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The Bicycle TRILEMMA | Cost, Strength & Weight of Bikes & Electric Bikes

Hey, everyone. Today, I'm going to discuss a topic that's a little confusing, but also extremely important if you're just getting into e-bikes or any kind of bike, it's, why does a bike cost what it does? What informs that? There are a lot of things, but we'll get over the basics and just lay out the broad scope picture so that you can do your own research with confidence. Stay tuned.

Hey guys, Peter Kaltreider here, Sixthreezero Bicycles. So, what makes a bicycle cost what it does? And how do you compare? Well, what I've found is that, first of all, as you start to do your research, you just started to get a pretty good feel for comparing apples to apples and seeing that price usually corresponds to a certain level of quality and other factors. But what I want to talk about today, it's a really interesting concept, maybe an economic concept or philosophical concept, I'm not sure. We're all familiar with the idea of a dilemma, which is a place where you're forced to pick one option out of two. Well, in the bicycle world, we have a trilemma, which also occurs in a lot of different facets of life. But a trilemma is where you have three choices and you can only pick two of them.

In the bicycle world, we have three attributes that we might want to look for, which is cheap, strong, light. So we have cheap, strong, light, pick two. Generally, when you're looking at a bike, the price starts to go up astronomically as you try to reduce weight. Why do we try to reduce weight? Well, in all sorts of engineering and things like the automobile industry and other industries, aeronautics, of course, reducing weight is a massive consideration because, obviously, it takes a lot more energy to carry something that weighs a lot more.

And with a bicycle or an e-bike, you just don't have that massive amount of energy that you have in a petrochemically fueled car, which has an abundance of energy and power to it. And even in the car industry, they're always trying to make the cars lighter and lighter and lighter, and there's a whole industry to itself trying to make parts lighter. It takes a lot of work and ingenuity, and also maybe rare or more difficult-to-find materials to get that lightness.

So, on a bike, we're always trying to make them lighter so that they can go farther and faster, but this costs money. Anyway, you can have a bike that is light and strong, but it won't be cheap. So these are like the race bikes, high-performance mountain bikes. They're all going to be extremely strong to take just a massive amount of abuse. You can see the people that ride, that race, they're extremely powerful individuals actually, and they're riding very, very light bikes. 15 pounds is the minimum cutoff, they don't let them go lighter than that, that's the standard.

But, amazingly, a machine that weighs 15 pounds can actually take the number of forces in all sorts of directions that these guys and women put into these bikes. But those bikes, of course, are very expensive. So one way we can reduce the cost is by using less expensive materials and less expensive components, but those are all going to end up being a little bit heavier. And when we're talking about the lightness or the strength or the cost, we're talking about all of the bikes, we're talking about the frame, we're talking about the wheels, we're talking about the components.

And so, again, you're going to want to look at those three factors all around. It's easy to make a strong bike, but a lot of times, a stronger bike, obviously, may use more material and it may not be as light. So if you're going to find a strong bike and it's inexpensive, it's not going to be a light bike, it's going to be a strong, heavy bike. On the other hand, if you find a bike that is both light and cheap, they are skimping somewhere on the material or in the engineering, and it's not going to be strong.

So you want to balance all three of those. It's easy to do, especially with an entry-level, it's not as big of a concern, but just to give you an idea of why sometimes bikes start to get astronomically expensive at an exponential rate, it's because they're making higher and higher, but tinier and tinier gains in keeping the strength and durability while also increasing lightness, that also makes the price go up a lot more.

Anyway, that's the bicycle trilemma, and it gives a good broad view understanding of why bikes cost what they do, why some bikes cost a lot and some bikes are quite cheap. Again, quality is a function of it, but really the quality is down to how light and durable a component can be. And again, that will increase the price. So there you go, bicycle trilemma. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope that it helps you in your search. Usually, when you're out there, you'll start to understand how to compare apples to apples and find out the right price for you.

All right. Thanks for watching. I really hope that was helpful. If you need any more help, please don't hesitate to contact us at 310-982-2877 or Sixthreezero is spelled out, S-I-X-T-H-R-E-E-Z-E-R-O. Also, subscribe to our channel. And remember, it's your journey, your experience, enjoy the ride.


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