Why Are Road Bikes So Expensive – Bicycles In Motion

Why Are Road Bikes So Expensive

Why Are Road Bikes So Expensive

Road bikes are iconic with slender tires and drop handlebars, but more importantly, they are known for their high value. There’s no faster or more aerodynamic bicycle around when you travel over paved roads.

In fact, this style is used by pro racers because of its sleek, swift design. Why are road bikes so expensive?

Road bikes are so expensive because they are engineered from high-quality carbon fiber material for their frames and wheels that make them lightweight and durable to move faster on the road. This bicycle-style sports the lightest frames, lowest handlebars, and the most aerodynamic rider position because it is used for racing.

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Why Do Road Bikes Cost So Much

Road bikes are well worth their cost, but why do they cost so much? Can’t someone just grab some parts and bolt them together?

You’ll be surprised by how much goes into making and selling road bikes. I will teach you about what makes these bikes so excellent, so you understand the price tag attached to them.

1 – Design and Engineering

Bicycle designs don’t appear out of thin air, and while they can be gorgeous and unique looking, it’s all about the engineering for road bikes.

To move smoothly and quickly down a paved road, every part of the bike, from the wheels to the way a rider sits, is precisely engineered by experts for maximum efficiency.

Moreover, each component is tested before it’s approved.

2 – Skilled Manufacturing and Other Overhead

Road bikes aren’t slapped together. Skilled workers weld, assemble, and paint bicycles with expensive, high-tech tools.

In addition to the manufacturing process, companies also have other employees like the sales and marketing department to ensure customers and businesses know there are new bikes.

Even the accountants who balance the books and keep the whole company running help get that bike into your hands, though not as directly.

These employees are part of how you get your road bike, and they all get compensated for their time.

3 – High-Quality Materials

Because road bikes are built for speed, they can’t be made from heavy parts. Lightweight frames and forks have to be created from aluminum, Chromoly, alloys, and other rarer materials like titanium.

Every pound a bike loses raises the engineering and manufacture price exponentially because the materials are more expensive.

4 – Costly Components

Most bicycle manufacturers buy some of their parts from other companies. By not specializing in everything, they can work together and create a better final product.

A top-end Schwinn or Huffy bike, for example, probably has Shimano parts in its drivetrain.

The better the components, the more they cost for the same reasons as the bike itself. Quality parts require brilliant engineers and many other people to make them a reality.

5 – Shipping and Retail Markups

Once a company has done all the work to create and market a well-made road bike, it still has to get to customers.

Just as manufacturers work with specialized companies for components, they also work with businesses (aka retailers) to get their products to the riders.

Shipping bikes across the globe isn’t cheap even when you get a bulk discount, and then the shops that sell the bikes have to make their share as well, which is where a retail markup comes in.

Average Cost Of A Road Bike

The average cost of a road bike varies based on the features and weight of the bike. A beginner cycle can be as cheap as $200, but it will weigh around 30 pounds. Bikes like this may even be fixies with no gears.

The 31 lb Schwinn Kedzie Single-Speed Fixie Road Bike is an excellent example of a cost-effective beginners’ road bike.

These bicycles are good for learning to ride and do essential DIY maintenance. You can check out the Kedzie by clicking here.

Sale
Schwinn Kedzie Single-Speed Fixie Road Bike
  • Dive into the world of fixed-gear cycling with the Schwinn Kedzie 700C Fixie Bicycle. This fixie bike features a Schwinn steel racing frame and fork for a responsive, reliable ride.
  • In true fixed-gear fashion, a 46T by 18T single-speed drivetrain with flip-flop hub propels this bike (fixed cog sold separately).
  • 700C wheels with 32H alloy rims offer strength and performance during commutes.
  • Designed for city riding, alloy front and rear caliper brakes deliver precise stops, while Schwinn urban seat and grips add comfort and style.
  • This men's bike ships ready to be assembled, has a limited lifetime warranty, and the wheels measure 700C.

Moving up to mid-range bicycles means spending $1,000 to $3,000 for a significantly lighter and more aerodynamic bike.

You will gain speed, lose fatigue and get a better warranty on these intermediate road bikes. I recommend looking at the Savadeck Carbon Road Bike.

This 21.5 lb road bike has a carbon fiber body and Shimano 105 drivetrain groupset for a much faster and smoother ride. Learn all about the Savadeck right here.

Savadeck Carbon Road Bike
  • 【High Quality Material】Bike frame, fork and seat tube are all made of Toray T800 carbon fiber material, which greatly reduces the weight of the bike. Carbon fiber material can increase the service life of the bike with high strength and corrosion resistance. Bike weighs only 9.8 kg (21.6 lb), making it easier to ride.
  • 【Inner Cable Routing Bike Frame】:Simple and beautiful inner cable routing prevents rain and sun damage, reduces the probability of rusting of brake cables and shifting cables, and increases durability; it can also avoid scratching the cable tube when riding, making riding safer;
  • 【Efficient Transmission System】:SHIMANO 105 drivetrain groupset provide 2*11 speeds with shifter lever, front derailleur, rear derailleur. It can provide lightning fast shifting, and a level of responsiveness that can’t be matched.
  • 【Comfortable Bike Saddle + Continental Tire】:The bike seat with slender shape can reduce friction while reducing weight, and you will not feel pain even if you ride for a long time; Selected the German Continental road bike tire,700C*25C, which is non-slip and wear-resistant, and has a longer riding life.
  • 【Easy to Assemble】:The bike is 90% assembled before shipping, and comes packaged with free assembly tools and pedals. All you need to do is install the fork, front wheel, seatpost and pedals (please refer to the installation video).It is easy for you to finish it in 15-25 minutes.

A high-end road bike starts around eight to ten thousand dollars, and the prices go up from there.

Every pound an engineer takes off the frame can cost a thousand dollars or more, and these bikes are engineered down to the last bolt.

Once you get the artist paint job, ultralight wheel and tires, and thinnest minimalist frame you can find, these bikes weigh five pounds or less.

Yet they can withstand the rigors of training and riding in pro events like the Tour De France.

An excellent example of the high-end, ultralight road bike is the 2022 Pinarello Bolide HR. This 2.2 lb road bike is worthy of any race and comes in just under $15,000, but you have to contact the company to custom order it.

Are Expensive Road Bikes Worth It

Expensive road bikes are worth it. I recommend you always choose a bike near the top end of your budget because it will have better quality parts.

Not only will a better bike run more smoothly, but they typically require less maintenance and last a lot longer.

Plus, you get better warranties with a more expensive road bike so that you can ride worry-free.

Do Expensive Road Bikes Make A Difference

Having an expensive road bike can make a significant difference. You don’t need to be a pro racer to get the benefits of a better bicycle.

Lighter parts and higher quality will offer you a smoother and often faster ride.

As a commenter on Trainer Road pointed out, “A brand new $2500 road bike vs. a brand new $1200 bike, both with the same tires, is probably at most 5% faster in general, and 10% faster in its specialty (hills if it is light, flats if it’s aero).”

Road Bike Prices

To help give you an idea of the price range for road bikes I’ve created a chart below. The bikes and frames on this chart come from five excellent bicycle manufacturers that are all known for creating superb road bikes.

As you’ll see, even within the same company you can usually find intermediate and pro road bikes.

The cost varies based on engineering, materials, and how reputable the company is. The lightest bikes cost thousands more than their heavier counterparts because they allow riders to pedal faster for longer with significantly less fatigue.

After the chart, I’ve provided information about each of the companies and why their prices are in the mid to high end of the industry.

Road Bike & Parts Prices By Brand

Brand & ModelBike PriceIndividual Part Name (Frames Only)Frame Price
Felt: AR Ultimate Dura-Ace Di2$12,999AR FRD Ultimate Frame$4,999
Felt: AR Advanced Ultegra$5,499AR Advanced Frame$2,999
Giant: TCR Advanced SL Disc$3,650-$12,200TCR Advanced SL Disc Frameset$3,750
Giant: TCR Advanced Pro$3,850TCR Advanced Pro Disc Frameset$2,350
Norco: Section S2$2,199Section S Frame/Fork$1,099
Norco: Section C3$3,499Section C Frame/Fork$2,199
Apollo: Giro 40$1,749Frame Not AvailableN/A
Apollo: Scout 30$4,000Frame Not AvailableN/A
Specialized: S-Works Shiv Disc$13,500S-Works Shiv Disc Module$6.500
Specialized: Shiv Elite$3000Frame Not AvailableN/A

Felt Road Bike Prices

Felt road bikes and their frames are made from UHC Advanced + or UHC Ultimate TeXtreme carbon fiber. This proprietary material is lightweight and durable.

Moreover, the designs and engineering, which are done in-house, lead to supremely aerodynamic top-end road bikes with low weight.

Giant Road Bike Prices

Giant is known for its class-leading efficiency. These bikes also allow for larger tires, which means the rider covers more ground with every revolution of their pedals.

Per the Giant website, “Every tube shape was analyzed, engineered and tested to create an overall structure with significantly lower drag at a wider range of yaw angles.”

Norco Road Bike Prices

Norco started in 1964 as Northern Cycle Industries. With almost sixty years of experience, this company is well-known, trusted, and respected.

The roots of this company come from their mountain bikes, but they bring that knowledge and durability to all of their different styles.

Long before most modern bike companies existed, Norco was operating out of an old chicken coop in Northern California.

This company built itself up from scratch, and now they make some of the most outstanding bikes around.

Apollo Road Bike Prices

Apollo makes outstanding bikes, and they are known for distributing some of the most comprehensive parts in Australia.

However, you either have to fly to Aus or ship from there to get an Apollo bike in the US. I couldn’t find a US distributor for these bikes anywhere.

As a result, these mid-range but good-quality bikes cost a substantial amount in shipping fees alone since there’s no bulk discount to get one here.

Specialized Road Bike Prices

Specialized is a cycling company invented by bike riders where you can get a road bike made by people who use them in the real world.

This company is known for its rider and customer-centric ideals and designs. The bike lovers at Specialized have been community advocates, innovative designers, and sustainability champions since before it was cool.

Best of all, they make bikes that offer a smooth, comfortable ride.

Helpful Tips To Know Why Road Bikes Are So Expensive

Every style of bicycle has its uses, but road bikes are made for paved-road racing. Each aspect of a road bike, whether it’s custom or factory-built, is created with the lowest weight and most aerodynamic shape possible.

Here are some helpful tips to know why road bikes are so expensive.

  • Road bikes come in cheap and beginner varieties because cycling is inclusive, and anyone can participate. However, as you move up from casual to a hobby, to an amateur competitor, and finally to a professional cyclist you will need to upgrade your equipment accordingly. This is no different than any sport where you can get a Walmart ball to play at home, but to become a pro athlete you’re going to need better gear.
  • You may have noticed that pro cyclists often have sponsors. When you reach a competitive level, those sponsors typically pay for your gear and bicycle in exchange for your services advertising their company. Thanks to sponsorships a rider with big dreams and talent doesn’t have to pay hundreds or thousands out of pocket to have a competitive top-tier road bike to race with.
  • The current lightest road bike in the world is made by Trek. According to Business Insider, “…the Trek Émonda SLR 9, (was unveiled) a day before the start of the 104th Tour de France. The Waterloo, Wisconsin, company says it is the lightest bike it’s ever made and the lightest production road bike in the world. The 56cm Émonda SLR 9 frame weighs 640 grams (1.41 pounds).” By comparison, a standard road bike weighs around eighteen pounds, which will certainly fatigue any endurance rider much quicker than the ultralight Émonda SLR 9.

Final Thoughts

Road bikes are not toys. Although you may look at this style of bicycle and see a simple machine, road bikes are arguably the most highly engineered of all because they need a lot more than mere durability.

These bikes are made for racing as fast and smoothly as possible along paved roads and professional designers spend their lives trying to make these bikes just a tiny bit lighter and more aerodynamic to give racers an edge.

The amount of work that goes into a road bike behind the scenes is intense. Long before you ever ride it, this type of bike has gone through a hundred tests and a dozen redesigns just to get approved for manufacturing.

Brian Smith

Brian is the founder of Bicycles In Motion and an avid cyclist for 17 years. On the weekends, he enjoys exploring new bike trails and countryside roads to enjoy the outdoors.

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