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Is an Expensive Bicycle Worth It? Price vs Quality

Since the first humble bicycle was invented in 1817 by Karl von Drais, these two-wheeled vehicles have seen a boom in popularity. Various people use bicycles for numerous reasons; some use them as a mode of transportation, some for leisure or exercise, and others use them competitively. With the range in uses, bicycles come in a range of prices to suit their functions; but is an expensive bicycle worth it?

Whether an expensive bicycle is worth the money or not depends on your needs, experience, and what you plan on doing with the bicycle. An expensive bicycle will put you into that league if you want to compete. If you’re starting with cycling, a less expensive bicycle should be sufficient. 

A pastime in cycling is no cheap venture. After purchasing the bicycle, helmet, and other gear, you could be set back a tidy sum of money, but how much should you spend on your first bicycle? How do your cycling needs determine the cost? What benefits do expensive bicycles give you, and why is cycling so expensive?

Bicycle Price Vs. Quality, Functionality, And Performance

Expensive bike in a shop

In our consumeristic world, we are often led to believe that the most expensive item on the shelf is the best and most desirable item. This mindset applies to all facets of life, from entertainment to cars, fashion, tools and electronics, and even sporting equipment. 

Although it is not always the case of “biggest is best,” there is a flip side to this coin as well. When paying lower prices for a product, you quite often end up with inferior quality items, which either do not work as well or break much sooner than they should/a more expensive item. 

When it comes to sporting equipment, particularly bicycles, the price needs to balance out the purpose. I.e., what do you plan on doing with the bicycle, and what are your budgetary constraints?

Bicycles come in a variety of designs and styles which cater to the needs of various individuals. The price of a bicycle ranges from around $200, up to around $12 000 (and more) for competition bikes. 

Some bicycles are sold for around a million dollars, but those are generally not expensive due to their functionality but rather their status and other factors.

By defining what the intended purpose for the bicycle is, you are better positioned to decide on what your price range is. 

Some purposes include:

  • A mode of transportation/commuting
  • Leisure riding, mountain biking/adventuring
  • Exercise
  • Competitions and races

Each of these purposes requires a different style and quality bicycle. Once you have defined the purpose, you can ask yourself some other questions:

  • How far do I plan on riding in a single sitting?
  • How fast do I need to go?
  • How much time will be spent on the bicycle?
  • What is the terrain like?
  • What is my budget regarding a new bicycle?

Different styles of bicycles also vary in cost. Road bikes are generally cheaper (for entry-level to mid-range bicycles), while mountain bikes are more expensive

So depending on what type of bicycle riding you want to do will also influence the cost.

So, Is An Expensive Bicycle Worth It?

If you are competing in a type of cycling event, race, or other competition, the advantage of having a more expensive bicycle becomes more apparent.

If you are riding a bicycle for leisure, transport (commuting), and (to some degree) exercise, then a less expensive bicycle should be sufficient. 

Your level of experience and “dedication” to cycling also plays a role in determining if an expensive bicycle is necessary or not. If you are a “beginner” or have decided recently to give cycling a try, an expensive bicycle is probably not going to benefit you.

A more expensive bicycle will be of greater benefit in improving the ride, increasing your performance, and, simultaneously, your comfort if you spend many hours every week (or every day) on your bicycle and cover many miles.

The biggest selling point of more expensive bicycles is that they are designed to optimize performance, whether speed or toughness (in the case of mountain bikes). 

The materials used in constructing expensive bicycles are also (generally) of superior quality.

Most bicycle manufacturers reserve top-quality materials for the most expensive bicycles.

Most top-of-the-range bicycles are made of carbon fiber, a highly efficient material in reducing the weight of a bicycle without compromising on stability and strength. 

Carbon fiber comes in different grades and produces different weights in the end product. Expensive bikes get the lightest material, while slightly heavy (denser) carbon fiber is used for slightly cheaper bicycles.

Overall, expensive bikes are lighter in weight, have greater steering stiffness, and the components used (brakes, tires, gears, pedals, etc.) are of better quality.

Therefore, purchasing an expensive bicycle as a novice is not necessary. There are perfectly suitable bicycles for under $1000. However, you should also not go too cheap, as the bottom range bicycles may not be worth it.

If you are starting, aim to buy a bicycle for around $500. These bikes should serve you long enough to get a feel for cycling and decide if you have the budget for something more.

Is A $1000 Bike Worth It?

It is necessary to compare it to a lower-priced bicycle ($200-$350) to determine whether or not a $1000 bicycle is worth it.

A $1000 bicycle frame is generally lightweight and strong, made from carbon fiber or titanium, while cheaper bikes are made from stainless steel or aluminum. The weight difference is around 25 to 30 pounds for the cheaper bike and 20 to 22 pounds for the more expensive bicycle.

There is also a difference in shocks. While cheaper bicycles come with steel-coil springs to absorb shocks, more expensive bikes come fitted with air-spring shocks that work with hydraulics, which again reduces the overall weight and improves the bicycle’s performance.

Cheaper bicycles gear shifting mechanisms (drivetrains) are also less user-friendly, preventing you from maximum efficiency in gear changing, while expensive bikes do not have this issue.

Suppose you have the available funds for it, the need for a more competitive or comfortable bicycle, and the dedication and time to use it closer to its full potential. In that case, a $1000 bicycle is a good investment. 

The overall performance of this type of bicycle will be a benefit, and you are not starting too low in terms of quality, so you will have an effective bicycle, which will last you for a decent time. 

Does An Expensive Bicycle Make You Faster?

Oftentimes, a more expensive bicycle will increase your overall performance. Will it make you faster? Well, depending on what type of bicycle you purchase, the tires and other components on it, and your level of experience/ability.

Generally speaking, a more expensive bicycle will increase your ability to go faster than a less expensive one. The weight difference, the power to speed ratio, and the components that transfer energy to speed allow the wheels to turn more efficiently will all contribute to making you go faster on a more expensive bicycle.

Why Is Cycling So Expensive?

The sport, hobby, or pastime of cycling is expensive for several reasons.

  • As technology improves, new materials are identified and used to manufacture bicycles. These materials are, however, more expensive than their predecessors.
  • To design and create top-of-the-range bicycles, companies put a lot of time and money into researching what makes for better bicycles. This research costs money and is worked into the price tag.
  • Those companies producing bicycles also understand the market and operate in such a way as to increase their profits to the maximum extent possible.
  • As cycling’s popularity increases, and as more people upgrade their bicycles, the demand for new bicycles increases. This demand continues to push up the price, along with elements such as inflation, labor costs, energy costs, and the cost of transporting materials.

All of these factors combine to cause cycling to be more expensive. 


While commuters, leisure riders, and basic fitness enthusiasts will be most pleased with their $500-$700 bicycle, those individuals who want to participate in various cycling competitions and those who plan on spending long periods traveling great distances will need to look at purchasing a more expensive bicycle. The exorbitant cycling prices are related to the manufacturers’ effort to ensure they produce top-quality items while still maximizing profits.