unto police academy). £80 and I got nine years out of it – do the math as they say in ‘Murica.

    Now my CX bike has centrepull Avids (okay V-brakes) and no front mech (but an 11 speed block) – plus ca change huh?

  13. I’m more and more surprised at the fantastic value I got when I bought my Felt last year. I’ve spouted all the costs before so I wont do it again, suffice to say it’s an alu-framed machine with 105. I’ve applied a few choice upgrades (BB, chain, wheels) and I know for most events and races I want to do the bike is not the limiting factor.

    The flipside is that I’ve had a look at better specced bikes (n+1, obviously) and the amount extra I’d hav to spend to get a bike significantly better is staggering. And by that I mean a bike with a decent carbon frame, not a budget one, and with Ultegra throughout. The conclusion is that it’s something I’m unlikely to do; on my budget I just can’t justify it.

  14. Couldn’t resist a photo from this year’s Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford. The whole country was getting pissed on with rain and somehow it literally went around our 160K route.  I thanked Sean for that and he said ‘we do it right in Waterford’.

    He is very involved in the running of the event, happy to pose for photos, leads out the event at the start.  It is a full community effort with all the volunteers and local sponsors e.g. Flahavan’s Oats.

    There is a local myth about Sean once blowing past a group of Carrick Wheelers (Waterford racing club) on an Amsterdam city bike just to wind them up. Another story is some dolled up blonde bird from Dublin poncing up to Sean and saying, ‘Seeeaaann (big smile fluttering lashes) this is my first time riding a sportive, can you give me some tips?’ To which he replied ‘You get on that bike, and you ride like fuck!’

    Legend.

  15. @the Engine

    I had a Raleigh with Weinmann centrepull brakes – I couldn’t stretch to 531 in 1976 – or for that matter a front mech so five speed Sachs Huret was my lot through secondary school and early adulthood (yeah even unto police academy). £80 and I got nine years out of it – do the math as they say in ‘Murica.

    Now my CX bike has centrepull Avids (okay V-brakes) and no front mech (but an 11 speed block) – plus ca change huh?

    Started with borrowing Dad’s Raleigh Europa after I could ride it outside the triangle! Yep, had the Weinmann centrepull brakes and after many paper rounds, upgraded to Dia-Compe G’s, The Simplex was upgraded to Shimano 600EX, the cotterpin cranks to Stronglights, the steel rims to Mavic 700c alloys. Alloys was the ultimate to mention on a bike in the 80’s!

    Then bought a 531 frame and swapped the parts over and upgraded at least a new frame and parts each year. Grew out of the frames, on-sold and upgraded. Never bought a “off the shelf” bike. My first “off the shelf” was a Balance AL350 in the mid 90’s.

    @Barracuda
    A Ti Baum would be my first-last bike!

  16. Always a drool fest – the Bicycle Guide Buyer’s Annual! Always just out of reach $$$

  17. This hits home, I’ve never posted here.  I have 3 priorities and they each have a name and bicycle of their own, so pulling the trigger on a Allez Sport with sora was kinda a big deal for me.  I was a little concerned showing up to the local ride cause its pretty much bottom of the line of what a “decent” road bike is.  But after 20 kilometers i realized, as much as i long in my heart of hearts to have a 10k bike, that it feels really good to know that i’m not getting spit out the back on my 5,000 dollar steed like some, and that i can pull the line the same on my Allez sport as i could on an s-works (maybe a little better on a s-works), cause its truly in the legs and the mind AND the fact that it doesn’t sit in the garage 5 days a week like a ornament.  Great article

  18. @sthilzy

    @the Engine

    I had a Raleigh with Weinmann centrepull brakes – I couldn’t stretch to 531 in 1976 – or for that matter a front mech so five speed Sachs Huret was my lot through secondary school and early adulthood (yeah even unto police academy). £80 and I got nine years out of it – do the math as they say in ‘Murica.

    Now my CX bike has centrepull Avids (okay V-brakes) and no front mech (but an 11 speed block) – plus ca change huh?

    Started with borrowing Dad’s Raleigh Europa after I could ride it outside the triangle! Yep, had the Weinmann centrepull brakes and after many paper rounds, upgraded to Dia-Compe G’s, The Simplex was upgraded to Shimano 600EX, the cotterpin cranks to Stronglights, the steel rims to Mavic 700c alloys. Alloys was the ultimate to mention on a bike in the 80’s!

    Then bought a 531 frame and swapped the parts over and upgraded at least a new frame and parts each year. Grew out of the frames, on-sold and upgraded. Never bought a “off the shelf” bike. My first “off the shelf” was a Balance AL350 in the mid 90’s.

    @Barracuda

    A Ti Baum would be my first-last bike!

    My dad had a 50’s Raleigh racer with a four speed Sturmey Archer hub and cut down brooks saddle – I think it may have dated back to when they sponsored Reg Harris.

    It was his daily transport for over 30 years until the head tube finally failed (Raleighs always used to fail there). If he could have gone back for a refund he would have. I think list price was £16 back in the day but there’s no chance he paid that much – likely second hand for <£5.

  19. I’ve been a Kelly fan for years – not just for his on-bike accomplishments, but the fact that he really has stayed connected to the sport at a very grassroots level. Seeing him line up with a cyclosportive is great. I’m sure Tiger or MJ wouldn’t agree to play a round of golf or shoot some hoops with some regular joes.

    To my eternal regret, I missed meeting Kelly at a truck stop outside of Paris after the 85 tour. I saw the car and the bikes but was too focused on food to register the fact that it might be Kelly’s car. I mean, a truck stop outside of Paris, hardly where one might expect to bump into one of the all time greats.

    First proper bike? A big red 24″ Holdsworth. It and most of the components were bought at Dooley’s Cycles in Paisley or bought from other club members. I had very little money at the time. Slowly, but surely saved and upgraded to a team replica Raleigh. More kit, more tools, more stuff. Sure cycling’s expensive but when you think about it, I’d say bikes have never been such good value. Back when I was starting, basically everybody rode what amounted to custom bikes – each component sourced and bought separately. Now there are so many good off the rack choices. A $1500 bike might not be pro level, but it’ll do the job. The trickle down of technology and quality is amazing. Any half way decent bike these days has brifters and a carbon fork. 25 years ago, that was top level stuff. Cycling gear is WAY better than the old wool/acrylic/real chamois days.

    What makes cycling accessible is this: we don’t need to book a court or a start time. We don’t have a fixed number of holes to play or sets to complete. We can go out and ride when we like and as long as we can. That’s accessible.

    My last point: join a club (says me who currently is unaffiliated). You’ll meet like-minded folks who can offer advice and maybe some free or bargain gear. You’ll learn.

  20. Nostalgia. My first proper racer was a Viking with a crap groupset but all I could afford. I re sprayed it with a red white fade ( it was  ’87) and cut a 531 label out of a Reynolds tubing brochure and faked it on the frame. Red suede Turbo saddle, added an Ultegra group over time and       added Mavic Open 4CD’s on Ultegra hubs. Cinelli quill stem, the one with a range of coloured plastic inserts, and aero brakes. I would love to see that bike again.

  21. For me the first proper road bike I had was a second hand 10 speed Peugeot Premier, steel in white, I’ve no idea what the tubing was, I sold it for £50 to help buy a brand new Marin Bear valley SE hardtail mtb and it was off road all the way for a few years. In an attempt to get really serious about xc racing I bought a third or fourth hand Ciocc road bike, 105 groupset & Columbus tubed that I got professionally resprayed in burnt orange. I’ve told the sad tale of it and me being somewhat squashed by a pick up truck on here previously but by then I’d moved onto a Giant Cadex with it’s carbon tubes bonded into aluminium lugs. I wish I still had both those bikes though.

    The first brand new road bike I bought and built up from scratch was a Trek 5500 OCLV frame in full USPS colours of the day (2003). That bike I loved more than any other as it was just as I wanted, Ultegra (wifevand 2 kids to feed) the original Ksyriums, Deda finishing kit. It was raced but never ridden in the winter. That was the Giant’s job. When a Merida Scultura Evo Team came my way as a hand me down from son #2 who had decided to ‘retire’ from cycling at 18 the Trek was sold on, still in A1 condition. Would I have that one back? Dunno. Unlikely.

    Now I’m going back to steel for the #1 bike most likely a Shand Skinnymalinky, no Di2, no discs, something that can and will be ridden all over and all year round.

    Funny how it’s going full circle for me with no thought of buying into all this technology.

  22. With the internet came the availability of a worldwide secondary market, so my entry-level bike two years ago was $500 (including shoes)- a Trek 1.1 with Speedplay pedals. My new #1 is still sub $2k and has a carbon frame/fork and a good group-san that serves me just fine.

    I did the good parenting thing and got my 10-year old a real road bike (kid sized). $450 ain’t cheap- that’s the market that I think could use some work. If you’re 12 and under, you’re buy-in is high unless your awesome dad foregoes a new set of alloy wheels for his #1 just to get you riding.

  23. Yes, cycling is still ultimately very accessible to nearly all, something that functions half decently can be found on any 2nd hand site etc, then it is up to the individual to aim ‘higher’ if that is the correct term for expensive.

    I still recall my first proper bike, as I thought of it anyway, a red and white CCM something from Crappy Tire, poo-poo if you must, but the thrill of drafting behind a city bus down Geneva Street in St Catharines will always bring a smile to my ugly mug.

    Fast Fwd to the latest issue of ‘Cyclist’ now, and the three bikes reviewed are £3k, £7k and £17k, then wheel sets which cost more than my car.

    Ah well, it is still fun and good to dream though.

  24. First ever road bike was a hand me down from the old man, ca 1985 Peugeot with Campy throughout. Was two sizes too small but to my eternal shame I got rid of it after college. Pretty maroon color, too. Sigh.

    I’m the sort of person who buys a new bike about once a decade (last new bike was a Scott Speedster with Sora gruppo-san I bought the first year of grad school), so I guess I don’t mind spending a bit more to buy something that lasts.

  25. I guess that my last new bike was the 16 kilo monster that I commute on. But that probably doesn’t count. We don’t need to revisit the “heavier bikes make you stronger at a given speed” debate ;)

  26. This is something I’ve got feelings on. I’ve got a decent job, but it still took me a year to save up for my $1000 Felt. It took me another year to save up for my $1100 CAADx (which at the moment has less than 1 km on it). And that’s just the bikes. Then there’s the clothes – part of the reason it’s so hard to save for n+1. I bought Giro Carbides to go on the cross bike. Scoured the internet for sales and got a pair in the neighborhood of $70 – quite a deal. But I can count on one hand the number of shoes I’ve bough in the past decade that cost more than $50 a pair (and half of them have been bike shoes). I buy most of my jeans at Target and will only do so when they’re on sale for $25 or less, and yet when I see a pair of bibs for $75 I jump at that bargain. True, if I had things my way I’d spend more time in the bibs than the jeans, but being a cyclist takes some coin. The reality is you pay for quality, but I can’t help but think I’m getting fleeced…

  27. @wiscot

    To my eternal regret, I missed meeting Kelly at a truck stop outside of Paris after the 85 tour. I saw the car and the bikes but was too focused on food to register the fact that it might be Kelly’s car. I mean, a truck stop outside of Paris, hardly where one might expect to bump into one of the all time greats.

    “If you stop at one of the self-service places on the motorway you can see exactly what you are getting and have it eaten in half an hour. That means an extra hour’s sleep somewhere further on in the journey.” Sean Kelly to David Walsh in “Kelly”, published 1986. Just happened to be reading it. Again.

  28. @SamV

    I hear ya on the bargain-cycle-clothes. Same here.

    I mentioned here before, I took up cycling again to improve my leg muscles for skiing, and I put some severe money down for skiing. Meanwhile I have 4 pairs of skis (all used, but still pristine condition: SL, GS and 2 pairs of Super G’s) and a pair of high-end skiboots that match nicely -colourwise- with a YJA. But the real cost goes into clothes (for the kids. I only need new clothes every 5-6 years, except when last year, I burnt my jacket by washing it too warm) and the holidays. The annual spend on skiing for the family could get me real nice bicycles every year, but the fun of skiing is that it’s more convenient to do together as a family.

  29. You can still get bikes for cheap. You just can’t get the bikes most of us ride for cheap. At least as long as I’ve been riding, that’s always been the case. I guess the difference is that “not cheap” has become a lot more expensive. Probably harder to find a “quality” road bike with “good” components for less than $1000. But a 105-level equipped bike can be had for ~$1500 retail for aluminum w/carbon fork and ~$2000 for an entry level carbon frame. But that’s still not cheap IMHO.

  30. @JohnB

    Now I’m going back to steel for the #1 bike most likely a Shand Skinnymalinky, no Di2, no discs, something that can and will be ridden all over and all year round.

    This reminds me, I did Levi’s Fondo this past Saturday (a long tough ride with tons of climbing), saw a guy struggling up one of the rollers.  As we rode up next to him, he asked “do you have a spare Di2 battery?”  Not a good ride to suddenly have no shifting options.

  31. I won’t go through my nostalgia and bike history here.  I do have to agree that stuff seems to be getting really expensive.  The cost of my #1 frame has doubled since I bought it a while back, for essentially the same model.  Plus, it’s steel, so it’s hard to chalk it up to advances in technology.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of carbon wheels…  Last year I built up a set of tubulars with Record hubs, Sapim spokes and Ambrosio rims all for a few hundred dollars.  They weigh about 1250g and roll fast as fuck.  Except for doing a time trial on the flats, I doubt I’m giving much up to some of the $2000+ carbon sets.

  32. Top class gear doesn’t have to be expensive.  Exhibit 1:  I just purchased a Cervelo P2-SL frame on Ebay for $350.  Built it up with the crap lying around in the garage, none of which was expensive save for the wheels (Ambrosio Nemesis+DuraAce hubs+PaveEvo CGs): old crankset, old brakes, the kind of stuff that you could have sourced on EBay or the LBS’ bargain bin for a few hundred dollars.  Total outlay:  About $1500 (I built the wheels myself, and saved a ton by sourcing everything on the cheap.)

    She weighs in at 17lbs, and hauls ass every bit as well as $10K bike.  Maybe not quite as prettily, and you won’t have a bunch of lawyers in spandex oohing and ahhing over her in the parking lot, but that matters not when you drop their asses.

  33. @MangoDave

    I won’t go through my nostalgia and bike history here.  I do have to agree that stuff seems to be getting really expensive.  The cost of my #1 frame has doubled since I bought it a while back, for essentially the same model.  Plus, it’s steel, so it’s hard to chalk it up to advances in technology.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of carbon wheels…  Last year I built up a set of tubulars with Record hubs, Sapim spokes and Ambrosio rims all for a few hundred dollars.  They weigh about 1250g and roll fast as fuck.  Except for doing a time trial on the flats, I doubt I’m giving much up to some of the $2000+ carbon sets.

    That’s where the money goes a long way – you can never go wrong with that combination.  I’ll take my Golden Tickets over a set of Zipps any day.

  34. My first rig was a Centurian. It had flat pedals, 12!!!! speeds, extra brake lever things, and stem shifters. As a kid, my first project in shop was to make a “workstand” for it. Self designed, looked like a trainer without resistance. With that in place I replaced the levers, put toe clips on the pedals, and moved the stem shifters to the downtube. It had Suntour components.

    When I got hit by a car on it the frame was bent. My LBS fixed the frame and set me back on riding.

    Then I moved up in the world, a Lotus Elite 600 with Shimano 600 on it. Color? Almost Celeste. My dad sprung for it because he figured if getting hit by a car didn’t stop me, I might as well upgrade. I rode that all the way through college.

    Then as a treat, toward the end of law school, Bianchi, Campy, and Celeste finally entered my life. Still riding that bike. I suppose I should upgrade, but I love it so much. Time for a +1.

  35. @chuckp

    You can still get bikes for cheap. You just can’t get the bikes most of us ride for cheap. At least as long as I’ve been riding, that’s always been the case. I guess the difference is that “not cheap” has become a lot more expensive. Probably harder to find a “quality” road bike with “good” components for less than $1000. But a 105-level equipped bike can be had for ~$1500 retail for aluminum w/carbon fork and ~$2000 for an entry level carbon frame. But that’s still not cheap IMHO.

    I hear ya. But take another outdoor activity popular with males in the age ranges that I expect are represented on this site: golf. Even the most cursory search says a full set will run about $500. Add in shoes and some gear such as balls ($40-50 a box), shoes ($100-200) and your up to high three figures. A round at a pretty standard local course here is $25 a shot. Want to play a Kohler course and you’re looking at $190 to $350 a time. Play once a week from say May to October is 24 rounds, that’s $600 at the local, $6000 at an average of $250 at the high end. All of a sudden a bike and gear that can last for years and be ridden hundreds of times a year becomes much more affordable.

    I had a former colleague whose husband was a keen golfer. He had to scale WAY back when the true cost of his hobby became known. $ thousands a year.

    Also, I don’t like being told when and where I can ride!

  36. TREKended up asfirst road bike _ destroyed within 4 weeks _ went to a Basso SLX which with some miracle working my employer sponsored Campagnolo groupset and wheels

  37. Inflation–yea it’s a bitch.

    My first road bike was a 1980 Schwinn Continental in black sable with gold trim:

    I believe the bike cost my mother around $200 (presently $544 due to inflation).  There is something about a 36 pound “Electro-forged diamond style frame of 16 gauge 1010 carbon steel” that still gives me a Carbone.

    I looked after the bike meticulously.  Always lubed, washed and waxed.  My only major screw up was running into the back of a parked car (hell if I know what distracted me) which bent the forks back. Unfortunately they were replaced with non-original, but they were fully chromed so I made it work.

    I rode the utter shit out of my Continental.  In Summer 1983 at age 14 I even did a 62 mile ride to the NJ shore (who knew = 100 km?) in cut-off blue jeans, a white cotton tshirt, and white Nike leather high tops.  My “training” consisted of riding farther every day for about 3 weeks.  Two days before the ride I rode 40+ miles, and the day before I rode 50+ miles.  In retrospect, I unwittingly imposed a stage race on myself.  What did I know?  Not fuck-all of anything.  Greg LeMan was someone I only saw fleetingly and rarely on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  I was a country bumpkin simply unaware and ignorant.

    When I turned 16 when I took over my grandfather’s Puch moped–damn that gas-oil mixing pig.  My Continental then sat in various basements and garages over the ensuing 3 decades, unridden, but never forgotten.

    I recently brought that Continental home from a back country shed. The tires all but rotted off, the paint covered with years of dust, and the chome pitted.  I don’t have the heart to post a picture of it due to its neglected condition.  But the cogs are still greased and the cranks turn.  The fork-mounted odometer shows 1812 miles. It is now my restoration project as soon as I complete setting up my basement workshop.

    This past winter, after 32 years without road bike, I bought a 2015 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Di-2 Disc determined to make a comeback.

    I bought it on a snowy February day from my LBS at a 30% discount to the MSRP.  I figured, fuck it–if I’m coming back, I’m going all in. Last month I finally matched my 32 yr old 100 km record, riding in the Gran Fondo on NJ.

    Inflation?  Carbon steel to just carbon… $540 to $3600–36 to 18 lbs…all worth it.

    I am in love again.

    -TG

  38. @antihero

    @MangoDave

    I won’t go through my nostalgia and bike history here.  I do have to agree that stuff seems to be getting really expensive.  The cost of my #1 frame has doubled since I bought it a while back, for essentially the same model.  Plus, it’s steel, so it’s hard to chalk it up to advances in technology.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of carbon wheels…  Last year I built up a set of tubulars with Record hubs, Sapim spokes and Ambrosio rims all for a few hundred dollars.  They weigh about 1250g and roll fast as fuck.  Except for doing a time trial on the flats, I doubt I’m giving much up to some of the $2000+ carbon sets.

    That’s where the money goes a long way – you can never go wrong with that combination.  I’ll take my Golden Tickets over a set of Zipps any day.

    I agonized in these forums last year about which rims to choose.  The Golden Tickets were right up there, but I went with the Cronos.  I decided I’m not that hard on equipment and don’t ride cobbles so I went with the weight advantage.  I expected them to feel lively on the climbs – which they are – but I never expected to roll so fast down hills.  I’m not that heavy, so I usually get dropped or struggle to keep up with the big guys, but now I end up catching and passing them.  My “regular” wheels are Campa Neutrons, so they weren’t’ exactly junk to compare with.  I assume some of difference is from the tires.

  39. @MangoDave

    @antihero

    @MangoDave

    I won’t go through my nostalgia and bike history here.  I do have to agree that stuff seems to be getting really expensive.  The cost of my #1 frame has doubled since I bought it a while back, for essentially the same model.  Plus, it’s steel, so it’s hard to chalk it up to advances in technology.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of carbon wheels…  Last year I built up a set of tubulars with Record hubs, Sapim spokes and Ambrosio rims all for a few hundred dollars.  They weigh about 1250g and roll fast as fuck.  Except for doing a time trial on the flats, I doubt I’m giving much up to some of the $2000+ carbon sets.

    That’s where the money goes a long way – you can never go wrong with that combination.  I’ll take my Golden Tickets over a set of Zipps any day.

    I agonized in these forums last year about which rims to choose.  The Golden Tickets were right up there, but I went with the Cronos.  I decided I’m not that hard on equipment and don’t ride cobbles so I went with the weight advantage.  I expected them to feel lively on the climbs – which they are – but I never expected to roll so fast down hills.  I’m not that heavy, so I usually get dropped or struggle to keep up with the big guys, but now I end up catching and passing them.  My “regular” wheels are Campa Neutrons, so they weren’t’ exactly junk to compare with.  I assume some of difference is from the tires.

    Cronos are solid if you aren’t too heavy.  I have a set of 36-spoke Cronos that do fine, but they’re a bit flexy under my weight (about 83 kilos), so I relegate them to commuter duty.

  40. My first first bike was a Murray BMX that I got for Christmas when I was seven… I was completely underwhelmed. It was too big, I tipped on the training wheels, etc. It wasn’t until maybe a year later that I got myself going on a friend’s bike and felt this weird sensation, like flying. I rode up and down our street for hours that evening. I remember being in school and fantasizing about opening the garage to get my bike as soon as I got home.

    Years later, my uncle took me to see a stage of the Tour Du Pont (Steve Bauer pipped Davis Phinney at the line) and I immediately sold my Nintendo and started saving my allowance (and lunch money, shhh) to buy a bike. I got a 200 pound Raleigh made of pig iron for $100, took off the “safety” brakes, pie plate, and reflectors, added clips and straps, and got riding.

    A year or so later, I saved up some more, sold that bike to a friend, and got myself a used Nishiki Prestige. That was my first “proper” bike. I still have the frame, which I’m in the process of stripping and repainting. At some point I need to get it back on the road, six-speed cassette and all.

    As others have mentioned, affording a bike — and gear — was difficult. My family had very little money. The funny thing is that, not knowing anything about cycling initially, it was fairly easy to just get a bike and get riding. It’s once you know what you’re on about, and once you start getting social pressure to have a better bike, have nicer kit, that things get harder. I recall getting some attitude on rides and at races because my Nishiki was old, not nice enough. That’s an aspect where I don’t think our sport does itself any favors, at least not in the States.

  41. I think that poor attitude is the same world wide, unfortunately. But as my Uncle Anatole used to say, “There’s no bike finer than the one you’re riding.” If you love your bike, fuck the snobs.

  42. @tmgrasso

    Very nice write-up – chapeau! And quite similar to my own ‘history’, in fact (if you replace ‘Schwinn’ with ‘Peugeot’), right up to the fact that I somehow managed to crash my five year old, bright orange UO8 with half-chromed fork into a vehicle, bent the front fork beyond repair and had it replaced with a full-chromed specimen. Looked great.

    One minor point: you mention that you don’t remember what it was that distracted you at the time. That’s easy: Being a Velominatus, you were most probably passing a large, plate-glass shop window and admiring your own reflection. There was almost certainly at least one gorgeous girl standing on the opposite sidewalk – but you never noticed her. (Tongue firmly in cheek here, needless to say – at least I hope so)

  43. @LawnCzar

    It’s once you know what you’re on about, and once you start getting social pressure to have a better bike, have nicer kit, that things get harder. I recall getting some attitude on rides and at races because my Nishiki was old, not nice enough. That’s an aspect where I don’t think our sport does itself any favors, at least not in the States.

    There is only one solution to that kind of thing. Crush souls.

    Two years ago, I got my one and only bike, a Jamis Satellite Comp. Truly an entry level machine that I picked up for $650 on an end of year clearance. Steel frame (does have carbon forks though) and 9sp Sora. Weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 10+kg. I’ve put over 10,000km  on that bike doing just about everything. Except for the strongest and fastest of guys in my club, it’s a rare day that I get passed or can’t keep up with the “nice” bikes ridden by some others. I’m a much better, stronger, and faster rider than I was two years ago. I’ll continue to ride the shit out of that thing until the budget committee finally OKs the n+1 purchase. (I’m still holding out hope that she’s got something planned during the secret 40th birthday trip we’re taking this weekend.)

  44. @wiscot

    @chuckp

    You can still get bikes for cheap. You just can’t get the bikes most of us ride for cheap. At least as long as I’ve been riding, that’s always been the case. I guess the difference is that “not cheap” has become a lot more expensive. Probably harder to find a “quality” road bike with “good” components for less than $1000. But a 105-level equipped bike can be had for ~$1500 retail for aluminum w/carbon fork and ~$2000 for an entry level carbon frame. But that’s still not cheap IMHO.

    I hear ya. But take another outdoor activity popular with males in the age ranges that I expect are represented on this site: golf. Even the most cursory search says a full set will run about $500. Add in shoes and some gear such as balls ($40-50 a box), shoes ($100-200) and your up to high three figures. A round at a pretty standard local course here is $25 a shot. Want to play a Kohler course and you’re looking at $190 to $350 a time. Play once a week from say May to October is 24 rounds, that’s $600 at the local, $6000 at an average of $250 at the high end. All of a sudden a bike and gear that can last for years and be ridden hundreds of times a year becomes much more affordable.

    I had a former colleague whose husband was a keen golfer. He had to scale WAY back when the true cost of his hobby became known. $ thousands a year.

    Also, I don’t like being told when and where I can ride!

    I’m a golfer too. And my daughter is an up-and-coming junior golfer. The killer cost for golf is the cost to both practice and play. And golf balls … unless you’re like my daughter who doesn’t seem to lose any (I hate her). I used to play 30-40 rounds a year. Would hunt around for bargain rates. But also splurge a couple of times a year to play on “premium” courses. This year, I’ve played maybe a half dozen times. Any money I have for golf gets invested in my daughter.

  45. @Oli

    I think that poor attitude is the same world wide, unfortunately. But as my Uncle Anatole used to say, “There’s no bike finer than the one you’re riding.” If you love your bike, fuck the snobs.

    @KW

    @LawnCzar

    It’s once you know what you’re on about, and once you start getting social pressure to have a better bike, have nicer kit, that things get harder. I recall getting some attitude on rides and at races because my Nishiki was old, not nice enough. That’s an aspect where I don’t think our sport does itself any favors, at least not in the States.

    There is only one solution to that kind of thing. Crush souls.

    Yes.  And yes.  If someone looks askance at your machine, there is no other solution but to crush their spirit under your heel.

  46. @LawnCzar

    As others have mentioned, affording a bike — and gear — was difficult. My family had very little money. The funny thing is that, not knowing anything about cycling initially, it was fairly easy to just get a bike and get riding. It’s once you know what you’re on about, and once you start getting social pressure to have a better bike, have nicer kit, that things get harder. I recall getting some attitude on rides and at races because my Nishiki was old, not nice enough. That’s an aspect where I don’t think our sport does itself any favors, at least not in the States.

    Yup. But there’s also the inverse. People who spend loads of money on bikes and then basically don’t ride them or ride very well.

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