For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Find semi-scientific answers to your most pressing questions, each month in Triathlete magazine.
Q: How Much Bike Can I Afford?
Let me tell you the story of my friend Brenda. Brenda’s husband, sweet man that he is, bought her a diamond Tiffany ring as an anniversary gift. I’m sure he spent countless hours trying to figure out the exact style, cut, karats, and whatnot to make Brenda the happiest wife in the world. But Brenda is no ordinary wife. She is a fireball of an Ironwife. She properly thanked her husband, then waited for him to shuttle off to work in the morning before taking a sick day to head back to Tiffany’s where she exchanged the ring for cold, hard cash, then beelined it directly to her local tri shop to turn that cash into a new Cannondale. When her husband saw it parked in the living room that evening, he realized he’d really truly married the coolest woman in the world. At least I’m pretty sure that’s how the story ends.
So back to your question. It’s really more philosophical than mathematical. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself to figure out your price range: Do I need a new bike? Do I know a pro who gets new rigs every year and quietly sells their rad oldies on the side? Do I have something to exchange like Brenda did? Do I prefer the generally lasting value of mined rocks and schmelted metal to slowly-stressing carbon fiber?
If bike companies got smart and took a page out of the DeBeers playbook, anything less than two months salary spent on your steed would show faltering devotion to your sport, just like DeBeers drilled it in that less than two months salary on a rock hardly proves your everlasting love to your companion. But it does prove fiscal responsibility and a streak of creativity to nab something worth showing off for a bargain. (How about finding a size twin and going in on partial ownership of a custom- painted Ventum?)
So, my friend, there is no simple answer. You can afford as much bike as you can live with without feeling a twinge of shame every time you mount your smoothly-shifting, insta- braking steed. Or as much as your jewelry is worth.