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Old 07-01-09, 06:53 PM   #1
oldiebikes
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What's the WORST bike that dares to call itself a bicycle?

I love to work on older bikes and restore many to excellent condition.

I also come up on some real clunkers that the countries of origin should be ashamed! The number one rotten bike, IMO, has to be the Roadmaster. A worse example of engineering would be hard to find! Cheap parts and poor workmanship...this bike line from China seems to have infiltrated the US like a plague. It's almost as if they multiply in the cheapest thrift shops by cloning their beat up bodies, whose rusty gears, thin metal alloy parts, and scratched paint just scream, "JUNK".

I can usually find something I like about almost any bike...except those. Any other contenders for "Worst Bike in History"?
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Old 07-01-09, 07:33 PM   #2
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This has to take the prize.It is almost impossible to ride.Must keep BOTH hands on bars or you will go down.Making a turn is scary.

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Old 07-01-09, 07:34 PM   #3
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Not a whole bike, but LeeChi brakes are so so so bad. I have a Royce Union mountain bike that I picked up last weekend for $7.00. The wheels are alloy and overall it is a decent but those brakes are total crap. The levers bend, the adjusters don't adjust etc etc. I have a set of Shimano canti's in the parts bin that are going on the front of it and I picked up a used set of Diacompe levers at the coop for both front and rear.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:43 PM   #4
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I had a friend who was riding a Huffy one day,I don't know what caused it,but the rear dropout and chainstay decided to part company on the left side. No serious injuries.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:44 PM   #5
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What about the Magna?

When I started college (before I was a bike enthusiast), I bought one from Target, and its handlebars came loose as I drove it home from the place of purchase. Tools were unable to secure the handlebar (because it and the stem were both so lousy), so I eventually drilled a hole through the stem into the handlebar, tapped it, and bolted it down just so it would stay in place. Then the stem would rotate in the steerer on a regular basis, causing unexpected crashes. The gears barely shifted, and the brakes barely stopped the bike (and never without a squeal). And just about everything on the bike creaked.

I injured myself at least once or twice on that lemon due to the stem/steerer problem. And I've seen little kids get hurt on other Magnas, too, for the very same reason.

The one time I borrowed a Roadmaster to do some riding while visiting my sister in Boston, it was actually pleasant by comparison!
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Old 07-01-09, 08:04 PM   #6
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Murray bikes, some Huffy bikes, old Chiordas from the '70s, low-end Atalas from the early '70s, some cheapo German department store bikes from the '70s and '80s, C. Itoh import 3-speed "English Racer" style knock-offs from the late '60s, and AMF bikes that don't have lugged frames...just frame tubes shoved into other frame tubes. That's what I can think of off hand. You know a junker when you see one. The big question is .... why did they waste the materials to make it?
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Old 07-01-09, 08:25 PM   #7
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I've marveled at the ingenuity required to take a piece of sheet metal and stamp it and contort it into a stem. It doesn't work, but it is clever in an origami sort of way.
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Old 07-01-09, 08:42 PM   #8
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I saw a teenage couple both riding new Magnas. The girl's bike had the handlebars rotated so that the brake levers point straight up. She had to mash down on the levers to get the creaking horror to stop. Don't think she tried shifting- wise move on her part. I'll bet it came that way from the store or had settled all by itself. His bike was way too small and the seat was too low.. The poor guy's knees looked like they were going to hit the handlebars at every revolution. It's the one size fits all philosophy.

In a few weeks, these bikes will be rusting in the backyard or gathering dust in the garage. What should have been a great way to spend the summer together will be a memory of wasted money. My dumpster sourced beach cruiser was a far superior piece than these bikes.
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Old 07-01-09, 08:45 PM   #9
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This has to take the prize.It is almost impossible to ride.Must keep BOTH hands on bars or you will go down.Making a turn is scary.

At least Alt. Bike types don't pretend their creations are practical means of transport. These are machines for a far different purpose.
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Old 07-01-09, 10:11 PM   #10
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The big question is .... why did they waste the materials to make it?
For the same reason Esteban sells guitar shaped objects... the sweet sweet cash!

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At least Alt. Bike types don't pretend their creations are practical means of transport. These are machines for a far different purpose.
True, but this is a Cheetos marketing creation so it gets no cred! I read a story on this forum that there are quite a few of these in the bottom of the ocean, or something like that. This bike is a great nomination
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Old 07-01-09, 10:17 PM   #11
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I'm going to nominate promotion bikes, of almost any kind. They all seem to be the worst of the worst, especially the newer ones. Add on top of that the sellers on craigslist all seem to think they are special, rare or high end!



My other nomination is the X-mart type Magna, specifically the ones with rear suspension! I had the displeasure of riding one, the spring is SOOO soft and bouncy it makes pedaling a very very strange sensation.
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Old 07-01-09, 10:23 PM   #12
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My friends 10 year old (Aprox.) vertical walmart bike thing. Well. He's 16. So it is a little kids bike. It got me home when i had a broken foot. All downhill. Oh, it has no brakes. Didn't come with 'em apparently. HAHA. FUNNY STORY. 20 inch wheels, full suspension. Huzzah!
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Old 07-02-09, 06:03 AM   #13
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Ironman bikes are pretty bad, AMF was mentioned, those are death on wheels, incognito, anything from Target, all WalMart bikes. I used to build for Huffy at Target and WalMart. I quit because of the creeping guilt after every bike I put together. I couldn't dismiss the images of little kids falling and hurting themselves. Those bikes were so hard to build. Nothing would fit properly even though the parts came from the same box the frame was in.

That's enough from me.
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Old 07-02-09, 06:07 AM   #14
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Those who know their bicycle history often nominate the Swedish Itera as the worst bike ever.

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Old 07-02-09, 06:54 AM   #15
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I'd have to vote for the all-steel 10-speed bikes from the '70s & '80s made for Sears, Western Auto and others.

The frames are narrow tubing, inserted through holes in corresponding tubes, backed up inside by a steel collar and spot welded.

They had one-piece cranks and drop bars that were not fully bent so the drops were at about 90 to the tops of the bars.

Derailers were typically Shimano Eagle and Eagle II, with the heavy wrap around guard on the rear one.

The steel wheels were 26 or 27" and sometimes had a moderate deviation at the weld on the rims.

Brakes were steel or aluminum Dia-Compe with suicide levers.

The annoying thing is that they worked.
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Old 07-02-09, 09:34 AM   #16
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Those who know their bicycle history often nominate the Swedish Itera as the worst bike ever.

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I don't think that's quite fair. Itera was trying to do something new and better, and failed. The other nominees in this thread are cheap imitations with no innovation at all but who successfully sell junk.
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Old 07-02-09, 10:50 AM   #17
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I don't think that's quite fair.
Itera elevated process above result. They produced a bicycle with a frame so flexible the rear wheel would not track the front, the parts (little things like the fork and the crank) broke and many of the bearings were high drag plain plastic-on-plastic rather than steel ball and race.

No extra points for "good intentions" from this quarter. The Itera was a miserable bicycle.

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Old 07-02-09, 11:10 AM   #18
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every magna,free spirit,vertical,next,pacific and open road i've ever had to tell the owner works as well as it did new and it will never work well .If huffy built a plane would you fly in it?
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Old 07-02-09, 11:14 AM   #19
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Nominations, and why they fail:

Huffy:
Not the worst - if you take some of their cheap frames and make singlespeed, coasterbrake bikes out of them, they're decent. One or two of their department-store specials can be made halfway decent if they have V-brake posts.

Their Cranbrook/Santa Fe/Santa Fe II cruiser is pretty bad though - worthless handlebar stem and equally bad (soft steel) bullhorn handlebar, and the steerer tubes sometimes split. Swapping the fork, stem, and bar yields a decent bike though - for better or worse.

Murray:
A bit better then Huffy, usually when it comes to singlespeed cruisers. Otherwise, on par with Huffy.

Magna:
Sometimes on par with present-day Huffys, often worse. Nevertheless, you can singlespeed a bare frame, and it won't come apart. Can't say this is the worst either.

Pacific:
See Magna.

Free Spirit:

Manufactured by too many companys to nominate, and the 531 Ted Williams machine kicks this brand/label out of the lineup.

NEXT:
About on par with Pacific, but their dual-suspension mountain bikes are fodder for being absolute trash.


Come to think of it, I really haven't run across anything bad enough to the extent that it can't be made into a reliable, ridable bike via the coasterbrake singlespeed method.

...with exception to virtually all department store, dual-suspension mountain bikes. With that, I nominate these as amongst the worst bikes in existence - at least, that I've had experience with. I've never seen an Itera, and I don't think I want to.

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Old 07-02-09, 12:15 PM   #20
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Today's department store bikes suck less than those of 30 years ago. 30 years ago, I was a bike shop mechanic, and I had customers with department store bikes made by Columbia, Huffy, Murray. Sometimes, the components were designed and made so badly, it didn't appear that they could ever work. The worst one was a Kia made in Korea. As we all know, Korean manufacturing has come a long way. Korean cars are now respected by the car magazines etc. At one shop I worked at, we would have occasional customers who couldn't/wouldn't pay market price for a bike, so we would special order them a Kia. Adjusting the brakes took a long time, and when I was done, they still didn't really work. In 1978, a Peugeot UO8 was about $170, and the Kia was about $80. Big price difference, but if you rode a bike more than five miles a year, I think the Peugeot was a better value.
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Old 07-02-09, 12:30 PM   #21
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It's not a bike, but rather a TRIKE!

A Rube Goldberg if ever there was one!

16 separate parts to attach the rear deraileur to the frame.


I don't have current pics available, but here's the thread ...

THEBIS anyone?

I have since gotten the seat flipped & the brake now works.

Talk about .. WHY would someone make such an impractical thing?
I guess it IS fun to ride, even if you are taking your life in your hands above 12 m.p.h!
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Old 07-02-09, 01:05 PM   #22
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There's a family a couple of blocks from where I live who have a business in making motortricycles, i.e. motorcycles with three wheels. I asked them why. They said why not, everyone rides a motorcycle. It's fun when I see their customers going in and out.
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Old 07-02-09, 04:37 PM   #23
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I remember seeing the ads for the Thebis in bike magazines way back, at the time I was working on my home built trike. You said or someone said the ujoints broke? How /what were they made of?

My new FWD homebuilt trike will have 1/2" bore stainless steel ujoints with needle bearing centers.

I had heard the issues were the one way slip clutches in the hubs always slipping at the worst times.

Just think of the huge investment someone put up to start those and market them...

DH
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Old 07-02-09, 05:24 PM   #24
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Those who know their bicycle history often nominate the Swedish Itera as the worst bike ever.

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If IKEA sold a bicycle, I have to think it would look just like that.
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Old 07-02-09, 05:29 PM   #25
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Today's department store bikes suck less than those of 30 years ago. 30 years ago, I was a bike shop mechanic, and I had customers with department store bikes made by Columbia, Huffy, Murray. Sometimes, the components were designed and made so badly, it didn't appear that they could ever work. The worst one was a Kia made in Korea. As we all know, Korean manufacturing has come a long way. Korean cars are now respected by the car magazines etc. At one shop I worked at, we would have occasional customers who couldn't/wouldn't pay market price for a bike, so we would special order them a Kia. Adjusting the brakes took a long time, and when I was done, they still didn't really work. In 1978, a Peugeot UO8 was about $170, and the Kia was about $80. Big price difference, but if you rode a bike more than five miles a year, I think the Peugeot was a better value.
Yes, but if you go back a bit further, like 40 or 45 years ago, lots of department store bikes were re badged Raleigh 3 speeds, and many of those are still in service today.
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