Are Mountain Bikes Too Expensive? | The Question - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine



Are Mountain Bikes Too Expensive? | The Question

This really could be a big can of worms. I mean for starters, what is too expensive? There is no doubt that top end mountainbikes cost a lot of money. The old line, “you could buy a car for that price” is often heard, but it is all relative. Take a top end downhill bike for example, there is a lot of technology that goes into them, and usually they are on small production runs, so they are going to be pricy. So, are mountain bikes too expensive?

From Dirt Issue 124 – June 2012 

Words by Mike Rose

Photo by Mike Rose


Are they? Probably not, albeit the statement needs qualification! The major positive of bike ownership is that it can be ridden 24/7 in all weathers, body and soul willing. The cost:benefit ratio measured on a daily basis is excellent and in my opinion the cost can be justified almost irrespective of the purchase price. The added value to health, fitness, stress relief and fun factor cannot be underestimated.

Should you be of the disposition to always purchase the latest, shiniest and newest, then the sport can be expensive, however for someone who seeks advice and is realistic of the type of riding they are capable/wish to do, then buying second hand/last years model can reduce costs considerably. Simplicity will reduce on–going costs, multi pivot bikes, press fit bottom brackets, etc. will invariably need bike shop maintenance.

The advent of 10 speed/single ring, coupled with a hardtail sourced second hand, are a great and cost competitive start. A bike that will do most things most of the time. The major negative, none, apart from occasionally having to pedal uphill.


Yes and no. It’s not a straightforward question, though for some it clearly is. With the technological developments we’ve witnessed in the industry over the past two decades, mountain bikes have gone through a huge transformation, with exotic materials like titanium, magnesium and carbon fibre now commonplace, state of the art suspension technology and ever changing standards, forcing the prices of bikes ever higher.

But it’s only the prices of top–end bikes that have risen to insane levels. The price of everything is going up these days. It’s easy to drop £6K on a fully kitted–out bike. Add in extras like carbon fibre wheels, Kashima coated shocks, Reverb seat posts, chain devices, and your eyes can start watering at the price tag. No one is being forced to buy the top–of–the–range kit though.

When I was starting out a rigid steel framed bike with Shimano STX–RC for 500–600 notes was considered good. Compare that with what you can get today and it is a world apart. Bikes at the entry and mid–level offer some serious amount of kit for little outlay, and under a thousand pounds gets you a whole heap of capable mountain bike.

So is it too expensive? It can look like it, when you’re eyeing up the latest carbon upgrade or new suspension design, but cast your eyes a little further down the range and you’ll see, mountain biking isn’t really that expensive at all.


I wouldn’t say mountain bikes are too expensive. It’s easy to get ‘sticker shock’ with high–end bikes, but don’t forget how good entry level bikes have gotten in recent years. The mountain bikes that we are selling are more similar to a race car than a family car. People ride high–end bikes hard and really push the limits of what the product can offer the rider. The product has to constantly evolve with what the riders are doing and what the materials and manufacturing can offer. When you think about how quickly old products become obsolete, the current high–end bike prices are completely fair and reasonable. The only way to make the product truly low priced is to do it in huge volume and leave it largely unchanged for years.

You could buy a really cheap downhill bike right now if it was the same bike you bought in 1995, but would you even want to ride it on a modern downhill trail? To carry on with the car analogy, entry–level mountain bikes are the family cars of the market, and today’s entry–level mountain bike is extremely capable and reliable. We have gone through the major evolution of disc brakes, suspension, and bike geometry. That technology has trickled down to the entry level, giving buyers a really good product for a comparatively low price.


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