What actually is the problem with "cheap" bikes? Not the $100 Walmart bikes since I know what they are like as that is what I am riding, an old 8 year old Walmart Mongoose with all rusted up components. I am wondering about the $350ish bikes like the Diamondbacks at Dick's Sporting Goods. I'm not rich, so I'll never afford a "good" bike and I both don't know enough about bikes to buy used on Craigslist, nor do I see very many on Craigslist (I don't live in the city, not much CL activity where I live.)
I've googled about the big box store bikes like the Diamondback and all I ever see is "don't waste your money on that junk" when reading on sites like here, but obviously see great reviews on the sites that are selling like Dick's and Amazon.
Riding my junk Mongoose, obviously the derailleurs and shifters are junk. I literally have to stop peddling to get them to shift because they are so clunky that I'll kill myself if shifting while peddling the hills I am on. Looking at names, I have no idea what are good and what aren't. I can't imagine a $350-399 Diamondback being in the same clunkiness junk as my $100 job.
I also read about the junk front shock forks. That one really confuses me because I see no problems with the forks on my $100 junk (I do hate the rear shock, but that is having a rear shock, not the quality of it.) I'm just riding on the road and paved bike trails, not doing anything in the woods or actual mountain biking so I don't even know if the front shock is doing anything. I don't ever see any mountain bike that doesn't have a front shock though.
I look at Bikes Direct.com (I've read plenty on the thoughts from the elitist folks on that site, but there would be no other option for me with price.) A couple of coworkers are very happy with their Dawes Haymaker 1200/1500's. How do you compare stuff though when you have no idea. It all looks the same to me as I see everything pretty much comes with 2 or 3 different brand names of components but about 100 different model names of components.
I probably won't have the funds for a bike until after the new year, but I probably still wouldn't have a clue how to buy a bike at that time.
A $3-400 at Dicks or REI or that type of shop should be fine for what you are doing and last for a few years. It's more about the service and quality of assembly that you will get a store like that as opposed to a LBS. If you are only riding trails and not much dirt roads you will probably be better suited with a hybrid type bike without suspension forks. I have a Trek Navigator that I use for my around town, beach cruiser that I think I paid less then $300 new at my LBS last year. Its only a 7 speed but 1st gear is very low its fairly light for what it is. I wouldn't want to do a century ride on it but for 10-30 mile rides it's fine. The relationship you build with your LBS will be worth a lot in the future when you need something done quickly or look to upgrade.
As with many things, with new bikes, you get what you pay for. If funds are short, consider used. There are lots of threads on these forums about what to look for in a used bike, so I won't repeat it here. Just search the forum.
It isn't about being rich or poor, and it isn't that everything sold at Target, Wal Mart, or Dicks is terrible, though most of it is pretty low end junk. It all comes down to quality of materials, components, and assembly. And, quality of the service after the sale, which is important with bikes. I have never owned a new bike that didn't require at least a minor tweak a couple of weeks or months after I bought it. And i expect the shop I buy it at to take care of it quickly and competently. That is part of what I pay for. A lot of stuff bike shops do can be done by a knowledgable person. But, some don't have the time, expertise, or inclination to work on their own bikes.
I bought mine at Bikes Direct and had a positive experience with them. I would buy from them again.
This is just my take on it but...I thnk you get much better value from getting a used bike. A bike that would have been $600 ten or fifteen years go is under $200 today. In many cases hey have been ridden very little and don't take much work to get road worthy. It's not like bikes have changed all that much in the last 20 years. I look around today and I see a lot of new bikes bikes that are modeled after my 40 year old Raliegh (only not as well built).
As for cheap bikes I think one ofthe most significant thing to keep in mind is do the people selling it know how to set up a bike? Places like REI typically have knowledgeable people staffing their in-store bike shop. I still prefer my LBS but if there isn't one available in your area or they just don't have any cheap bike options for you then that is a good alternative.
I ride a MTB I got on clearance at Dunhams for $200 bucks. I think it is a little better put together than what I could have got a Wal-mart, at least they have a guy who knows a little and does simple maintenance on them. The derailleurs are far from smooth, the front shocks are not much more than a couple of pogo-sticks, and the seat was worthless. That said, I have put 180 miles on it in a month and lost 10 pounds. Sure I want a good road bike and hope to have enough saved by next spring to get one, but the cheap bike I'm riding today, beats the expensive bike I'm waiting on while sitting on the couch. With everything there is a "break-over" point where you end up throwing money at a cheap bike to replace broken parts when you could be paying that same money on a new bike. It's about finding what works for you at a point you can afford.
I bought a lower-middle end 2006 Diamondback Sorrento off Craigslist. It has higher gearing and a cheaper shock but was barely ridden after an obvious crash. I set the shock to the most rigid setting, regreased the bearings, carefully bend the front sprockets back straight, and have put 2000 miles on it this year with no problems.
I have a mid to late 70s (I think) lugged steel Miyata frankenbike I put together from spare parts. It had been backed over by a car and I picked it up for $15. Everything works reasonably well after I readjusted the front fork with a vise and 10lb hammer. I added a straight bar I had because the bars were bent a little too, a 6 speed rear cassette, and some twist shifters to better go with the 6 speed rear derailluer upgrade they did sometime in the past. The cottered crank was off kilter and left you feeling wobbly while pedaling so I added a 52/38 square front I picked out of the misc parts box at a bike repair place. Clean, grease, pull some cable, tweek a little, ride.
I've put 200+ miles on this mish-mash of parts. It works pretty good and only cost about $40 total and some elbow greese. I picked up about 2mph in speed over the mountain bike. I'll probably make it a commuter since I'd be out little of nothing if it was stolen. Though if the thief knew anything about bikes they'd leave it.
The fact you used the term "elitest" says a lot!
Many websites only list "positive" reviews. Another problem is that many people reviewing the bikes simply have nothing to compare to. Not only is it their favorite bike, it's the only...........
A couple things I look for in a bike-
Crank- No ONE PIECE (Ashtabula) CRANKS
Hanger type RDER, not "Claw" type as pictured.
Free Hub, NOT Free Wheel.
My commuter is a 93 Giant Sedona that was sitting in someone's field. I bought it about 5 years ago for something like $30. It's blue and like the Tick neigh indestrucable. Over the years I think I have replaced everything on it but it's comfy, I can go on or off road (limited somewhat by the Serfas commuter tires) and even with all the various bits I've replaced I don't think I've spent more than $300 on it total. I'm a big fan of used bikes. I think it's easy to find nice bikes for cheap (mid 90's mountain bikes especially).
Its admirable to be able to pick out your best components or go for brand name for your ride - But when I see someone out there riding that Walmart special I see the person ridding - Not so much the bike...
Me luv'm cheap bikes! Have 3, $30, $25, and $15. All have,
and still do give me good service. I like steel wheels; they
hold up & stay true better than aluminum. What's lost in
weight is gained in the flywheel effect.
There are some really great lonely vintage bikes out there
in storage just waiting for a garage sale. (help, I lost my font**
Many have never been ridden & can be had for a song.
Just yesterday on craigslist I saw three old 10 spds that can
be had a dollar each to haul 'em away. They looked to me as
if all they needed was tires, cables, & a tuneup.
Another thing, girls bikes. My masculinity is more threatened
by the top tube of a boys bike than by a step-thru girls bike.
Girls bikes have generally been less battered and abused than
boys yet are usually cheaper.
'89 technium ovation mb,'78 5spd,(now 10), raleigh mixte, '70 huffy 3 spd.
Agree. Nothing wrong with BD bikes, (I have two in the stable). However, you have to be a bit mechanically inclined because you need to do the final assembly yourself. Quality wise . . . they are just fine. A couple steps above department store bikes and below what a LBS will sell, (with some exceptions - their higher end stuff is pretty good, just not common).
Originally Posted by Randolfo
This suggestion may not go over very well, but have you considered browsing around in a second-hand store, (e.g., Goodwill, Salvation Army)? Those won't be the best quality, but certainly within your budget. Also consider taking a look at local pawn shops. I saw a Bike Friday, (folding bike made in Oregon), in front of pawn shop recently, but was on a longish ride and didn't want to stop. I should have. They must have had twenty or so bikes in front of the storefront.
About quality - it can be sort of like with automobiles. The less you pay, the junkier the car is. The more you pay, the finer, more refined the car is. Not too much diff.
Good luck finding what fits your needs. Ride safe.
My neighbor rides. He asked my opinion about Dick's DB MTB bike. I suggested he wait til he had $600 and get something a bit more dependable as he weighs 225. He didn't take my suggestion, bought the bike and after several warranty repairs within 6 months has since started paying for his own.
He mentioned just the other day that he should have taken my advice. He has now paid over $300 in repairs and still has the same low end clunky bike as a result he started with. :o
Penny wise and pound foolish, unfortunately. Light, durable and cheap is not really possible with new bikes, and you go too cheap, you don't even get durable. $500 to $600 retail in the US seems to be the threshold for something durable, though not especially light.
Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz
My wife's bike is a Bikes Direct "Mercier" bike, because when she got it, she refused to spend more than $350. I suggested she save up $750-$1000 and buy a bike shop bike, but that was unfathomable to her. We were not married then, otherwise I would have put my foot down.
Straight out of the box the rear wheel was not truable. Bikes Direct sent a low end Vuelta wheelset, which has been fine. I used my tools to move the cassette from the old rear wheel to the new, something that a person without bike tools would have had to pay someone to do.
We had to put an extra extension in the threaded stem to get the handlebars high enough for her comfort, at our expense. A bike shop would have pointed her towards a better fitting bike and indeed she did really like some women's specific bikes at one shop that were available for barely over $1000. But no sale.
It doesn't really shift that good even with a couple of trips to a trusted LBS. It's got funny Sora STI shifters where the upshift button is thumb operated rather than index finger operated. It's got 2300 derailers. It's got a SRAM 12-25 cassette on it rather than Shimano. The chain looks like mild steel or something.
The tires it came with were absolute junk. When the Michelin Pro3 Race went on closeout at Nashbar I bought her a pair of them, that was a big improvement in her riding speed and comfort.
So what do I think of this bike? Eh, it's ok. It has two wheels and she rides it. She has gotten stronger. But to get it where she really wants it, i.e., with a compact double, nicer STI shifters and a 10 speed in the back, she should have just bought a nicer bike in the first place. We're already about $150-$175 into this bike beyond the $350 we paid for it, plus the cost of my time, and that just brings it up to "acceptable". We could spend another $300-$500 for a drivetrain upgrade, but why, it will still be a junky frame when it's all said and done.
If all you want to do is putter around, and you're handy with making adjustments to brakes and derailers, sure, why not. Or, if it's just a starter bike. You'll appreciate your next upgraded bike more coming from a cheap one.
But if you want go out and ride with a significant other who has midlevel or higher components, or ride with the local club, a cheap bike isn't going to do it. They're going to be constantly waiting on you. Believe me, I know!
I was actually surprised at my wife's power output when we did our first tandem ride, which tells me that it's her bike that's been holding her back.
You know, I thought about one other thing. I don't like spending any more than I have to for an acceptable quality level. I have no problem using 105 or even Tiagra components where they are more or less an equal quality level. Sometimes the only difference is that the cheaper stuff weighs more. That doesn't bother me. Sometimes I even wonder if I spent too much on certain things like the Chris King rear hub on my Paul Taylor? A 105 hub probably would have worked fine and cost one-fourth as much.
I bought some Microshift integrated shifters recently rather than Shimano because I could get them for $106 which is way cheaper than anything Shimano. If they work out, they're a steal. If not, then lesson learned.
The point being that, I am value-conscious. Just like the person who started this thread. However, there is an acceptable quality floor.
Cheap department bikes do not meet that quality floor in my experience. I have lots of bikes and ride lots of miles and I know the difference. Cheap stuff costs more than what I would consider value priced stuff because in the end the cheap stuff breaks and you have to go back and buy the stuff you should have bought in the first place.
What I would recommend to someone who wanted to not spend more than $350 and didn't want to buy used, would be to buy NOS parts on eBay and piece it together bit by bit. Look for 9 speed Shimano stuff from previous generations of 105 level gear. And look for a bare frame to put them on. Check out a book on bicycle maintenance from the library. And do it all yourself, and be happy with the results.
Originally Posted by MRT2
:thumb:.................Heck I have been offered a few bikes by others that know I ride often and can fix my own. I've refused plenty knowing they would only run up a bill in repairs. :(
Now offer up an Ultegra equipped Roubaix, that is a different story. :D
Friend of mine just this afternoon proudly showed me her new bike purchase - about $350 (on sale - closeout) from REI. I told her what a great deal it was. Explained to her to be alittle careful shoving the bike in her truck (as the parts might break), how to hook up her brakes (V-brakes) and what to do about her tires (shrader - I only have presta pumps) and that I can't wait to ride with her. We, on more expensive bikes, are snobs... just remember that. I alway remind my snobby friends that the people like my friend are at least out riding and in effect, putting in more effort than us so we should all shut up about how cheap the bikes are! It's a bike - just get out and ride; who cares if its top of the line or Walmart basic...
Edited to add: Cheap mountain bikes taken off road and used for drops, jumps and steep descents are dangerous (I have a friend on a Wally World bike land in the hospital 5 days because the bike blew apart on a drop). That is where I would put my foot down about saving a buck. If that is plan than save up and invest in a bike capable of the abuse. If that is what you can afford, then ride responsibly and know what the bike can handle.
Agree 100%. Many people obsess about buy an initial bike that is bike-society acceptable and spend big $. Then they lose interest and the bike sits and sits and sits.
Originally Posted by Pamestique
I bought a BikesDirect (BD) mountain bike and it was great value for money. Then again, I enjoy doing my own maintenance and was component savvy. I would guesstimate my BD bike would be close to $1200 at the local bike shop (Rock Shox etc). I paid $800 and it was shipped to my door. Initial setup was a breeze and everything was great out of the box.
If getting a BD bikes, aim for the 'sweet spot' of not too cheap but not too expensive. :)
The OP is about $350 falling apart and yes riding any bike can be a joy but having to pay for continued repairs that add up to the price of a nice $600 bike in the end is not. If given the choice, I'd easily choose a $600 bike over a $350 for that reason. Has nothing to do with snobbery. It's about spending money wisely. Paying $350 and spending $350 to keep it running just to end up with the same $350 bike is not spending wisely.
Originally Posted by JackoDandy
This is just about right! ......... V V V V V
Originally Posted by MRT2
About a year ago I bought a sister a bike for about $450 new from a LBS. It is a Bianchi hybrid style bike. She rides on the local paths and probably is putting on about 50 miles a week. The bike is holding up just fine and she loves it. She even likes the saddle. The only maintenance has been cable adjustment and lubing the chain. At least I hope she lubes the chain. :)
I bought another sister a folder for about $300 or thereabout. She rides it maybe 20 miles a week. She also loves it and it is holding up fine. Her only issue is getting lots of flats. She ended up upgrading to more flat resistant tires.
Sometimes budget is ok. It depends partly on how hard you are on things and how much you are going to ride. And it does depend on the quality of the bike. I think you can get a decent hybrid bike for 400 to 500 dollars.
My husband has a Nashbar flat bar road bike he bought on sale for $400. It came like a Bikesdirect bike, some assembly required. It was easy to put together. It has serviceable components, nothing fancy. Sora rear derailleur, low end Shimano front deraileur. Carbon fork. Decent tires. It is holding up just fine. It did come with crap clipless pedals which I switched out for platforms. The wheels were true out of the box and have stayed true, even though my spouse is a heavy weight. I was worried about wheel quality buying it sight unseen. I also opened up the hubs and headset and everything was well lubed. One thing I will add is that I question the toughness of the paint job. This bike seems very prone to scratches.
In spring of 2011 I bought a Cannondale Quick 4. I can't remember what I paid but the current list for the bike is $725. This bike now has about 4000 miles on it. I have changed the chain three times (this bike goes through chains at twice the rate of my other bikes). The cassette once. The derailleur cables once. The brake pads twice. It needs new brake cables and I am going to change those out soon. One shifter broke and I replaced that. I also replaced the crank, but not due to any problems, I just wanted shorter crank arms. I guess that isn't so bad for a bike that sees hard use on dirty roads and rides on the back of a motorhome, exposed to the elements.
The price of the bike isn't really important. The thing is to get a bike you like and will ride. Will the more expensive bike be a better quality? Probably: But there are some poor bike shops that don't do a good job on assembly or after sale service. If your riding is going to be on MUPs and around town the $350 bike will probably work. I rode a $300 Diamondback for two years before I gave it to my father and neither of us have had any problems with it. Of course, I was only riding about 500 miles a year and my father rides about 200 miles a year so it isn't getting that much wear on the components.
Just remember, if you purchase from a big box store to check all the fasteners and adjustments before riding.
Wow, didn't expect this many replies. Have to read through them a bit more thoroughly.
First off, about this comment....
Yeah, I'm just a poor working man trying to feed his family. I just didn't want the $100k/year folks getting in here telling me that I need a $2000 bike. Heck, even at $350, to me that is a LOT of cash! It's a shame really how popular biking is that it costs so much that just a regular working Joe fat guy can't easily get into biking just for a little fitness. Everyone always wonders why this country is so fat? It's because real food costs way too much money and to get the tools for exercise is pretty much out of the economic ability as well. (Heck, our grocery/toiletry budget is $1000/month! And with that, we now don't buy any junk food. That is just $250 to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.)
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
For the buy used part, just about anything buying used makes economic sense. I bought 2 brand new cars in 25 years of driving. My very first car (listened to parents instead of my senses) and the car my wife just rolled over on the roof in January. Both were a mistake buying new.
The one problem that I have with used bikes unlike with used cars is I still have no idea what I am looking at. I know the value of replacing the brand new Ford Escape with a 2 year old Toyota Rav4 for the same price I paid for either because I know what a Ford Escape is and what a Toyota Rav4 is. I could pull up a used bike on Craigslist and it could be the best bike for the best deal I'd ever find, or it could be some idiot ripping people off who don't know better with a Walmart bike. That person who wouldn't know better is me. I do have a giant distrust of anyone on Craigslist and even more with E-bay.
Yeah, a $600 bike or a $1000 bike is just out of the question. Got a family to feed and keep warm in my little thimble size of a house, more important things to spend that kind of money on.
As for Bikes Direct and having to set it up yourself, I don't really see that as being a big deal. I'm not an auto mechanic either, but economics forces me to do my own maintenance on the cars from replacing the clutch to replacing head gaskets and timing belts (the only thing I won't do again is tear into suspension, I hate working on the suspension.) Heck, we drove a Ford for 6 years and 118,000 miles from new. I've done a lot of mechanic work. I've replaced clutches and head gaskets with printouts from the internet in my hand, never having done that sort of work before. The Ford since the day we brought it home had nothing but problems and I was constantly working on it (36k warranty up in a year and a half...) Heck, this Walmart special I'm riding right now the kids left out in the rain all the time last year. She wanted to ride it this spring and the chain was literally completely rusted in place. I tried to bend it with my hands, I couldn't get it to budge. I worked on that and got it loosened, derusted, oiled, and it's still the same chain that I am riding with. I think it had a grand total of 3 of the 21 gears I could shift into. Worked on that and got it almost operable now (having trouble with it either easily adjusting from 1 to 2 on the front, or 2 to 3 on the front, or I can get all 3 working but it is difficult to get to either 1 or 3 which is where I'm at now.)
So, yeah, based on my 2 coworkers who are happy with their BD bikes and reading how folks here who actually have bought a bike from them are happy (ignoring those who just "don't like the business model" stuff) I think I would be happy with a BD bike.
That still doesn't solve the I have no idea anything about components though. I've looked at the specs and component list on quite a few inexpensive or cheap bikes and can't really find any info that tells me anything other than Amazon reviews which who knows who those folks are reviewing, everything from Dad reviewing a bike bought for an 8 year old son to someone who maybe does ride. I can't get through all the overwhelming amount of brands and models to know what the heck would actually be good and what wouldn't
Anyways, there I am again, writing a book. It's a problem of mine, LOL. Thanks for the responses to this, gonna read through them again.
My Rockhopper was $50 and my Globe was $170 at a pawn shop.
I've stuck a lot more into them since to set them up for my specific medical limitations, but both were ready to ride when I got them.
You just have to educate yourself to know what to look for.
In my initial post, I listed 3 things that tends to separate a decent bike from the crap.
I posted links so you can learn.
If you saw my SS check, you'd probably feel wealthy in comparison.
IF you posted your location, people could help you pick a possible decent bike from CL etc.
You can also ask questions here about what is decent or not.
The problem with many box store bikes is that you simply can NEVER get them shifting properly.
I flip bikes on CL for a few extra $ and somewhat because I enjoy working on bikes.
There are certain bikes like Magna's, Huffy's etc. that I won't accept if given to me. I've found i spend 2-3X the time on them and still have a crappy bike.
When I sell a bike, there's no reason one shouldn't be able to hop on it and ride across the country. Some CL sellers enjoy helping others to get a solid, dependable bike and get some reward for that.
For every $2 I make, I spend $3 in tools.
If you are interested in a particular bikesdirect bike you can ask about it here, people can give some comments about the components. Remember BikeIsland too, which is Bikesdirect scratch and dent discount arm. Sometimes there are really good deals on there.
I agree. It isn't that easy buying used until you have been around bikes awhile and have a feel of what to look for.
Originally Posted by mrodgers
Wheels true? Any spokes broken? How is then tension on the spokes? Brakes work? How are the pads? Are they worn? What kind of brakes are they? Are they ones easy to adjust? Do they squeeze nice and symmetrically? Any rubbing on a wheel? How about the braking surface on the wheels? Are they still good? Does it need a new chain? How worn is it? Do you know how to tell? Is it so worn that other parts are going to be necessary? How is the headset? Is there any play? How about play in the cranks? How about play in the wheels? How do the cranks sound when pedaling? Any odd noises? Is the frame or fork bent or damaged? Does the rear wheel follow directly behind the front? Are the wheels centered properly in the frame? Does the seat post go up and down? Does the seat post quick release work?
How does it shift? Does it go through all the gears? Does the chain want to drop off the cogs or the chain rings? Is shifting noisy? Are the chain rings or crank arms bent? How much rubbing is there on the front derailleur? Is the rear derailleur hanger bent? Is the front derailleur sitting properly oriented with the front chain rings? How are the cables? Are the ends frayed or broken? Are there barrell adjusters? Do they work?
Is it a bike from a brand that doesn't have a great reputation? Magna? Mongoose? Huffy? Many Schwinns today?
If you had a knowledgeable friend who could look with you there can be great used deals out there, especially on older rigid mountain bikes and more classic road bikes. But there is plenty of crap too. For example, I was shopping for a used bike for a niece. The owner of a 1990s bike said it worked great on the phone. I looked at the bike. The rear brakes were frozen (typical), only about three gears were available, the chain was hopelessly worn so a new freewheel was required, and the hubs were loose on the front wheel so it wobbled in the fork. The owner was actually flabbergasted when I went through the bike with him.