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From kids riding around the neighborhood to adults looking for an affordable way to get to work, the bicycle has long been one of the most humble forms of personal transportation. Today, riding a bike is no longer solely a cost-cutting measure, as the rise of cycling as a sport or as part of a fitness program ― along with environmental concerns ― has generated a new market for top-shelf luxury bicycles.
If you enjoy bicycles for any reason, there are now plenty of ways to inject a bit of extravagance into your ride. Several manufacturers produce bikes marketed toward deep-pocketed customers, and with that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to the three most expensive rides you can buy. These aren’t the simple ten-speeds your ancestors rode! Rather, these bikes allow you to ride in comfort and style never before seen in the cycling world.
Auramania Gold Bike Crystal Edition
Auramania’s top-of-the-line Gold Bike Crystal Edition debuted in 2008, and more than a decade later, it remains one of the most sought-after luxury bicycles in the world. After all, is there any better way to develop a premium product than covering it in gold?
The handmade Crystal Edition is indeed plated with 24-karat gold, and it also includes hand delivery by a courier wearing white gloves, but that’s just the tip of the gold-plated iceberg when discussing the pure opulence of this bicycle. In addition to all that gold, each one of these bikes boasts over 600 genuine Swarovski crystals (hence the name Crystal Edition), chocolate brown leather handlebar grips sewed by hand, and a molded leather seat produced by Brooks England.
This incredible bicycle can be yours for US$ 103,700, which includes a comprehensive ten-year warranty. The biggest issue might be finding one for sale, as Auramania has only produced ten of these premium rides over the years.
Trek Madone Yoshitomo Nara
This bike was produced in 2009 as part of a Sotheby’s auction, with proceeds going to the Livestrong organization. The main selling point is the artwork by world-renowned cartoonist Yoshitomo Nara, whose depictions of eerie and foreboding children have gained him significant acclaim, including exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art. But why would you go to a museum when you can ride around town on your very own bicycle, covered in priceless drawings by one of the world’s most beloved producers of pop art?
The fashionable Trek Madone Yoshitomo Nara is not a style-over-substance bicycle though, as the Madone is the same model used by Lance Armstrong in time trials, and the entire frame was produced using lightweight carbon fiber. This bike went for US$ 200,000 at the Sotheby’s auction ten years ago, although it stands to reason that it would likely fetch a significantly higher price if resold today.
Butterfly Trek Madone
The most expensive bike ever sold carries plenty of controversy with it, as its frame is adorned with wings removed from dozens of real butterflies. It’s probably no surprise that animal rights activists had their fair share of complaints about the Butterfly Madone.
Ethics aside, this is not just a beautiful bicycle, but Lance Armstrong himself rode it in the 2009 Tour de France. Sold at the same Sotheby’s auction as the Madone Yoshitomo Nara, this Trek bike fetched an astounding US$ 500,000. To this day, it remains the most expensive bicycle ever sold. Even standard Trek Madone bikes with no customization start at US$ 4,699.99 and retail for as much as US$ 12,499.99, which makes the high price point for this race-used work of art a bit more understandable.
Like the Yoshitomo Nara model, there is only one of the Butterfly Madone rides in the entire world, and we have a sneaking suspicion that it would cost you more to get your hands on it than the US$ 500,000 it originally sold for. ■