Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Revisiting Halo Bikes

It's been a while since I've looked into the ridiculous upper stratosphere of bikes for the ultra rich -- the top 1% of the über elites who both move and shake simultaneously.

Who can forget such lofty wünderbikes as the Lamborghini Aventador BMC Impec: a bike whose name alone works out to about $8000 per word.

That's about $32,000 folks.
Or the Aston Martin One-77 (made by Factor bicycles). I think they charge a person just to ask the price, but I hear it starts around $39,000.

That's a year's salary for a lot of Americans.
Both of those were "collabos" between bicycle companies and automotive marques. And the same is true of this outrageously priced machine:

The Bugatti by PG Bikes is said to list for $39,000. They call it "The Unrivaled Urban Bike."
The PG Bugatti is claimed to be 95% carbon fiber, and features an unusual asymmetrical seat-stay chain-stay design. That is, it has one seat-stay (on the left) and one chain-stay (on the right). It also utilizes belt drive, and has a single front brake that is somehow hidden or "faired-in" behind the front fork, and activated by an impossibly delicate-looking brake lever.

The company makes a point of trying to connect this outrageously impractical "urban bike" with the equally outrageous Bugatti Chiron hypermobile.
For reasons I can't quite figure out, the website for the bike lists fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures for the car, but nothing comparable for the bicycle:

My math is terrible - and my understanding of European "efficiency class" standards is minimal. But I think that the fuel consumption on the Chiron works out to something like 10 miles per gallon in "combined" driving (or around 6 mpg city). And efficiency class G is about the worst rating given. Basically, the car is like a big, conspicuous raised middle finger to the world. I guess if someone spends $2.7 million to buy the car, they might feel compelled to spend another $39,000 on a bicycle that lets them kid themselves that they're "doing something for the environment." More likely, though, it would just be another obnoxious trophy to crass consumerism.
As if I needed to add anything else to make my point that the $39,000 Unrivaled Urban Bike is a complete crock, I spotted this little detail on the website:

"The special bike is a piece of sports equipment which is not intended to be used on public roads."
What else do you need to know?
I'm thinking "UnRIDEable Urban Bike" might be a more appropriate name.

Not a car-company collaboration - but perhaps no less ridiculous because of that, there is the Ventum One Signature Edition.
The Ventum One is a triathlon-specific design, which includes a specially designed integral water bottle, and a swoopy seat-stay-less frame not terribly unlike such aero-design time trial and/or pursuit bikes as the '96 U.S. Olympic "Superbike" or mid-'90s Pinarello Espada. The signature edition is said to be custom fitted for the buyer, and includes unique custom paint and a matching helmet "that reflects your personal style."

The regular Ventum One (the non-signature one) starts at $6875 -- I could be wrong but the website leads me to believe that it has the same basic frame, minus the custom paint scheme (and matching helmet), less expensive wheels, and Shimano Ultegra components. So what makes the Signature Edition worth another $25 grand?

It's the buying "experience."
The buying "experience" includes a professional photo shoot.

From their website: "Fly first-class from your home to Scottsdale, Arizona where you will join us at the Faster Wind tunnel — the same facility where we developed the Ventum One. You’ll spend two days and nights in Scottsdale at a five-star resort, including a full day with engineers and fit specialists from Ventum and Faster. We will optimize every aspect of your new bike and riding position in the wind tunnel. You will then get out on the road to make sure you’re completely dialed in. Your Ventum Signature Experience concludes with a professional photo shoot on your new bike with the stunning Arizona scenery as the backdrop."

Bikes like the Bugatti, the Ventum, and the others almost (I repeat, almost) make these other machines seem like bargains. Don't kid yourself. They're not.
Cervélo's RCA is $10,000 just for the frame.
The folks at Cervélo must love the fact that bikes like the Ventum exist if for no other reason than that they can make a claim like "all the performance at half the price" or some such thing.

The Cervélo P5X eTAP triathlon bike is a cool $15,000. Less than half the price of the Ventum One Signature - but don't get smug about it.
Still outrageous, but compared to the other car-company collaborations, the Specialized McLaren Roubaix comes in at an almost reasonable $11,500. Their previous collabo, the McLaren S-Works Tarmac, was about $20,000.

Dammit! See what I just did there? They've even got me doing it now. It's like a contagious disease!
Specialized McLaren S-Works Roubaix Dura Ace Di2 - at "only" $11,500
When things get to the point where $11 grand starts sounding reasonable, I need to get back to huffing tins of Brooks Proofide like an asthma inhaler, and get out for a ride on a classic steel bike.

Steel frame, friction shifting, 2x5 "10 speed" drivetrain. Kinda' helps get the priorities straight.


  1. For no particular reason I can think of, that Cervelo P5X is quite possibly the most repulsive looking bike I've ever seen.

    I'm not big on TT/Tri bikes anyway, but that one is heads and tails above any other I've seen, in the ugly department.


  2. What's that black triangle thingie around the drivetrain? Is that the motor?

    1. Good question. I looked all over the specs on the Specialized site, and at articles about the bike in several of the industry cheerleader sites, and nowhere can I find any mention of that triangle-shaped box. My two guesses: (A) Some kind of integral "stuff box" for keeping spare tires and tools, etc. or (B) a compartment for the batteries and control units for electronic shifting - like the Di2, or SRAM's eTap.

  3. This year was great so far. I've got pretty beaten up (couple dents) Olmo Sanremo frame without fork for $102. Chromed cromoly fork costs $40 NEW in my country. Cheap.

    I've got top of the line Olmo Sintex frame'n'fork in good condition (couple major paint chips) for $170.

    I've got classic 1981 Colnago Super all covered in almost new Campagnolo Record for $350.

    Having owned Olmo Sanremo for 4 years already, I'm quite sure that's one of the best bicycles ever made to date. No exaggeration. Can't be happier with riding quality. And given the hardships the bike had on it's way, I'm happy to say it's almost indestructible too. And now I can qualify myself as Olmo collector (which I'm not, just love the way these bikes ride).

    There you have it, folks. Nowadays you don't get what you paying for. At least, any more. There are nonsensical "halo" bikes and there are truly beautiful tailor-made machines that cost nothing compared to creme of the crop drool-makers for suckers. P.T. Barnum was right.

    Even framebuilding God Nagasawa-san charges pretty reasonable $2300 for frame and fork. NEW. Yep, now everyone can order frame in his size from the Master himself. Having the money, what will you choose?

  4. Bike Snob used to call this sort of bike "dentist bikes." If there are any dentists among RG's followers, you know that you are exceptions.

    But the real laugh is an "urban bike" that you oughtn't to ride on the road.

  5. One more, and I'll shut up. $39K bikes are funny, but not as funny as the new gottahavit accessory proudly introduced by BSNYC today: the $120 Bluetooth Silca minipump. It doesn't even need earphones!

    Me, I'm going to go out and buy a $300 axe.

  6. The best looking bike out of all those is the only one whose frame attracts magnets!

  7. It is amusing to see how "the other side" rolls around on two wheels; though they won't be doing much rolling with those bikes if they can't be used on roads : ). Most of them don't even look like bikes to me, least of all that butt-ugly Ventum thingy. Only the Specialized S-works comes close to being a real "bike" despite those discs and the lack of pedals. Not counting that steel beauty in the last photo, of course. I would choose a fendered version of that bike over any of the other models, any day. Kind of like my one bike: steel frame, found abandoned in the basement of my house, older than me, but still rides like the day that she was made. I spend about $200 annually on professional maintenance as she's my daily transportation, year-round, in all weather. I could ride this bike for ten more years and still not spend as much as the cheapest of these models!

  8. These bikes are for the people with more money than they really know what to do with. They are so wealthy a dollar value really has no meaning. The same people that will spend $5-10 mil on a third house that they might visit once or twice per year (maybe the same rate they would ride the bike).

    Are those tri/aero bikes even race legal?

    1. those aero bikes are ok for triathlons, which are apparently outside of UCI regulations.

  9. "The special bike is a piece of sports equipment which is not intended to be used on public roads."
    This is just a standard disclaimer attached to every bike in Europe that does not comply with EN rules. For example, not equipped out of the factory with front and rear lights, chain cover, etc.
    Not saying it is road worthy, just similar statements come with pretty much all road racing or mtb bikes sold in EU.

  10. Brooks--Your bike is so much prettier and you (or someone) will be riding it long after those other bikes are consigned to the dustheap of history.