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The Madera Tribune

When did bicycles get so expensive?

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webmaster | 05/14/12

I’ve been kicking the tires on a new bicycle — one called a “hybrid” — and while I haven’t bought it yet, I do think it might be good for my health.

The “hybrid” moniker doesn’t mean the bicycle has an electric motor to help me pedal around. What hybrid means, in this case, is that it is built for comfort, not speed. It has plenty of gears so a rider needn’t get worn out by pedaling too hard. The seat is comfortable. The handlebars are situated so that the rider can sit upright rather than bending over like Lance Armstrong and those other racers do when they ride. It is a little like the Buick of bicycles.

The price, “nicely equipped,” as they say, will be between $500 and $600. It is by no means the most expensive bicycle in the shop. You can spend a lot more than that if you want your bike to be made of carbon fiber and weigh no more than a deck of cards.

That all seems a little spendy to me, so I am still pondering the purchase. But it is not nearly as spendy as a bicycle I saw featured in a recent issue of Architectural Digest. That bicycle has an electric booster motor on it, extra-good brakes and very nice styling. It costs $9,000.

Who knew bicycles had gotten so expensive? A person used to be able to buy a Schwinn for $100, or a Huffy for even less, but now Schwinns and Huffys are manufactured by somebody else.

As a kid, I had a bike called a Rollfast, the Hopalong Cassidy model. It was heavy and hard to ride, but would have survived a collision with a train locomotive. You still could buy a Rollfast if you wanted one — from a vintage bicycle shop. They stopped making them in 1972.

If you see me bicycling down the street one of these days, please don’t laugh.


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