If someone wants to go hard-core mountain biking do they need to spend $2500? No, but they probably need to spend $5-600 minimum if they are shopping a new bike that they hope will hold up (less used). $1000 or $1500 is even better. If you are pedaling to the store for a paper and coming back, don't spend the money.
Don't get me wrong, I have had my doors blown off by people paddling and pedaling virtual junk. You really can't buy "fast" in people-powered machines like you can with cars. The answer to speed, at it's most rudimentary human level, is in the limbs, lungs and head more than the frame or hull.
On the other hand...having the mechanical and design advantages inherent to good equipment doesn't suck. And, of course, the pride of ownership counts for something. So I ask myself, am I a bike snob or a boat snob? Yes and no. I really try not to judge anyone else's choices and firmly believe that the only measure of performance is the fun quotient. The challenge is that I have the most fun with shiny, techy, performance equipment. I just love when something works right and I believe that most people will have more fun with their outdoor equipment if they don't under-buy and get something that works right. Nothing worse than getting hyped up about a purchase only to find out later that it doesn't do what you want it to do.
Ok, so I am a little snobby, but awareness is the first step to recovery.