I'm a recycle fanatic that hates any kind of waste. I will pull any bike out of a junk bin and try to save it. The problem I'm confronting now is that over 90 % of the bikes being discarded are total junk and dangerously unfit when they leave the department store.The average bike I find now is worth less than $100.00 new and has seized cables and or bent or inoperable Falcon deraileurs.
It takes me about 2 hours to change cables and deraileurs but then you have at best a nice looking $20.00 bicycle with potentially dangerous axles and cranksets that could catastrophically fail during use. Other risks associated with Junk Mart bicycles are collapsing handle bars - seat posts and frames that crack or buckle easily. Todays major bicycle distributors and retailers seem to be devoid of any sense of ethics as they flood the market with dangerous unfit products that are designed deliberately to fail just outside the department store door.
The junk bicycle business isn't restricted to department stores. I've seen a lot of garbage sitting next to $5,000.00 bicycles in " reputable" sporting goods stores. I returned a specialty store bicycle last week that had grinding bearings throughout the first time I used it.
In answer to my question I think the highest and best use of most new bicycles sold today is to salvage seats, reflectors, tires and tubes while converting the rest to prepared scrap metal.
Why post this in the appraisal forum? Walmart, KMart, etc. sell cheaply made, Chinese bicycles. They sell them cheap to people that ride a little and then either outgrow the bicycle or lose interest.
I dispute your claim about frames folding, etc. Most that I've seen are extremely strong and heavy, with huge welds. My son received a "mountain" bike for Christmas from his grandparents about 5 years ago. The bike probably weighs close to 50 lbs. and could be used to hammer fence posts. It was from Target, I believe.
Anyways, I get your point, just don't get too obsessed over it. There are cheaply-made examples of everything that you can buy from clothes to appliances. The purchasers aren't so stupid as to believe that what they are buying is equal to more expensive alternatives. An $8.00 mp3 player isn't an Ipod.
+1 I have found the dept store/Walmart stuff to be relatively durable. They just have really low end components, and are not meant to be repaired. I've got the heaviest aluminum frame bike I have ever seen in my garage right now. Bought it cheap for parts (brake levers, pedals, saddle). I could probably tune it up, dump $40 into it making it road worthy, and sell it for $40....
Other than occasionally grabbing a few useful parts off them, I donate them when I find them.