Why Are Mountain Bikes So Expensive? How To Spot A Good Deal


For some reason, people have this preconceived idea that all mountain bikes are outrageously expensive, and if you want to buy one, you should be absolutely certain you’ll be using it most days to make the price tag worth your while. But actually, in our experience, that’s not always the case.

Mountain bikes are not inherently more expensive than their hybrid or road bikes, on the contrary, entry-level mountain bikes are often cheaper. High-end, top-performing mountain bikes can be very expensive. Components, such as frames, wheels groupsets, and suspensions can increase the price significantly.

But there’s far more to it than that, so if you want to hear some more about mountain bike expenses, and watch as we bust a few myths surrounding that, then stick around for today’s post!

How To Spot A Good Deal? This is important when you’re looking for a mountain bike. 

You need to know what a good deal looks like, and the first thing we’re concerned about for spotting a good deal is always value. And importantly, holding that value after purchase.

Once we established the value and how they hold it you will be able to spot a good deal.

Do Mountain Bikes Hold Their Value?

No. Well, not really. What you need to remember about mountain bikes is that they depreciate in value the second you take a seat on them. And mountain bikes more than most, considering the way we use them is pretty rough, and wear and tear will inevitably impact on resale value.

Now, if you’re willing to pay top dollar for a high-quality bike, then the chances are the wear and tear of these bikes won’t be as bad. Better build quality = higher price/value. But make no mistake, they’ll still lose their value with time.

On the other hand, buying a cheaper entry-level mountain bike can still be resold as a secondhand bike in decent condition so long as it is looked after, and you’ll still make some money back when you resell. Since it cost you less to start with, this might be a sweeter deal.

Deciding which is ‘worth it’ is up to you, but knowing how the value of your mountain bike will hold up is important.

Depreciation Rates

A good way to get a good deal is knowing how much you’ll get when you resell the bike, so you need to understand depreciation rates for mountain bikes a little more. And here’s the general rule:

  • Bikes depreciate by 50% in the first year, and then by 10% per year thereafter.
  • For example: a mountain bike that costs $1000 brand new would be worth $500 after the first year, $450 ($500 – 10%) after the second year, $405 ($450 – 10%) after the third year, and so on.

But here are some factors that may slow down the depreciation rates and get you a better resale price. When trying to spot a good deal of a used mountain bike check the following:

  • No outdated technology
  • High-quality componennts
  • Established brands

So, how do you spot a good deal? 

Established brands manufacture better quality (in-house) parts and also use high-quality components (from other brands) to build their bikes. 

Whether you are looking for a brand new mountain bike or a used one, you should look for one from an established brand. Likely, it will be pricier than a cheap department store mountain bike, but it will be also more reliable and additionally, it will retain its value better.

So if you want a good deal, buying a mountain bike from a reputable brand such as Trek, Giant, Specialized, Canyon, or Cannondale, can be a good bet. Those are reliable and will retain their value.

In order for you to determine whether you get the bang for your buck in addition to the brand, you need to check the components, especially if you are looking at higher price range mountain bikes.

Components To Focus On To Determine If A Mountain Bike Is Worth The Money

It’s important to remember that the more advanced the components, the more expensive the bike will be, but also the better it will perform on mountain trails since its build quality will be that much higher. 

More rugged parts lees likely to break and thus much safer. Still, you need to know about quality parts to decide if a bike is worth the asking price.

Frames

Carbon fiber frames are without a doubt the best quality, but also the most expensive. Carbon fiber is stronger, lighter, and better suited to mountain bikers that want to get around a trail fast, whilst pushing their bike to the limits.

Aluminum frames are also great and are much cheaper than carbon fiber. If you are a casual mountain biker looking for some weekend fun on the mountain trails you could easily opt for the aluminum option and still find it works brilliantly. 

A carbon fiber frame of the same brand can result in a well over a +/- $1000 in cost.

Wheels and Tires

Wheels are important on mountain bikes – you need them to be durable and quick. For the best-performing wheels, you’ll need carbon wheels, but again, don’t be surprised by the price. A set of carbon wheels can cost $2000. (you can find carbon wheels for the fraction of that price)

A pair of lightweight 120 TPI (threads per inch) tire with good maneuvering ability can cost $180, and you should expect them to be more expensive if they’re tubeless (tubeless tires reduce the chance of a flat, so it’s worth considering when mountain biking).

The point is, if you’re looking at a bike with carbon wheels and 120 TPI tubeless tires, then the cost of the bike (and maintenance costs thereafter) will be higher than a bog-standard wheel with 60 TPI regular tires. 

Groupset: Brakes and Drivetrain

Hydraulic disk brakes are the safest brake option on any bike, but especially mountain bikes. They adapt to any conditions (unlike rim brakes) and stop much harder and much safer than coaster brakes.

If safety is a concern of yours, and it should be, then hydraulic disk brakes are favored by most mountain bikes for their superior braking, even if it costs more.

Drivetrains have lots of components (cassette, chainrings, cranks, derailleurs, pedals) so to give you an overview, the more you spend on these parts the smoother your gear changes will be, and the safer the bike.

Higher-quality, safety, and lightweight options come at a premium, so make sure you ask questions about the drivetrains before you hand over any money – you don’t want to get ripped off by a cheaper, clunkier drivetrain than you were expecting. That’s also why test riding is a good idea when concentrating on drivetrains, too.

Shimano might be the most popular and widespread groupset among mountain bikes. Here you can find a brief description of the hierarchy of the Shimano groupsets. 

Suspension Forks

And finally, the suspension forks, are some of the most important components on a mountain bike. 

The more expensive options have adjustable fork settings, are lightweight, and offer premium stability and ride quality. For the best of the best, expect to pay upwards of $1000. 

Round-Up

As you can see, mountain bikes can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. You can find great quality entry-level bikes for around $800 that will serve you well on any trail. Are there some bikes that rise to 5 digits? Sure, but these are for your committed mountain bike competitors. 

It’s important that you think about value and depreciation too, and focus on the components of your bike, not just the brand name. Knowing the quality of the components is important, based on that you can decide if the bike is worth the asking price, and determine if you’re getting a good deal or not. 

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