I've always been a fan of riding. Like most kids, getting a dragster was such a thrill – the gear lever on the cross bar, funky handle bars and wide tyres. Wow. Even in my later years it has been fun to get a hybrid bike that I can ride around without constantly worrying about flat tyres and bending the rims on gutters.
I thought that $ 800 was a pretty chunky price and would buy me a good bike, and it did. But boy did I get a shock when I saw what some of the top end bikes cost. Putting aside Lance Armstrong's Trek Madone that sold for $ 500,000 at auction after his last Tour de France, a top carbon fibre bike can easily cost $ 15,000 and standard, high production models anywhere from $ 2,000 to $ 8,000.
Same with kayaks. I did a lot of kayaking when I was younger and was lucky enough to use a borrowed TK1 so never thought about what they cost to buy. They're not as bad as bikes, but with super dooper materials these days like carbon fibre and kevlar, a good kayak can certainly cost up to $ 5,000.
A friends son has started archery. How much for a good bow and arrow set? Try $ 900 just for the bow. Admittedly it's a pretty groovy bow with plenty of pulleys and things and there are certainly good bows for less, but hey, everyone wants the best right.
So next time you buy sports equipment make sure you know what you're buying and do some research on the item being purchase. If you're going to spend these sort of dollars it's the least you can do for yourself. As an example, in researching my latest bike purchase these are the things I considered:
- Frame; This is pretty fundamental of course. The size, shape, how heavy (rather, how light), how stiff, monocoque, carbon, and of course the right colour.
- Forks; Weight, tapered, stiff or compliant. Important that they can absorb bumps and shocks as you ride.
- Derailleurs; Weight and strength, the precision of the action and the number of gears they can support. Test out how well they shift gears when under pedalling pressure.
- Brakes; Does the bike stop well!
- The Gears; How many, how easily they shift, how precise, how noisy or quiet they are.
- Crankset; The material composition and strength to weight ratio so it can transfer your leg power to the wheels.
- Handlebars; Material (carbon) and shape. Do not forget to test out different riding positions and how comfortable the handlebars are for your most frequent riding style.
- Grips; You'll be holding these a lot, so make sure they are comfortable and durable. What are they like when they're wet (sweaty).
- Headset; What size and material are the bearings in both the top and bottom races. Important for stability and precise movement. Also consider the maintenance aspects and how easy they are to work with.
- Rims and Wheels; Weight, alloy composition
- Tyres; How wide, the grip and what sort of valves do they use. Check the recommended pressure and make sure you have the means to pump them up to the right figure.
- : Seat; Weight, durable material, shape of course, and do not forget to ask about the seat post as it also needs to be light but strong.
- Chain; Clearly needs to be strong. Light would also be nice.
Bikes, kayaks, bows and arrows, even a dartboard. Great fun but make sure you get what you pay for.