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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    My blog about getting into cycling (and cheap x-mart bikes!)

    I posted this in the intro forum a few weeks ago, but I decided to make this my own lil blog. Keeping this updated (if i desire) would be the smarter choice.

    So after doing some research into cycling, and reading about the different bikes and components I decided to buy a bike. Then I saw the prices. Damn. $600? $2000? $10,000 custom Trek?

    I'm in college and nearly broke so I decided to buy the bargain dumpster of bikes.....an X-Mart bike. Not being the most discerning of bikers, I promptly went to my local Target and sat on a Schwinn Prelude. Now I already knew these Schwinns were made in China by small children, and I had also read several threads about x-mart bikes. I was convinced I could find some value from the $199 thing, so I whipped it out (credit card, mind you) and bought it.

    Buying a $199 bike doesn't scare me from the mechanical perspective. I have worked on my car and motorcycle and am not shy about taking something apart and putting it back together. I am expecting to do maintenance on the bike.

    Sure enough, I get home; the dreailleurs are off, the brakes are totally mis-aligned, the seat and bars need tweaking. 10 min later all seems well. I even take her for her first proper road ride on Austin's Veloway. 10 miles later my balls and thighs have had enough since I have no bike shorts....yet. FedEX man, where are you?!?!

    The next day I see I have a flat front tire. Great, the $199 bike is striking back! No worries. I pop the tube and see there is a nice hole in it. I patch it, install it, fill it to 90 psi (tire says 100 but I dont trust it)......BANG! Pop the damn thing....again. This time from a different hole!

    I do some critical investigatiuon and conclude it's a combination of an old, crappy tube and an old, crappy tire tape (I didnt even know wtf tire tape was...maybe popping my tire was a good thing!). The tire tape is super thin rubber that has stretched and deformed and even torn through where the holes in the rim are. I figure the tube is popping through those holes and bursting.

    A quick trip to my lbs nets me new cloth tape and 2 new tubes. After installing the new stuff on the front, I install it and ride it to class. No problems so far. On a side note for those in Austin...Performance Cycles on W. Anderson is great...first time to a LBS but I think they'll be getting more of my business.

    So what have we learned about buying an X-mart bike? Change the tire tape and tube pronto!!!

    So now hopefully I have a bike that will run well enough to train on. Train for what, you ask? I'm not sure. I figure I'll ride the hell out of it and simply get in shape. Maybe if I become more comfortable on it I'll join a bike group or something like that. Then maybe race a triathlon or road event. Then I'll do the TdF and take all the jerseys in one stage......

    If anyone has suggestions for a total n00b about cycling, please don't hesitate to drop off your $0.02 I could use some advice.
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  2. #2
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    Nice looking bike, I'd like to see how it holds up.

    A few weeks ago I put my car on Craigslist in the Barter section. "Will trade my car for a good road bike" was the title. My car's got some issues, but there were some really embarassing offers for trades. One of them was a guy who said he'd go to target and let me pick out a brand new Schwinn Prelude and he'd buy it for me in trade for my car. It was a notch above the 1980s Centurions and Schwinn World Sports and all that stuff, but for real...

    I went to Target (Pronounced "tar-ZHAY" ) and checked out the Prelude myself. It doesn't look that bad, but EVERYTHING was assembled poorly. I wouldn't even consider a $200 bike in trade for my car anyways, but the bike had serious issues and appeared to be assembled in a hamfisted fashion. I would have had to disassemble and re-assemble the bike before I'd ride it.

    Hopefully you have all the kinks worked out.

    I know what you mean about bike prices though -- especially with road bikes. Seems like $700 or so is the ground floor for an entry level brand-name road bike at a reputable shop. For $350-$500 you might find a gently used or closeout road bike. The only things you'll find under $200 at a bike shop are entry-level toddler bikes, childrens BMX bikes (well built), used mountain/hybrid bikes and maybe the occasional 80's Ten-Speed.
    ax0n: Geeky and bikey
    My latest tip: Carrying your laptop
    My latest geeky project: Ethernet-testing cuff links

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    I have not been able to ride the bike since replacing the rim tape. I also bought new tubes just to start fresh.

    This is the last week of college for me until I graduate, so it's been hell to say the least. Lots of tests. This weekend I'll be in NYC so I won't have a chance to ride til next week. Really looking forward to riding on a consistent basis.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RiDE's Avatar
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    Hahahaha that's cool. I've been out of the loop I didn't know they sell this now.

    I still wouldn't take a $200 bike to school... it'll probably get stolen the first week.

    Hope you're enjoying the bike.

  5. #5
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    ...It was a notch above the 1980s Centurions and Schwinn World Sports and all that stuff, but for real...

    Hey is this a slur on 80's Centurions? ;o) I just picked up a 1984 Elite RS and it's a sweet little ride...;o)
    Just like the Target Schwinn Prelude, I think an older bike can be another inexpensive alternative to a $500-700 "on sale entry level" bike shop road bike...

    It would be fun to compare the two...

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    Here's an update on my cycling.....

    I've been going to Veloway alot this week. FYI the Veloway is a 3.1 mi paved course in south Austin. Since I have no job I have been trying to go about 4 times a week and do 4 laps....so that's 12.4 miles at a moderate pace.

    Other than having some of the crappiest shifting derailleurs ever....I'm happy with the bike. For $200 I am content adjusting the shifters every other day. Only takes 1 min. No problems with the brakes, tires, tubes or otherwise.

    I am not sure what to do as far as training, so I'm only focusing on riding often and not beating myself up too much. I'd like to start riding on surface streets, and I think I'll ride of the wide shoulders of the freeway that's right next to the Veloway. I see lots of roadies there.

    Will update later on after I get a few more miles on my legs....

  7. #7
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Hey there...

    How's the biking going? I'm very interested in your thoughts after owning the bike awhile.

    Do I recommend the "new" Prelude to friends looking for a budget bike who don't want to buy used?
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  8. #8
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    We LOVE cheap bikes at the LBS where I work. They get folks into the sport that would never spend five hundred bucks on a bike, and keep our stable of mechanics busy. The main problem with Mart bikes: If one thing goes wrong - let's say someone steals your rear wheel (or you trash it in a drain cover or expansion joint) - you might as well trek over to Target and start over with a new bike.

    My first road bike came from a department store in 1974. A Royce Union ten speed with a lugged main triangle, stamped out dropouts, and HEAVY componentry. Cost my dad 85 bucks. I upgraded it over the 15 years that I had it and used it for school, commuting to work, and even some bike touring.

    That was then, this is now. The Mart bikes will most likely make you hate biking. I will follow this thread with interest for the next few weeks. I hope it works out.

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