Barron's The $22,500 Bicycle covers the growing demand for handmade, customized and high end bicycles. The title refers to an expensive custom bike made by bike studio Signature Cycles - and yes, it costs $22,500.
Of course most custom bikes are a lot cheaper than $22,500. Prices in the $5,000 to $7,000 range are common and entry level custom bikes can be found in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.
The demand is coming primarily from aging baby boomers and Gen Xers with disposable income who have discovered biking is a great, low impact way to get exercise that also provides sustainable transportation.
My favorite example from the story is bike frame maker Richard Sachs. Key quote on this artisan maker:
Today’s base price for a Sachs frame, which is all he makes, is $4,400, exclusive of the $400 fee required to put your name on his list. For that privilege, customers wait up to eight years.
The handmade bike industry is large enough that it has its own trade show with hundreds of exhibitors. This year's show had 22 new handmade bike companies that exhibited at the show for the first time. Most of these are very small shops or solo bike artisans.
One of the new exhibitors this year was A*Train Cycles, a one man shop in Minneapolis. One of their bikes is pictured below. Not surprisingly given their location, it's a combo mountain-snow bike.
One of the leading cities for artisan bike manufacturing is Portland. It's the most biking oriented city in the U.S. and home to many artisan bike manufacturers.
But this trend is not limited to the U.S. According to the BBC, handmade and custom bike manufacturing is also growing in the UK.