Are bikes getting more expensive? – TEST- 2018 Kona Lava Dome VS 1997 Kona Lava Dome

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.
He’s had it with people asking him “Why are bikes so expensive these days?”
So he’s come up  with a nice test to answer that question.
Why are bikes so expensive? – TEST- 2018 Kona Lava Dome VS 1997 Kona Lava Dome
Words by Alex Farmer
Bike Shop- The Framed Bicycle Co in Llanberis, North Wales.

The bike industry isn’t out to get you…. I’ll 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 I’ve chosen to compare the same model 20 years apart.

The 1997 Kona Lava Dome
Kona Lava dome

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 everybody’s 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.
1994 Lava Dome catalogue adjs
I did however a year later buy some Rockshox Indy C’s the more budgeted forks for about £180.  I should’ve bought the Marzzochi’s. Damn it!
So all in all without the upgrade of the handle bars and the DMR V8’s the bike had cost me £779. That was deemed pricey back then! Especially when it was a time when you could’ve bought a house for less than the price of a new Vivaro van.
The cost of the standard Kona Lava Dome was £599.00 in 1997 Going with inflation thats £1065.00 in today’s Money!

The 2018 Kona Lava Dome- RRP -£599

Kona Lava dome 1997 vs 2017
 Amazing eh? The same model at £599. That’s (with inflation) technically £466 cheaper than its 20 year old brother. You’d think Kona must’ve cut some serious corners for a bike like this at that price point?
Well actually no! It’s 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.
Kona Lava dome 1997 vs 2017
Riding the 1997..
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.
Kona Lava dome 1997 vs 2017

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 young’un 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.

Kona Lava dome 1997 vs 2017
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. They’ve 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 it’s 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.
The 2018 Kona Lava Dome is £599.00.
The 1997 was also £599.99 but with inflation it would be £1065.00
So technically the 2018 is £466.00 cheaper than the 1997 model! And it’s got forks!
 Kona Lava dome 1997 vs 2017
Test Conclusion….
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 you’ve 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 you’re 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

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.

So be happy, have fun and don’t be that egotistic plonker that doesn’t say hello on the trails.

Happy trails…

Want to
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