Wild ride … Urban Cycles' Craig Klement with a $17,000 gold-coloured Colnago C59 Ottanta. Photo: Domino Postiglione
You can buy a perfectly reasonable bicycle for a few hundred dollars or, as is increasingly the case these days, you can buy one that is worth more than an economy-sized car.
A good starting point - for those who take their cycling seriously - is $10,000, although there are some who will happily pay $20,000 for a bespoke bicycle fitted with a range of accessories that may push the total closer to $30,000.
Parlee cycles, made in Massachusetts, are distributed here by the Cycling Edge store in Coventry Street, South Melbourne. These are regarded as the most expensive available in Australia, the human-powered equivalents to a Bugatti Veyron or Pagani Zonda.
You start, as with a suit, with a detailed analysis of your body (bio-mechanics is the buzzword) including any injuries that affect your riding technique. A one-off carbon-fibre frame is then built in Boston.
Then your personal choice in cycle technology is added. This includes push-button electronic gearing (the equivalent of the semi-automatic gearboxes now fitted to cars), carbon-fibre wheels and disc brakes. The total package weighs slightly less than five kilograms.
You can impress your friends by picking up the bike with your little finger. A joke is that the heaviest part of these bikes is the water bottle.
The road cycling scene has exploded in the past five years, replacing golf as the executive elite sport. One bike shop owner suggests that the early-morning cycle group, followed by the mandatory coffee, is where the majority of business networking is done these days. Entry into this exclusive world involves having a bicycle worthy of inclusion.
''In the cycling community there are certain bikes that have a status to them; they just perform really well,'' the managing director of the Urban Cyclist in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery, Craig Klement, says. He's referring specifically to the gold-coloured Colnago C59 Ottanta he has hanging on the wall. Its price tag is $17,000 and there are a number of semi-serious offers. Released in February this year, this bike is one of only 80 produced in the world to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ernesto Colnago, a figure who is to cycling what Enzo Ferrari is to motorsport.
Like the Parlee, the Colnago C59 is made of carbon-fibre and features electronic gearing - in this case the Campagnolo Super Record EPS group set. Only 17 have been allocated to Australia and Klement has another one on the way, made to fit the bio-mechanics of a prospective buyer.
Chances are it will be seen doing hot laps of Centennial Park but Klement says he wouldn't be surprised if some of the 80 are never ridden but kept as an investment in a climate-controlled garage. Mounting them on a wall is another option. This is technology as fine art. ''They will accrue in value to the collector,'' he says. Bicycles at this level are almost too valuable to ride.
Most riders start with something cheaper then work their way up the price range as their skill and fitness level increases. Trek, Giant and Cervelo all make entry level carbon-fibre bikes retailing from $1500 to $4000, depending on the apps. The next level includes more sophisticated models such as the Giant TCR with RideSense integrated computer sensor (worth about $8000 as a package) or the Trek Madone 6.9 (the exclusive Spartacus edition sells for about $11,500). Both of these should get you a seat at the cafe table reserved for chief executives.