I got my new bicycle last weekend from Perfect Wheels. The total cost for my bicycle was about $3300.
So, what do you get for that kind of money? One part, of course, is the quality of materials and quality of assembly that goes into the bicycle itself. Weight is one consideration. Consider things such as mechanical tolerances, smoothness and reliabilty. Finish quality is another factor. The wheels I have were hand-built and have even tension, which make them less likely to break spokes or warp over time. The bicycle was assembled by an experienced mechanic, not on an assembly line.
The other part of the cost is getting everything fitted precisely for my body size and style of riding. Most every part of a bicycle comes in different sizes. My old bicycle unfortunately does not fit as well, the frame is a little too small, the stem too low, the bars not far enough forward.
Also, all the parts are serviceable or replaceable on my bicycle, even the steel frame. Cheaper bicycles contain integrated headsets which can damage the frame over time. Some components in cheaper bicycles are plastic. Many bicycles are designed to be disposable, much like how electronics and many appliances are: Once one part fails, the entire item can be more cheaply replaced than serviced.
Saturday I spent about 1-2 hours in the store getting everything adjusted and working with Larry on making sure the frame fit me correctly. With a few changes, I was ready to go.
I've been riding my bicycle around the neighborhood since then. During the few nice days I've been out and about, I even went out at night when Hitomi had the car. I've been very concerned about it getting stolen or damaged. (My last bicycle's been beat up quite a lot.) I've had some tough times with the clipless pedals and have fallen a few times, but have found it more efficient and more fun to ride than my old bicycle.
Riding a steel frame certainly feels a lot different than a carbon fiber one. Climbing hills is easier in steel, I've noticed. However, the ride's a bit more bumpy. I feel a lot more connected to the road surface, though, which makes me feel more comfortable at higher speeds.
Today I had a moderate ride from here (Rooselvelt) to Seward Park. I went out at 4PM and came back after 6PM, so I encountered quite a bit of commuter traffic. It was a beautiful day. Plum blossoms were out in the U.W. campus, plants smelled green, the city glowed in the early evening sun. Days like today remind me of why I ride and why I live in Seattle.