To fully understand this article, a phenomenon we often hear about should be kept in mind: inflation, that is, a general and permanent rise in prices in an economy. Without taking this into account it is impossible to compare the prices of 25, 15 or 5 years ago with today’s prices, it would be absolutely wrong. Under inflation we have the notion of constant value or real value, i.e. the correction of prices to inflation over a given period (as opposed to their nominal value, in other words the absolute value of €100 from 2005 to €100 in 2023). There is no “value”.
There are many tools to calculate real values and in France it is the INSEE calculator (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) which is the reference. Based on this, all that remains is to delve into his archives and pull out his calculator. What Vojo has done for you, based on a range of examples that we consider representative. If you have others going in the same direction or the exact opposite, don’t hesitate to let us know.
With 100 bullets, you’re left with nothing!
Well, it is true that having a good mountain bike with 100 € can be complicated. I even have a mountain bike. But what about €1000? This first psychological barrier also often represents access to respectably equipped first models, equipped with at least reliable, efficient and pleasant to use components.
What did we have for about 7,000 French francs (again we will abbreviate as FF) or 40,000 Belgian francs (FB) in 1997? Often an aluminum frame (sometimes steel) with an entry-level suspension fork and a Shimano transmission (at that distant time the Labor market did not exist much) LX and STX-RC, or even Including the Dewar XT if we were lucky. ,
We chose a Trek 6500 with its 6000-series aluminum frame, a RockShox Indy C fork (63mm travel), a Shimano ST-RC/LX groupset, and V-Brakes Dia-Compe brakes as a representative example. It was billed in France at 6,990 FF, or the equivalent of 1,065 €, and in Belgium at 38,695 FB, or slightly less than 1,000 €. In real value and based on the French price, this is equivalent to €1,240 in January 2007, €1,391 in 2017 and €1,587 in January 2023. Let’s now look at the evolution of the price of the model and its counterpart:
- 1997 – Trek 6500 (6000 aluminum frame, RockShox Indy C fork, Shimano STX-RC/LX transmission, V-brakes Dia Compe brakes): €1065
- 2007 – Trek 6500 (Alpha SLR aluminum frame, Manitou slate fork, Deore/XT drivetrain, Shimano Deore brakes): €999
- 2017 – Trek X-Caliber 9 (Alpha Gold aluminum frame, RockShox Recon Silver fork, Shimano Deore/Schram X7 drivetrain, Shimano M365 brakes): €999
- 2023 (A) – Trek X-Caliber 8 (Alpha Gold aluminum frame, RockShox Judy SL fork, Shimano Deore/XT drivetrain, Shimano MT200 brakes): €1,349
- 2023 (B) – Trek Marlin 7 (Alpha Silver aluminum frame, RockShox Judy fork, Shimano Deore 10v transmission, Shimano MT200 brakes): €1049
Compared to 1997, in 2007, we could still buy the same bike and even better, because it had the advantage of disc brakes. The same is true for 2017, although the model has changed its name and the transmission may be slightly smaller. On the other hand, an increase in 2023 is evident, even if it is noted that the equipment has improved compared to 2017 (transmission).
However, price rise remains lower than inflation. Taken another way, the Trek X-Calibur 8’s €1349 in 2023 matches €926 in 1997, or €140 less than our initial Trek 6500. Another thing to note, the “1000€ bike” hasn’t disappeared with Trek as it’s found with the Marlin, which is a slightly more versatile semi-rigid with the less specific geometry of the XC. This is the eternal problem of these comparisons that span more than 20 years: it is not always easy to compare models when categories evolve and brands do not necessarily occupy the same place in the list as before.
But in any case, we can still see that in this category around 1000 €, we now get more for our money with bikes equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless wheels and air/oil suspension forks. This analysis also shows that there has been no price explosion in this category and that the “first mountain bike” is no less accessible today than it was yesterday. It is quite the opposite. And that’s good news for the less fortunate among us.
And what about 3500€?
What’s the situation two notches up for 3500€? In 1997 this amount already gave access to very good all-suspension. Most were aluminum but you can already find some models with carbon front triangle (rear remaining in aluminum), such as the now famous Trek Y and Cannondale Raven. For the latter, the first version (Raven 2000 SL) was displayed in France for 23,900 FF (3650 € at the time) and in Belgium for 139,000 FB (3445 €). With inflation, €3500 from 1997 was down to €4600 in 2017 and is now worth over €5000. Let’s look at the evolution of the model and its replacement:
- 1997 – Cannondale Raven 2000 SL (carbon/alu frame, headshock P-Bone D fork, Shimano XT drivetrain, Shimano XT V-brakes): €3,500
- 2007 – Cannondale Rush Carbon C3 (carbon/alu frame, Lefty Speed DLR2 fork, Sram X9 drivetrain, Avid Juicy 7 brakes): €3549
- 2017 – Cannondale Habit Carbon 3 (carbon/alu frame, Lefty OPI alu fork, Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain, Shimano Deore brakes): €3499
- 2023 – Cannondale Habit Carbon 3 (carbon/alu frame, Fox 34 Performance fork, Shram GX/NX Eagle drivetrain, Shram Guide R brakes): €3,799
Again, a small increase but it is very measured in relation to inflation. In other words, if this parameter is taken into account, then the Cannondale Habit, equivalent to the Raven 2000 SL of that time, affects your purchasing power less. Once again, we can have fun doing the reverse calculation: if the Habit Carbon 3 costs €3,799 in 2023, it would have appeared in a showroom in January 1997 for €2,600… much less than the Raven.
Sustained pricing for the Raven 2000 SL is to match that of 2023 with bikes that are around 5000€. We’ve chosen to follow the Raven’s descendants into the trail category with Habit, but we can also compare it to XC’s Scalpel, whose Carbon 3 model debuted at €4799 with a level of equipment comparable to the Raven’s Is. Over time at some points (SLX/XT transmission, aluminum wheels) as well as some extras like the 100% carbon frame is much lighter than the Raven, carbon Lefty Ocho or even disc brakes. There too, we generally have more money today than in 1997.
More diverse market than 6 years ago?
In our 2017 article, the section was titled “20 Years of Growth … or Price Stagnation?”, This year we used the same two examples but as you’ll see, the analysis has changed.
The first example was the Specialized Enduro. The name first appeared with the American brand in 1999 with the FSR Enduro Comp model with 80 mm of travel (compared to 63 mm for the XC version). Equipped with V-brakes, it costs around 12,000 FF, or just over €1,800. With inflation, this is now equivalent to around €2700.
- 1997 – Specialized Enduro Expert (A1 aluminum frame, RockShox Judy fork, Shimano LX transmission, V-brakes, LX brakes): €1750
- 2007 – Specialized Enduro Comp (M5 aluminum frame, Future shock fork, Sram X9 drivetrain, Avid Juicy 5 brakes): €2599
- 2017 – Specialized Enduro Comp (M5 aluminum frame, RockShox Yari fork, Shram GX drivetrain, Avid Guide R brakes): €2,799
- 2023 – Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Comp Alloy (M5 aluminum frame, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, Schram NX Eagle drivetrain, Schram Code R brakes): €4,400
Before talking about the price, which has exploded, we must take an interest in the model: enduro has evolved significantly in 2019 (see New test | Specialized Enduro 2020: back in battle) and it is not the “race” enduro format as well as the versatility of its predecessors. Furthermore, it is no longer available in aluminum: the range now starts with the Enduro Comp in carbon, posted at… 5800€. So we chose to switch to the Stumpjumper Evo, a more popular model that fits well into the lineage of older enduros (150/160mm travel, mule or 29″ wheels…).
But even with this “adjustment”, the price increase is significant and the graph is saying a lot. The model experienced decent growth for the first time between 1997 and 2007 but at that point, we can hardly say that it is still the same machine. In 1997, regardless of the model name, could we be talking about an enduro? In 2007, the enduro discipline was really starting to appear and the Enduro Comp from this era is a completely different machine from 1997, with the travel of a 90s DH bike but still the ability to pedal and climb. So the increase can be explained to some extent.
Then, between 2007 and 2017 the model stabilized with more measured growth than inflation. Since 2017, the price has risen again: + 57% in six years! However, this time the section hasn’t really changed and it’s not a few component details that would be enough to explain everything…
Another exercise, another essential yet trendy bike with Scott Spark. This time we look at its price evolution over the past 16 years, season by season since 2007. For the first time in the catalog that year, the Spark 20 was an Access model of a full carbon frame. It also benefited from flatter equipment with a Shimano XT/XTR group and a Fox 32 F100RL fork for 4200€.
What do we see on the curves? This time, it seemed that everything was going well … By 2022, the launch year of the existing platform with its shocks integrated into the frame. After inflation, a 2007 Spark 20 would have cost over €4,900 in 2018 and would now cost €5,500. In fact, the model was markedly below this price, with the difference between the price charged and the price at the stable sometimes exceeding €1,000.
However, it should be noted that its assembly has become slightly less top-of-the-range over time and that its rear triangle was made of aluminum in 2010. For this reason, we’ve also included the Spark 910 in the comparison. As it is today it is still in full carbon and with equipment close to the early Spark 20 (complete Deore XT groupset). As you can see, this was equivalent to the inflation-adjusted SPARK 20 until the new platform’s launch. The prices of both the Sparc 920 and 910 are now well above inflation (just over 14% to be exact) meaning that buying them today requires more purchasing power than 5, 10 or 15 years ago.
To find an “accessible” all-carbon model closer to the 2007 Spark 20 in spirit, you have to look to the Spark RC family. The entry price is then 4299 € with the Comp model, but this corresponds to a much lower purchasing power than 2007’s 4200 € and without surprise, the equipment is therefore set back: Sram NX Eagle, Fox 32 Rhythm and Shimano Dewar brake. Same thing for the above model, Team. At 4999€ it’s close to the price of a Spark 20 adjusted for inflation but the equipment hasn’t yet reached XT/XTR as we’ve been entitled to a Shimano SLX/XT set.
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