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Are bikes getting more expensive? TEST- 2018 Kona Lava DomVS 1997 KonLavDome

Today on we have guest writer Alex Farmer. Comparing x2 Kona Lava Dome models 20 years apart.

Alex has experienced the cycle industry as a consumer and for the last 5 years as a bike shop co-owner.

Hes had it with people asking him Why are bikes so expensive these days?

So hes come up  with a nice test to answer that question.

Bike Shop-The Framed Bicycle Co in Llanberis,North Wales.

The bike industry isnt out to get you. Ill prove it!

TEST- 2018 Kona Lava Dome  VS 1997 Kona Lava Dome

I understand that to get a decent off road ridable trail bike you really need to be spending well over 500. So Ive chosen to compare the same model 20 years apart.

When I first started riding proper bikes in the mid nineties, the era when it was acceptable to ride in Lycra and wear fingerless gloves. I bought a Kona Lava Dome. It was ace. All my peers were impressed. I used it to race dual slalom, xc, cyclo-cross and even hit dirt jumps at the Shepshed train lines. Ironically it was that one bike that did it all, that now everybodys looking for.  The holy grail of bikes at the time.

That bike cost 599  in 1997. It came with rigid forks, 24 gears and even had the new fangled V-brakes. It was marvelous.

I did however a year later buy some Rockshox Indy Cs the more budgeted forks for about 180.  I shouldve bought the Marzzochis. Damn it!

So all in all without the upgrade of the handle bars and the DMR V8s the bike had cost me 779. That was deemed pricey back then! Especially when it was a time when you couldve bought a house for less than the price of a new Vivaro van.

The cost of the standard Kona Lava Dome was

. Thats (with inflation) technically

than its 20 year old brother. Youd think Kona mustve cut some serious corners for a bike like this at that price point?

Well actually no! Its a hell of a lot better.

The 2018 comes with Disc Brakes, 100mm of travel, decent tyres,  loads of gears, and most importantly modern geometry.

It was great to ride the old steed again, I even put some original Project 2 forks back on to have a real rigid feel comparison. It was definitely fun going back to my roots. But not so much riding real life roots Some serious arm pump started to kick in after a few hours of riding.

So what are the differences between the bikes?

Well the most obvious, visually are the wheels, a lot of changes have happened in the last 20 years one of them being the many different wheel size options. The youngun bicycle came with 29er wheels giving, with a huge benefit, increased rolling speed and the ability to plough through small obstacles a lot easier than its 26 ancestor.

The other main difference is the use of materials in the frames, the Oldy uses a Chromoly steel and the youth 6061 aluminium. Both materials are actually pretty good for the money. Chromoly steel is still used and is known to be a lightweight and strong material.  It has proved its worth by lasting over 20 years on this bike, where as the 6061 aluminium is lightweight and can be seen in modern aviation materials.

Having spoken with the guys at Kona. Theyve always been passionate about giving the customer the best frame possible for the money. Meaning the customer can upgrade to better parts once they wear out, having comfort in  knowing that the original frame is a solid purchase.

The 2018 model definitely proved its worth on the trail easily handling anything a red graded trail could throw at it.

Comparing components from the 1997 Kona to the 2018. Having suspension and disc brakes is a massive plus! The SR Suntour steel coiled suspension fork and hydraulic disc brakes made riding a lot more confidence inspiring. The new Lava Dome really is a great bit of kit for the money.

Kona have got the basics right on the 2018 frame geometry and the cockpit is pretty dialled for a bike of this price range.

cheaper than the 1997 model! And its got forks!

It ended up being a great day. Laughs were definitely had and not once did the 2018 599 Hardtail feel incompetent on our red graded trail. .

Things have come along way since 1997

The price youve paid for bikes over the years has gone back into design of a next years model. This constant cycle of investment in technology and evolution, means that the bikes of today are miles better than 20 years ago.

The money you spend on a bike today will give future generations (and yourself if your still in one bit) new amazing bicycle technology.

Meaning youre technically investing in yourself.. make sense?

So to answer the question-Why are bikes so expensive these days?

When you buy a bike your not just paying for the metal, rubber and air in the tyres. Your Paying for the time, knowledge and effort that company has put into that bike. Whether it be a 599 Kona Lava Dome or a full spec 10K DH bike.  Your money is being re invested by bicycle manufactures.

So next time that thought pops into your head Think would you rather be riding a rigid bike with crappy brakes, which will eventually end in arthritis. Or would you rather support the progression of our industry, and enjoy disc brakes, suspension, and not be crippled!

My advice is to get out and have fun. If you have the money to get the best bikes, great. If not, there is a huge selection of great cycling brands offering amazing value bikes. That, thanks to modern technology, could realistically ride 85% of trails in the UK.

Check out that time when kids were trying to buy C02 canisters to be used as hippy crack from Alex at The Framed Bicycle Co. CLICK HERE

Interesting article Alex! I bet my arms could handle the 1997 Kona!

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