"Five years ago, back in the Stone Age as far as bicycling is concerned, Anthony Laskaris was thrilled when he sold a bike for $2,000. It was a cause for celebration.
"Back then, the really fancy bikes were made of aluminum, the most expensive set of wheels on the market might approach $800, and a $2,000 sale was proof that big money, top-of-the-line bikes had a place on the suburban side streets of America.
"That was then. Today, when Laskaris hears the cash register ring up a $2,000 sale, he doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.
”That will buy a good intermediate bike for a recreational rider," said Laskaris, vice president of the Cycle Loft in Burlington, USA.
”Now we start to get excited if something sells for $5,000. At that point, you’re talking about a pretty nice bicycle."
So starts the piece in the Boston Globe. The piece is headlined: "Would you spend $14,000 for this bike?" and says the first off-the-shelf $20,000 road bike will be in the shops some time soon.
Douglas Belkin of the Globe writes: "Call it bike inflation, and if you haven’t been in a bike store for a few years, steel yourself for some serious sticker shock. A $7,000 road bike is no longer an anomaly; $10,000 editions are popping up at recreational weekend rides around Greater Boston, and area custom builders are taking orders for road bikes that are creeping toward $15,000."
Stephen Madden, editor of Bicycling magazine, said: "It’s really pretty easy to spend $8,000 on a bike."
Who are the new school roadies?
”A generation ago these guys were playing golf, but who wants to play golf?" asked Madden. ”So instead of spending all their money on Big Bertha or some fancy driver, they’re putting all this money in their bikes so they can show up on their Saturday-morning ride and one venture capitalist can pull up to an investment banker and ask him what he’s riding. . . . It’s another way for these guys to compete."
According to bicycle market analyst Jay Townley, there 145,000 road bikes sold in 2000 in the US, four percent of the total number of bikes sold, accounting for 11 percent of the retail dollars spent. 20,000 were ‘high-end’ road bikes.
In 2005, there were 498,000 road bikes sold in the US, accounting for nearly 16 percent of the market share and 40 percent of the retail spend in bike shops. Of this total, 90,000 were high-end road bikes, at $4000 and above.
However, Belkin’s piece in the Globe throws a stick into the carbon-fibre spokes of this bike boom. He ends with comments from an old school roadie:
”For me, it’s gone way beyond the point of diminishing returns. ”It’s not the bike. It’s the rider."