Are bikes as good as they were?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Oldjohnw
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Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Oldjohnw » 6 Nov 2018, 3:37pm

I sometimes wonder if today's 'ordinary' bikes are as good as those of 20 plus years ago?

I have a 15 year old steel with alminium front fork Raleigh Pioneer 160, one of Raleigh's first hybrids. It is regularly used -since retiring 5 years ago three trips a week - and has been used for several camping trips, including this year in Perthshire and Northumberland. Now motorised following major surgery last year, it has never let me down.

It cost about £300 in 2003. I wonder if similarly priced (at today's prices) bikes today would be as good.
John

Cycling and recycling

thelawnet
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby thelawnet » 6 Nov 2018, 3:57pm

That depends on your definition of 'good' I suspect. For £450 you can get a bike that will last many years, it will probably have 8 or 9 gears rather than 7.

There are plenty of durable bikes if you want one, I suspect that at the higher end you will find bikes that are better by some criteria (speed, weight) but perhaps worse by others (durability). A £450 bike is pretty much a workhorse and not some carbon thing that's liable to snap when you wash it.

iandriver
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby iandriver » 6 Nov 2018, 4:05pm

Oldjohnw wrote:
It cost about £300 in 2003.


£300 should still do the job in 2018.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

Nigel
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Nigel » 6 Nov 2018, 5:46pm

Oldjohnw wrote:I sometimes wonder if today's 'ordinary' bikes are as good as those of 20 plus years ago?

I have a 15 year old steel with alminium front fork Raleigh Pioneer 160, one of Raleigh's first hybrids. ...

It cost about £300 in 2003. I wonder if similarly priced (at today's prices) bikes today would be as good.


If we factor in inflation, that £300 is more like £450-£480 today. So, is a £450 bike as good ? Probably yes, may be better if chosen carefully (ie. not seduced by flashy things which will break).

flat tyre
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby flat tyre » 6 Nov 2018, 8:08pm

I've got 4 road bikes, which I would classify as ordinary, acquired over the last 7-8 years. Many years ago I purchased a Dawes Galaxy and used this bike for almost 20 years before I consigned it to scrap. I have to say that the current batch of bikes I own are far easier to maintain and keep in good running order. The Dawes required constant attention to things like headset bearings, wheel bearings (cone type) and the rear wheel supplied with the bike in the first place kept breaking spokes. Oh and the brakes...hopeless.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Oldjohnw » 6 Nov 2018, 8:29pm

Interesting perspectives and many thanks for your replies.
John

Cycling and recycling

drossall
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby drossall » 6 Nov 2018, 9:06pm

There used to be some truly rubbish BSOs around. My perspective is that there are far more good, modestly-priced bikes now.

Which is not to say that older bikes can't be really, really nice machines.

1982john
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby 1982john » 6 Nov 2018, 9:35pm

Oldjohnw wrote:I sometimes wonder if today's 'ordinary' bikes are as good as those of 20 plus years ago?

I have a 15 year old steel with alminium front fork Raleigh Pioneer 160, one of Raleigh's first hybrids. It is regularly used -since retiring 5 years ago three trips a week - and has been used for several camping trips, including this year in Perthshire and Northumberland. Now motorised following major surgery last year, it has never let me down.

It cost about £300 in 2003. I wonder if similarly priced (at today's prices) bikes today would be as good.



9/10 times the 'not as good as it used to be' question can be explained by survivorship bias. That is we're only looking at the few that survived and not the many that have been lost.

Second, you need to make sure that you're valuing the same thing. I do have a penchant for ultralight gear. I accept sacrificing some lifetime use for this.

Wiggle have this bike for £480.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/vitus-mach-3-urban-bike-sora/

How does that compare?
As someone said your £300 is now worth somewhere close to £500.

Greystoke
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Greystoke » 7 Nov 2018, 6:25am

Yes and no.....no simple answer.
My mid 80's hand built tourer is still nice now.
Newer bikes require more specialized tools to work on them and parts tend to have a life expectancy built in, when it's worn it can't be rebuilt, it must be replaced.
But technology has moved on.
So.....yes and no.

pwa
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby pwa » 7 Nov 2018, 7:09am

My bike technology, for the moment, has halted at 9 speed stuff, which I just keep replacing like-for-like. And for me it seems much better than the stuff I had in the 1980s, when a gear change involved a bit of wishing and hoping. Likewise the brakes are better, and my steel framed tourer is great for its intended use. Around the 1990s a lot of things got nicer without becoming much more flimsy. Since then, I'm not so sure.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Oldjohnw » 7 Nov 2018, 9:07am

I guess my real philosophy is: get what meets your needs within what you can afford. I recognise that my bike would not be first choice for going around the world but it meets my needs. At almost 70 I am still quite adventurous but also realistic.
John

Cycling and recycling

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Cugel
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Cugel » 7 Nov 2018, 9:46am

Oldjohnw wrote:I sometimes wonder if today's 'ordinary' bikes are as good as those of 20 plus years ago?

I have a 15 year old steel with alminium front fork Raleigh Pioneer 160, one of Raleigh's first hybrids. It is regularly used -since retiring 5 years ago three trips a week - and has been used for several camping trips, including this year in Perthshire and Northumberland. Now motorised following major surgery last year, it has never let me down.

It cost about £300 in 2003. I wonder if similarly priced (at today's prices) bikes today would be as good.


You're going to think me a nitpicking pedantic rude boy but .....

Define "ordinary bike". The phrase of itself conveys no meaning, criteria, parameters. In fact, the very concept may be suspect. Perhaps there is no such thing as an ordinary bike but only millions of individual bikes which can be put into several categories or classes. Yet even these categories and classes may be legion.

Define "as good as". The phrase of itself conveys no meaning, criteria, parameters. There are several schemas for defining "a good bike", which vary with the required functions, appearances, costs, maintainability, etc.. The "good" schemas may also vary according to the schema-maker's requirements. Which attributes of a bike interest you and how do you measure them on the good-bad scale? I suspect your schema will be different from mine, not least because I employ several such schemas depending on the intended use of the bike but also my circumstances at the time (from mood to how much money is in the wallet).

Now, assuming the above can be sorted out (ha!) we come to your singular example. As you will know (or so I suspect) one example never makes a case for anything, especially if it's an example described by an interested party (you) already having an opinion about such things.

****
Or, to summarise an answer to your question: I don't know and neither does anyone else. :-)

Cugel

peetee
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby peetee » 7 Nov 2018, 10:25am

On the whole the market and expectations for bikes is technology driven. Higher specification and more sophisticated materials are the big selling points. As such plain simple value for money takes a back seat as people are persuaded or choose to own an over-specified bike rather than a rugged machine.
Current status report:
Latter side of fifty and feeling less than nifty.
Too many bikes on pegs and too few miles in the legs.

Samuel D
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby Samuel D » 7 Nov 2018, 11:15am

Some trends can be observed. There is a trend toward more frequent and more significant change. Change = innovation = business buzzword and necessity for mass-market success circa 2018.

Consequently a lot of standards have been thrown out the window in the last ten years and the remaining ones are being abandoned as quickly as manufacturers think they can get away with it. From a branding perspective, standards make your product look like a commodity rather than a unique bicycle worth more than the next guy’s because of proprietary innovation. The American companies Specialized and Trek have excelled at this sort of innovation.

But eliminating standards, especially ones that were sound enough to survive for decades, does nothing good for the usability or lifespan of the bicycle.

Good materials, engineering competence if not brilliance, and efficient manufacturing methods have become more widely available such that thoroughly competent bicycles can be sold at a lower cost than ever. For example, whereas Campagnolo gear was once a near-necessity for good drivetrains and brakes (according to Frank Berto and others), it’s now a near-pointless luxury (according to Berto et al.).

It’s just a pity that this new freedom to attain quality is so often wasted on inappropriate designs – inappropriate for use, that is; the bicycles are perfectly appropriate for selling to wealthy buyers susceptible to a clever wheeze.

So we’ve won some and lost some. I suppose it was ever thus, although the losses seem to be mounting from where I’m standing. The present electrification of the bicycle sets in motion a perpetual marketing machine along the lines of the broader consumer electronics world, where trends in other areas (smartphones, for example) will be shoehorned into bicycles at a tremendous rate. No thanks!

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pjclinch
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Re: Are bikes as good as they were?

Postby pjclinch » 7 Nov 2018, 11:19am

In 1989 I bought my first "proper bike", an EBC Country tourer. It was £250, which according to an online historical pound calculator is on the order of £600 - £650 today.

It had 2x6 derailleur gearing, indexed (SIS) at the rear only with downtube shifters and Weinman side-pull brakes with suicide extension levers.

I think you can do rather better than that for £600 now!

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...