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  1. #1
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    Bicycles that only have their looks going for them, a second glance.

    image.jpg

    I have been doing some thinking about low end bicycles with high end looks. Bikes that almost unanimously get condemned as a waste of money on serious bicycle forums such as this one.

    Reading some of the responses on past threads talking about metal grades, cheap parts, slick marketing and the idiot masses that fall prey to such marketing, it makes one wonder if there is a legitimate place for the existence of such vehicles in the bicycle world. The forums would strongly suggest there is never a legitimate reason nor a legitimate purpose for admittedly esthetically attractive but low quality species of bicycle. Many of their critiques and conclusions are accurate when taken in the context of how they are expecting a particular bicycle to be put to use.

    But I would like to question such conclusions within another context and perhaps salvage or reestablish a legitimacy for such bicycles in the eyes of the public. If you are aware of exactly why you want a bike and how you intend to put it to use, there is no reason for such bicycles to be eternally avoided. They have a place.

    By way of an analogy, I've concluded bikes like the esthetically pleasing Sole' (attached picture) and others have a role to play in the bicycle culture despite their hi ten steel frames.

    That analogy is this: inexpensive but attractively designed bicycles with lower grade frames are like the affordable formal wear of bicycle society. Their purpose is largely formal and for presentation and display. But that's about it.

    Like all shoes can perform the basic task of being walked in, not all shoes can be run in or ski'd in or hiked in. If you are wearing dress shoes, as long as you stick to just basic walking in them, you're fine. But the second you decide you are going to use them to hike in, you're moving away from their purpose and capability. So too, all bicycle frames (except the most egregiously made) can be ridden without trouble. But not all bicycle frames can repeatedly get airborne or go off rode or perform tricks.

    Inexpensive but attractively designed bicycles are like an affordable pair of dress boots or an affordable three piece suit. You own them and take them out for formal occasions where appearance matters more at the moment than performance.

    So go ahead and get that Sole' if you like its style. Just make sure you know and are fine with what it can and can't do when you purchase it.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I appreciate pretty but performance-compromised bikes. The rider has to understand what they have. Some are just not fun to ride more than a few miles. These bikes can get relegated to the back of the garage. Here's a picture of three cruisers I've had:

    My Dyno cruiser:[IMG][/IMG]

    And the Schwinn Jaguar:
    [IMG][/IMG]

    My favorite, the Varsity cruiser:

    [IMG][/IMG]

    The Schwinns were practical to ride. Riding them 20-30 miles was no problem. The Dyno was awful. Felt heavy & clunky. Took it for a ride for a few blocks, turned around and sold it. If it was the only bike I'd ever ridden I would have never ridden another.
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  3. #3
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    Well, no matter the quality, as long as the bicycle is of a quality good enough for basic riding (at the least), it's always going to boil down to personal preference. People of different body types will have different experiences on the same bike so it's not sensible to rule out a bike based on personal experience unless there was some catastrophic failure involved with its use. And that's assuming it wasn't ridden beyond its physical capabilities.

  4. #4
    Member wedgeSG's Avatar
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    Merkel, can you elaborate a little as to why you think the Dyno resulted in the way you experienced it? Thanks so much for posting these builds. I'm in the middle of something very similar; and although the costs have already exceeded a new LBS sourced entry-level bike, I'm encouraged to keep building by this. The end result is so unique. It looks as if you are using rear deraileurs only? I'd love any additional info or tips you could share on a project like this. My project got completely outta hand once I saw the frame with 27x1-1/4" wheels and curly handle bars like they use in the TDF. I started with a donated, bent framed bike....and a nearly new advertising give away bike bought at a yard sale for $50. That was the start of the snowballinmoneypitt.
    Last edited by wedgeSG; 08-18-14 at 12:14 AM. Reason: mis-entered info

  5. #5
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    The Dyno would definitely be crap with flat bars. The forward crank design makes that awkward.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  6. #6
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    The Dyno would definitely be crap with flat bars. The forward crank design makes that awkward.
    That was a good part of the problem. The flat bars looked good. The front had a floppy feel to it, and the bike felt heavy and awkward. It was never going to be what I wanted. Might have been the narrow front tire

    I sold the Jaguar and the Varsity. Both buyers rode them around the lot and loved them. They could be ridden like a normal bike. The Jaguar & the Dyno were both 7 speeds from the factory. The Dyno's gearing was way off. It was overgeared. In the picture, it has a double crankset from a Magna that gave me a smaller front sprocket. Worked much better.

    My bikes get ridden on the street and occasionally on offroad shortcuts. They have to work

    Got another Varsity that the previous owner had fitted with a Nexus 4 speed. It's about 3rd on the list of projects. No problem spending money on bikes fer sure
    Pronounced "Murkle"

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    what size front sprocket are you going to use with the 4 speed? i picked one up out of a parts pile but kept hearing the front sprocket had to be really small to get a good gear range, and i didn't have the shifter anyway so i've never done anything with it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Heard the same thing. The previous owner used a 38 tooth. My plan is to gear so that I have 2 low gears, one all around cruising gear, and a tailwind or downhill gear.
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chillspike View Post
    image.jpg

    I have been doing some thinking about low end bicycles with high end looks. Bikes that almost unanimously get condemned as a waste of money on serious bicycle forums such as this one.

    Reading some of the responses on past threads talking about metal grades, cheap parts, slick marketing and the idiot masses that fall prey to such marketing, it makes one wonder if there is a legitimate place for the existence of such vehicles in the bicycle world. The forums would strongly suggest there is never a legitimate reason nor a legitimate purpose for admittedly esthetically attractive but low quality species of bicycle. Many of their critiques and conclusions are accurate when taken in the context of how they are expecting a particular bicycle to be put to use.

    But I would like to question such conclusions within another context and perhaps salvage or reestablish a legitimacy for such bicycles in the eyes of the public. If you are aware of exactly why you want a bike and how you intend to put it to use, there is no reason for such bicycles to be eternally avoided. They have a place.

    By way of an analogy, I've concluded bikes like the esthetically pleasing Sole' (attached picture) and others have a role to play in the bicycle culture despite their hi ten steel frames.

    That analogy is this: inexpensive but attractively designed bicycles with lower grade frames are like the affordable formal wear of bicycle society. Their purpose is largely formal and for presentation and display. But that's about it.

    Like all shoes can perform the basic task of being walked in, not all shoes can be run in or ski'd in or hiked in. If you are wearing dress shoes, as long as you stick to just basic walking in them, you're fine. But the second you decide you are going to use them to hike in, you're moving away from their purpose and capability. So too, all bicycle frames (except the most egregiously made) can be ridden without trouble. But not all bicycle frames can repeatedly get airborne or go off rode or perform tricks.

    Inexpensive but attractively designed bicycles are like an affordable pair of dress boots or an affordable three piece suit. You own them and take them out for formal occasions where appearance matters more at the moment than performance.

    So go ahead and get that Sole' if you like its style. Just make sure you know and are fine with what it can and can't do when you purchase it.

    Thanks for reading.
    There is this guy that has an internet show called Bikeman4u, he has a bike shop in Fla, so someone sends him 2 Sole bicycles in the box for him to put together. He just reams the bikes, calling them cheap junk even going so far as to say they are dangerous cause they only have front brakes. Saying they will hit the front brakes and sail over the handlebars.

    Of course he is wrong, an owner of a bike shop that doesnt understand you can use back pressure on the pedals to act like a back brake, then apply the front brake and not shoot over the handle bars.

    What people dont understand here in the states is, you can ride a bike and not spend 10 grand on it. The bike capitol of the world is Amsterdam, these people are riding bikes as their main transportation, spending a few hundred bucks, riding upright and not wearing helmets. the way bicycles were meant to be.

    So I am a pretty serious bike rider, meaning I ride year round in Michigan do about 100 to 140 miles a week at 61 years old. I used to ride road bikes, then I went to old cruisers , now I am riding nothing but fixed gear bikes. I have 2 relatively cheap ones, a Pure Fix and an SE lager. I am also an amateur bike mechanic having refurbished about 3 hundred bikes in the last 4 years. These so called cheap bikes are not junk as in a Magna or Kent mountain bikes. They are pretty solid bikes from my experience. I am approaching close to 2000 miles on my Pure Fix which I bought slightly used for 160 bucks. Only problem I have had is the rim liners are not sufficient to cover the spoke holes in the rim and sooner or later you will have a flat on both tires. A 25 cent fix that Pure Fix should do, cause that is quite annoying. But for 160 bucks I am not afraid to take a 40 mile round trip ride to Downtown Detroit and back. The bike is solid. I will scrape together some good parts and quality frame and build one of better quality in the future, but for now the bikes I have are great fun. I think for most people they are fine, I bet I am in the top few percent of mileage riders at 120 miles a week. For most people these 300 dollar bikes are more than sufficient.

    It is very condescending, haughty and WRONG to constantly call these bikes junk. A person riding 20 to 100 miles a week does not need a 10,000 dollar bike. A person on vacation in Fla for a few weeks doesnt need a 10,000 dollar bike, thank you very much Bikeman 4 u.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    The Empire forges on... ThimbleSmash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howeeee View Post
    There is this guy that has an internet show called Bikeman4u, he has a bike shop in Fla, so someone sends him 2 Sole bicycles in the box for him to put together. He just reams the bikes, calling them cheap junk even going so far as to say they are dangerous cause they only have front brakes. Saying they will hit the front brakes and sail over the handlebars.

    It is very condescending, haughty and WRONG to constantly call these bikes junk. A person riding 20 to 100 miles a week does not need a 10,000 dollar bike. A person on vacation in Fla for a few weeks doesnt need a 10,000 dollar bike, thank you very much Bikeman 4 u.
    I know this doesn't really add anything relative to this thread but I hate to see someone try to slander another person who is trying to do good work for the cycling community.

    I'm not sure you really caught what BikemanForU(BMFU) is about. First, his shop is in NY not FL. Second, BMFU hardly deals with +$1000 bikes. Sure, every now and then he gets to do a bike check on an expensive bike that a customer brought by but beyond that he mainly deals in budget oriented goods and often helps people achieve mechanical work with little to no expense. If there was a channel on YouTube that was looking after recreational and budget conscious riders it would be his.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThimbleSmash View Post
    I know this doesn't really add anything relative to this thread but I hate to see someone try to slander another person who is trying to do good work for the cycling community.

    I'm not sure you really caught what BikemanForU(BMFU) is about. First, his shop is in NY not FL. Second, BMFU hardly deals with +$1000 bikes. Sure, every now and then he gets to do a bike check on an expensive bike that a customer brought by but beyond that he mainly deals in budget oriented goods and often helps people achieve mechanical work with little to no expense. If there was a channel on YouTube that was looking after recreational and budget conscious riders it would be his.
    You need to look up the meaning of the word slander, then tell me what I said that was a lie about bikeman 4 you. I just pointed out that he was very quick to denigrate the Sole company, before he even had the chance to put the bikes together and ride them. Even to go so far as to say the bikes were dangerous cause they only had one brake. Guess he doesnt know that is standard practice on many fixed gear bikes. You can put back pressure on the peddles so the back wheel is acting like a brake, then put the front brakes on without sailing over the handlebars.

    Bike man for you condemned an entire type of bicycle that has allowed thousands and thousands of people to get into fixed gear biking at a reasonable cost. I dont know how that is good for the cycling community. I dont think he purposely "slandered" Sole, I chalk it up to ignorance rather than bad intention.
    The title of the show was "what not to buy" very unfair to Sole

    This is the Sole story


    Solé Bicycle Company was founded in 2009 by two friends who were fed up with the state of fixed gear bicycles. With a shared determination and vision, we set out to introduce high performance, stylish and affordable fixed gear bicycles to the planet.



    Fast forward four years and we’re still doing what we love — putting our passion for design, simplicity and community into every bicycle we create and working day and night at our Venice, Calif. headquarters to make you fall in love with your daily commute.



    Whether cruising from the office to the beach, the coffee shop to campus, or just taking a lazy Saturday ride with friends, your bicycle is a vital accessory. At Solé, we want to share the blissful experience of riding a high-performance bicycle that leaves you with enough cash left in your pocket for your next adventure. On a Solé, you’re set.
    Last edited by howeeee; 08-25-14 at 12:17 PM.

  12. #12
    The Empire forges on... ThimbleSmash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howeeee View Post
    You need to look up the meaning of the word slander, then tell me what I said that was a lie about bikeman 4 you. I just pointed out that he was very quick to denigrate the Sole company, before he even had the chance to put the bikes together and ride them. Even to go so far as to say the bikes were dangerous cause they only had one brake. Guess he doesnt know that is standard practice on many fixed gear bikes. You can put back pressure on the peddles so the back wheel is acting like a brake, then put the front brakes on without sailing over the handlebars.

    Bike man for you condemned an entire type of bicycle that has allowed thousands and thousands of people to get into fixed gear biking at a reasonable cost. I dont know how that is good for the cycling community. I dont think he purposely "slandered" Sole, I chalk it up to ignorance rather than bad intention.
    The title of the show was "what not to buy" very unfair to Sole

    This is the Sole story


    Solé Bicycle Company was founded in 2009 by two friends who were fed up with the state of fixed gear bicycles. With a shared determination and vision, we set out to introduce high performance, stylish and affordable fixed gear bicycles to the planet.



    Fast forward four years and we’re still doing what we love — putting our passion for design, simplicity and community into every bicycle we create and working day and night at our Venice, Calif. headquarters to make you fall in love with your daily commute.



    Whether cruising from the office to the beach, the coffee shop to campus, or just taking a lazy Saturday ride with friends, your bicycle is a vital accessory. At Solé, we want to share the blissful experience of riding a high-performance bicycle that leaves you with enough cash left in your pocket for your next adventure. On a Solé, you’re set.
    The Sole fixie bikes can be considered dangerous, they appear to come with both freewheel and cog. Anytime your dealing with a bike with a freewheel it is common practice to have both front and rear brake, I only see their bikes equipped with just a front brake. Sure, if you ride it fixed your fine with just the front brake but I'm sure a considerable amount of people are using the freewheel just as much as the cog.

    Yes, he may of been harsh on Sole but from what I saw in the video things on the bike didn't look that impressive when compared to other bikes that are in the same or similar price range. Sure, the bike may work but why not get better quality stuff for the same amount of money if you can.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThimbleSmash View Post
    The Sole fixie bikes can be considered dangerous, they appear to come with both freewheel and cog. Anytime your dealing with a bike with a freewheel it is common practice to have both front and rear brake, I only see their bikes equipped with just a front brake. Sure, if you ride it fixed your fine with just the front brake but I'm sure a considerable amount of people are using the freewheel just as much as the cog.

    Yes, he may of been harsh on Sole but from what I saw in the video things on the bike didn't look that impressive when compared to other bikes that are in the same or similar price range. Sure, the bike may work but why not get better quality stuff for the same amount of money if you can.
    Ok so tell me is better quality at that price range, State, Big Shot, Pure Fix, SE???? They all have about the same quality. I agree the bikes shouldnt come flip flop, with one brake, they should come only fixed. I have an SE that came with 2 brakes,,,I ride fixed only, I really only need one brake.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
    The Empire forges on... ThimbleSmash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howeeee View Post
    Ok so tell me is better quality at that price range, State, Big Shot, Pure Fix, SE???? They all have about the same quality. I agree the bikes shouldnt come flip flop, with one brake, they should come only fixed. I have an SE that came with 2 brakes,,,I ride fixed only, I really only need one brake.
    I would say for the most part all the single speed road bikes on Bikes Direct(Dawes SST,KiloTT,Motobecane Track,etc) would be of same if not better quality and a few are considerably cheaper then Soles $399 fixie bike. However I can't really do a great comparison between components since Sole doesn't list components on their site.
    Last edited by ThimbleSmash; 08-25-14 at 05:51 PM.
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    Sole bikes are piles of trash, and bikeman4u was completely right about them. As he pointed out, they're badly built, badly specced, and overpriced.

    How someone gets near to 700 posts before deciding to defend a fly by night mail order bicycle company I have no idea. What, you think we're going to be convinced otherwise because you copy-pasted their website into your post?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cute Boy Horse View Post
    Sole bikes are piles of trash, and bikeman4u was completely right about them. As he pointed out, they're badly built, badly specced, and overpriced.

    How someone gets near to 700 posts before deciding to defend a fly by night mail order bicycle company I have no idea. What, you think we're going to be convinced otherwise because you copy-pasted their website into your post?
    like most of u critics, no specifics, no facts.the bike is trash, built badly lmao,,what ever that means. If you knew anything about the bike,,you would have specifics, you like most dont have any.

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    The first video they did on it, they pointed out that not only is one of the brakes missing, the manufacturing tolerances are so non-existent that the spoke nipples don't even seat in the rim properly.


    Why are you so intent on defending these bikes? You can get much better for the same money, like the Kilo TT. Hell you could even buy a used road bike with a reynolds 531 frame and swap the back wheel out.

    Bike hasbara you ain't.

    EDIT: oh dear lord they did another one on it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V05EtDwBuPk

    $399 and this time the wheels are even worse. Rim profiled so the spokes are actually wider than the surface their hole was drilled in. That's absolutely terrifying, you're looking at a rim failure in a very short space of time.

    These bikes are neither value for money at their current price, or wise transport if they're free. It's much safer to walk.
    Last edited by Cute Boy Horse; 08-29-14 at 02:08 PM.

  18. #18
    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    To address the OP on a carrier wave: Hi-Ten is a time-honored frame material, and is entirely appropriate for a stylish but low-end bike. Getting away from Sole and into the big market, the cost of decent hubs and pedals with actual bearings in them is IMO the real measure of a manufacturer's intent.

    Flashy paint and thin chrome plating are endemic at the low end of the scale. I'd feel a lot spiffier on something that's built to last. That's why I'm not ever giving up my old bikes.

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    I've put thousands of miles on department store bikes and for the most part they have worked just fine. Sure, they are heavy, often bouncy and assembled by ******** monkeys, but once you reassemble them properly and stop expecting them to compare favorably to $1500 bikes I think they can be a great value. My daughter rides one to school everyday. She's not a bike person and has no interest in being one. So long as it works and gets her there faster than walking she considers it an adequate bike. It's actually better suited to the job than an LBS bike would be. She can lock it up with an $8 cable lock each day and if it happens to get stolen, well, I spent less buying it than I did on my road bikes front tire.

    My own pet peeve with alternative bikes, rat rods and the like are the unrideable bikes. I don't care how cool it might look just sitting there, bikes are meant to be in motion and if you can't hardly ride it it's a stupid bike.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    There's a bunch of local guys who ride their alt bikes and hang out at the beach:

    [IMG][/IMG]

    They are having fun and enjoying life. The bikes are crap for riding more than a few miles. That's not what they're for.

    Another local character has a chopper bike that's about 8 feet long and must weigh 60-70 pounds. He paddles along at a steady 6-7 mph in a state of bliss.

    None of these bikes are for me, but these riders love them
    Pronounced "Murkle"

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    One thing that all those bikes have in common though...they look reasonably comfortable to ride. Nobody there is in some contorted position, has his knees up against his chin or his pedals touching the pavement or is hunched over trying to reach ape hangers that stretch out beyond the front tire.

    I like cool and unusual bikes, but for me they stop being cool if you can't easily ride them.

  22. #22
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    I'm not a bike elitist, I can't afford super expensive bikes, but not all cheap bikes are horible, heavy, well they are metal. People talk about how bad hiten frames are as if it's no stronge than stamped steel 90's beach cruiser fender struts. I've got a Trek 800 sport s/t that has been to the skate park, clipped by a bus, jumped on whatever was in my way, or aimed at, the bike is perfectly fine as long at least one hand is on the bars. I do say sucj a bike shouldn't cost over 200bucks.

    My point is these cheap bikes that looka certain way or are a certain type, aren't trying to be what their not. Other people makes those attempts and claims. Like the GMC Danali, no one is going to TdF this bike, much less a triatholon, like the old 10&15 speeds, it's not a competetive bike- just something to ride. Honestly the only thing I see wrong with it is; its "aero fork," mtb gearing, and cockpit. I love the frame, and think it would make a good urban aassault/street fighter with decent upgraded parts. A Pure Fix ain't a track bike.

    The only thing about these bikes is they aren't always built right, that's where we come in. It's usually compoments that suck versus the frame itself, I don't see anything wrong with that, if I can't afford the bike with 105group, or really like the frameset regardless of where it stands in the bike world
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

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