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Enjoying the Ride: Amortizing the Cost of the Bike or Wheelset

My Moot Vamoots RSL and my Lightweight wheels have brought tremendous satisfaction to my riding experience. They were costly in absolute terms, but they are also one of the best values I have ever spent my money on.

Putting it conservatively, I trained somewhere around 500 hours in 2012 alone. So what is the real cost of any particular activity you enjoy (a movie, a vacation, eating out, etc) and how does that compare to the many hours spent on a bike?

The value proposition depends on the total cost and the intensity of enjoyment and the hours of that use and enjoyment. One can also look at riding as an investment in health— a much more satisfactory use of money than paying for doctors or drugs to control nasty health problems brought about by sedentary behavior.

Yet it seems that some people buy a bike or wheelset forgetting what value means, focusing only on the short-term cost while forgetting value.

A good example of this principle is someone who springs for “race wheels”, then rides them once a month over the summer! Out on a ride, I not infrequently hear the comment “riding the race wheels today?”. Rationalizations for an irrational choice spring up instantly if the right questions are asked. Once the response I got was “I don’t ride my race wheels because they broke once and I had to get a ride home and that might happen again”. Sounds like a total waste of money to me.

I ride my Lightweight “race wheels” every day because if I can’t enjoy the “race wheels” every single day, then they suck and I don’t want 'em. Do the math: half the cost and 1/30 the usage (or whatever) is not good value. Ride the set you can afford, then save up for something really nice you can enjoy every day. Patience is a virtue; rationalizations are not.

My Lightweight Obermayers are an awesome maintainance-free ride: they never go out of true, the integral spokes do not break (barring trauma), the bearings remain buttery smooth after 20K miles: they represent tremendous value that I enjoy every single day. I can see no sign that I won’t get 40K miles out of them, and likely far more (maybe the bearings will go bad in 10K miles more or whatever, they can be replaced). Ditto for the Vamoots RSL: being master-crafted titanium, it’s not going to look crappy and dated in two years like so many carbon frames; there is no paint to peel, minor crashes are not a concern for frame integrity, and it will look good 20 years from now (and can be refinished at reasonable cost to look like new). That’s value.

Moots Vamoots RSL with Lightweight Mielenstein Obermayer wheels
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