News & Politics

The Absurdly Low Price of Lance’s Recovered Bike

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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.”