What's your sense: Are MTBs more or less expensive today?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum What's your sense: Are MTBs more or less expensive today?

Viewing 17 reply threads
  • Author
    • #211778

      In your opinion, are today’s mountain bikes more or less expensive than those being sold 10 or even 20 years ago?

    • #211801

      Way more. Now $1200 is considered “entry level” by many, whereas back in the 90’s that would have got you kitted out near the top of the line in most areas, hell you could get custom frames for less than half that. I know I don’t make 5 times as much as I did back then, but the price of the bike is certainly 5xs more. No way can I justify $5k or more on a mountain bike that will break and become obsolete just like a cheaper ride will. There is no logical reason for a bike to cost that much, not to the end user of a mass produced, imported product. Build a bike up yourself paying full retail for every little top shelf bit, sure a good build can run you $4-5k. Plopping $7k down for the assembly like Trek is insane IMO. (not bashing Trek here, I really like their bikes for the most part, but even after paying Giant to make the frame for them, the economy of scale they get to flex when they purchase thousands of a part from Fox or whoever, means they don’t have anywhere NEAR $7k in that thing, you are paying some marketing demon to press fit your bottom bracket with no lube.)

      But it’s not just the bike industry, it starts with manipulation of interest rates, inflation, etc., all as a part of intentionally devaluing our dollar and turning us into a 3rd world country. At this point we are either going to continue to devolve into a busted economy and the resulting civil war, famine, and strife that entails, living like refugees; or things are getting turned around as we speak, and products like a bike won’t be costing us the better part of a few months wages anymore.

      Personally, I have a $2k cap on a bike, (on a lot of stuff actually, outside of homes and cars, $2k will get you a very nice anything for the most part) and it better be damn nice for that $2k. Anything more than that and you are paying out the nose to save minimal weight while reducing longevity, or are just paying for the sake of having the “latest and greatest” on there.

    • #211802

      I was invited today to a Santa Cruz Demo Day at a local trailhead in a few weeks. How much you wanna bet I’ll see anything there for under 3 grand??

      Most of the really nice bicycles I lust after are in the 5-6 grand range. Ten years ago, there was no such thing as a production bike costing $8,000. Several manufacturers have that price range in their lineups today. So, adjusting for inflation of the dollar,….hell yeah they’re more expensive. Better quality parts? No doubt. But you pay for it.

    • #211808

      When a fully race prepped MTB is equal to or more expensive than my fully race prepped ’15 Cr450 MotoX’r. I would have to say YES, way outta hand.

      • #211852

        I agree


        I can’t see how a good mountain bike can be as expensive as a new Honda CRF 450

        I say buy a 1500 dollar Hardtail and be happy with it!!   Upgrade parts as they wear out



    • #211810

      This is the case, not just with bikes but almost every consumer product.  I remember my parents always telling me stories about when they were kids, going down to the store and buying candy for a nickel.

      When I tell my non-mountain bike friends how much I paid for my rig, they go into shock.  It certainly is a lot of money, but it’s my “thing”.  Some guys drop a few grand on golf clubs, then a few more on membership fees, attire, etc.  Ask a guy who scuba dives how much their entire setup ran them or a musician or any other hobby out there.  When it’s your passion, the cost seems less significant.  Also when you ride a $5,000 you’ll notice the difference, I promise.

      At the end of the day, do I wish my bike were a few grand cheaper?  Absolutely, but unfortunately it’s out of my control.  Luckily, I don’t have too many other vices and in the grand scheme, I don’t have to pay insurance on my bike, put gas in it or fees to ride it.  After the initial purchase, it’s relatively cheap to own.

    • #211814

      Yes and no,,, I agree a top of the line bicycle should never cost what a top of the line motorcycle costs. Even with the argument, that the top of the line bicycle is the same bike the pros ride but with motorcycles the pros start with the top of the line production bike and add another $25k, to me price of bikes still seems askew.

      That being said, back in 95 the top of the line Specialized Stumpjumper M2  FS bike went for $1300, today the entry level Giant Stance is ten times the bike and still goes for $1300.

    • #211815

      Without question bikes are incredibly expensive, more so now than in the past.  They are also far more capable, refined, lighter,  and better suspended, but these benefits come at a cost.

      When retail on a quality, trail worthy, dual suspended, bike(read SRAM GX, Shimano SLX, with an alum or carbon frame, mid range fork and mid range wheels) is between $3-4k it’s getting a bit out of control.  I’m not suggesting you cannot have fun on a $1500 hardtail, but depending on the terrain and your riding style the hardtail may not hold up well.

      Consumer direct(coming whether you like it, want it or not) will bring pricing down to more reasonable levels, but something has to give.

      If the computer industry gives us Moore’s law with technology doubling every so often while largely staying the same price, why is it that the bike industry cannot model this?

    • #211817

      @Singletracksnob: “I’m not suggesting you cannot have fun on a $1500 hardtail, but depending on the terrain and your riding style the hardtail may not hold up well.”

      I beg to differ. The Karate Monkey 27.5+, The Marin Pine Mountain 1 (the Pine Mountain is below a $1K and has received rave reviews) and the Honzo Al are insanely good bikes that can take a severe beating. The Honzo is $1600 MSRP (but, you can find them for less) and the others are under $1300.

      Furthermore, these bikes are off the charts in the fun department. They are not silly little XC noodles or knockoffs of that style, but rather solid trail bikes designed to go nuts on.

      Are bikes more expensive now? Sure, but so is everything. There are incredible bikes that are available though for not much kale that will far out perform similarly priced bikes of the past. It requires being a smart shopper (smart being the key word there), patience and honesty (with yourself) to acquire one…or just a credit card. Party.

    • #211849

      Way more. I bought a full suspension Kona Kahuna in the early 2000’s with upgraded pedals, handlebars, and disc brakes for under $1500. Today a decent full suspension bike will run you around 2k nowadays and one you’d never have to upgrade because you have the best of everything will cost 5-7k. It’s getting a little ridiculous. For the price of the best mountain bike you could buy an awesome Honda or Suzuki dirtbike with the same money.

      • #211853

        Good discussion. However, no one seems to be accounting for inflation (explicitly anyway).

        Not to pick on you FishingAddict, but you said you bought a bike in the early 2000s for about $1,500. Let’s say that was 2003… in 2003 dollars, $1,500 is now worth $1,985–about the same as the $2K FS bike you’re talking about.

        Again, not picking on you FishingAddict, but would you rather buy today’s $2,000 mountain bike or your early 2000s bike for $1,500, assuming both bikes are brand new off the factory floor? I’m guessing you’d take today’s $2,000 bike because just about every part on it would be an upgrade (performance, durability, weight) from what was available at that price point 15 years ago. Then again, I’m not familiar with that particular bike so maybe not…

    • #211863

      Jeff, you’re right. I would take my $2000 bike now over the Kona. In 2003 though my Kona was high end. Today my $2000 Diamondback Option is looked at as a ghetto bike in most circles. Even though many of the components are solid since it says “diamondback” on it people look down on it. My point is $2000 is the low end of the scale nowadays.  So within 15yrs we went from $2000 being the higher end to now that is the benchmark for a decent bike. Even with inflation, quality upgrades and technology changes, doesn’t that seem a little off? I might just be out of it though because I feel the same way about trucks. An awesome truck 15yrs ago cost you around 20k now they are close to 40. I guess if you really love mtn biking you won’t care about the price. You’re investing in your passion and what you do for entertainment. People spend just as much on computers, boats and their cars.

    • #211874

      @FishingAddict, I think you hit the nail on the head: MTB price categories have shifted a lot over the past 15 years. I actually did some research for an article that’s dropping tomorrow, showing that the high end today is MUCH more expensive than it was in the 1990s. At the same time, the low end hasn’t moved all that much; for example, Trek still sells the 820 for under $400 (which would’ve been just $300 in 2003.)

      By definition, a mid-range bike is going to cost somewhere between the low and high ends. So if the high end is going off the charts, that means the mid-range is being dragged up with it. The upshot is the low-end is still just as low as it’s ever been. In fact, I would argue the low end is a better deal than it’s ever been. Once you get above the mid-point, however, I’m not so sure…

    • #211883

      It depends if you’re comparing apples to apples.  A hardtail race bike adjusted for inflation is probably similarly priced unless you start including things like carbon wheels, etc which didn’t really exist then (there’s a new even higher top-end just due to technology).  There used to not be entry-level DH bikes but there are today, and they’re lighter than they were then, so downhilling is arguably cheaper and tons better.  I think the primary expenses now are due to carbon full-suspension frames being the standard, fork prices have increased, dropper posts, etc. which all have improved the riding experience but added to the cost. Components haven’t seemed to increase much (a 1x XT kit today is probably cheaper than a 3x XT kit of 10 years ago, especially with online discounting).  Bars, stems, and non-dropper posts are basically the same and tires too unless you go crazy.


      I worked for GT in 2009 and the 140mm GT Force Carbon Expert with XT, carbon frame, fox suspension and Mavic wheels was $5300 retail.  Now you can get the same bike for about the same price with a dropper, tubeless ready, etc, even cheaper in most cases.


    • #211903

      I’m not expert and I’d say my knowledge of mtn biking is beginnermediate. From my point of view and experience mtn bike prices in like this now. Thew are retail prices not pinkbike, craigslist and website deals or used bike sales.

      $1000 or less – The bike is advertised as a mtn bike but the components cannot handle heavy impacts. If you ride on heavily rooted rocky or chunky trails you’ll run into problems you won’t have on higher end bikes. Shifting mishaps, chains dropping off and slapping the frame, headset cracking or failing altogether, shocks that struggle to keep up with trail conditions. Mainly because most of the lower end ones are simple coils with no adjustment.

      What’s funny is above this price range the bikes come without pedals. You’d think the more you pay the more you’d get with your bike.

      $2000-$3000 – decent bikes, that handle most riding conditions except for extreme downhill, red bull video type stuff. The bikes can handle decent jumps and landings and the components can last years with decent care. Many of the shocks don’t come with some of the finer features that the higher end bikes have (lockout, several travel settings, no dropper post, heavy frame) but the bikes are great for their intended use.

      $3000-$4000 – Bikes that can handle most riding conditions. Dropper post usually included adjustable shocks for changing geometry and different travel settings. Adjustable components that will wear out over time with heavy riding.

      $5000 and up – These bikes have all the bells and whistles and the latest buzz words for the time. (Knuckle Box Suspension, quick click shifting, etc) The funny part about this prices range is all though the components are high quality some of the durability is debatable. Many high-end components wear out even earlier than the lower end counterparts. The advantage of the higher end part is weight or some specific function it provides.  What this price range does have are bikes you’d never have to upgrade or touch a thing on it and it would be keeping up with the jones for years. An example is the Santa Cruz 5010.

    • #211966

      @Fishingaddict: “$1000 or less – The bike is advertised as a mtn bike but the components cannot handle heavy impacts. If you ride on heavily rooted rocky or chunky trails you’ll run into problems you won’t have on higher end bikes. Shifting mishaps, chains dropping off and slapping the frame, headset cracking or failing altogether, shocks that struggle to keep up with trail conditions. Mainly because most of the lower end ones are simple coils with no adjustment.”

      See my above response. All of the bikes I mentioned can take a serious beating and handle pretty much anything you’d come across. The most expensive one is $1600.

      @Fishingaddict: “What’s funny is above this price range the bikes come without pedals. You’d think the more you pay the more you’d get with your bike.”

      Contact points (grips, saddles, pedals) are an extremely subjective matter and pedals are the worst. It’s a waste of time, money and effort for any company to mess with pedals. Grips and saddles are a mixed bag at best, but bikes look too funny with without them. Anyone that has been riding for a minute will know what they want or at least what feels good to them in these areas for their…areas.

      @Fishingaddict: “An example is the Santa Cruz 5010.”

      Well sort of. Yes, you can spend $5K on a 5010, but you can buy an alloy one with an “S” (NX drivetrain, Sektor fork, etc.) kit for $2600 retail. The big (or sad) reality is that on more expensive bikes you are paying more for less. Less weight that is. I can promise you that if I sat you on a bike with an NX versus a X1 or GX drivetrain you could not tell the difference between their performance. The NX is the heaviest ergo the cheapest, but having riding a bike with it I can assure you that it completely kicks ass. You may say “…but Dr Ray, shouldn’t I get a carbon bike ’cause it’s the best?” Carbon is a certainly viable material, but there are good carbon bikes/parts and bad carbon bikes/parts. The same goes for alloy. Back to the 5010, you will save about 1.5 lbs moving up to a carbon “C” model and about a pound more with the CC model (total bike weight). You may gain some increase in stiffness with the carbon models over the alloy, but often this is a subjective call as well. You must decide if losing 1.5-2 lbs is worth a $1000 and more for the experience you’ll have.

      Let’s talk about retail for a moment. Yes, this is a little off topic, but hang in here for a moment. A-hole that I am, I’ve long lived by the mantra that retail is for schmucks and Christmas shoppers. I am by no means cheap, but I find the best most sensible deals and I am patient. I don’t need to have the flavor of the week. Ever. When it comes to bike upgrades and new bikes in general whatever I buy has to do something significantly better than what I already have and add something to the experience. I scrutinize bikes and parts thoroughly. I could care less what someone says as if don’t see, feel a difference then eff it. I do have friends whom I trust that ride the same way, same places, are the same size and know how I ride. When I read reviews I take into consideration what the writers perspective may be. Their experience, locale, weight, age, height etc. all play into it. That basically covers the patient part of the equation.

      Moving on, sensible deals are such that if you can find something for more than 40% off inclusive of shipping and tax than ordering/buying it local then do so. This takes into account that YOU can install it or you are willing to pay your LBS to do so. If that isn’t the case, don’t be a POS and just pay the local guys to get whatever you want and have them put it together. Case in point, my last bike had I paid retail for it would have cost more than $5K. I however put it together for under $3K. I did the build myself, found parts on eBay (tons of great OEM take off deals to be had), bought lightly used stuff from friends and called in some “bro” deals with shops I’m tight with. I paid them appropriately for things I could not nor did not want to mess with. Golden rule applies: a bit of respect, goodwill, beer and treats (cookies/eats) go a long way. Some bits I had to buy at full price (frame, it was new model that year), but there I found a well trusted dealer that did not crank up the cost.

      It’s a great time to ride and buy now. there are bikes for anything you could be into and many you’ve never even heard of. Go get some.

      • #211967

        And as we know much of this discussion should be based on:


        1.  Type of riding you do.

        2.  Location of the trail systems you ride.

        3. Personal budget of the individual rider.


        I do rather well with with an older less expensive bike (for the type of mountain biking I do).  I’m not doing downhill and I’m not doing massive rock gardens every time I hit the trails.  If you are a not this stuff then the costs are going to go up (in my opinion)

    • #211993

      Thank you for your insight, Raymond. It looks like overall you basically agree with me. The bikes you referenced are decent bikes for their niche. My example was for full suspension bikes. In reference to weight what you get with more expensive bikes are better options for reducing weight. Lighter frame, tubeless ready, lighter shocks, better tires.

      Terrain and riding preference does play a huge factor. Sure you could ride a rigid or hardtail anywhere but it is a hell of a lot more comfortable with a full suspension bike. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. With anything, do what makes you happy. If you like getting the crap kicked out of you white-knuckling it while riding a rigid on a downhill crazy trail more power to you.

      The discussion of this whole thread is if bikes are really more or less expensive today? Someone brought up the point of that’s how it always is people as they get old always talk about how cheap things are back in the day. That is true but there are some situations where that isn’t the case. Take electronics for example. You can get a really nice TV now for $500 the same as you could 15yrs ago.  You can argue that’s because companies have found sources of materials that they can get for a lower cost. I’m sure biking companies are doing the same thing. The only reason I can guess why bikes are so expensive is because people are happily paying for the new bikes that cost $5000-7000. Until that stops happening I can only see mtn bike prices going up not down.

      To touch on your point about retail. I don’t know anyone who pays retail. With the ability to search the internet you can find deals with the simple use of a search engine. The problem with retail prices is it skews what a good deal is. If I say a Yeti full suspension bike retails for $6000 and I get it used for $3000 you’d think I was getting a killer deal. The problem with that is the bike cost and components may actually be around $2500. So I still paid way over what the bike is really worth. It’s the name that pushes the value higher and the “retail” price that makes you think you’re getting a good deal. Another marketing ploy is the components game. Most bikes have the same exact frame but 3 different versions of components. The companies market this as trying to match the different budget constraints of the consumer. This is not in the best interest of the consumer at all. They get the components in bulk so I don’t really see how going to the next version of the same bike warrants charging $1500 more.  It’s obviously only done because they market that higher end version as better and what you should have if you had the means.

    • #212260

      I’m retired now, and purchased a new bike in 2016, I’m a strong mtn biker at 64 years young. Are they too expensive, yes, it was a struggle to pay close to 4 grand, but need a middle of the road bike to keep up with me, anything less would be boring, and a waste of calories. Keep prices reasonable, Thanks

    • #212477
      1. When you can buy a new KTM dirt bike for the same price of a high end MTB aproching 13 grand things are getting a little crazy at that point. I would love a new RM Slayer but I just have a hard time justifying even just 6 grand for a new rig
    • #212627

      “I know I don’t make 5 times as much as I did back then, but the price of the bike is certainly 5xs more”

      This is maybe the heart, of why a lot of people feel bikes have gotten more expensive. While the prices of equivalent hardtails have been keeping pace with inflation, wages and salaries haven’t, due to increasing inequality globally. So while bikes and other products seem to have gotten more expensive, they’ve actually stayed about the same value, while employers have been able to give you less, simply by neglecting to give you a raise.

      The other thing is that ALL THE BIKES you see ridden and tested by journalists, pros, and enthusiasts, are carbon fiber superbikes. Pinkbike finally and begrudgingly rode the Marin Hawk Hill due to popular demand, gave it a mediocre review, and then went straight back to reviewing carbon wheels that cost more than that ENTIRE bike. Perhaps if there were more “Regular Bike Reviews” for aluminium only bikes with Deore-level groupsets…but the manufacturers aren’t interested in this, and only provide top-end dream machines for review. “THIS NEW $8000 CARBON TRAIL BIKE IS AMAZING!! (And by the way, comes with a cheaper lower-specced aluminium model….you know, if you don’t really care about mountain biking).

      One of my mountain biking mentors – who is a serious enthusiast who races at a high amateur level – told me any new bike he gets, has to have a carbon frame, fully adjustable suspension with LSC dials etc (which in effect means top-end Fox factory etc), and Shimano XT minimum. Boom, you’re in the 6-7K price-range. The instructor on the clinic I took last weekend, casually told my friend he should buy a burlier, more trail oriented bike, as he was riding his XC bike to its limits…from atop his blinged-out Santa Cruze, which would have cost about a FULL QUARTER of my friend’s annual salary.

      I personally kind of hate carbon fiber. I think in some ways it’s the worst thing ever to happen to the bike industry, in terms of creating a whole new level of exclusivity and elitism. Yes, I hate it because I can’t really afford it. Yes, I am resentful that you can afford a nicer bike than me (and own a house and a nice car). Sorry, but it kind of sucks.

Viewing 17 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.