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  1. #1
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    How do you define a "real" bicycle? (not a Bicycle Shaped Object)

    I mean at what cost or quality level does a bicycle go from being a BSO to a "real" bicycle?

    Looking at Shimano (for mountain bike or hybrid), you have these quality levels:
    Deore XTR
    Deore XT
    Deore SLX or LX
    Deore
    Alivio
    Acera
    Altus
    Tourney

    I did read messages claiming Acera and 2300 shifted well enough and other messages stating the jump from Alivio to Deore or Sora to Tiagra is a significant one. But, do you need to buy Deore/Tiagra to have a real bike?

    Or is it a certain cost? Some bicycles have Acera front and rear derailleurs for $400 with V-brakes and rigid forks. But, other bicycles with Acera with disc brakes and suspension forks can sell for $600. So, where do you draw the line?

    Or, is it more specific things like whether a bike has a threadless headset and cassette instead of a threaded headset and freewheel?
    Feeling Good by David Burns

  2. #2
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    A $20 bike is a bike, it's just not a good bike.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    I know but this is BF.

  3. #3
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    Wow, excellent question. I suppose the answer will vary quite a bit but I'm tempeted to use the definition of a "real bicycle" that Supreme Court Justice Potter Steward used for pornography; "I can't define it but I know it when I see it".

    Objectively, I tend to consider that real bicycles come with Acera or above for MTB's and Sora or above for road bikes. The frame is also a factor. For example. forks with the dropouts made by just flattening the blade ends and slotting them are a disqualifier. It will be interesting to see other poster's thoughts.

  4. #4
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Columbus CroMor or better tubing and Campi Triomphe or better components. otherwise you may as well walk


    OH Yeah it should be Celeste tooo
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  5. #5
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    I've seen $7000 BSO's with Super Record.
    "See, it's not that getting wet is a big deal. Really, it's what you're getting wet with.
    Fenders....because it's probably urine."
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  6. #6
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    A bicycle is a bicycle. I really don't like the term, BSO. There are good bicycles and bad bicycles and terrible bicycles. They are all, however, bicycles.
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
    A bicycle is a bicycle. I really don't like the term, BSO. There are good bicycles and bad bicycles and terrible bicycles. They are all, however, bicycles.
    Semantically you are correct but the real point of this discussion is how do you tell the good, the bad and the terrible apart before you pay your money.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Objectively, I tend to consider that real bicycles come with Acera or above for MTB's and Sora or above for road bikes. The frame is also a factor. For example. forks with the dropouts made by just flattening the blade ends and slotting them are a disqualifier.
    So this $350 titanium fork disqualifies the Brompton ;-)

    Edit: oops, here is the link http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/brompton-...kti-prod13508/
    Last edited by kamtsa; 10-13-11 at 10:35 PM.
    Happier than a camel on wednesday.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Semantically you are correct but the real point of this discussion is how do you tell the good, the bad and the terrible apart before you pay your money.
    That'd be difficult. Probably a bike equipped with no name brand stuff would be terrible. There was a bike that came into the co-op with a rear dérailleur marked "Shinango"... I kid you not. That's a terrible bike.

    Even my wife's sister's bike (Diamondback Serene) sitting in the garage equipped with Shimano Tourney stuff shifts fine. I'd consider it a decent bike.
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  10. #10
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    I look at cost of repair(at lbs) vs cost of purchase(at store). The sooner the cost of a repair begins to approach a significant part of the purchase price, the more likely it is that it's a BSO.
    A "rea"l bike should make financial sense to repair, beyond flats and brake/derailer tuning.
    Take a department/web store bike for 100-something USD, not really a lot of repairs that you can reasonably have done on one of those.
    Heck, even the cost of having tubes+tires replaced can easily be 1/3-1/2 the cost of purchase.
    Or let's say that the crummy sus fork begins to squeal intolerably, and you can't stand to wait until it's rusted solid.
    Even with the cheapest noname replacement fork Ebay have to offer, with work, you're still looking at half the purchase price or more to have it replaced.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
    There was a bike that came into the co-op with a rear dérailleur marked "Shinango"... I kid you not. That's a terrible bike.
    Awesome.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    A certain level of brand-snobbery comes into it I think. That aside, if the machine fulfils its function as a bicycle fairly reliably, it's a bicycle. If not, it's a BSO.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  13. #13
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    You forgot Dura Ace

    What constitutes a "real" bike? IMHO a "real" bike is any bike that is safe and well enough designed and constructed to perform the job it was intended/promoted to do. My daugher has a basic 26" trail/commuter style bike with Altus crank, shifters and derailleurs, no-name v-brakes, and entry level Shimano brake levers. The bike was designed and sold to be reliable transportation at a low cost. With proper maintenance the bike has served her well with no cost other than normal maintenance (ie, no parts replacement due to premature failure).

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dabac View Post
    I look at cost of repair(at lbs) vs cost of purchase(at store). The sooner the cost of a repair begins to approach a significant part of the purchase price, the more likely it is that it's a BSO.
    A "rea"l bike should make financial sense to repair, beyond flats and brake/derailer tuning.
    Take a department/web store bike for 100-something USD, not really a lot of repairs that you can reasonably have done on one of those.
    Heck, even the cost of having tubes+tires replaced can easily be 1/3-1/2 the cost of purchase.
    Or let's say that the crummy sus fork begins to squeal intolerably, and you can't stand to wait until it's rusted solid.
    Even with the cheapest noname replacement fork Ebay have to offer, with work, you're still looking at half the purchase price or more to have it replaced.
    Not a good rule of thumb.

    If you pay $3000 for a bike, and it requires tube and tire replacement (Hypothetical situation), and you put $100 in the bike for repairs; thus far, the total cost of the bike if $3100.

    If you pay $100 for a bike, and it requires the same; thus far the total cost of the bike is $200.

    You are still ahead with the purported "BSO". It's like saying you shouldn't do a $1000 dollar repair to a $500 dollar car; and instead buy a new car for $5000. It makes no sense.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    You forgot Dura Ace

    What constitutes a "real" bike? IMHO a "real" bike is any bike that is safe and well enough designed and constructed to perform the job it was intended/promoted to do. My daugher has a basic 26" trail/commuter style bike with Altus crank, shifters and derailleurs, no-name v-brakes, and entry level Shimano brake levers. The bike was designed and sold to be reliable transportation at a low cost. With proper maintenance the bike has served her well with no cost other than normal maintenance (ie, no parts replacement due to premature failure).
    ^^^This

    With the additional requirement of "Fits your needs". Makes no sense to spend $1000 on a road bike, when you really need a commuter.

    PS PM me the name/brand of the daughter's bike, if you don't mind.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
    You are still ahead with the purported "BSO". It's like saying you shouldn't do a $1000 dollar repair to a $500 dollar car; and instead buy a new car for $5000. It makes no sense.
    I don't agree with Dabac's method of determining a "real bike" but I don't think he's saying what you think he is. Using your analogy, dabac is saying that you shouldn't do a $1000 repair on a $500 car when you can just buy another fully functional $500 car to replace it. When a new department store bike costs as much as a repair it starts to make a lot of sense.

    In my experience the leading example of BSOs are department store kids bikes. Those things are death traps in as-sold condition and at best will only lead to the kid seeing cycling as being no better than walking. When my family asks me about buying a bike for their kid I now suggest they let me pick out a used bike for them rather than waste their money on department store trash. Some of the adult department store bikes aren't all that bad as long as you don't go for the "high end" full suspension model.

  17. #17
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    I was rather snarky in my early response so here is my real one.

    as others have said a bike is a bike. if it does what you need to without breaking it is fabulous.

    if you want a real mountain bike for riding in the dirt and mud, over rocks and fallen trees, get a full chromoly frame and fork, and sealed bearings. if your budget is say $500 go to the next bike up at $550 or 600 (trust me I learned that lesson the hard way).

    IMHO full suspension is not really needed unless you do alot of bumpy downhill
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  18. #18
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    If it has 2 wheels, and you can ride it by steering to balance it, it IS a bicycle. A $10,000 bike is no more of a bicycle that the one you buy at the police sale for $2.00. I have problems with snobbery that comes from fully kitted racer boy types that want to dictate what THEY deem to be acceptable to be labled a bike.

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    What's a BSO?

  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    I was rather snarky in my early response so here is my real one.

    as others have said a bike is a bike. if it does what you need to without breaking it is fabulous.

    if you want a real mountain bike for riding in the dirt and mud, over rocks and fallen trees, get a full chromoly frame and fork, and sealed bearings. if your budget is say $500 go to the next bike up at $550 or 600 (trust me I learned that lesson the hard way).

    IMHO full suspension is not really needed unless you do alot of bumpy downhill
    Sorry but if you want a real® mountain bike, get one with a well crafted frame regardless of frame material. That applies to all real® bikes.

    Suspension is more useful than just on downhills too. Front suspension improves control and rear suspension improve climbing. That they add comfort is just a bonus.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
    If you pay $100 for a bike, and it requires the same; thus far the total cost of the bike is $200.
    Except in the real world that $100 bike will require a lot more than a new tire and tube to perform acceptably and reliably.

    Quote Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
    You are still ahead with the purported "BSO". It's like saying you shouldn't do a $1000 dollar repair to a $500 dollar car; and instead buy a new car for $5000. It makes no sense.
    Yes it does because that $500 car is very likely to need several more expensive repairs in the near future and the expression "spending good money after bad" applies.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobn View Post
    What's a BSO?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    I know but this is BF.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Except in the real world that $100 bike will require a lot more than a new tire and tube to perform acceptably and reliably.
    Really? Not been my experience. In fact, before the age of 18, I owned two bikes: Both huffies. Both ridden like all hell. And both required very little maintenance, other than flat repairs.

    Yes it does because that $500 car is very likely to need several more expensive repairs in the near future and the expression "spending good money after bad" applies.
    Just like bikes, cars have very few truly expensive repairs. Engine and transmission about about it. An engine/tranny replacement on a $500 car will most likely come up to about $2500 total. Still less than the $5000 car.

    And, with a $100 bike, you can replace everything but the frame with entry level components, and still only come to about $1000. So, your total cost of ownership is $1100.

    And, don't give me the line "well, everything has to be replaced to make it an acceptable ride", because I know plenty of people riding stock Next bikes, and they look like they're having plenty of fun on it.

    And, yes, you'll have to replace the chain when it wears out on the $100 bike. Guess what? You have to do that on all bikes. Maybe the $100 bike's will come sooner. But, in the end, you'll have more miles on the frame, by the time you have gotten to the cost of an entry level LBS bike.

    Same with all the components. You don't have to replace most out of the box. Out of the box, in order to make is a safe ride, you MIGHT have to replace the brakes. And you most likely have to regrease it, and put it back together. Even with that, if you went to an LBS to do it (Who would work on them), you still will come under what a LBS bike would cost.

    "Spending good money after bad" only applies to lemons, not to otherwise serviceable things.

    This idea that you have to replace is what drives corporations like Wal-Mart to sell disposable objects.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    A bike assembled and backed by a Professional Bike Shop. ..
    with service after the sale.

    a BSO, gets taken out of the box and put on display and is a commodity ,
    like a toaster..
    after the cashier, you are on your own..,

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    I don't agree with Dabac's method of determining a "real bike" but I don't think he's saying what you think he is. Using your analogy, dabac is saying that you shouldn't do a $1000 repair on a $500 car when you can just buy another fully functional $500 car to replace it. When a new department store bike costs as much as a repair it starts to make a lot of sense.
    Pretty much so. Obviously I'm not going to try to nail down any precise proportion, and I'm not even touching "sentimental value". But the bottom line still stands.
    Prices where I'm at may be a bit different, but if I put a department store bike at 100%, the cheapest rear wheel I can buy OTC is 30%. If i had to pay someone to move the cassette, tube & tire over, and to set the brakes for the new rim, I'm easily looking at +50% of the purchase value.
    And a proper bike store wouldn't sell such a basic, noname wheel, so asking them for a package deal on part AND labor wouldn't improve things - rather the opposite.

    Now, keep in mind that even BSOs tend to do OK for casual riding as long as they're new and shiny.

    Unless I'm absolutely strapped for cash, and/or willing to swear blind that the rest of the bike is in pristine condition, I'm quickly reaching the point where getting another BSO makes more sense than repairing the old. Do I need to replace the cables any time soon? That'd be another 20% if the lbs do it. Brake pads? About the same. Assuming one more "repair" in the foreseeable future, buying a new bike is maybe 20% more. But that gives me a brand new bike, all clean and shiny. It's a pretty good bet that it would offer more value for money.

    And don't be too literal about "real" bikes. I'm mainly trying to fight the mathematics.
    Most people expect some proportionality between initial purchase and cost of repairs, having to tell them that whatever they need done will be a significant fraction of the initial cost tend not to sit very well.
    And that's just the first repair. If they get any kind of mileage in the bike will soon need more TLC, and then you're back to square one again. It's just bad use of money. Every repair will pretty much also mean an upgrade, and we all know how that story ends when it comes to adding up the sums.
    There's been a few department store bikes sold over here that were so poorly made that they were outright dangerous to ride - at any level. They eventually triggered warnings, recalls and whatnot. Obviously it's in everybodys best interest to avoid those.
    Then I've seen one that was bought by a MTB club with the explicit purpose of testing it to destruction. They had all kinds of troubles, dropouts getting warped, bent brake arms, bent chain rings, bars pointing every which way after a drop etc.
    For more normal use, that bike would have been entirely acceptable. Heavy, clunky, sluggish. But not dangerous and more fun than walking.
    The bike I ride the most, my commuter, is definitely an inexpensive bike by most regular rider's standards. But it's still good enough that a new fork is an acceptable fraction of its value.

    I'm really not trying to be a snob about it. But if you're going to use a bike enough for it to require more than token maintenance, it sure is easier if it's worth it.

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