Currently I do earn more than 35k and frankly as a measure of success its like jumping off a curb. Your life must be awful if you think that you can measure succes with your pay check. Particulalry on an MTB forum! I read posts all the time from people who earn less and ride more and i think they are the winners.
I'm not saying my life is a disaster I'm doing the morgage and family thing which is fine. I still get away on holiday loads and do lots of things I love. Just wish I had a bit more energy for bike riding. My last bike cost £800 FS (used but only ridden once used by the previous owner). I love it part form the rear brake
Ironically I'm glad I bought cheap cars and bikes when I culd have afforded something flash. I saved up the money for travel. I drove to Tanzania with some mates in a lorry (£2200 each for 8 months all in). My wife and I did a round the world trip cycling in the US and New Zealand, Treking in Nepal. The idea that I might have stayed at home with a custom frome and a Peaugoet 206 GTI apauls me
I really like the new Orange 5 but by the time I've added all the extra's to the spec list your talking almost £3500 for mountain bike, that's more than my car.
So If you go to a premuim brand, click on the top spec and then click on loads options its expensive. What a surprise. Try doing that when your buying a car, it won't be under £3,500
I think bikes are expensive for 3 reasons
People care about and notice small changes in weight, stiffness damping etc (more so than cars driven on roads)
people love to dream and buy bikes to support their dreams not there riding
Lots of peole can afford to aspire to top of the range. So they see top of the range around them all the time and get to try it
we all free to make our choices. Spend as you fit. Out at Woburn we stopped for my mate on his £200 Giant (and on his first trip off road) he applogised and said he'd fallen off and got his leg pinned under alog and couldn't move, it took hime ages too riggle out, the last guy to arrive was on a top spec Orange ST4 but rather unfit. But if he's happy then let him be happy