Saturday, 12 March 2011

Price Comparisons: All Things Considered

[images via Linus Bikes and Gazelle USA]

It's Spring again, and I am receiving more emails with questions regarding which new bike to get. I notice that lots of readers are comparison shopping, and that's fantastic. But when doing price comparisons, the key is to compare like to like - which is not always what happens. Take one of the emails I received this week, from a reader who was trying to choose between a Gazelle and a Linus. She wrote that she has a hard time "justifying buying a Gazelle for three times the price, when a Linus is a perfectly nice bike."

When I checked out the prices online, it became clear that the reader was comparing the $425 Dutchie 1 (Linus's single speed, entry-level model) to the $1,299 Toer Populair (Gazelle's 8-speed, deluxe model loaded with extras). But comparing the cheapest model from Brand X vs the most expensive model from Brand Y is hardly fair  - especially since these manufacturers offer more equivalent models: The Linus Dutchie 3 and the Gazelle Toer Basic (pictured side by side above). Both are 3-speeds, with the Gazelle toned down a bit and the Linus fitted with some extras, somewhat leveling the playing field between them. The cost of the Linus Dutchie 3 is $589, whereas the cost of the Gazelle Basic is $849: a difference of $260. Still unjustifiable? Let's see what each bike offers at those price points.

[image via Gazelle USA]

At $849, the Gazelle Toer Basic offers: a lugged frame, enclosed drum brakes front and rear, dynamo lighting, a full chaincase, a matching rear rack with huge load capacity, dress guards, and a wheel lock.

[image via Linus Bikes]

At $589, the Linus Dutchie 3 offers: a welded frame, rim brakes, no dynamo lighting or battery lights, a partial chainguard, a rear rack with lesser load capacity, no dress guards, and no wheel lock.

Even if we leave frame construction and ride quality out of it, the Gazelle's extras alone are worth over $500, which more than makes up for the $260 price difference. Are lower-end bikes a bargain? The only way to determine that is to do the comparison fairly: Have a look at all the models available, choose equivalent models for the comparison, and make a list of all the features included in each.


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