The Absurdly Low Price of Lance's Recovered Bike

The New York Post this morning -- and others, including the Associated Press -- are reporting that Lance Armstrong's time trial bike, which was stolen after the Tour of California prologue in Sacramento, was recovered when a man, not the thief, turned it in to Sacto cops.

The bike, the story says, was worth about $10,000.

No doubt, sedentary Post readers saw that and rolled their eyes, wondering why anyone would pay that much for a bicycle.

And they're right. That number is nuts.

Lance's time trial bike is worth WAY more than that.

I mean, you can walk into several bike stores in Manhattan and see bikes with price tags nearly that high available for your average Wall Street Joe. (Or, well, Joe before he got laid off.)

But a one-of-a-kind "Livestrong" Trek Equinox TTX, made especially for Lance Armstrong? You better add another zero to that sum.

Maybe even two.

Lance is known for being extremely exacting about his equipment. And you can bet that in the months after he announced his comeback to the sport, Trek had several people doing nothing but putting together this bike for him, testing it in a wind tunnel, making adjustments and tweaks up to the last minute. Even the paint job was created with Lance in mind -- with the number "1274" displayed prominently, to represent the number of days that Armstrong spent in retirement after his last Tour de France victory.

The labor costs alone involved in a bike like that must be daunting.

A quick check on-line finds that "most expensive bicycle" returns various citations of a special bike with gold highlights and seven diamonds that the Armstrong Foundation auctioned off for $75,000 in 2005.

But auction price isn't necessarily what a bicycle like Armstrong's Equinox is "worth," particularly to a company like Trek, which after sinking millions into R&D to produce bikes for Armstrong and other top athletes then sells copies of those bikes to ordinary folks -- and pulls in about $600 million a year in sales for its various models.

Of course, the thieves who made off with the bike had no chance to cash in from the famous frame (the wheels, however, may be anonymous enough; the frame was returned without them). But I wonder if they realize what a favor they did to Trek.

It's a cinch that sales of the Equinox TTX -- the version you can buy -- will get a big boost out of all the publicity. And that's what Lance's bike is really "worth."


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