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  • 08/09/2022 - The cost of cycling crisis

    We all know there’s a cost of living crisis. We are currently getting daily messages about large numbers of the population having to choose between heating and eating. This is very real and very tough. Sports that are expensive to participate in such as cycling, may well see a drop off in numbers or may become increasingly less accessible to people on a low income. Cycle sport can be something of a money pit.

    There’s never been a better time to start the recent Hacks for cheap cycling thread.
    Kudos to +ChrisGold for getting that that discussion started.

    Part 1 - groupset hell

    At this precarious moment in economic history Shimano have launched their 105 Di2 groupset. For those not in the know, groupset is collective term for the gear and brake system of your bike. Di2 means it’s electronic. And the new 105 Di2 groupset is also disc brake only and comes in at about £1,700. It’s meant to be really good. But there is no rim brake version and no mechanical version being made.

    You could – indeed still can for the time being – pick up a mechanical, rim brake 105 groupset for £500 and a brand new complete bike from a respected manufacturer equipped with 105 for about £1,000. For this reason 105 has been affectionately known as the people’s groupset. Why is (or was) that £1,000 price point important? Well, it’s roughly what a new cyclist looking to get serious about cycling is prepared to pay and what you get for your money is seen as good enough to compete on.

    Campag decommissioned their 105-equivelent groupset, Veloce, in 2020. They still make their 11-speed, mechanic set, Centaur, which can be had for about £600. However, Centaur is not being made in large numbers. Maybe bike manufacturers should start offering more complete bikes with Centaur? C'mon, give Campag a call! Then there’s SRAM. Their stable are all electronic and start at a price only a few hundred quid below 105 Di2.

    The cost of an entry level racing bike will likely rise to £2,000-2,500, well beyond what most new riders are able or prepared to pay. 105 is longer the people's groupset. Without a race-worthy mechanical groupset you either have to go to Shimano’s next level down from 105 - Tiagra - on a cheaper or put up about £2,000 for a bike with one of the lower tier electronic set ups. Is my concern misplaced? Is Tiagra good enough to race on? Will Tiagra become the new people's groupset? It's 10sp and there are disc brake versions. And are SRAM and Camping missing a trick for not having a lower level groupset that could work well on a £1,000 complete bike?

    Part 2 - my list of 10 hacks to save you money and keep you cycling

    1. Join ICC! Seriously. It’s amazing value. You get a heavily subsidised jersey when you join and so many riding opportunities, the forum, this blog…
    2. Quit the foreign legion and have your own DIY spring or autumn training camp at home. Remember all those routes you wanted to try out? Here's an example, I took a week off to ride and others are invited to join for as many or as few days as they fancy.
    3. Abide by the one bike to rule them all philosophy. Have a couple of tyre options and a set of mudguards for wet days and sell your surplus bike(s). As Mrs Shannonball says, "How many bikes can you ride at once?"
    4. Go second-hand. Use eBay, the forum, other forums. Old is still good. Like, er, good old Shimano 105, for instance.
    5. Excuse me if you’ve heard this one before, but don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades. Do the miles. That is the bit that counts.
    6. Race fees add up over a season, so pick your events wisely. Many cycling events are now £50 or more to enter. Audax and reliability rides are usually about £12-15 and time trials are a similar price.
    7. Talking of adding up, what about all those subscriptions? I mean monthly moolah going out for Zwift, Strava, Training Peak, Trainer Road , RideWithGPS, Wahoo SYSTM, Rouvy and so on. I know I’ve had a touch of FOMO when it comes to these platforms and I’ve shut a couple down.
    8. Can you fix it? Start with the simpler things, such as punctures, brake pad replacement and popping in a new chain. Let YouTube be your university of bike maintenance and borrow the tools you need, if you don’t have them.
    9. Friendship is free. Also the views. Those fabulous views are free. Go somewhere pretty, take a digital photo. Share it. Reconnect with other riders and go explore.
    10. You can spend a small fortune one year on gels and bars, so why not make your own. There’s a ton of recipes out there. I like this one for energy bars, I’m a total sucker for peanut butter­VQ