I have two relatively good bikes, one road and one mountain, that weren't too expensive, but they are a lot of bike for the money. The road get a lot of use, but the Stumpjumper is kind of collecting dust. The reason being I purchased a new 29er ss which has kind of taken it's place. Now this is a fun bike and it cost me practically nothing. Proof, that you don't have to spend big bucks to get a big bang. The craziest thing however, is that my oldest bike and probably my cheapest bike overall has once again become my favorite bike to ride. The old Specialized "Hardrock". It's been converted to an ss and it is totally rigid now that I have a new fork on it.
Now I don't have what you would call the "Dream Bike". Nor will I probably ever have it because I truly don't think that I could get myself to spend that kind of money. A couple thousand maybe, but three, four, or five + thousand for a bike? In my world that would be totally unrealistic and probably somewhat selfish. After all, that kind of money could get you a nice little trip somewhere and I would much rather spend the money on travel.
Plus, I just think it looks really cool. I've used it for winter riding last year and plan to use it for commuting to school this fall and winter riding again. However, this winter I'll have studded tires.