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Why Do People Spend Thousands of Dollars on High-Priced Carbon Bikes? A Personal Take

After the comments started rolling in concerning my post in which I tore apart a YouTube video decrying the purchase of any bike valued at more than $650, I felt it might make an interesting post to explain why I decided to bite the bullet and buy a high-end bike.  I had a perfectly excellent, flawlessly operating Trek 5200 that I felt quite comfortable on, having completed several centuries and a solo 200k on it.  I thought it was about as good as a bike could get when you start talking about the high-mileage rides.  I thought I had the best of both worlds – a full carbon race bike for the cost of an entry-level aluminum bike…

Then I saw her on display at the local bike shop – I just stopped in to look at  shorts or something:

Now THAT'S a bike!

Unlike some, I have no opinion on what a person should do with their money.  Whether a person chooses a $10,000 carbon race bike or a $700 aluminum entry-level or an old steel bike makes no never mind to me.  They’re all good, as long as they’re well maintained, as far as I’m concerned.  As I see it, choosing a bicycle is a highly personal choice.  Do I want to be modern and stylish, do I want to be a hippie, am I going to be a commuter, a randonneur (rambler) or an endurance cyclist and am I financially unwilling to part with cash required for a high-end bike, or am I unable to come up with that kind of money for a bike?  Heck, would I rather forego speed to ride like I did when I was a kid and just stick with mountain bikes?  Maybe even a foldable bike for City commuting…  The point is, all of these questions have to be addressed or my favorite option implemented:  Multiple Bikes.

Now here’s the deal:  That’s a lot of bike in that photo right there.  A full aero race bike and I have no intentions of being a racer (though many of the guys I ride with have hinted that I should give it a go).  So the question is, why drop a few grand on a bicycle like that?  Well, for me it was originally all visceral.  It looked awesome and I’m a sucker for an awesome looking bike.  Beyond that, I was having a pretty good year financially so I didn’t have to finance it.  In fact, I even had enough left over to bribe my wife into not giving me a tough time about buying it (yes, that helped – it also helped that my wife is exceptionally cool about my love of cycling).  Of course, now that I own it, I don’t know how I got along without it.  It’s vastly more comfortable than the 5200 that it replaced as my “A” bike.  In fact, the difference is quite astounding and took me completely by surprise.  With that bike, I get the one thing I’ve yet been able to achieve on any of my other bikes – to feel what it’s like to have a bike fits me perfectly, or at least my best understanding of “perfect”.

In the end, the decision to purchase that bike came down to one pure and simple point:  I bought it because I couldI am, without doubt or regret, absolutely pleased as punch that I did.  Some will suggest that it’s too much bike for it’s intended purpose – hard training and fast club rides.  I suggest otherwise:  That carbon-composite beauty is exactly the right amount of bike for someone like me – because it puts a smile on my face every time I clip in and put my butt on that saddle.

I won’t be apologizing to the hippies or purists or the folks who can’t yet afford a bike like that any time soon either – no more than I would expect anyone else to apologize for their choice.  See, I lead an otherwise very humble life and the one thing I choose to be just mildly excessive about is my fitness.  If someone were to take issue with that, simply put, it says more about them than it does me.  Now, if I was a douchebag who looked down my nose at others who chose a different path, that would obviously mean I was a jerk but that’s not the case.

Now here’s where this becomes important:  After rereading the post that I linked to above, one could get the impression I was looking down on the jerk who looked down on people like me for the simple crime of buying and riding a nice bike – a person who used misinformation as proof that his opinion should be universally embraced.  Worse, you could mistakenly come up with the impression that I believe others should buy nice bikes.  If I haven’t made this clear enough, I don’t care what anyone else chooses to ride – it’s simply personal decision.  Do what makes you happy.  The only thing I do care about is how people ride what they bought when I’m riding less than a foot behind them at 25 mph and there’s obvious cause for concern there.

I suppose this is my main point:  My posts are an explanation of my experience, strengths and weaknesses.  When I write about cycling, everything is filtered through the brain of an avid cycling enthusiast (I’m a nutter).  I don’t mean to suggest my way is Gospel – it’s most definitely not because in a lot of ways, even though I’ve packed a lot of learning and experience into three years and I ride fairly well, I’m still somewhat of a noob too.  Even though I can completely tear apart a crank, clean it and reinstall everything correctly, even though I can ride with some fast people, even though I can complete most of my own maintenance myself, I’ve got a lot of growing yet to do.  So, if I get a little preachy now and again, please forgive – and I’ll do my best to do the same.

Now, if you’re wondering:  Is that bike worth what I paid for it?  Abso-freaking-lutely.  Every single penny.

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