The Glass Ceiling

Below the Threshold – Just Barely

There’s an invisible threshold above which a bike can become too precious, too fancy, too expensive to be comfortably subjected to the daily rigors of bike commuting and utility riding. This threshold moves vertically based upon one’s income, frugality, and desire to protect their belongings. It’s difficult to directly correlate a dollar figure with this threshold, but I certainly know it when I’m on a bike that feels as if it needs to be “babied”. For example, my Surly LHT is well below my “bicycle glass ceiling”, and consequently, it’s my go-to bike for a wide variety of circumstances and conditions. On the other hand, my old IF Club Racer—a bike that I’ve since sold—was above that threshold, and as a result, didn’t get ridden very much and eventually became a dust collector in the bike room. I’d be curious to hear from you about your personal bicycle glass ceiling (feel free to elaborate in the comment area below).

At above what price do you find a bike to be too precious to be used for everyday riding?

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55 Responses to “The Glass Ceiling”

  • Miguel Marcos says:

    I think it’s just a bit more complex. A nicely loaded Brompton or Bike Friday can push the price up quite a bit but since it’s foldable you can carry it with you more securely and not necessarily leave it locked up somewhere.

  • Mark says:

    I wouldn’t likely base the decision of whether or not to ride a bike daily entirely on price, but I would say that if it’s more than $1500-$2000, it’s probably on the fancy side, and might not be intended for everyday, rough-and-tumble commuting and errand running. There could potentially be exceptions, like a respectable steel mountain bike, but I would be concerned about security, as a nicer bike will be preferentially targeted by thieves if it’s not locked up properly. Overall, though, as long as the bike in question is sturdy and reliable, and as long as I can lock it up securely, I’ll use it.

  • John Lascurettes says:

    Price wouldn’t be an issue for me. My everyday riding goes from one secured location to another on my daily commute. But I’m more paranoid on the little neighborhood errand runs.

  • Mark says:

    My everyday commuter (which is currently locked in the companies parking garage), cost me ~$6K. I do tend to use another bike when I know that I will be leaving it in a riskier area, but a part of the equation is how secure you feel that the bike facilities at your workplace are.

    FWIW, my ‘commuter’ is built on a custom, lugged frame, and was built from the ground up as a commute bike. I didn’t intend for it to end up as expensive as it did, but it is still a fraction of the cost of the car that I don’t own!

  • RJ says:

    I’d like a button for: “no ceiling”!

    I am possibly the opposite– the more I spend, the more I want to run it into the ground! I don’t like having expensive bikes that look like they have hardly been ridden– in my mind, it makes me look I have them just for show.

    I want my expensive bikes to have worn hoods, worn saddles, and a light layer of dirt/grease in hard-to-get-places that just won’t wash off. Even if I bought a $5000 Seven, this would still be the case.

  • RJ says:

    ..I feel the same way about running shoes. Ask someone who considers themselves a “runner,”

    if your shoes are white-clean, you’re a “jogger” who poses in the gym more for show than fitness..

    if your shoes are dull-white or brown, you’re an active runner who actually runs.

  • John says:

    For me, replace-ability is a big part of the equation. I am much more likely to take a bike built from modern off-the-peg parts than something that might be harder to replace. I’m pretty sure my Raleigh One-Way is starting to push above the $1k mark and close to my race bike. However, the Raleigh is built from parts that are readily available. It would be pretty easy for me to go out and rebuild it if I wanted to. On the other hand, it might be harder to find the same frame I used for my race bike, so that thing gets coddled a little bit (still ridden, I just don’t leave it around).

  • Jack in NC says:

    This is tough. I can’t imagine buying a bike that wouldn’t be an everyday bike. And the amount I am willing to spend on a bike is solely dependent on the money I have available to spend on a bike. As one commenter noted, “it is still a fraction of the cost of the car that I don’t own!”

    But, who knows, maybe someday I will have the financial wherewithal to buy a purpose-built bike for which the purpose is something other than everyday riding.

  • brad says:

    I think the ceiling is a combination of price, emotional attachment, and time investment. My everyday duty bike cost $550 and I’ve maybe added another $200 worth of improvements to it, but I don’t spend a lot of time working on it and I don’t feel emotionally attached to it. I don’t want to have a bike that I worry about every time I lock it and leave it.

    My touring bike, on the other hand, gets a lot more attention and cost a lot more, and I’d be sad to lose it… but that’s not a bike I generally leave unattended. When I’m using it, I’m either touring or else doing exercise/training rides.

  • Roland Smith says:

    Second on the “no ceiling” button. I wouldn’t buy anything I couldn’t afford, but what I do buy needs to suit me, because I use my bike as my daily transport. I’m currently on my 3rd bike in 35-odd years of cycling (excluding the kiddie-bike that I learned to bike on). And since I’ve never owned more than one bike at a time, even a bike with a high price tag isn’t that expensive when looking at what I’ve spent over the years.

  • tdp says:

    I could easily have a Rivendell bike and components worth over $2k and be happy to ride it every day. For me however the threshold would be when you get into bikes with elite racing materials and super high end racing components that you start to see more of in the $3k neighbourhood. I just can’t see using a fragile racing bike for everyday commuting.

  • dave says:

    I’d like a “no ceiling” button too. When I purchase a bike, I consider the intended use and potential risks and weigh that against the costs and features. If I can justify the cost then it would be foolish to purchase the bike and then let it collect dust because I was afraid to use it. If I build up a bike for commuting, not only do I want it to get pounded from my daily ride I also want it to be the bike I reach for first whenever I need to go somewhere. I’ve probably put over $4500 into a bike that I put together in January and I’m riding it everywhere. To date, I figure that the bike has cost me about $8 per mile. By the end of the year, it should be less than $1.50 per mile.

    Some day in the future I plan on getting a velomobile. Then I’ll have less of an excuse to be a weather weanie. But at $10k or more, I better ride the wheels off it to justify the cost.

  • Thorsten H. says:

    For me the maximum is not defined in the absolute price. There are several more points coming to my mind, e.g. what is about a good and reliable insurance for the bike, not only for theft, but even more for all the damage and vandalism it is opposed to while I’m away from it. If I can afford this police, then I wouldn’t hesitate to use the bike everyday.

    Furthermore after being in the real “Clydesdales”-class I need a really strong bike with selected components. After getting “my” bike it would be really crazy to grab now a cheaper “default” bike for my all day rides.

  • Thom says:

    I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way Alan, but this post is a bit condescending. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of paying even $100 for a bicycle that they need for transportation. For these people, there’s no glass ceiling at all, just the necessity of functional transportation. A stolen or wrecked bike means a lost job, a long walk, or a bus/train fare they can’t afford. I don’t mean to be all holier than thou about it, but let’s talk about what we can do to put people on bikes, rather than how much cash we have to throw around.

    Sorry for the snark, but this “everything has to be super nice” attitude can also turn people off to bicycling by giving them the impression that they’re not rich enough to buy a really nice bike, so why should they bother at all. To my mind, this does nothing to foster an inclusive ethic of bicycling, just creates Haves and Have Nots.

    I’m not trying to condemn anyone for what they choose to spend their money on, and goodness knows I’d be buying up all the shiny goo-gaws too if I had the spare change, but it just seems a little crass to basically ask people how much money they have laying around.

  • CTP says:

    none of the previous posters live in NYC, I gather!? unquestionably the $500 limit for me. if you had a $300 button, that would have got my click.

  • Joe says:

    I think it mostly comes down to income first, and where you live second. My income is slightly higher than down the middle. My Surly Cross Check build comes to around $1700. It is my daily ride and errand runner for the most part (no commute, I work from home.) I have no problem about locking it in most areas, but occasionally I feel very reluctant to lock it up in some areas when visiting clients. Bike theft is a very large issue in my area (Gettysburg/Hanover Pa area.) I’m more concerned about my bags. My good bags and panniers stay at home on those runs in so so areas, and I use the cheaper panniers and saddle bag. I had a Brooks Glennbrook stolen off my bike while running into the post office.

  • sygyzy says:

    For me it’s both price and type of bike. I ride my road bike often with groups on training/fitness rides but I never take it to the market because of a) price b) it’s just not comfortable to ride a “race” (term’s relative, especially for me) machine to get groceries. It’s difficult for me to just casually ride a road bike but I can cruise along on a hybrid or city bike just fine and not feel like I need to go fast.

  • Alan says:

    @Thom

    Wow, Thom, that’s quite harsh. You’ve completely misunderstood and misconstrued the point of my post. The point isn’t “how much cash do we have to throw around”, but to discuss at what point do bicycles become playthings and impractical for readers of this blog. There’s certainly no more honor in choosing a higher price range over a lower. If you choose to place a value judgment on those choices, that’s your decision, but it’s patently unfair to assume I’m doing the same and condemn me for it when I’m doing no such thing.

    Alan

  • Joe says:

    Alan made a point. The readers of ‘this blog’ are most probably not going to be riding a $100 bike for transport. Not saying that they wouldn’t, but if if they are, then they could have checked the $500 vote. Alan gave the option.

  • OmahaBikes says:

    For me, three things come into play for the ceiling to take affect.

    1) How much did it cost
    2) Will I be parking it in a secured/unsecured location
    3) How clean is it right now/what weather will I be riding in today

    Luckily I have no bikes anywhere near the ceiling right now, and I’m almost always parking them in a secured parking garage at work. However, the new running shoe analogy comes into play when the bike is clean. It’s almost better to leave my bikes dirty rather than clean them up and then not want to ride them for fear of getting them dirty. I remember purposefully getting my new running shoes dirty so that I didn’t have to worry about avoiding puddles and mud back in my cross country days.

    I also do a lot of long rides and I’m building up a Surly Cross Check for that. It will be approaching the 2k mark. It will also not have fenders or racks. I know for sure, I’m going to be less likely to want to ride that bike if the weather looks bad, or if I’m going to be parking it in an unsecured location. Maybe I should ride it through some mud when it’s done just to get rid of the “new running shoe” feeling. ;-)

    Excuse me while I go dump some dirt on my LHT.

  • Jen says:

    It puzzles me when I hear harsh comments against bloggers for the ‘non-inclusive’ nature of their posts. A blog is an entirely personal thing. In any case, nobody could accuse the owner of this particular blog of not taking a rounded view of the subject of cycling and access to cycling.

    Re the question, I would not feel that my bike is too precious to use, no matter if it were very expensive or not. I’d just enjoy riding it, take precautions to lock it properly etc, and otherwise just forget about it and get on with my day.

  • Thom says:

    Alan, as I said “I’m not trying to condemn anyone for what they choose to spend their money on” and I’m not condemning you or suggesting that you are purposefully setting up value distinctions or making judgements. But to ask how much money people think is too much to spend on a bicycle implicitly separates those who can *choose* to spend money on expensive bikes and gear from those who can’t. And making $500 your minimum shuts out a bunch of people. It doesn’t seem like a welcoming message to me, that’s all. “Readers of this blog” can be anyone, including folks without a lot of money.

    And also, like I said, I don’t think you meant the post that way, I’m just pointing out that it could very easily be taken that way. So I apologize if my tone was/is too harsh.

  • Thom says:

    @ Jen: At the risk of violating my “never make three comments on a blog post” rule, I just want to say that a blog that accepts advertising and produces product reviews steps over the line from being “an entirely personal thing” and becomes an article primarily for public consumption. I read EcoVelo frequently and I’ve corresponded warmly with Alan, so I’m not trying to swoop in and be all judgmental on him or anyone else. I’m just trying to point out that EcoVelo has become a standout in the online bicycle community and this post about how much is too much money to spend seems out of character with the position the blog has created for itself within that community.

  • andrew says:

    What’s the point of having a bike that’s too fancy to ride? This sounds like a book too fancy to read, or a meal too fancy to eat. From my perspective, the ideal bike is the one that you can ride everywhere – rocky single-track to double centuries – and which allows you to own only one bike (I’m not there, yet. I’ve still got 2 bikes). The issue is the total investment that one has in bicycles relative to the amount that one rides. From my perspective, 2500-3000 dollars is the max that needs to be spent in order to have the perfect bike all the time, whether it’s one perfect Rivendell, a townie-roadie-mountain bike trio, or an entire herd of purpose-specific rides (a bar bike, a road bike, a track bike, a BMX bike, a downhill bike, a bike from childhood, a loaner, a . . . .). If you’ve got so many bikes that you can’t ride them all, you aren’t simplifying your life, you are complicating it, and for me this goes against the simple joy of using bikes for fun and for utility.

  • Alan says:

    Thom,

    I apologize if I reacted too quickly and too harshly, but words like “condescending” and “crass” when directed my way tend to push the ol’ hot buttons.

    The reality is that nearly all of us have limits on what we can spend on bicycles and $500 seemed like a reasonable starting point considering the structure of the market for new bicycles. I suppose I could have dropped the minimum to $100, or even $50, but I’m not sure that would have made a significant difference in the poll results. And in any case, the option is there to choose “Above $500″ for any bike under that price.

    As for why ask the question in the first place… as gas prices rise in the future we’re going to see more and more people from all socio-economic levels turning to bicycles for transportation. I think it’s a worthwhile discussion to consider what new people looking to ride bikes for transportation would averagely pay for a commuter/utility bike, and what constitutes a “reasonable” price for that type of bike. Obviously the range is very broad, but I thought it would be interesting to ask the question of our readers, again, with the idea of determining a “mean” price. Obviously, there’s nothing scientific about this poll, and our readers tend to be enthusiasts, but we’re doing our best to learn what we can within our limited scope. It never dawned on me that one might take the question as condescending or crass.

    Alan

  • Steve Green says:

    Too fancy? Too precious?

    That’s how I feel about the bikes in the NAHBS; they make me dizzy…
    I much prefer a nice steel bike with understated detailing. However, I do realise that the fancy frame builders are showing off what they can do.

    Back to the point; I live in the UK, and I think that £1000 ($1500 at current rates) will get you a really good, practical, touring type bike and all the accoutrements you need for daily riding.

  • voyage says:

    I walk to and from work. The climate, the distance (2.1 miles each way), my health, the safety of the neighborhoods, my work schedule and time management skills eventually combined to facilitate this relaxing, inexpensive and zero risk practice. I do have a 2005 Specialized Sirrus (market value $250-300??) that is gathering dust. Not sure what to do with i, if anything.. I also have two expensive road bikes that I wouldn’t dream of using to commute. They are for another kind of R&R.

    But all that’s just me and my situation.

  • Jonathan says:

    I commute on one of Mike Flanigan’s ANT’s and love it. It’s locked up outside, in the rain at times. It’s a bike — a beautiful bike, but it’s a bike and it’s meant to be used.

    Alan, am I reading your post correctly — you sold you new IF Club Racer?

    Jonathan

  • Andrew says:

    I said $1500, because my commuter bike that I bought for $700 is probably pushing $1000 as it has evolved into a touring bike. Really though, it does everything from everyday commuting, to long-distance rides, to aggressive circuit laps, so I don’t mind putting more into it.

    That said, my winter beater/pub bike I bought for $50 and have since put about as much into it again to make it safe and useful. At some point I’d like to replace it with an older hardtail MTB that I can ride some trails with but still feel at ease leaving it out at night, and in the rain and snow.

  • rich says:

    It seems as though there are two distinctions here that have a significant impact on determining if a bike can be used for everyday riding…and there is some overlap between them.

    One distinction is function/utility/design. Is the bike (regardless of price) comfortable/enjoyable to ride daily?

    The second distinction would be value/preciousness. Is the bike worth too much (sentimentally, financially, etc.) to its owner for daily riding?

    I’m passing no judgment here, but for me, the somewhat philosophical question I ask myself regarding the possessions I value highly is: “do I own ‘the thing’ or does it own me?”

    The few possessions I own or have owned that have been quite expensive (for me) were purchased to be used (bike, laptop, camera, etc.). Whenever I first take them out into “the field” I note that I register a bit of hesitation or concern, but when I remind myself that it was acquired to be used, it helps me put things into proper perspective. I respect my investment as well as the efforts of the designers and laborers that created the item, but also—to some extent—I “let go.” If the worst happens and the item is damaged or destroyed, so be it; it is a thing. Would it suck? Sure. Am I reckless/careless with it? Nope. But I know that I have no desire to feel controlled by material goods. Personally, I only desire to own that which I can afford to loose.

    (Last year, through marriage, I became a homeowner…I’m still coming to terms with “owning” something of this value [thank goodness for insurance].)

    Oh, as far as bikes go, I ride a way too stiff Giant FCR…it’s my daily commuter, my errand runner, and my weekend distance bike. It’s far from my dream set o’ wheels, but it gets me where I want to go and certainly serves admirably in its functions.

  • Sara C. says:

    My ceiling is about $1000, not because I think that’s an ideal price for a bike, but because I live in New York City, where theft is always an option. I want a Betty Foy sooooooo bad, but if I spent that much on such a special bike, I’d be afraid to lock it up. Which defeats the purpose of cycling in the city.

    My boyfriend has a $2000 road bike which is so flashy and expensive that he’s afraid to leave it anywhere. Thus, in the time since we have met, he has been on exactly one bike ride. I, on the other hand, ride a secondhand ten speed which cost me $150, and it goes everywhere I go if the weather is decent.

  • Everett says:

    Thanks, @Thom for mentioning the incredibly high ceiling. I am a professional, with college degree and full-time job, a dedicated rider and regular reader of this blog. Even making a halfway decent living, spending $1,000 on a bike is incomprehensible to me.

    I am usually excluded from many cycling communities because I am not able to spend more than $100 on a bike. My daily commuter is a second-hand Schwinn which I paid $80 for (which also came with a decent mag trainer). I don’t ride in the winter nor the rain because I can’t afford the gear or extra maintenance.

    As a result, I do not hang out with any other riders. Charity rides are big in the area I live, but I can’t afford the $35-$50 entry fee. Group rides are out because it’s embarrassing not being able to order a beer with everyone at the rest stops. Races have entry fees: out. I do a lot of my own wrenching because I can’t afford a bike mechanic.

    I love biking, but because I can’t spend more money on it, am relegated to reading a few bike blogs and riding solo.

  • John says:

    For me this is less to do with how expensive a bike is and more about my perception of how nice it is. My xtracycle ended up costing a bucket load but it doesn’t look or feel like it. I ride it everywhere and lock it up, admittedly in pretty safe places. However, I could import a rivdendell frame and some expensive shiny parts and build up a bike that costs less than my long tail and be happy to ride it and get it dirty but would worry about nicks and scrapes and definitely wouldn’t lock it up or use it as a utility bike.

  • bentguy in vanvouver says:

    I would never ride a bike that’s too flashy or just a toy but that’s just me.

    I ride every day and I own one bike. I’ve had it for two years now and next month I will pass the 20,000 km mark. I’ve had to do very little repair or up-keep on it. My bike cost me $2800.00 and I’ve have since upgraded a thing or two (Rohloff hub…). I now have it insured for $4,000.00. I spend considerably less for my daily commute then my motorist work mates.

    This discussion puzzles me slightly. I don’t know why anyone would own a bike that they wouldn’t ride especially if they spent a lot on it. But again, that’s their business isn’t it? My HP Velotechnik Street Machine is the most practical bike I have ever owned and no matter what it costs I can’t feel that in anyway my money was wasted. It’s my commuting, shopping, touring, trailer hauling, weeeeeeeee down a hill favourite part of my day. And I’m not at all ‘precious’ with it either. It’s usually covered in some level of mud, grime and scratches.

    I say everyone is entitled to do what they want with their money but to my mind the more you spend on a bike the more use and abuse you should be able to demand from it. These things aren’t trophies, they’re vehicles. I see the sparkling, shinny trophy bikes come out in the spring and they do look lovely but I’ll take a serious vehicle that delivers year ’round and I’ll pay for it… gladly.

    My limit is: Whatever it’s worth — depending on how you define worth.

  • AdamM says:

    This is an interesting question. For me, the answer has everything to do with security in the area where I live. When I lived in London, I rode everywhere on a Surly Steamroller. I built it up with quality parts over a reasonable period of time and it probably ended up being worth the equivalent of $2000 to replace (although I bought a lot of second hand parts etc so I’d probably spent half that). Did I mean for it to cost that much? No way. But it never broke down and I happily rode it everywhere? But I was always worried about theft, not for the cost (that’s why I had insurance) but for the inconvenience.

    Now I’m in Sydney and the commute has more than tripled in length so I’m using my Singular Peregrine to get to work a couple days a week. It’s probably more like $3000 to replace with the gears and stuff. If I didn’t have a secure bike room at the office I’m not sure whether I’d be riding it or not. When I think about it, I do wonder if a cheaper bike would mean I’d use it more because I’d be less worried about losing it.

    I have the luxury of owning a couple of mountain bikes as well. They aren’t cheap and I’ll thrash them to pieces off road, but I’ll never use them in town and leave them locked up anywhere beause the likelihood of them being stolen is just so much greater (why is it that disc brakes attract thieves like shiny things attract magpies?).

  • ToddBS says:

    I went relatively low, $1500 (relative to someone who has bikes beyond just department store bikes).

    One of the reasons that I have not yet gotten a Riv bike is that I would not want to ride it the way Grant and the guys at Riv ride theirs. My Surly is also my go-to bike. And I consider that a compliment to Surly, not saying that they are disposable. I like my LHT quite a bit. Can’t help but think I should have gone with the Crosscheck instead though. Even the Pacer is a right up my alley.

  • skip says:

    Why own a Bike one will not ride or cannot get comfortable securing.. Life is too short

  • Jeremy says:

    This is a fascinating discussion, and it’s something I think about/struggle with often in terms of my own consumerism and acquisitiveness. Price levels are arbitrary, and don’t necessarily reflect the consumer decisions someone has made. I guess what I mean is value of a bicycle or any object, or any decision really, is not limited to cost.

    Also, $4500 to spend on a bike seems crazy to many people, including bike geeks. But, it’s kinda average when it comes to quality tandems…

  • Alan says:

    @Jonathan

    “Alan, am I reading your post correctly — you sold you new IF Club Racer?”

    Yes. It funded the Civia Loring which is getting far more daily use as our primary grocery hauler/cargo bike.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Rich

    “Personally, I only desire to own that which I can afford to loose.”

    That’s a salient point that gets to the heart of the original question.

    Alan

  • Zyzzyx says:

    Personally, I’d choose a ‘No Ceiling’ option, as that’s what I practice. My Quest velomobile has a replacement cost of ~$8500, before shipping. Yet I use it for commuting, some errands, weekend fun rides, organized group rides, time trial races, and as of last weekend I’ve started using it for bike touring. Yeah, its an expensive ride, but to have something that can do so much so well, the cost has been worth it. However, I do try not to think about the cost of it when its locked up to the rack at work.

  • Peter Stewart says:

    Too precious for everyday riding? Well, never, actually.

    The price comes in when it has to be left outside or anywhere unsafe.

    Neither of my current bikes even meet the $500 minimum, but the more expensive one doesn’t get left outside much. With that said my old $2K MTB was stolen after being parked out on the street everyday for 9 months, with only a $15 bike lock.

    So, in the end, they’re just bikes, I love them to bits, but they are just machines.

    Note: I am now a little more careful about parking spots for my bikes.

  • Doug R. says:

    I have always had a bike “Bling” attitude even in the days when I could barely afford to keep my old Bridgestone MB-2 looking good. I spend a a lot on my bikes because I just have to have them just the way I like them. I even have some sub $500.00 old Raleigh’s that I spend money on to keep them up. So, I feel that there is a only a ceiling when my “aesthetic ” choices cannot be met
    by my monthly paycheck. I have always been the Grasshopper instead of the ant in my approach to living, therefore, I seek and purchase that which gives me the thrills and chills. Ceiling be damned, if you want it go for it! (yes, I do not have a wife, thank god!) My Goldfish tell me it’s ok to spend their college funds as long as they get their yummy shrimp nuggets! Dougman.
    P.S. If you bitch about bicycle costs, try collecting hotrods or motorcycles, then you will not complain about bicycles so much.

  • rdhd says:

    I’m not sure price comes into it for me. It’s usually how pretty the bike is! :)

    But really, it’s a bike. It’s there for you to ride. The limits for me are how much I can really afford and what I need, and how dangerous the neighborhood is. The first puts a limit on what I buy in the first place. I live in DC and some routes to work might not be the safest. Not that some thug would know the difference between a $500 bike and a $3000 bike.

  • Doug V says:

    This very subject is why I have 4 bikes……..My Tommasini for racing and not for locking up, and various others for whatever I may be doing………fixed gear for around town, mountain bike with road drops for half assed touring, and a beater geared road bike that I can go fast on, but still lock up and not freak out…….

  • Opus the Poet says:

    For me it’s not so much the cost in money as the cost in time. I build my own bikes, or reclaim them from a dumpster. I have a SWB ‘bent that took more than 2000 hours to build, and has a full Campy Centaur gruppo. That bike gets ridden so seldom that 6 years after it was completed it still has less than 1000 miles on it. Gigi on the other hand was pulled from a dumpster after a garage sale and is ridden everywhere and has more than 2200 miles of just running errands and banging around in just over a year.

  • Adrienne says:

    It is only a bicycle if you ride it. If you do not, it is a bicycle shaped object.

  • Herzog says:

    I think the “glass ceiling” depends mainly on two factors: income and location. People with high incomes can afford to buy bicycles that are “toys”, i.e., bikes that they can choose not to use. Your location also determines what you consider to be a toy. For someone who commutes 30 miles a day in Texas, a carbon road bike will not be a toy, but for someone who lives in Manhattan, it will be.

    Despite Joe’s prediction, I bet quite a few readers of this blog have $100 bicycles. I bought my bike for $50 and then spent about $150 over a year upgrading things like tires, pedals, lights, etc.

    My glass ceiling is the cost of a used three speed + the cost of basic accessories that you need to make the bike nice. So about $250. Above that, I would feel compelled to have a better locking system, which would immediately bump up the price by about $100.

    Like Everett, I am excluded from many bicycling communities. This really hurt when I was first getting into biking, but then I realized that I don’t need to belong to any cycling subculture. Now, I positively refuse to associate myself with any group or subculture that practices or perpetuates racism, homophobia, or classism, or requires its members to dress in a certain way to be accepted.

  • Charlie says:

    A piece that seems to be missing from most of the comments: If the extra cost goes into making the bike more durable, weatherproof, and low-maintenance, then the higher the price the less it needs to be babied. If the extra cost goes into delicate lightweight components and materials and fine finishing, then it needs to be babied more.

  • J.. says:

    I disagree with the premise of the question.
    The way the question is framed, it seems like commuting is sort of a second rate activity (after weekend touring, presumably), a nuisance that unduly takes its toll on your precious equipment. I would beg to differ.

    Your commuter bike is the one you should be spending most of your money on. You buy what you need, or can afford, and use it. I’ve never understood people who have a 6k bike just to ride on the summer weekends. To paraphrase Dilbert: that’s nature’s way of telling Human Resources that you’re overpaid.

    Price, ofcourse, is a liability. I commute on a quite expensive Challenge Hurricane (if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up) knowing that I can safely store it wherever I go to work. I also have a dutch opafiets who’s most prominent feature is its low price. This is generally known as a cafefiets, brakfiets or anti-diefstalfiets. Saturday nights, when people (including you) are drunk, is not a good time to park your gazillion dollar fixie poser bike outside.

    So lets have a poll to find out how much readers are willing to spend on a useless weekend racer. Alan, please make sure to include the $0 option.

  • patrick says:

    loads of interesting responses. i wish everyone had a nice bike made by a local frame builder and maintained twice a year by their LBS. “cost” is a big word when it comes to a bicycle; to buy a good bike one might have to give up drinking or take out for a while, but if you really do the math an expensive bike doesn’t cost that much.
    and an expensive bike is, well.. a bike. a bike designed for use should be used. and like so many folks have been saying, a bike designed for racing is probably good for folks with huge disposable incomes (or people who race).
    what i want to get at is that a reliable bicycle intended for transportation and carrying a bunch of crap should cost a lot of money, should support your local economy, and shouldn’t be babied.
    i have a bilenky that cost a lot of money, and i use it for everything, unless i park a bike at the train station for a couple days.

  • Fergie348 says:

    I’m with RJ at the top of this post. I’ve got a ~5K carbon road bike (well, it might be that much if I paid retail, hah..) that I have no trouble commuting on but I don’t tend to ride it in the rain because I have a nice rain worthy commuter. I try to rotate through the stock so every bike I own gets some miles. Because I have small children, it seems that 90% of my available miles are commuter miles. Lucky for me I have a commute to work that I can do many ways, including or excluding dirt. So I’m a commuter. I’d like to bike on the weekends and after work more – I might even race again if I could do that, but it’s not likely for the next few years until my kids are in school. And I realize I love commuting to work on my bike. I do it as often as I’m able..

  • Doug R. says:

    Ok, let’s meditate on this subject a bit more! Assume the lotus position, close your eyes, pick a spot in your mind above and through the ceiling, now breathe out while chanting the following biker’s mantra: “COLNAGO”, COLNAGO”! Become one with the Gilco!

  • MohjhoRyder says:

    At above what price do you find a bike to be too precious to be used for everyday riding?

    I would not own a bike too precious to be used for everyday riding per se. The value of a bike I ride at anytime depends entirely on the security of where I can leave my bike.

  • Predrag says:

    Living in Chicago, $200 is a good limit. No matter what the price is though, I always get attached to every bike I own. After having 3 bikes stolen in the last 5 years (1 out of my garage), my limit has gone down from the$1000 stolen bike to the current $200 Bridgestone MB-3 I bought on Craigslist. Ironic though, I love the MB-3 better than all the rest. I keep that one in my basement now.

 
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