The cost of mountain bikes can range from less than $1,000 to more than most people owe on their cars. High-end mountain bikes can create some pretty serious sticker shock, with frame, component and wheel upgrades that are representative of the most lightweight, durable and fast bikes available. The most expensive bikes built for use can cost over $10,000. If you're searching for a mountain bike that's a work of art, rather than a machine built to tackle trails, you could be out a whopping $1,000,000.
The frame material of a mountain bike is the first determinant of cost. Carbon fiber tends to push bike price upward, but titanium is the most expensive material available. Unlike carbon, titanium is nearly indestructible, while maintaining comparable weight. It's also as strong as steel without the weight or rust factor. A custom titanium frame could set you back at least $4,000 to $5,000 -- but, it will last a lifetime.
Mountain bike manufacturers occasionally use house-branded components to reduce bike cost, but the most expensive mountain bikes will have high-end groupsets. A top-of-the-line groupset can cost $2,000 or more and will include the chainset, bottom bracket, cassette, chain, front and rear derailleurs, brakes and brake levers. The features that make these groupsets so expensive are their precision, weight and durability. Some manufacturers also offer warranties on their parts, increasing the overall value.
A lightweight and durable mountain bike wheelset is another factor that will give the most expensive mountain bike a five-figure price tag. A clunky wheelset can add extra weight that slows the bike down substantially, but the nature of mountain biking requires that wheelsets also be highly durable. A carbon wheelset provides a moderately-durable, extremely light option, at a price. Expect for a high-end wheelset to set you back another $2,000 to $3,000.
If you're more into marveling at the craftsmanship of a high-end mountain bike, a piece of MTB art may be more your pace. Currently, the most expensive piece, which includes full, 24-karat plating on the entire bike, black diamonds, gold sapphires and a brown alligator leather saddle, can be yours for around $1,000,000. The frame is also custom built to fit rider dimensions, but who are the makers kidding? A $1,000,000 gold and diamond mountain bike is meant to hang on a wall, not corner trails.