Bikes like the new Yeti SB5c pack a ton of technology, and usually carry a price tag to match. Lots of folks write to us criticizing the crop of new bikes that are, admittedly, pushing the price envelope at five, seven, even ten thousand dollars. Is that a bad thing for consumers? Not at all, I say.
Every time we feature an expensive bike, component or widget, some portion of readers complain vehemently about the asking price of that wonder-product. In fact, some of you even get downright angry and spiteful. Not only is that negativity unwarranted, the position of the complaint is incredibly shortsighted. Here’s why:
These bold, expensive, technologically innovative products are the bicycle industry equivalent of Ferrari or Lamborghini from the automotive world. Do people complain about how expensive those cars are? No. If they can afford to buy them, they do. Those of us who can’t afford to plunk down for a 918 Spyder lust to experience the mind-bending performance.
But, most of us will not have that opportunity, so we live vicariously through the media that affords us those opportunities; words, photos and video. That’s part of the job here at Dirt Rag. More importantly, these super-bikes and über-products are driving technology that will eventually trickle down for all of us to enjoy.
Look at products like Shimano’s 10-speed Deore group and SRAM’s X7 group. Ridden one of these groups lately? Both the brakes and drivetrain work better than they have any right. All of the technologies in this group trickled down from XX1 and XTR. If these companies would have listened to the peanut gallery about those groups being too expensive, we wouldn’t have such damn good budget parts.
And it’s not just parts. Walk into a bike shop today and a $1,500 bike is far more advanced and capable than a $1,500 bike from 10 or even five years ago, even when adjusting for inflation. From handlebar tips to tires on the ground, each piece has improved significantly. Not to mention the consumer’s ever-expanding choices. Shopping in that price range today? You have a wider selection than ever.
Everyone loves to hate on the price of SRAM’s 11-speed one-by drivetrains. But when this one-by technology trickles down to the X7 pricepoint in some unknown number of years, the same folks who complained about the price of the XX1 group will buy and enjoy the 11-speed awesomeness. When that happens, I hope they appreciate the irony of their original position.
Not only do these expensive goods drive innovation, the data shows that people are buying these products. Santa Cruz tells me the carbon Bronson bikes outsell the aluminum models three to one. Yeti has said it won’t even bother developing an aluminum version of the SB5c model. Despite hoards of complaints about a fancy carbon bikes being too expensive, people are voting with their wallet to enjoy this technology.
The point is, none of us need this expensive tech to experience the joy of riding a bicycle in the dirt. But, ripping the latest wonder-bike down a ribbon of singletrack is a pretty sweet experience. Whether or not you can afford to buy one of those envelope-pushing products right now, you should appreciate the advancements these products bring to the table. In a couple of years, you’ll benefit directly from the technological trickledown.
So, dear readers, let’s all try to elevate the level of dialogue in the comments sections of our social media outlets. Together, we can make this space a little more positive by seeing the positives in progress.
What do you think?
Are bikes too expensive these days? Have you benefited from the technology they develop? Let us know what you think in the comments below.