19 July 2010

Forbes Article on Expensive Bicycles

Forbes magazine article
My stepdad sent me this Forbes Magazine article on the world's most expensive bikes. They're mostly racing bikes, but they did include the bike shown above. They say:

"The Luxury Gold Collection bike is covered in 24-karat gold leaf, with 11,000 Swarovski crystals mounted on various components and a python leather seat, handlebars and pump included."

Granted, the bike is over-the-top and essentially useless as transportation at that price (unless you never park it anywhere, ever), but in a strange way, some of those details make the tiniest bit of sense to me. Swarovski crystals *would* make pretty decent reflectors, and how about all the ladies who have trouble sliding forward on their saddles? A python seat has the "nap" to ensure a person can only slide one direction. Hopefully they designed the saddle correctly for that. I see it's a coaster brake with a front disk brake, and they had fun with the spoke lacing pattern. You'd think that at their price you'd be buying a full set of fenders!

I'll never own this bike (I think I'd prefer their gold-plated Brompton!), but like couture dresses, it's fun to ogle their concept.


Anonymous said...

I'm kind of curious about what would push the price of a KGS bike up to $32K. I'm less interested in the blingy gold and diamond studded bikes than the ones that, as you say -- like couture dresses, demonstrate some new aesthetic or design idea that's made possible by cutting edge materials or whimsically unpractical moments of inspiration. Sticking more diamonds on something is about as innovative as jacking up the price of a hamburger by overloading it with truffles and Kobe pedigrees.

Charlotte said...

Cris, while you have a valid point, there is an element of artifice to all fashion. You're right that a couture dress is more analogous to the fine craftsmanship in a high-end bespoke racing bike.

I guess this is more like the "Get the Look for Less" section in many fashion magazines where they find a less innately valuable look and show you how to assemble an approximation from you local mall... The idea of spraying an old Columbia gold and decking it out with rhinestones does have an appeal. :)

The rest of the bikes in the original article are closer to what you describe (though not lacking for gold plating).

Anonymous said...

indeed, I'm also curious how aerodynamic the blade spkes on that Spyker might be, and if they're more or less effective than standard 'rabbit-chopper' spinergy's ... and I'm also curious if the 14 gear hub is a Rohloff or if it's some proprietary hub that was built for the bike.

Velouria said...

I am friendly with Kevin, the owner of KGS bikes, who is featured on that list. What makes his bikes high-end is not the bling but the proprietary custom fitting system and performance-enhancing elements. I am not quite sure I understand what they are exactly, but perhaps I will ask him to explain and will write about it.

SK said...

Speaking of luxury bicycles - I saw this on Jak&Jil and thought of your blog! http://jakandjil.com/blog/?p=4504

Anonymous said...

Velouria, certainly I can see how certain approaches to fitting and sizing can be expensive, but $32K still perks an eyebrow. Consider other high end custom builders who have their own sophisticated fit systems, like Seven or Serotta -- their flagship custom carbon bikes generally go for $10-$14k. So it leaves one to wonder what is being bought by the extra $18K.

I am not asking this as a skeptic, btw, though it may read that way. My curiosity is genuinely piqued by what is potentially hidden underneath that price tag.

dr2chase said...

Most of those bikes don't strike me as "luxury bikes", at least not as I judge bicycle luxury. Art bikes, maybe, but most of those bikes, unless you a racer (or very good at pretending) are not that fun to ride.

A bike's got to be comfortable, and I would ding most of them for too-skinny tires, too-low handlebars, and in at least one case, having flat MTB-style bars. Most people, and in particular most people with the disposable income to buy such a bike, would not be happy riding them. What sort of "luxury" is that?

Velouria said...

cris - I share your curiosity, and I am a skeptic when it comes to those price tags - so I'd be curious to get a statement from Kevin about the justification. How much of a performance (and comfort?) benefit is there to getting a $20,000 bike in comparison to a $10,000 bike and in comparison to a $3,000 bike? Will a person who is not a professional racer even notice?