Mountain bikes can be expensive because of how each component of the bike is made. This includes the frame, wheels, handlebars, seatpost, saddle, brakes, drivetrain, suspension, fork, and tires, plus research and development costs.
How these components are made and how much technology each of the components have makes a difference in how expensive a mountain bike can be. If you notice I say ‘can be’ because not all mountain bikes are so expensive. Some can be quite inexpensive.
What is the Most Expensive Part of a Mountain Bike
By far the most costly part of a bike is the frame. Some frames can cost as much as $3,000. These would be frames made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber frames are stiff so that when you pedal the power of your pedaling goes to the wheels.
Carbon fiber frames are lighter than other frames which are made of aluminum, titanium, and steel. Some of these frames can be as light as 2 pounds. This light weight allows you to climb hills faster and with less effort than with a heavier frame.
This all costs more money especially when some riders would like to have their bike frame custom made. This means built for the rider’s geometry, riding style, and stiffness preferences. Carbon fiber can be made to be more or less stiff.
Why are Mountain Bike Wheels a Lot of Money
A wheelset made of carbon can cost as much as $2,000. Carbon is the highest quality material. For mountain biking wheels need to be stiff. This will help riders to turn with more precision and accuracy while also being able to absorb bumps.
Tires can cost as much as $90.00 each, especially with a TPI of 120. The higher the TPI is the more lightweight it is. Tires like this are also more supple, meaning they will absorb bumps and impact very well on different types of terrain. They also grip the ground better.
TPI means threads per inch. So a 120 tpi tire uses more threads than a 60 tpi tire. This is because the thread size is smaller for a 120 tpi tire, therefore you can have more threads. A 60 tpi tire uses thicker threads, leaving you with less threads.
What Makes Some Handlebars and Seatposts So Expensive
Handlebars should be stiff and light. The best material for that is carbon fiber. Compared with other material carbon fiber can be shaped more easily than other materials like aluminum. This allows designers to create a more aerodynamic shape.
Carbon handlebars are 21% to 38% lighter than aluminum handlebars. Weight weenies are always trying to shave off as many grams as they can in the name of speed. Lightweight, various shapes, comfort and performance are what make carbon handlebars superior, but also more expensive to produce.
Same with the seatpost. A carbon seatpost can be designed so that the carbon has just the right amount of flex. This flex will absorb impact from bumps and drop offs leaving you with a more comfortable ride. A comfortable ride guarantees you a longer ride too.
What Type of Brakes Increase the Cost of a Mountain Bicycle
There are a number of different types of brakes such as v-brakes, cantilevers, caliper, and disc brakes. They all use cables in order for you to stop your mountain bicycle. But the one which is the most advanced is hydraulic disc brakes.
Hydraulic disc brakes are designed as a closed system of hoses and reservoirs which contain hydraulic fluid to activate the brakes. When you squeeze your break lever fluid is pushed through the hoses and into the caliper, pads are then pressed onto the rotor which stops your bike.
This type of brake gives you controllable and regulated power to stop no matter what the conditions are. If you squeeze the brakes a little, you will activate a little power to stop. If you squeeze harder you will activate more power to stop.
Hydraulic disc brakes prevent the feeling of suddenly stopping and starting again. Stopping in wet conditions will feel very secure. There is less maintenance than with cable brakes and hydraulic disc brakes are easier to adjust.
All these great features and the advanced technology used for these hydraulic brakes contributes to a higher price when compared to other brakes. Brakes are probably one of the most important components of a mountain bike in terms of safety and performance when stopping.
How Does the Drivetrain Cause a Mountain Bicycle To Be More Expensive
On higher quality mountain bikes the drivetrain is made with more technology. There are ramps on the cassette which allow the chain to go up and down more smoothly, quickly, and with precision. This is very important when shifting gears.
Any delay or trouble could mean the difference between winning or losing a race. If you are not racing it could cause a crash or not allow you to turn a corner as smoothly.
Bikes in the front have one chainring which means you have one shifter. So in the back you need to add a cassette. In order to make the cassette lighter high-end bikes use cogs made of titanium. Titanium is more expensive than if the cogs were made with another material.
In the back of the drivetrain is the rear derailleur or changer. Shimano changers have a special more advanced lever which allows you to make the chain stiffer. This will reduce chain slap causing the chain to remain steady and not move up and down.
This also protects the bicycle frame because the chain is not whipping around. Plus the chain will stay on the front chainring much better. If the chain were to drop off this could cause damage to the bike and it could even cause a crash on the trail.
What Makes Some Forks More Expensive Than Others
Hi-tech mountain bikes are made with a fork which has compression damping and rebound damping settings which you can adjust to your liking. The suspension for the fork improves the performance and the ride quality
All forks have a certain amount of travel and when you hit a bump or go over a drop off the impact needs to be regulated. Compression damping controls the impact at which a fork moves through its travel after impact.
Then rebound damping controls how fast your fork returns back to its original travel before the impact. Oil travels through a circuit and regulates how quickly the suspension getting longer after being compressed.
Full suspension for both the front and back of the bike can add on $1,000 to the cost of the mountain bike depending on how technological it is. Rear suspension absorbs bumps and helps the rear tire to stay on the ground during rough terrain.
How To Save Money When Buying an Expensive Mountain Bike
If you want to save some money but you still want a light and high performance bike here is what you do. Instead of going full carbon fiber, get carbon wheels and an aluminum frame.
Wheels make the most difference when it comes to steering, precision and speed. The advantages that you get from carbon wheels will more than make up for the added weight of an aluminum frame. You can also go with titanium handlebars and seatpost instead of carbon.
I’m sure you can understand that for the most part the high price of many mountain bikes is justified. These bicycles are lighter, stiffer, and faster. They offer better performance and handling. Plus they are more comfortable to ride which will increase your mileage and fun.