Why are Specialized bikes so expensive?

The first time I rode a Specialized bike was in the rolling hills of Southern Germany, and the experience blew me away. 

A feather light frame and an incredibly tight and responsive handling made me feel as if I’d become one with this magnificent machine – I was immediately and irreversibly hooked.

Problem was, this was not MY Specialized, but a friend’s – he had treated himself to it from some inheritance money. 

When I set out to buy one myself (I just HAD to have one!), I found out my friend had paid well over 10K for his treasure: an amount so outrageous that it made my eyes water.

My dream of owning that beautiful piece of engineering quickly went up in smoke. 

So what’s the deal with these two-wheeled Ferrari’s? Why not just buy a nice (second hand) car? Why are Specialized bikes so expensive?!

In this post, we’ll share our views on what determines those hefty price tags. We’ll also let you in on whether we think Specialized bikes are actually worth the investment.

Finally, we’ll explain how you can actually get a great cycling experience without breaking the bank.

What determines the price of a Specialized bike?

There are a couple of factors that weigh in on the relatively high price of Specialized bikes. 

Innovation: bikes are research-intensive products

First, Specialized, and the bike industry more widely, invests heavily in R&D in order to improve their products year on year. Plus, costs associated with innovation have risen more quickly in the past years with the increasing popularity of e-bikes. 

And Specialized books results with these investments, as a consistent winner in the prestigious Design and Innovation Award.

In essence, each component requires a hefty investment in research and hours to evolve to the high performance standard that you get with Specialized bikes – and this translates to a serious price tag.

Market size: fewer bikes mean higher costs

Second, Specialized’s produces its high performance bikes and components in relatively low numbers – especially compared to the car industry. There are simply less customers to buy their products, but these customers demand the very best and latest specs.

I made a Ferrari comparison before – let’s look at that brand’s output. Around 8500 of its exotic supercars roll out of the Modena, Italy factory each year. 

We reached out to Specialized to check their yearly output of bikes, but they could not share those numbers with us. 

However, the total ballpark figure for their most top-end frames across all bike types is around 15.000 per year. It’s more than Ferrari – but not thát many more!

Plus, most top-end bikes and its individual components are, where possible, hand-made and individually checked and tested.  

Obviously, this comes at a price. 

Demanding consumers: it’s our own fault! 

I’ll be honest: I can get pretty obnoxious when it comes to the nitty-gritty specs of my bikes. And I’m just a leisure cyclist – I know some (semi-)pro riders who really look at every possible gram to shave off their bikes (and body).

This type of demand shapes the offer: bike brands know that they can charge more to picky customers, so they will. It’s just the way the world turns.

Specialized is no different. There’s no question that they make top-notch bikes and components, but they also use their brand name and notoriety to lure in the demanding customer.

How much is a Specialized bike worth?

It’s clearly impossible to give a single sentence answer to this question, since it completely depends on the type of bike (road, BMX, electric, etc.), and the price range (low, medium, high end), as well as other elements. 

Plus, you might be able to get a good seasonal deal at your local bike shop!

Still, we’ve broken down the different price ranges per bike type in the below table to give you an approximate idea of how much a Specialized bike is worth.

Price range -->
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Bike type
Lower-endMid-rangeHigh-end
Mountain

$600 - $2000

$2000 - $8000

$8000 - $15000

Road$1000 - $3000

$3000 - $9000$9000 - $17000

Active$650 - $1500

$1500 - $3000

$2500 - $4500

E-bike$3000 - $5000

$5000 - $8000

$8000 - $16000

*price based on MSRP via Specialized.com

Let’s also take a look at some specific Specialized subcategories and their pricing.

How much is a Specialized BMX worth?

Specialized used to have a wider range of BMX bikes – for 2021, only the Specialized P.3 is available at $1900.

How much is a Specialized Crosstrail bike worth?

Specialized’s Crosstrail model was priced at $670, but it’s no longer available. 

It was part of Specialized’s Active bike range, which is the most accessible in terms of pricing.

How much is a Specialized Hardrock Sport bike worth?

The Hardrock Sport used to be part of Specialized’s mountain bike range, but it’s no longer in production. 

It used to be priced below $1000 depending on the specs you opted for.

Are Specialized bikes worth the money?

We hear this question quite a lot from friends looking for a new bike. 

We’ll tell you what we tell them: it depends! It depends on the type of bike you’re looking for, and on your level of experience, and what you intend to use the bike for.

If you’re an intermediate cyclist that is just looking for a quality bike with great specs, a mid-range Specialized is likely to be worth it.

How to improve your cycling experience without breaking the bank

Not everyone has the money or indeed the dedication to the sport to write off several pay checks for a bike.

Good news: you really don’t have to. 

Here’s a couple of simple tips to upgrade your cycling significantly without having to file for bankruptcy.

Go for a mid-range bike 

While Specialized excels with its top of the bill bikes, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice a big difference when you jump on a mid-range ride – unless you’re a pro that’s really looking for the ultimate edge in performance.

Specialized has some great mid-range bikes, too, packing the full punch of this brand’s innovative tech.

Invest in your current bike

We have several friends that went for higher-end bikes and after a few weeks complained of all sorts of physical discomfort and injuries. 

The reason is simple: tweaking your bike and how you are positioned on it has a huge influence on your riding experience.

That’s why it’s probably worth your while to have this checked out by experts, before jumping to conclusions on your next purchase. 

Chances are you can completely change how you feel on your current bike, without actually having to invest your life savings in a new one.

Second-hand is a great option too – but don’t go too far back in time!

There’s no shame in opting for second-hand. Heck, we’re all for recycling and upcycling – anything that has to do with cycling, count us in!

Just keep in mind that cycling tech does evolve quickly. This means that if you’re going for a model that’s 10 years old, you might miss out on some recent innovations that could make a big difference in your riding experience.

Final thoughts

Now you know why Specialized bikes are so expensive.

Let’s be clear: Specialized isn’t the only brand with mind-boggling prices. Other staple brands for bike aficionados such as Cannondale and BMC are similarly priced on the higher end of the spectrum.

And as we’ve seen, there are some good reasons for these prices.

Specialized invests heavily in staying ahead of the pack in terms of R&D. This leads to top-notch, high performance components that are simply better and therefore more expensive than run-of-the-mill parts. You get what you pay for.

Add to that the peculiar cycling market – it’s pretty small, and filled with demanding enthusiasts – and you’ve got an economic cocktail that can make your head spin.

If you’re on the hunt for a new bike, make sure to assess all your options before actually opting for the highest end ride.

Hugo has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and, being from the Netherlands, he’s used to his bike being his primary mode of transport. Plus, as a lawyer, jumping on his bike is his main form of escaping from his desk duties.

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