We talk about ‘bike bling’ a bit here on road.cc, although that’s often about the finishing touches you can make to your daily ride – but here are ten of the most seriously expensive and exclusive machines we’ve come across over the years, and as the saying geos, if you have to ask the price ...
Going back almost a decade to the depths of a global recession in the year road.cc was launched, 2008 saw the launch of Danish company Arumania’s gold plated track bike, costing just €21,000.
If that was a bit too restrained for your tastes, you could also buy a version encrusted with 600 Svarowski crystals.
That model came in at €80,000, and whichever one you opted for, for another €4,000 you’d also get a gold plated rack to hang your new pride and joy on the wall.
One of the sport’s most flamboyant ever riders, Mario Cipollini, also got into the act in 2015 with the launch of the MCipollini RB1000 Luxury Edition at the Like Bike show in Monaco.
With a gold, platinum and diamond head badge and platinum down tube logo, it came with a price tag of £37,000.
The company said: “The result is an elegant and polished piece of art. A bike that is forever."
During his 2009 comeback season with Astana, Lance Armstrong commissioned some of the world’s leading artists to design the paintjobs for bikes he rode for Astana throughout the year.
Auctioned in November 2009 at Sotheby’s in New York, the star of the show was this Damien Hirst creation based on one of the British artist’s staple mediums – real butterfly wings.
The Texan had ridden the bike into Paris on the final day of that year’s Tour de France.
It fetched $500,000 for Armstrong’s LiveStrong charity, that he was later forced to step down from in the wake of his lifetime ban from cycling.
Oh, and take a look at the rims, too.
Diamonds and a Hirst-like design also featured in two of the bikes in the collection of Armstrong’s friend, the comedian Robin Williams, who died in 2014, with his family auctioning 87 of his bikes in October 2016, raising $600,000 for charity.
Among them were a Colnago Master Pista bearing a paintjob that was very reminiscent of one of Hirst’s spot paintings – although in fact it was the result of a collaboration between Toronto bike shop, La Carrera and graffiti artist Futura 2000.
Also in the online auction was a limited edition Discovery Channel Trek Madone that was a replica of the one ridden by Lance Armstrong on the Champs-Elysees as he won his seventh Tour de France in 2005, complete with a head badge “embellished with diamonds.”
Armstrong had been stripped of his Tour de France victories by the time Williams’ bike came to auction, but the diamonds remained in place.
Remember the gold-plated Brompton that cycle insurer the Environmental Transport Association showcased at the London Bike Show in 2009, with a competition to give it away?
The bike was later sold on eBay with a ‘Buy It Now’ price of £1,999 and this update from the insurer in 2015 noted that its subsequent owners had made their own tweaks to the design.
As we noted at the time, the bike “folds down into a discreet bag the size of a small suitcase, and so is useful for stowing away in the boot of a Bentley or in the overhead locker of a private jet.”
Of course, expensive bikes don’t have to be one-off designs aimed at grabbing attention – it’s pretty easy to run up the meter when adding custom components to a frameset you’ve bought.
We put that to the test back in 2009 when we challenged readers to build the world’s most expensive bike based on the £6,399 Litespeed Blade.
Take a look at the comments below the article to see how they got on – it wasn’t as easy as you might think.
Finally, here’s a couple of bikes from French luxury goods houses that we didn’t feature on road.cc but can’t escape mention in this article.
First up, the £8,320 Flâneur from leather goods firm Hermès.
Now, the Oxford English Dictionary defines as ‘flâneur’ as a man who saunters around observing society.
Let’s face it, with a chunk of that eight grand going on the bullhide finishing touches, purchasers would probably prefer to push the bike to their Rive Gauche café du choix, rather than ride it and risk ruining it.
Still, if your passion is for riding something with four hooves rather than two wheels, an equestrian saddle from the Paris-based brand can easily cost upwards of £5,000 … and the horse costs extra.
Which leads us on nicely to the sport of bike polo – and Louis Vuitton’s rather singular contribution thereto, designed by none other than Philippe Starck.
Brace yourselves before watching this rather one-of-a-kind video.
There’s background on the bike, a collaboration between Vuitton and Intersection Magazine, in English here.
Set aside any prejudices you may have about the brand and just look at the attention to detail and the nods to classic Vuitton designs and shapes, found on the bar-end plugs, the chainring, the polo mallet and elsewhere. This is a bit more than your standard luxury goods house’s take on a bike.
And finally ... here's the bike we spotted last week that made us think of putting this list together in the first place - the copper-plated, python skinned Wheelmen bike from Detroit-based Williamson goods.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.