£800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
thirdcrank
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Jul 2018, 11:19am

We've reached the stage where even something so potentially long-lasting as a bike is marketed as almost disposable. There's now so much money in the top end of the sport that - pavé excluded - riders can rely on a bike change from a following car and don't need to worry about real durability any more. That means that paying more doesn't offer durability any more. I think this is one of the reasons why some experienced riders go to places eg Spa, where they can spec what they prefer and I suspect that many who do so will have strong wheels high on their shopping list.

slowster
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby slowster » 16 Jul 2018, 12:14pm

There's a hierachy of aspects of the bike involved in making a choice:

1. Frame size - if it doesn't fit, it's a non-starter and there's no point in thinking about it any further.
2. Aspects of the frame and fork which determine how the bike will ride/feel, e.g. frame material/construction and geometry - these are largely unalterable, and - depending upon how significant/noticeable they to the individual rider - may also rule out the bike, e.g. (excessive) toe overlap, handling too twitchy, dead heavy ride of a bike built for expedition touring if only being bought for fast unloaded rides etc.
3. Configuration/type of major components, e.g. wheels and gearing - if too different from what is required/ideal, how difficult and costly it might be to change the components can vary hugely. Gears might be changed simply by fitting a new cassette or changing the chainrings, or may involve great expense if derailleurs and/or shifters are not compatible with the preferred gearing set up. Similarly wheels might be relatively simple to change, or at the opposite extreme there might not even be clearance on the bike if the desire is to fit wider tyres than it can accommodate, whether that be 32mm tyres in an audax style bike which only has clearance for 28mm, or 40mm tyres in a tourer which can only take 35mm at most.
4. Contact points and components which affect fit and comfort, i.e. saddle, bars, pedals, stem and crank length - these can pretty much all be changed - at varying levels of cost - to suit the rider and their personal preferences.
5. Level of specification - whether it's a higher tier groupset, a titanium versus steel railed saddle, or better quality wheels of a given type (e.g. factory built touring wheels versus a handbuilt set), these factors may affect longevity/reliability/ease of maintenance, but may not significantly affect the ride: you pays your money and makes your choice.

However, the importance of these variables will itself vary between individuals. Moreover, some people are very particular, and will require the bike to be 'just so', even if that means spending a lot of time and/or money getting it exactly how they want it. Others are 'satisficers', for whom a bike that is adequate will be sufficient, and who will not be interested in spending time or money seeking anything better or improving what they already have.

If a satisficer would be happy with an £800 bike, it may be a waste of time trying to convince them that a bike costing twice as much would be worth it. Either they may not notice or appreciate the differences, or they will only do so if circumstances arise that make the differences very noticeable to
them, e.g. being unable to cope with big climbs due to high gears or major/frequent mechanical failures/issues. Even then they might not be bothered by these, especially if they tend to ride solo and consequently a) do not notice that others do not have those problems, and possibly b) get left behind by other riders or told off for having an unreliable bike which spoils the ride for everyone else.

I recall one rider with a traditional roadster type bike who commented to me that the flat handlebars were not very comfortable. When I looked at the bars I saw they had been rotated almost 180 degrees in the stem, resulting in the wrists being angled outwards at an awkward angle when holding the grips. It was matter of only a few minutes to correct this, but rather than trying to figure out why they found the bars uncomfortable, the rider had simply put up with it, and would have carried on doing so if someone had not spotted it and fixed it for them.

I think that with satisficers who are prepared to put up with unsuitable and badly set up bikes, it may be best to let them have their own way for a good while, and only then arrange an opportunity to try something better to see if they would appreciate it.

Brucey
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2018, 1:04pm

thirdcrank wrote:We've reached the stage where even something so potentially long-lasting as a bike is marketed as almost disposable. There's now so much money in the top end of the sport that - pavé excluded - riders can rely on a bike change from a following car and don't need to worry about real durability any more. That means that paying more doesn't offer durability any more. I think this is one of the reasons why some experienced riders go to places eg Spa, where they can spec what they prefer and I suspect that many who do so will have strong wheels high on their shopping list.


Too right. Weirdly some folk almost pride themselves on how much of this 'disposable' kit they get through. In a local bike shop one of the mechanics put it (with a wry grin) thusly;

"yeah, it is almost like they are saying I've worn out four 11s cassettes and chains this year, look at the size of my ****…." (*)

[ (*) 'legs' if you want. Although that might not have been what he actually said, come to think of it....]

he added that he didn't give a monkey's really; it is good business for them, since the average such user has no idea how to maintain or repair the bike, and just slings it into the shop for repair when it 'stops working'. That 'stops working' point is somewhat variable; it can be when there is a tiny noise or the indexing is slightly out, all the way to a 'rear mech in the wheel' incident or a completely worn out transmission.

In the latter instance it isn't unusual for the bike to need cassette, chain, chainrings, BB (or new chainset), RD, and (of course) cables and by this time the wheel rims or freehub body are often worn out too. A repair of this sort comfortably exceeds the total cost of a (much more basic) road bike in many cases.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PH
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby PH » 16 Jul 2018, 1:48pm

There is a pleasure in ownership that has a value to the individual that goes beyond the practical. I don't know why we feel the need to justify it to the cynics who like to guffaw and those that point out the same result could be obtained cheaper, we don't have to. If you're unlikely to derive such pleasure from the expense, it'll be money wasted. If you do, the last laugh could be yours, that pleasure may result in you keeping it longer and using it more resulting in better value. As an observation rather than data, the majority of older bikes (10+ years) I see in use by the original owner were expensive bikes to start with. I've spent money (Mine) on such things as polished stainless dropouts, paint choice and metal head badge, I notice them!
To the OP - If your partner yearns for a new bike they're likely to benefit from it. If they can afford it, just give in to it, the value of it will be theirs to judge and theirs alone. If they have no such yearning and the current bike fulfils the cycling needs, yet they still feel the need to spend money, find something else to spend it on.

Tangled Metal
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Tangled Metal » 16 Jul 2018, 2:31pm

All this is not a problem I have. My bike cost £650, my new bike is a secondhand recumbent costing £500. Both work and have been reliable so far.

My partner has had an 8 year mtb that's been very reliable. Very comfortable. It's a desire for something different and better on road (plus easy off road). Her budget is as high as is really needed to get a decent bike. Up to £1000. Although she likes a £1600 steel tourer but it's 15kg. That's put her off.

Bike use is never so precise as marketing portray. My partner doesn't fit into the touring, hybrid, road bike, mountain bike categories. Most riding is leisure with family (5 year old included) or commuting (about hour and quarter each way). The odd easy, off road trail in the lakes and other places. Summer tours scuppers the simple road going hybrid bike that would probably suit most riding. The need to add front panniers means touring bike looks good. However that's not good fit faster and lighter commuting needs.

Sure you can drop the weight off a touring bike. There's some 12 kg but most seem 15kg. To get 12kg you can pay £800 but aluminium frame. Or you need a lot of money.

So it's looking like touring is the hardest need to satisfy. So it's likely this type of bike is best choice. But will it ride without a load nicely?

Just how can you get a 4 pannier loaded bike that's still nippy when unladen? What's good for less than £1000?

Is there a brand making a bike that's really suitable for most cycling situations for less than a grand?

Airsporter1st
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Airsporter1st » 16 Jul 2018, 2:38pm

PH wrote:There is a pleasure in ownership that has a value to the individual that goes beyond the practical. I don't know why we feel the need to justify it to the cynics who like to guffaw and those that point out the same result could be obtained cheaper, we don't have to. If you're unlikely to derive such pleasure from the expense, it'll be money wasted. If you do, the last laugh could be yours, that pleasure may result in you keeping it longer and using it more resulting in better value. As an observation rather than data, the majority of older bikes (10+ years) I see in use by the original owner were expensive bikes to start with. I've spent money (Mine) on such things as polished stainless dropouts, paint choice and metal head badge, I notice them!
To the OP - If your partner yearns for a new bike they're likely to benefit from it. If they can afford it, just give in to it, the value of it will be theirs to judge and theirs alone. If they have no such yearning and the current bike fulfils the cycling needs, yet they still feel the need to spend money, find something else to spend it on.


+1. Very well put!

thirdcrank
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Jul 2018, 2:57pm

Tangled Metal wrote:All this is not a problem I have. ...


But it interested you enough to start a thread on what is generally a contentious subject. I see a difference between questions about whether eg this or that bit of kit is more durable than a cheaper equivalent (eg We've seen that in discussions about different grades of cassette) and the view of some riders that anything better than they have is a waste of money but anything cheaper is rubbish. If somebody is hand-on-heart satisfied with what they have that's ideal, but it's a bit of a clue that they might not be if they start sneering at more expensive stuff.

Objective comments, supported by technical data and/or relevant experience are invaluable in helping others make informed choices.

Tangled Metal
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Tangled Metal » 16 Jul 2018, 3:29pm

thirdcrank wrote:
Tangled Metal wrote:All this is not a problem I have. ...


But it interested you enough to start a thread on what is generally a contentious subject. I see a difference between questions about whether eg this or that bit of kit is more durable than a cheaper equivalent (eg We've seen that in discussions about different grades of cassette) and the view of some riders that anything better than they have is a waste of money but anything cheaper is rubbish. If somebody is hand-on-heart satisfied with what they have that's ideal, but it's a bit of a clue that they might not be if they start sneering at more expensive stuff.

Objective comments, supported by technical data and/or relevant experience are invaluable in helping others make informed choices.

To clarify it's a problem my partner has. She can afford a better bike, I can't so haven't got the dilemma of wondering if slightly more money us worth it.

My situation is that I can afford as little as possible. Even £650 was more than I felt happy spending. A year after my purchase and I'm more relaxed about spending so much. If I had the spare, disposable income for better I'd not worry about it so much.

It's a funny situation. I don't have the money but if I did I'd not be bothered about spending £1600 or even more on a bike I wanted. My partner has the money but doesn't feel happy spending it because a) she doesn't think she'd notice the benefit of a higher spend and/or b) she doesn't think her use justifies the better bike.

I started the thread to see if anyone had a view on value of increased cost bikes and components for non high end users. We're not touring on a bike around Europe then into Africa so a high end tourer might not be necessary. Similarly we're not road racing so a high end road bike isn't necessary.

However high end tourer might be a nice bike, same with a high end road bike. Would we notice the difference between a 3k tourer and a 1k tourer? I don't think so. Will a 6k road bike make my partner's commute quicker the answers no but she might enjoy the ride. Would a 1k road bike have the same effect? Perhaps. I don't know not having ridden a top end bike in any category.

Anyone toured on a 3k tourer? Was it better than what you had before it that was cheaper? Is an ultegra derailleur noticeable for better shifting than a sora or 105?is 105 the tipping point where the increases in cost doesn't justify the increase in the feel of using the gears for most cyclists? Is it possible to survey enough riders to identify the cost of a tourer that had peak feel for the cost? If that makes sense.

I think if you've only had a BSO then £800 is possibly a nice bike. It's similar with cars. If you've only had old bangers then a Bentley continental r possibly feels amazing. However you'll not justify the spend so a 3 or 4 year old focus might be a step up and your best bet fur a good car all things considered. For me that was a £650 planet x bike.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 16 Jul 2018, 4:06pm

A paint job, and some stickers.

thirdcrank
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Jul 2018, 4:08pm

I think some of this goes back to the days of people building up their own bikes. In the pre-VAT days of purchase tax, there was a big financial saving in buying a bike in bits and indeed, at one point at least one largish firm sold bikes in kit form to exploit this. Another advantage was that, for better or worse, riders had their own choice of components. There were fewer changes of technical specifications and fewer problems with compatibility.

I may seem to go on about wheels but they really are an important part of the bike and differences are significant. Once upon a time, riders rode to an event carrying their racing wheels (fitted with tubular tyres) changed wheels when they got there, raced generally in a time trial, changed their wheels again and rode home. ie Apart from the wheels, the rider's main bike was ok for racing.

Off-the-peg marketing has people buying the bikes the big vendors want to sell. They can buy components in bulk so buying them individually is much more expensive. The marketing-driven bikes may be superficially attractive but not necessarily suitable for the individual customer's needs. eg A cheaper version of what Chris Froome rides up an alpine hors catégorie climb is unlikely to suit a lesser mortal who wants to go cycle camping. The Q about bikes costing this or that might be better exploring whether somebody spending a grand or whatever would notice a difference if they went to say, Spa Cycles or bought a road bike for the same money online. Unless they went on a bad day :wink: I think the former would mean they came away with something more suited to their own needs AND with decent wheels, rather than something superficially more racy.

Brucey
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2018, 4:16pm

Tangled Metal wrote:
So it's looking like touring is the hardest need to satisfy. So it's likely this type of bike is best choice. But will it ride without a load nicely?

Just how can you get a 4 pannier loaded bike that's still nippy when unladen? What's good for less than £1000?

Is there a brand making a bike that's really suitable for most cycling situations for less than a grand?


Think about a surly LHT? Of a surly cross-check if you don't tote a huge load?

The cross-check has low-rider braze ons and is a very versatile frameset. If you have a few parts to carry over and/or buy well you can build onto a new frame for about £1000.

or you can have surly's build for a bit over £1000
https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Surly-Cross-Check-10-Speed-2016-Touring-Bike_80124.htm
but IMHO it really needs a triple if you are lugging a load up hills; in this case an easy swap because the bike comes with bar end shifters.

cheers
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Alan O
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby Alan O » 16 Jul 2018, 4:30pm

Tangled Metal wrote:Bike use is never so precise as marketing portray. My partner doesn't fit into the touring, hybrid, road bike, mountain bike categories. Most riding is leisure with family (5 year old included) or commuting (about hour and quarter each way). The odd easy, off road trail in the lakes and other places. Summer tours scuppers the simple road going hybrid bike that would probably suit most riding. The need to add front panniers means touring bike looks good. However that's not good fit faster and lighter commuting needs.

I don't mean to sound facetious at all, but in my day we had something that just about satisfied all those things (if not 100%, probably at least 80-90% in each category). It had a sturdy frame that could take a big range of tyre widths and mudguards, could take panniers front and rear, was fine on most relatively easy off-road routes (towpaths, what is now known as "gravel", etc), and still worked pretty well unladen on roads and was ideal for year-round commuting. It was known as... a bicycle.*

You said "Bike use is never so precise as marketing portray" - I'd go further and say that real-world bike use is not even remotely in the same universe as marketing people try to make out.

In this situation, I'd go for a nice steel tourer every time. If you really want something more road-sporty, you could also get a pair of lighter wheels with closer gearing and skinnier tyres.

Or, alternatively, with £1,600 to spend, I'd consider spending up to £1,000 on a good tourer and then looking for the best pure road bike I could get from Decathlon with the rest.

*PS: Yes I know I'm starting to sound like my Granddad, who used to say something similar to me about his 3-speed Sturmey Archer equipped bike many years ago.

reohn2
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby reohn2 » 16 Jul 2018, 5:10pm

thirdcrank wrote:We've reached the stage where even something so potentially long-lasting as a bike is marketed as almost disposable. There's now so much money in the top end of the sport that - pavé excluded - riders can rely on a bike change from a following car and don't need to worry about real durability any more. That means that paying more doesn't offer durability any more. I think this is one of the reasons why some experienced riders go to places eg Spa, where they can spec what they prefer and I suspect that many who do so will have strong wheels high on their shopping list.


All the way through this thread I've been resisting the mentioning Spa but I knew someone else would.Why the OP doesn't go there and test ride one I'm at a loss to guess,they're touring specialists they're specialists in the field and the designer of their frames is an experienced tourist of many years standing who knows what he's on about.
It seems the obvious place to go IMHO :?
Last edited by reohn2 on 16 Jul 2018, 5:39pm, edited 2 times in total.
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JakobW
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby JakobW » 16 Jul 2018, 5:28pm

Tangled Metal wrote:So it's looking like touring is the hardest need to satisfy. So it's likely this type of bike is best choice. But will it ride without a load nicely?

Just how can you get a 4 pannier loaded bike that's still nippy when unladen? What's good for less than £1000?


There will always be some compromise here, especially if the bike has to be able to carry a full camping load: if it's lightweight and nippy unladen, it will tend towards the floppy once heavy with gear; conversely a packhorse will tend towards the leaden once shed of its panniers. Now acceptable compromises can be found; I ride an old 531ST tourer that is very comfortable both empty and with a load on, but it's never going to be a nippy racer. I'm guessing your partner rides a small or medium frame? This should make things slightly easier, in that it's less likely to get floppy as it gets weighed down. Surlys seem to be well-regarded for their handling with and without loads; disk trucker/long haul trucker if you want to go heavier, or straggler/cross-check if (relatively) lighter; they're going to be a bit more than a grand, mind.

Is there a brand making a bike that's really suitable for most cycling situations for less than a grand?


I guess the forum's answer to 'most versatile bike' would be a (light?) tourer of some kind (it is the CTC after all!), and both e.g. Dawes and Ridgeback should do decent bikes for under your budget; the Spa Cycles tourer is about a grand as well.

gxaustin
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Re: £800 or £1600 bike, what will you notice really?

Postby gxaustin » 16 Jul 2018, 6:54pm

if you are good you don't need a good bike.
Racing performance isn't a valid way of looking at it. The bike is to be appreciated and it isn't all about speed and fitness, there are other reasons for riding a bike. Yes, I did actually say that.


That's one opinion. I like a light bike to get me up hills and allow me to ride further (but I'm no racer :wink: ).
I'd say that if you spend £800 you can get a pretty nice bike and several of my friends ride such machines very effectively. However, if you spend £1,600 you could get hydraulic discs, better (dearer) groupset and better wheels/tyres. Or you could keep much the same, or slightly better, running gear and get a carbon frame. Either way you'll notice a difference because both will probably be lighter and/or roll better (or brake more consistently). It's a bit like choosing between a Skoda and an Audi, I'd say. It depends on what features you prioritise for your intended use and budget.