In Search of A Better Ride

Hardly anyone ever comes up with a list like this. After all, everyone knows that the best way to encourage someone to do something is to discourage them from doing it. The more forbidden the fruit is, the sweeter it’ll taste am I right?

The truth is, once an avid cyclist has his or her mind set on buying a new bike, online or otherwise, hardly anything in the world will disrupt that train of thought. You, me and just about everyone on this website has experienced the red mist that comes over our eyes when the stars of disposable income and a bling new bike cross, sealing our wallets’ fate.

With that in mind, there are some hidden costs that still might put any thought of buying a new bike online for Christmas out of your head. Are you ready? Put your accountant glasses on and put away your credit card …


  1.         Higher Depreciation

Buying a new bike is a lot like buying a car. The moment the receipt is printed, you’ll lose some money in depreciation. This is even before you sling a leg over the new yet-to-be-named bike!

But once that initial hit is done, the rate of depreciation slacks out a bit. Think about 30 to 50% for the first-owner hit and then roughly 10% per year on the remaining value.

Compared to buying a bike from a local store however, you will take a bigger hit in depreciation. Reason being, if your bike or part is cheaper online to start with, then anyone can buy new without having to pay through their noses. Result: lower demand, and even lower prices when you try to sell it.

There are of course things you can do to maintain the value of your bike. Wrapping the frame and cable rub points with tape can add years to the longevity of its paint job; likewise with the forks and cranks.

Certain items however, won’t be counted towards the final value of your bike when you choose to eventually sell it. These items include the following.

To Buy Or Not To Buy, That Is Not The Question

  1.         Higher Costs Of Wear and Tear Replacements

Contact points, like your handlebar grips, seats and pedals, are typically well worn even with light use. Within 3 to 4 rides, you’ll be putting enough marks on them to incur a heavy discount when you try to sell them afterwards.

That’s not all. The longer you own the bike, the more wear and tear items you’ll have to replace. These include tyres, chain, cassette, chain rings, rotors, brake pads, and mech jockey wheels. If you bought them online, you may pay a bigger premium for shipping costs over time, especially if you only replace a few parts at a time.

All of these should also have to be taken into consideration when toting up the total cost of ownership of a new bike. Depending on how often you ride and how aggressive you ride, most of them would need replacing between 1 to 3 years.

  1.         More Expensive Service and Repairs

Then, there’s the regular servicing of parts such as fork and shock internals, replacement and lubricating of pivot bearings (on full suss rigs), bleeding of brakes, and repair and replacement of parts if you crash.

These will all cost more to do at a local bike shop because you didn’t buy the bike from the shop.


  1.        Prohibitive Cost of Warranty Claims

Here’s when it gets interesting. If you bought the entire bike or parts online from an overseas merchant, chances are you’ll have to bear the costs of shipping back to the country of origin if you need to return the part for a warranty claim.

Compare this to buying a bike from a local bike shop – you’re not just buying the bike, you are also buying preferential treatment when you require the services of the store’s mechanic or workshop. And it is also their duty to help you settle warranty issues with the original manufacturers if the bike or its parts are faulty, so you’ll have no warranty claim costs.

That said, there’s no guarantee that a local bike shop will exist forever. When the store closes shop, the local warranty provided may also disappear along with the business, so that’s something to watch out for.


  1.        Additional Building and Trimming Expenses

Lastly, if you bought a full bike or its parts online, unless you paid to have it pre-assembled, you are going to need to fork out close to 200 dollars for a local bike shop or mechanic to build the bike.

Unless you have a full workshop at home, this will normally include pressfitting the headset into the frame, installation of bottom bracket bearings, cutting down of steerer tube and hydraulic cable trims and bleeds.

So if you are looking at getting a custom bike by buying parts and frames online, don’t forget to include these hidden costs into your overall budget! All of these costs are in excess of the sticker price, which you should add to the cost of ownership over the first 3 years. Think about what else you can be doing with this money!

Is Shopping Online A False Economy?

Now if you ask me, all of that is worth it! But that’s because the brand I liked was only available online. I mean, an aggressive titanium hardtail frame for less than 2 grand? Shut up and take my money!

But if I’m honest, when I do the calculations, the additional costs saved versus time spent buying and replacing parts online can turn the overall premise of cheaper pricing into a false economy.

However if you still feel like buying a new bike online now though, I can totally understand. Also congratulations! You are one of the chosen ones! Welcome to the brotherhood and sisterhood of cyclists!