Most cyclists are obsessed with speed. Cycling speed is affected by a number of factors, including aerodynamics, power, and weight. When it comes to weight, carbon fibre is amongst the lightest of materials from which to build a bike. It’s also easier to form obscure shapes from carbon fibre for the purposes of improved aerodynamics (versus, say, aluminium). Furthermore, carbon bikes are arguably smoother to ride, thanks to the material’s slightly shock-absorbing properties. For these reasons, carbon fibre bikes have become highly desirable.
An entry-level carbon bike starts at £1,000 ($1,350 USD). A pro carbon bike can cost as much as £30,000 ($40,000 USD).
Why are carbon fibre bikes so expensive?
This pepped up demand, teamed with the complexities of manufacturing carbon fibre results in carbon frame road bikes being the most expensive. Indeed, pro cyclists’ bikes are all carbon fibre and such superbikes can cost up to £30,000. However, an entry-level carbon road bike, like this Ribble R872, can be purchased for a more reasonable £1,099.
Manufacturing carbon fibre is complex and costly. This, plus high levels of demand, and supply chain issues since the start of the pandemic, is why carbon fibre bikes are expensive.
Other factors to consider when choosing a bike
It’s important to note that the material a bike’s frame is composed of is only one of many elements to consider when purchasing a bike. Indeed overall build quality (from which you can increase confidence by purchasing from a reputable brand), the groupset and the quality of other things like the wheelset, saddle, etc. should form part of your evaluation.
All of this said, it is considered best practice to prioritise purchasing a good quality frame because most other elements can be upgraded over time, as you save up and/or become a better cyclist. One element that is dependant on the frame is the brakes. For example, you can’t upgrade from rim brakes to disc brakes if your frame has been built for the latter.
I purchased my first carbon road bike a few weeks back. I opted for an Orbea Orca M40 costing £1,999 and couldn’t be happier with it thus far!
Other costs associated with road biking
Once you’ve purchased your bike, you will then need to purchase a few other pieces. At the top of this list is a good quality helmet- your safety on the road is paramount. Next, think comfort. A quality pair of bib shorts with a decent chamois will provide better comfort in the saddle. Other bits of bike gear include cycling shoes (if you are using clipless peddles), cleats, a cycling jersey- the list goes on! I’ve found a good place to purchase these things is Chain Reaction Cycles.