I stumbled on a search query a few days ago that led someone to my site that bummed me out a bit:
“Cycling is expensive”
There is no doubt that cycling can be expensive; some avid cyclists can drop $10,000-$20,000 on one bike, let alone all of the necessary equipment that goes with it. Helmet, shorts, jerseys, shoes, pedals, socks, gloves, glasses and maintenance equipment. Then you still have to worry about a rainy day bike and cold weather clothing!
For most of us though, cycling is just a touch more attainable and unless you’re planning on going pro, it’s more about the engine than the bike anyway. Until today I had a fourteen year-old carbon Trek 5200 that I bought used for less than a decent entry-level bike and it was good enough that I could ride with just about anyone. A couple of pairs of cheap cycling shorts for short rides and a nice pair for long rides, a helmet and a couple of jerseys that I bought on sale and I was good. The rest of the stuff; a floor pump, shoes and pedals, I picked up as I could afford them. For a time I even used my mountain bike shoes and pedals on my road bike. At the time it was what I could afford (and I never got any gruff about it from the people I ride with).
Mountain biking is even more possible on a slim budget. The high-end mountain bikes are just as expensive but the entry-level high-end bikes are truly affordable. The helmets, shoes and pedals are far more reasonable as well. Though you may have to shill for a State Park pass (I buy mine with my vehicle registration), it’s completely worth it. Also, with the right saddle, compression shorts under my cargo shorts replace the need for cycling shorts except on long rides.
The main point here is that while cycling can be expensive, the outlandish cost has never been a requirement so much as a desire and should never be an excuse to stay away. If anything, it’s been my experience that those who have the legs to keep up with the advanced folks on entry level equipment get more respect than those with high-end stuff. In fact, that I had a used bike with $30 cycling shorts, mountain biking shoes and pedals and a cheaper helmet never came up at the advanced club ride that I frequent. Not once. What did come up, on a regular basis, was how well I made use of that equipment.
So, if you want to get into cycling but are put off by the thought of endless thousands going out the door on a bike, fear not, it’s not that bad.