July around my house involves watching the Tour de France from start to finish. It’s a throwback to once being part owner of a bicycle shop and becoming familiar with both amateur and professional bicycle racing.
In that era a race quality 10-speed would cost $1000 or less. I owned a Falcon (English) bike with a Reynolds 571 (English) double-butted frame and all Campagnolo (Italian) components. You couldn’t buy better bike parts and my bike retailed for around $650. In today’s world that is chump change for a top of the line road bike. A set of Campy components today approaches $4,000 compared to under $300 in the dark ages.
In today’s Tour de France they typical road bike runs in excess of $10,000 and each rider has at least two road bikes custom set up for their requirements. Carbon fiber and high-dollar alloys have taken the place of steel and the weight of a top road bike has gone from about 20 pounds in 1975 to just over 12 pounds today. Shaving bike weight is the Holy Grail in bicycle racing. A racing friend once told me he’d consider a vasectomy if he thought it would shave a little weight off.
In addition to the typical road bicycles participants in the Tour also need a couple of extremely specialized and expensive bikes for the time trials. Stages in which individuals or teams race alone against a clock.
If you want an example of what I’m saying visit Trek’s website and looks at the price range of their better racing bikes.