Prices Seem Awack

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I think it is kind of fun and interesting comparing prices of different things and services and seeing if they seem in line with each other. They never really do, but recently it seems completely out of line. Trying to compare the cost of gasoline to the price of food to the price of bikes and I have no idea where to start as a baseline.

I drove down to Dallas on Friday and yesterday went by Richardson Bike Mart. I wasn’t there to shop, but I don’t get into bike shops that often, so I looked around for a bit. It is amazing how much some stuff costs.

Bike shorts for example. There were way more shorts and bibs that cost over $100 than under $100. And many were nearly $200. Man, I could go through a few thousand dollars worth of shorts in a season at those rates.

There was a Specialized McLaren bike there with an $18000 price tag. That is the most expensive bike I’ve personally seen. You can buy a pretty okay car for that price. One with electric windows and probably even heated seats if you looked around enough. I would have a really hard time justifying buying that bike with all the other things available in the world that you could buy for nearly 20K.

Trying to compare any medical costs to regular life stuff is pretty impossible and seems stupid. I was charged $1250 for an x-ray of my collarbone when I tore up my shoulder in January. Or a friend told me about getting charged $1750 for some stitches in his knee. Those numbers are so out of wack that I can’t fathom how they got so screwed up.

Shopping at the market here they had a sale on bottled water. 24 for $1.97. They are 500 ml each. So you could get 219,289.34 bottles of water for the price of the McLaren. That is a lot of water. Around 55,000 gallons of water, bottled and delivered. The water seems like a better deal than the bike.

Also at the store they had these huge apricots. I don’t know the exact price of the apricot, but they were/are really good. I think they would end up costing about $2 each. That seems pretty expensive, being about the same cost as the water, but in the right circumstance, I could see getting one apricot for the 24 bottle case of water.

I’m going to eat Sunday brunch at the Dallas Country Club in a little while. I have no idea how much that is going to be, but it is going to be expensive on any scale. I’m sure I could eat get dozens of Grand Slams at Denny’s for the brunch. But you’re paying for the ambiance here, not the food. That is a hard thing to quantify.

I drove my Honda Insight down here. It gets around 50 miles per gallon. So for that same two dollars, I can travel close to 30 miles in the car. Gasoline seems too cheap to me. Traveling the 30 miles, carrying all my stuff is a much better deal than the apricot.

Anyway, I guess we all decide what we feel is the value of the things and services we purchase. I think it would pretty impossible trying to convince a non-cyclist that most the stuff we purchase to ride is a value. But, having those $200 at the right time can be a value.

This is a deal, for sure, in this day and age.

This is a deal, for sure, in this day and age.

This is an expensive bike.  Deal?  I'm not sure about that.

This is an expensive bike. Deal? I’m not sure about that.

Richardson Bike Mart is dog friendly.  You can't beat that.

Richardson Bike Mart is dog friendly. You can’t beat that.

The huge apricot.  Pretty great.

The huge apricot. Pretty great.

The guy in front of me shopping had this Mt. Dew.  It doesn't have any corn syrup.  It is made with sugar.  I don't know how much it cost, but he said that it wasn't nearly as sweet as normal Mt. Dew.

The guy in front of me shopping had this Mt. Dew. It doesn’t have any corn syrup. It is made with sugar. I don’t know how much it cost, but he said that it wasn’t nearly as sweet as normal Mt. Dew.

22 thoughts on “Prices Seem Awack

  1. Michael Gratzer

    Any person buying that McLaren probably drives a M-B G63 AMG in the the ‘burbs.

  2. CyclingBL

    Prices are a very interesting thing, especially for non necessities. I have a few magazine advertisements from around 1890 and bike prices, from Columbia and other good companies were around $100-150. Bike riding “suits” were $5-15. The average weekly wage around that time was $10-15 a week.

  3. Tommasini53

    $18k for a specialized?!! bet comes with clincher wheelset 🙂 should offer up a set of LEWs for that price.

  4. Beach Bum

    Couldn’t agree more on how stupidly over priced everything “bicycle related” has gotten. When I go to mtb races I’m always dumb founded by the amount of $4000+ bikes that people are buying. And yes shorts, jerseys and even cycling socks are ridiculously I’ve priced. It’s even stupider on the road side.

  5. The Cyclist

    You’re right. Gas is way too cheap in US or way too overtaxed in Europe. It’s ridiculous considering we all share the same planet and same atmosphere.

  6. Bernd Faust

    The best deal is still a great delicious “free Beer”! Life is to short to drink cheap beer!
    Prost! Bernd

  7. steevo

    Dude you need to analyze who is getting paid what too. My brother had a kid with a masters degree cleaning out a basement of a investment property for 12/hr. This kid probably has 100k in education. Upstairs he was paying an immigrant with an 5th grade education 20/hr for doing skilled labor.

  8. JP Shores

    Riding in Cali today i saw Avocado’s for sale on the side of the road, 25 for $5.00! I believe it all dpends where you live and the availability of fresh fruit, veggies, etc. concerning bike pricing, it seems to be the new Golf and people will pay for speed and comfort. Any suggestions on riding from Del Mar area? Keep posting! GO!

  9. PaulC

    My guess is that many of the high end bikes are bought by people who turn to cycling after developing problems in higher impact sports. These folks tend to be older and more established so they don’t seem to mind the spend as much. In my experience, racers tend to be scroungers and don’t want/can’t afford to lay down a Venge in a crit

  10. Who's your daddy?

    If you think those prices are absurd….try looking at daycare costs. $300 per week for an infant…a week! And that is just a typical “center” that is legit. For those of us who don’t have the option of grandma, or a neighbor etc. And now do the math if you have 2 kids…..

  11. channel_zero

    Cycling is the new golf and gear is equivalent to greens fees. Both are a kind of currency.

    The drive for all this high end stuff in cycling is based on industrial/labor policies in much of the West that concentrates wealth. Some people will be able to spend on a Venge and not miss it too much. Those same people are getting richer.

    Citigroup produced two reports on the matter a few years ago. Both are insightful
    “Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances”
    “Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer”

    They are floating around the Internet and worh everyone’s time even if you don’t agree with them.

    Also keep in mind the dollar is weakened against some currencies. So some of those bike parts got more expensive based on the value of the USD.

  12. Prestachuck

    I think that much of the problem is that people are willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money for these products.
    From the early 1990’s through around 2002, a full carbon, full dura-ace, pro-tour quality, big name road bike retailed for about $3500.
    A hand built, made to measure titanium frame from retailed from around $3k to around $6k. Frame ONLY.
    A hand built, made to measure steel frame retailed for about $2k.
    Today, the prices of the custom ti and custom steel frames have not changed by much, but the “high end”, mass produced frames from China are retailing at twice the price of the fully custom, hand crafted, U.S. Built frames.

    Here is the real kicker.
    The durability and usable lifespan of the carbon frames is much less.
    The actual cost and time required to manufacture the carbon frame is significantly less than the hand built Steel or Titanium options.

    Some of you will say that steel and ti are too heavy, or too flexible.
    My experience has been that they are not.
    Some will say that the aerodynamics are superior.
    The real world is not a wind tunnel, and most amateur cyclists are not very aerodynamic.

    To me it is just not worth $13k to have a bike that is only 1/2 pound lighter, rides too stiff, is mass produced in China, is not repairable, and will turn into a virtual spaghetti string after four or five years.

    Why are these products so expensive then?
    Because many people are suckers for advertising and marketing.
    The big bike companies, and sadly the component makers too, will tell us that this product is worth so much money because it will make us into the World’s Fastest Man.
    We want to believe in it, and so we hand it over.
    Then when the next generation of faster, more aerodynamic, stiffer, more forgiving (my foot) gear is released, they can raise the prices and then justify with that age old explanation that you and I have always fallen for.
    Stronger, faster, lighter.

    Think about that the next time that you are grinding up that steep climb at mile 85 of some big century ride, and a man fifteen to twenty years your senior glides past you on a twenty year old bike with only six speeds on his back wheel.
    It has happened to me, and I was a relatively fast cat. 3 at the time.

  13. bhalls

    Some really good incites. I saw a guy this weekend on a $9000 S Works Mtn. bike kiss a tree pretty hard and bam cracked seat tube . 9k for a bike, and done after a few rides. I told him to contact CAlfee and good luck.

  14. spice

    Bike shops aren’t make a ton profit. More and more shops are going out of the business.

    It’s getting ridiculous, when “industry” people can’t even afford the product they’re trying to sell.

  15. Beach Bum

    This was exactly my experience when I worked in a bike shop nearly 10 years ago. I had access to whatever bike I wanted for 10% under dealer’s cost but with bike employee wages being what they were/are I still couldn’t afford anything that was relatively higher end. On the other end of it, I finished school and now make about 3 times as much but can’t afford or “refuse” to pay retail for most of the over priced stuff.

  16. kenny

    We were just talkng about this around the campfire. Why do we allow anyone to sell us that $200 jersey or a $300 saddles or those $400 dollar pedals.

  17. Raul

    Thanks for this – puts things in perspective. Guess it won’t stop people below from complaining about “lost values” etc etc

  18. Rich

    One of the reasons we pay so much for drivetrain parts would be their nice planned obsolescence. If you can’t replace your parts, then you have to buy whatever they have, and that leads to having to get their group since they decided it all works together. The clothing is out of control. I have the money to buy what I want, but there is no way I am throwing down $2-300 a piece on shorts, tights, jackets, and jerseys.

    I remember working in shops in early 2000, and being able to buy the top gear. Now, even with discounts there is no way that is even possible for those guys. That is a joke.

    Cycling is out of control with their prices. I live in China now, and the prices here for top end stuff is even higher than in the States. I now ride, by far, the cheapest piece of crap road bike that I have ever had, and I have found that, overall, there is nothing wrong with it since I don’t race. I don’t need the stiffness of lighter weight of the top end gear any longer.

    I do still pay for decent shoes though. That is the one thing where I don’t have a problem with the price.

  19. Skippy

    Jensie & Klodie will tell you that i took my shopping bike to Corsica for ” Le Tour “! They of course were on the NEW TREKS ! Riding behind them on 10+kg of 20yo Scapin , used on the 2003 Le Tour from Paris , i was not too jealous since i knew that if anything serious happened , i could easily rectify the problem .

    As it turned out , i was run off the road 25km short of Bastia on St 1 , wheels badly sprung but the frame intact . Broken helmet, glasses , STI levers , camera & phone . Torn up Cycling suit as well as huge bruising on all the LHS of the bod . Refusing Ambulance & Gendarmerie assistance i made it through most of the Corsica stages . Had it been a Carbon frame & wheels , that would have been the end of the story , a spoke key got me back on the road after straightening the handlebars and since the road was flat , i did not need to change gears .

    Casting around to replace the STI levers , ultegra 9s , proved to be a source of frustration during the next week , but eventually Eu60 for a set of Sora 9s solved that problem before the grades got too steep . Pity though about the lost skin and heavy bruising , had to live with that for a few weeks .

    Arriving in Bastia i passed the prat that claims he is going to be the first amateur to ride the 3 Grand Tours in one year , seems he had been talking to a guy i met in 1998 , Cipo , see my blog for the photo . Will allow that i did not have STRAVA available in 1999 when ii did the triple nor in 2001 , 2003 ,2005 as well as the Worlds in Madrid and last time 2010 .

    Laughably this critter is riding for the ” Environment “, whilst i carried all i needed on the tribars , throughout the season , this wally has a camper Van and sundry other transport despoiling the atmosphere .

    Anyone with the wherewithall to sponsor me for the 69 days and lend me the Garmin & Strava , i will kick this ” Amazing bullshit into touch ” with just the bike once again !

    Meanwhile off to the Tour da Pologne starting in Rovereto , Italia !

  20. trounder

    Not relevant unless you also know the 1890 price of a juicy apricot. I get the point Steve is making here. He’s putting his present value analysis to work comparing apricots and bibshorts. He’s not saying, “relative to the average weekly wage of an American” prices seem out of wack. He’s saying prices are out of wack, “compared to what I could buy with my $$ INSTEAD of those $150 bibshorts.”


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