- A brand new Tata Indica 1.4 LGi (R118,995) plus a Chery QQ3 1.1 TXE (R114,995), and still have a cool R25,000 left to spend on a cheaper bicycle.
- Or you can buy a Volkswagen Polo hatch 1.0TSI with Trendline Specs for R 235,900.
Bicycle prices have increased dramatically in the last ten years, due in large part to a revolution in the technology used in their production.
Bikes today are incredibly advanced, lighter than it was ever imagined possible and with onboard electronics to assist with perfect, millimetric accuracy when shifting gears. The greatest advance in bicycling technology, resulting in ballooning prices, has been the acceptance of carbon-fibre as the default material for frames, wheels and an assortment of other components.
What alloys were to the 20th century, carbon-fibre has become to the 21st: an immensely strong, yet light, material which has revolutionised the aerospace and automotive industries. Carbon-fibre is the reason an F1 car stays together despite the huge forces exerted upon it.
In bicycling, carbon-fibre has reduced weight dramatically, whilst increasing performance and, almost counter intuitively, comfort. Carbon-fibre has amazing absorption properties, reducing the impact of bumpy roads and trails.
But the miracle material comes at a cost, as is clear from the list of most expensive bikes you can buy in South African right now:
Cannondale Scalpel Si-Black - R180,000
The weapon of choice for serious stage races, if you are campaigning a Cape Epic, JoBerg2C, Sani or FNB Wines2Whales this is probably what you want to be riding. Iconic in appearance, thanks to its Lefty fork, the Scalpel is exceptionally light for a dual-suspension mountain bike, at only 10.2kg. Its frame is made from a high-modulus composite and its handmade US carbon wheels, from Utah-based specialist Enve composites, make it roll faster than anything else. Shimano’s XTR Di2 electronic drivetrain means that trail debris and conventional cable strain won’t cause your gears to skip and shift. If you love grinding gravel for hours on end, this is the bike for you.
Santa Cruz V10 - R196,495
Very much the antithesis of Cannondale’s Scalpel, the Santa Cruz V10 is a downhill racing bike. Its appeal is limited to those who enjoy slaloming down mountains, when you need to launch over rocks, roots and jump the width of a suburban pool to clear certain obstacles. If you rode skateboards as a teenager, the Santa Cruz name will be faintly familiar. Rob Roskopp is the same guy who built the skateboarding company, and has transitioned his business into mountain bikes. With double the amount of suspension travel of a conventional stage racing mountain bike, there’s nothing the V10 can’t ride over. For South Africans, it’s also an especially patriotic choice, as Santa Cruz sponsors one of the greatest downhill mountain bikers of all time, Greg Minnaar. Minnaar hails from Pietermaritzburg, and happens to be an extreme sports celebrity in Europe and the US, without much name recognition at home.
Colnago C64 - R220,000
The French might have the most famous race (Tour de France), Belgium the greatest ever rider (Eddy Merckx), but Italy is the true home of cycling craft and frame building expertise. Colnago has been constructing the lightest and most meticulously built road bike frames since 1952. Its engineers and craftspeople have never been afraid of moving with a new trend in materials. They started with steel, transitioned to aluminium, then titanium and now build exceptional carbon-fibre bikes. The best example of these is Colnago’s C64. Add LightWeight wheels (an actual German brand, not a description), disc brakes, Campagnolo’s Super Record electronic groupset and you’ve got a bike similar in value to a new VW Polo. Guess the kids won’t be getting one of those for their 21st.
Pinarello K10S - R259,000
This is it. The most expensive bike you can buy in South Africa and for those in the know, and can appreciate what it represents, the price is fair value. It is also the choice of Chris Froome, current Tour de France champion (and old boy of St John's College in Johannesburg), which is all the endorsement any brand could ever need.
Beyond its aerodynamically sleek carbon frame and gorgeous components, you’ll notice something strange between the seat tube and back wheel. There’s 10mm of suspension wired-up to the e-DSS 2.0 master sensor and algorithm. The K10’s electronics lock and unlock the suspension depending in data harvested, reading the terrain and rider inputs, ensuring the most comfortable ride, and efficient use of power, possible on a road bike today. It’s the perfect bike for that Sabie to Blyde River Canyon ride in Mpumalanga, the rear suspension capable of saving your expensive wheels from a destructive pothole strike.