What is the real cost of a bicycle?
Have you ever wondered how much would it take to build a bicycle from the ground up, or what is the real cost of a bicycle?
Even if we’d know the answer – it would probably be against the unwritten marketing policies to reveal the buy-in price of any product for sale. The way big bicycle brands keep the end-price down is by mass-production, manufacturing their own line components, or partnering with other well-known brands.
In the end, it is the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) that matters. So let’s see whether today’s bike prices are realistic or not.
Mountain Bike Prices
Ibis Ripmo AF is a full-suspension trail bike, designed to be ridden on demanding trails both up and down the hill. Although the Deore is the entry-level of the whole series, there’s still quite a good reflection on how much each of the parts would cost separately.
Ibis – Ripmo AF Deore ‘2021
Price Teardown – Part prices when bought separately
FRAME – $1,799
FORK DVO Onyx D1, 160mm Travel – from $785
REAR SHOCK DVO Topaz T3 Air, 210 x 55 – $500
WHEELSET Ibis S35 Aluminum, Ibis Hubs – $500
BRAKES Shimano Deore M6100, 4-Piston – 2 x $150 = $300
TIRES Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5″ WT, EXO+ Casing – 2x $90 – $180
SEATPOST KS Rage-i Dropper – from $140
CRANKSET Shimano Deore M6100, 32T – $95
CASSETTE Shimano Deore M6100, 10-51T – $92
BRAKE ROTORS – Shimano SM-RT66 200/180 – $70
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Deore M6100 Shadow Plus – $55
HEADSET Cane Creek 40 ZS44/ZS56 – $54
STEM Ibis 31.8mm – $45
HANDLEBAR Ibis 780mm Alloy – $40
SADDLE WTB Silverado 142mm – from $40
GRIPS/BAR TAPE Lizard Skins Charger Evo – $30
SHIFTERS Shimano Deore M6100 – $30
BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano SM-BB52 – $30
CHAIN Shimano Deore M6100 – $24
SEAT CLAMP Ibis – $22
Total Sum: $4,831
Retail Price: $3,199
Bicycle prices in 2021 compared to 2010
Most bikes have increased in price by 10-20% since 2010, with some seeing a minor increase and others up by a third. We are likely to see a similar increase by 2030.
- 2010 Specialized Allez Elite: $1,300
- 2021 Specialized Allez Elite: $1,350 (3.8%)
- 2010 Cannondale Quick 4: $650
- 2020 Cannondale Quick 4: $700 (7.7%)
- 2010 Specialized Rockhopper Expert 29er: $990
- 2021 Specialized Rockhopper Expert 29er: $1,125 (13.7%)
- 2008 Bianchi Pista Steel: $649
- 2020 Bianchi Pista Steel: $800 (23.3%)
- 2010 Trek 520: $1,320
- 2020 Trek 520: $1,680 (27.3%)
- 2010 Kona Fire Mountain: $570
- 2020 Kona Fire Mountain: $749 (31.4%)
Bicycle prices: How Much Is Enough?
Bicycles range in price from as low as $100 to as high as $20,000, although on average most bikes cost around $1,500 USD. If you are just looking for a basic bicycle for casual use, you could find a decent hybrid or fixie for as little as $300. Bikes below $300 tend to be made from cheap materials that don’t last long and should be avoided.
For $1,000 you can get a decent road bike or hardtail MTB, although if you want to compete in races or use the bike frequently you should spend a bit more than that. A high-quality, carbon road bike or MTB will cost between $2,000 and $5,000. Dual suspension MTBs have the most advanced components and cost between $2,000 and $6,000.
Bikes above $5,000 are typically used by professionals only, with benefits that are imperceptible to the average cyclist. Electric bicycles cost between 50-100% more than non-electric bikes of similar quality.
Why do people modify and custom-build their bicycles?
Seasoned cyclists know their preferences to a fine degree, and due to the longevity of components – carrying the preferred parts over to the next bike to make it ‘customized’ is a rather regular thing to do. Building a bicycle from the ground up, part-after part creates a special bond between the cyclist and the bike.
How do big bike companies keep the prices down?
Frame material is one of the biggest factors in a bike’s price. Aluminum is usually the cheapest frame material, although low-quality steel can also be cheap. The most expensive frame materials are carbon and titanium. Weight is an important factor, so the lighter the bike the more expensive it usually is.
Cheap aluminum can still make a decent frame but you should avoid cheap carbon or steel as it’s likely to break. Some bike companies use cheaper brakes and gears to reduce the price, which is usually not a problem if you don’t intend on using the bike competitively. Other components that could push up the price of a bike include hydraulic disc brakes, lightweight wheels, electric gears, and improved suspension.