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Old 09-27-09, 08:39 AM   #1
ak08820
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Bike Quality Myth

I am working on a couple of (actually 3, now) salvaged/purchased bikes and would like to tell about what I found.
Bike #1 was a GT Windstream comfort bike. I assume it was a bike store bike.
Bike #2 was a Religh M20 ladies MTB. I assume it was a bike store bike.
Bike #3 was a Magna Glacier Point MTB. I assume it was a dept store bike.

Both the #1 and #2 had Shimano crankset with integrated 3 speed chain rings. By integrated I mean they were a single unit of spot welded chain rings, connected to the center of the right hand crank arm in a somewhat rivet rike fashion (multi toothed). The disadvantage of this system is that it does not have the 5 armed spider that one finds on brand name crank sets that affords interchangeability of chain rings. Also, in both cases (#1 and #2) the bikes did not appear to be used much, but the chainrings were missing several teeth. The material of the rings is apparently just plain stamped mild steel.

Now, bike #3 had a one piece American style crank arm and a 2 chain ring unit which is riveted together. Also, the one piece crank connects the chain ring unit in the usual place which is at one pint away from the center. I think this provides more leverage than the center driven mechanism in #1 and #2. The chain rings are also made of better material and are in much better shape, quite reusable. Other parts on this bike were of much inferior quality, e.g. the shifters were plastic and caliper brakes were stamped steel. But the bike probably cost 3 times less than #1 or #2.

So, my observation is that one needs be aware of the fact that LBS bikes also have low quality components, especially the crank set with non replaceable chain rings. When one ventures to buy a low end bike at a bike shop, one needs to make sure that the chain rings are attached to the crank arm by a spider and a set of bolts to insure that one gets good quality chain rings.

I also looked a magnified picture of a Trek 7.2FX bike, as it was advt on CL here, and found the same offending crank set on a bike that would cost $350+ in a LBS. I think Shimano should be asahmed of producing this crap. I would prefer a no name one piece crank to their so called SIS crank set, with a plastic chain guard ring hiding the poor quality chain rings.
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Old 09-27-09, 09:09 AM   #2
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Also, in both cases (#1 and #2) the bikes did not appear to be used much, but the chainrings were missing several teeth.
This is a common mistake when looking at chainrings that have the teeth formed in a manner that facilitates shifting. The chopped down teeth are designed that way to allow the chain to quickly and easily jump on and off the chainring during shifting.

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The material of the rings is apparently just plain stamped mild steel.
As opposed to what better material? Cheaper bikes come with riveted cranksets with steel rings because they are much cheaper to manufacturer and steel rings will typically outlast most other components on the bike. The aluminum chainrings that come on higher end bikes might be lighter, but they need to replaceable based on the fact that they will wear out much quicker than an equivalent steel chainring.

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Also, the one piece crank connects the chain ring unit in the usual place which is at one pint away from the center. I think this provides more leverage than the center driven mechanism in #1 and #2.
I've never heard of anyone breaking their riveted chainring crank at the point where the chainring cluster attaches to the crankarm. While your gut may think this design is inferior, it's proven to be adequate on many, many bikes.
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Old 09-27-09, 09:31 AM   #3
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quality vs. ease of production
profit margin vs. price point

all those crap cranks, you're thinking of it wrong, they don't need replaceable rings. You replace the whole crank set when it wears out.
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Old 09-27-09, 09:46 AM   #4
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This is a common mistake when looking at chain rings that have the teeth formed in a manner that facilitates shifting. The chopped down teeth are designed that way to allow the chain to quickly and easily jump on and off the chain ring during shifting.
I beg to differ about this. I was referring to the damaged teeth e.g.

You can see the badly worn teeth and split chain ring. I don't have a pic of the other ring, but it actually has missing teeth. I don't believe those are for easier shifting.

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As opposed to what better material? Cheaper bikes come with riveted cranksets with steel rings because they are much cheaper to manufacturer and steel rings will typically outlast most other components on the bike. The aluminum chainrings that come on higher end bikes might be lighter, but they need to replaceable based on the fact that they will wear out much quicker than an equivalent steel chainring.
Exactly, and I was pointing out that the LBS bikes, too have integrated steel rings, just like (or worse than) the DS (Dept Store) bikes, instead of the expected better quality interchangeable rings.
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Old 09-27-09, 09:48 AM   #5
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So in other words you took 3 crap bikes and decided to complain about their components. Good job. Lets also correct some mistakes in my next post.
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Old 09-27-09, 09:59 AM   #6
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that would cost $350+ in a LBS. I think Shimano should be asahmed of producing this crap. I would prefer a no name one piece crank to their so called SIS crank set, with a plastic chain guard ring hiding the poor quality chain rings.
You make that sound like it's a lot of money. I paid more than that for my crankset and chainring alone, and you're talking about an entire bike.

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So, my observation is that one needs be aware of the fact that LBS bikes also have low quality components, especially the crank set with non replaceable chain rings. When one ventures to buy a low end bike at a bike shop, one needs to make sure that the chain rings are attached to the crank arm by a spider and a set of bolts to insure that one gets good quality chain rings.

I also looked a magnified picture of a Trek 7.2FX bike, as it was advt on CL here, and found the same offending crank set on a bike
That crankset is perfect for the target demographic. No chainring bolts to fall out and they're steel so they last much longer than aluminum chainrings. The people who ride those types of bikes generally don't give a **** about replaceable chainrings. Please stop posting ignorance.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:05 AM   #7
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I beg to differ about this. I was referring to the damaged teeth e.g.

You can see the badly worn teeth and split chain ring. I don't have a pic of the other ring, but it actually has missing teeth. I don't believe those are for easier shifting.
Nonetheless, that's exactly what they are for. Yes, they look broken, but they're meant to be that way.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:07 AM   #8
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I guess it is a myth in some respects, as you frequently hear the advice to get a bike store bike. If someone asks me what bike to get, I say spend at least $500 if buying new, preferably more. But, that GT is entry level with a MSRP of $275. Magna likely had MSRP of $180. Not quite 3x cheaper. I'd wager that the GT was just as likely to have been purchased at a sporting goods store as a LBS.

Replacing the GTs crankset would run you about $30. Replacing chainrings on a nicer crankset would run you $30. What's your complaint?

The Magna crankset isn't any better than the GT's, more like equally crappy, but in different ways.

Shimano's not ashamed about outfitting the entire spectrum of bike pricepoints. I see PLENTY of Shimano bits hanging off bikes at Target and Walmart.

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Old 09-27-09, 10:14 AM   #9
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Nonetheless, that's exactly what they are for. Yes, they look broken, but they're meant to be that way.
+1

have a early 90s Specialized Rockhopper with stamped, riveted chain ring crankset and it looks the same (albeit w/smaller number of teeth and chain rings)

shifts smoothly and quietly!
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Old 09-27-09, 10:15 AM   #10
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You can see the badly worn teeth and split chain ring. I don't have a pic of the other ring, but it actually has missing teeth. I don't believe those are for easier shifting.
Is that a result of the manufacturing or a result of misuse?
I've seen somebody trash a $60 front derailer. Does that mean that expensive stuff is crap too? A $350 bicycle can't be built like a $1000 one.

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Old 09-27-09, 10:19 AM   #11
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When I bought my first bike I went in to my LBS with no knowledge of bikes or components, but after buying a $350 bike and learning the hard way that it was equipped with low end components I made some upgrades in the areas that needed it. I was not upset with Trek for having produced a cheap bike because I bought a cheap bike, and while it is true that I could have walked into a department store and bought a cheaper bike with the same crankset, the rest of the bike would have been garbage and would have fallen apart my now.

Do you think that a car manufacturer uses all the same components in their $10,000 car as their $50,000 car?
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Old 09-27-09, 10:31 AM   #12
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What the OP fails to understand is that the very bottom of the LBS bike range is still somewhat above the very top of Department store bike range. Also, the LBS is far more likely to assemble and adjust the bike properly.

Go to Target or Wal-Mart and ask the sales person in the bike department about recommended seat height and then do the same at a bike shop. Let me know who gives the more useful information.

I've worked on low end bike shop bikes and tried to work on DS bikes. The differences are clearly apparent.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:48 AM   #13
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Yes people mistake shifting aids as damaged teeth all the time but if someone includes a photo at least look at it first. That crack is not supposed to be there.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:53 AM   #14
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Yes people mistake shifting aids as damaged teeth all the time but if someone includes a photo at least look at it first. That crack is not supposed to be there.
It's not a crack. I have a brand new low-end Shimano crank with the same "crack" in the chainring. It's a stamped-in shifting aid.

That photo was not present when I first replied but my reply wouldn't have been any different if it was.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:58 AM   #15
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Exactly, and I was pointing out that the LBS bikes, too have integrated steel rings, just like (or worse than) the DS (Dept Store) bikes, instead of the expected better quality interchangeable rings.
"Better quality" depends on who you ask. Those stamped steel rings are cheaper to replace (yes, you replace the whole crankset but it can be had for less than the cost of a single aluminum ring) and last longer than aluminum rings. I've also found that they shift just fine considering the bikes they come on. The only thing left is weight. The average consumer wouldn't know the difference between steel and aluminum anyway so it's a non-issue to them. Your expectation for replaceable chainrings on the lowest end of bike store bikes is not realistic.
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Old 09-27-09, 11:08 AM   #16
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It's not a crack. I have a brand new low-end Shimano crank with the same "crack" in the chainring. It's a stamped-in shifting aid.

That photo was not present when I first replied but my reply wouldn't have been any different if it was.
My wife's Shimano equipped bike is exactly the same way. I know that looks like hell... but it shifts quite smoothly.


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Old 09-27-09, 02:01 PM   #17
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Yes people mistake shifting aids as damaged teeth all the time but if someone includes a photo at least look at it first. That crack is not supposed to be there.
The amount of wrong posted on this forum really makes me sad sometimes.
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Old 09-27-09, 03:12 PM   #18
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I think the myth here is even if a cheap bike is bought at a bike shop, it will likely have low end components. Cheap is cheap. But you are not going to get any advise, any after sale service, or whatever, at your favorite department store. So if you are fine with the lack of advice, a used higher end bike can usually be found on Craigs List, for the same or less than Walmart's finest.
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Old 09-27-09, 03:13 PM   #19
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I think the myth here is even if a cheap bike is bought at a bike shop, it will likely have low end components. Cheap is cheap. But you are not going to get any advise, any after sale service, or whatever, at your favorite department store. So if you are fine with the lack of advice, a used higher end bike can usually be found on Craigs List, for the same or less than Walmart's finest.
The only difference between a low end LBS bike and the dept store bike is hopefully that the former was actually properly assembled. That is what you're paying for (again hopefully).
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Old 09-27-09, 03:24 PM   #20
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Keep it up

I am glad to see you are figuring your way through the quagmire of stuff out there. Keep an open mind as you trial and error your way through the learning process you are undergoing and learn as much you can as tinker with these entry level products.

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Old 09-27-09, 03:41 PM   #21
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I am glad to see you are figuring your way through the quagmire of stuff out there. Keep an open mind as you trial and error your way through the learning process you are undergoing and learn as much you can as tinker with these entry level products.

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Old 09-27-09, 03:52 PM   #22
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There is also a range of quality of the welded steel chain ring crank sets. I have an older Raleigh M60 mountain bike with Alivio crank/rings on it and they have been plugging along with out complaint for over 3000 miles for me. They look cheap compared to better crank sets, but they seem to get the job done.

Now the crank set in the picture looks a few steps down from my Alivio.
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Old 09-27-09, 04:04 PM   #23
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There is also a range of quality of the welded steel chain ring crank sets. I have an older Raleigh M60 mountain bike with Alivio crank/rings on it and they have been plugging along with out complaint for over 3000 miles for me. They look cheap compared to better crank sets, but they seem to get the job done.

Now the crank set in the picture looks a few steps down from my Alivio.
That crankset retails for $20-$30. I spend more than that on beer a day.
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Old 09-27-09, 05:20 PM   #24
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Yes people mistake shifting aids as damaged teeth all the time but if someone includes a photo at least look at it first. That crack is not supposed to be there.

If you look a the photo of the entire chainring set again, you'll see an identical "crack" 180 degrees out from the first one.
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Old 09-27-09, 06:31 PM   #25
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It's not a crack. I have a brand new low-end Shimano crank with the same "crack" in the chainring. It's a stamped-in shifting aid.
Reminds me that old 'it's not a bug, it is a feature' line.

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