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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-22-06, 03:14 AM   #1
pivoxa15
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X-Mart bike okay for commuting

I have read that bikes in superstore are bad but what about an 'upper range' bike in those stores used for commuting? Would that be okay? How long will it last if I use it for an hour a day?
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Old 06-22-06, 03:42 AM   #2
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Bet you could get a heck of a used bike for that price???
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Old 06-22-06, 04:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pivoxa15
I have read that bikes in superstore are bad but what about an 'upper range' bike in those stores used for commuting? Would that be okay? How long will it last if I use it for an hour a day?
Any bike is "OK" for commuting if it fits your needs. Pay no attention to the shills (with an agenda) for a favorite LBS or favorite brand/type of bicycle.
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Old 06-22-06, 04:20 AM   #4
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A lot of people on here will tell you that an x-mart bike will break down, not work, or possibly hurt you. Everyone else will say that they've ridden one, loved it, gone hundreds of thousands of miles on one, and never had a problem.

Here is my opinion and advice, having both owned, ridden and worked on later x-mart bikes.

I never had a problem with the Huffy I had. It wasn't the greatest bike out there, but it got me around when i was in high school. The x-mart bikes i've worked on in the last few years have been a little more problematic with things not being set up correctly or adjusted.

The Good:
X-mart bikes are inexpensive. They're new. If something goes wrong or you change your mind, you could most likely return/exchange it, like any other merchandise from the store (check on this, i'm only assuming).

The Bad:
X-mart bikes tend to be lower quality, using the cheapest parts made. These bikes also tend to be a lot heavier, compared to higher end bikes. Suspension systems employed by x-mart bikes tend not to be worth the extra money, as they add weight and create inefficiency in the drivetrain. Most importantly, the x-mart bikes are assembled by x-mart employees (stockboys, etc.) and not bicycle mechanics, which can lead to things being put together incorrectly (brakes not set right, deraileurs not set right, forks put on backwards, etc.).

My recommendation:
If you get an x-mart bike, go over every inch of it before you ride it. Make sure it was assembled correctly and that everything is adjusted correctly. Don't trust that they put everything together right. If you can repair/fix bikes, awesome. Otherwise have a friend who does look it over. Bringing it to a bike shop will become costly. I would also recommend the non-suspension bikes, or front suspension only. Fewer things to break, probably a little lighter also.

If you do know how to fix/wrench on bikes, i would recommend going second hand. Even if you want to learn, you can find an older bicycle that you like for very little money (check thrift stores, garage sales, etc.), and learn.

My best advice, above all, is to find a bike you love. If you love the bike, you'll ride it, no matter what it is. If you get a bike, and you don't like it, you're probably not as likely to go ride.

That's my two cents. Let me know what you decide.
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Old 06-22-06, 04:32 AM   #5
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You'll quickly find out that the key to a using a bike for commuting is maintaining it. Do that, even to a Roadmaster Mt. Fury, and you're okay. There will likely be some mechanical problems with the bike "out of the box", but the same will likely hold true for an LBS machine. In addition, the set up (tires, etc.) may not be ideal for commuting. True also for LBSs. Some will claim the LBS will be better for these two issues, but I've found LBSs are a crapshoot. A last possible issue is proper sizing; if you know your bike size, you're safer going LBS free.

If you're competent mechanically and on a tight budget, the xmart bike may be a way to go. However, my advice would be to seek out a decent used bike if you are competent mechanically and know your size. Look for old steel. I've a Bridgestone RB2 I bought for less than a Roadmaster Mt. Fury, and although I haven't run exhaustive tests or anything, I stongly suspect it is better made, faster, lighter, and more fun to ride than a Roadmaster Mt. Fury. And also better made, faster, and more fun to ride than most of the bikes at the LBS. No tests, just a suspiscion.
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Old 06-22-06, 07:53 AM   #6
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My only concern is the brakes on the x-mart bike. I've read and heard tales of them bending under hard breaking. That's a scary saftey issue but one that can easily and cheaply be avoided with upgraded brakes.

Last edited by dalmore; 06-22-06 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 06-22-06, 08:06 AM   #7
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Classic steel framed bikes can be had for cheap with a little patience. Yard sales and Craigslist is lousy with them. They will, however, likely need a little TLC when you get 'em. My girlfriend recently decided she wanted a road bike to get around on. We found a classic 1973 Raleigh with a 531 frame and fork for $10 on CL. We put another $25 into a new chain, cables and some tubes. It kicks the crap out of anything available at the Wal-Mart, IMHO.

Buy what you want, but be prepared to give the Wal-Mart bike a good once over to check for problems in the build. It is good practice with any bike, but especially important with a mart bike. Whatever you buy make sure it fits you well.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
Classic steel framed bikes can be had for cheap with a little patience. Yard sales and Craigslist is lousy with them. They will, however, likely need a little TLC when you get 'em. My girlfriend recently decided she wanted a road bike to get around on. We found a classic 1973 Raleigh with a 531 frame and fork for $10 on CL. We put another $25 into a new chain, cables and some tubes. It kicks the crap out of anything available at the Wal-Mart, IMHO.

This post is by far the best most common sense respose. YOU need a "cheap" bike not a "new"
bike so that , to me, reads quality older bikes. (you can find killer deals on some mighty fine
equipment used just look past the rust and dirt.)

Look at it this way......
You can buy more,better quality,less troublesome,bikes by going into the used market than you ever
will with the Chinese junk that X-mart sells. You'll have to clean and tune it up (maybe) to get a good
ride but you'll at least have a bike that you can work with and get good parts for.

Xmart bikes???????
Nah, mate. Pass or be prepared to walk a lot.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:32 AM   #9
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Spend some of the money you save when buying the bike on a maintenance book like Bicyclings Complete Maintenance (or similar name) and a few tools (hex keys, spoke wrench, cone wrenches, metric wrenches). These will still be useful if you move up to a fancier bike. Park Tools and Sheldon Browns websites are also a great help.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:39 AM   #10
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The point where you start reaching consistant quality bikes with standardized parts is around $170 and up...at which point you are better off buying from the LBS, unless you know how to do your own wrenching.

If you get anything cheaper, please consider inspecting and possibly upgrading the brakes...many of the brakes on the cheaper bikes ARE dangerous, no matter how you look at it....they seem like they were designed to stop a child, not an adult. If the arms of the caliper look like they are made of stamped metal, or are a hollow casting, replace them. I would consider buying an extra cable set as well (sears essentials carries a kit for like $8), since those cables are rust prone, and will need to be replaced eventually...might as well have the parts on hand.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:48 AM   #11
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Let's see. About $175 for the "best" Wal-Mart bike. Then, about $75 to have a good bike shop take it apart, grease the headset and the wheel bearings, assemble it correctly, true the wheels, adjust the shifting, and adjust the brakes. Now, for $250, you have a bike worth about $100.

There are lots and lots of good used bikes available for around $200, some of them comparable to a new bike selling for $600 to $1,000. And, a lot of times, an LBS will have a hybrid for around $250 from a major company, with a good warranty.

I'm often amazed when I'm in a bike shop, and someone is looking at a $250 bike, and says "That is a lot of money for a bike", when that same person drove up to the shop in a Lexus, a BMW, or a Suburban. I'm tempted to say "And, $40,000 is a lot for a car...a used Yugo goes for $500".
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Old 06-22-06, 11:00 AM   #12
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I have two Schwinns and an a Mongoose Hybrid, all older bikes that I picked up at yard sales and pawn shops. I think I have a grand total of $60 for the bunch. Sure, they need a bit of work, but that's half the fun. All three could easily be distilled into two very serviceable bikes.
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Old 06-22-06, 11:56 AM   #13
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I'm extremely happy with what was basically the cheapest bike in the superstore. I bought 2. did change tires to slicks on the main one. No suspension, all steel, very large diameter downtube. Feels very stiff and strong. FIS Falcon shifting works well. I handpicked the bikes, testing all components and riding in store. Assembly quality can obviously vary a great deal.

The golden rule is that any bike that is exactly the right size for you is better than a bike $500 more expensive thats the wrong size. I'd imagine its safer picking a bike with fewer recent innovations such as suspensions, or alumnium, but I don't know if those features are really disapointing or not.
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Old 06-22-06, 12:06 PM   #14
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I echo the others who suggest a used bike, particularly a quality steel road bike. I have seen an awful lot of $50 used bikes that are far superiour to $300 new bikes. I don't understand choosing new, low-quality machines over used high-quality ones, especially when you consider price.
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Old 06-22-06, 12:07 PM   #15
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I say go w/ a garage sale special that fits. You can adjust saddle height, move it back and forth and adjust stem height to make it more comfy for you. It'll probably need some work, but if you're going to commute, you need to learn to do maintenance anyways, so rather than making mistakes on an expensive bike, make them on something less expensive. Once you figure out what you want in a bike for the riding you do (commuting, recreational, road, off-road), then you can take the money you saved by not driving and buy the bike you want.
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Old 06-22-06, 05:50 PM   #16
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Instead of X-mart's "upper-range" get a "lower-range" bike from the LBS. Same price, better deal.
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Old 06-22-06, 06:21 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jyossarian
I say go w/ a garage sale special that fits. You can adjust saddle height, move it back and forth and adjust stem height to make it more comfy for you. It'll probably need some work, but if you're going to commute, you need to learn to do maintenance anyways, so rather than making mistakes on an expensive bike, make them on something less expensive. Once you figure out what you want in a bike for the riding you do (commuting, recreational, road, off-road), then you can take the money you saved by not driving and buy the bike you want.
Of course the same thing can be said for shopping at xmart. Be prepared to do adjustment as necessary to get it to fit and feel right.

'Tis ironic how any adjustment needed on an xmart bike to get proper fit is considered outrageous and/or horrifying/disgusting, but is a barrel of fun and perfectly acceptable task if performed on a used bike obtained from a thrift store/garage sale, as long as the bike has an LBS provenance.
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Old 06-22-06, 06:31 PM   #18
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I had a Huffy I rode for a long time! it was an OK bike for me, and it fit my budget at the time. I did maintain it pretty well. if you are unsure about it, take it to the LBS and have them look it over for you!
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Old 06-22-06, 07:29 PM   #19
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LBSs are such a crapshoot I recommend, as another poster did, spending a few bucks on a good maintainence book. If you can even hold a wrench, you can probably do most work on a bike. In addition, any LBS work on a bike is likely to be more than the cost of the bike, used or xmart.

Last LBS new bike I bought had three major components (crank, seatpost, bars) break in the first six months of riding, so my personal experience doesn't convince me that an LBS bike is automatically superior (the level of post sale service from the LBS was on a par with X-mart bike service, as well). Since that experience and another one just before the purchase of that bike, I've found old junkers and fixed them up. I found I personally like wrenching almost as much as riding, and have pretty much been LBS free since 1990 or so. I've also seen enough people commuting daily on Xmart bikes to convince me they're not entirely crap, they can work for daily use. It really, really depends on upkeep, and upkeep is not LBS dependent. It is user dependent.

I still would go with the old steel roadie, but I am a bike snob. However, I'm lucky at finding cool old bikes. And I'm biased towards 'em.
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Old 06-22-06, 07:53 PM   #20
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Walmart bike may work for you.

I certainly didn't for me. The brakes on my roadmaster twisted like pretzel, luckily it wasn't in traffic.
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Old 06-22-06, 08:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
'Tis ironic how any adjustment needed on an xmart bike to get proper fit is considered outrageous and/or horrifying/disgusting, but is a barrel of fun and perfectly acceptable task if performed on a used bike obtained from a thrift store/garage sale
Well, a decent used bike is actually worth fixing up. You might end up with the sweetest ride of your life. X-mart bikes... Jee-zus! My first two "adult" bikes were X-mart. Can you say a PAIN to ride? The gears won't shift even after adjustment by a very good bike mechanic. The shocks are just there to increase the price and make the experience more miserable. The brakes are plain unsafe and the brake pads wear out FAST. The weight is comparable to that of an overfed elephant...

I can still sort of understand buying a cheapo X-mart bike: if you can't afford anything else, don't know how to check and fix bikes (so garage sales are out) and aren't going to be doing that much riding, those bikes may do you. But going for their "upper-range" bikes, as the OP mentions? In Canadia X-mart type stores may sell bikes that cost up to $700, perhaps more. Usually their main feature is all-Shimano components. Yeah, it's Shimano Tourney, maybe sometimes even *gasp* Acera, of course, but we'll omit that part. After all the customers don't understand the lingo-shwingo anyway, but the cool-looking double suspension that turns a bike into a pogo stick will make them wanna CRAVE it!

If you can afford that bike, you can afford an LBS bike. But the LBS bike is much more likely to be a better quality bike to start with, and you will get free and professional assembly as well as a free tune-up program (for just a year or for "lifetime" - depends on the LBS). Of course there are bad LBSs. But there are also good LBSs. And there are no good X-mart stores when it comes to bikes...
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Old 06-22-06, 08:10 PM   #22
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"LBSs are such a crapshoot" Compared to an X-Mart?
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Old 06-22-06, 08:14 PM   #23
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I was able to get a pretty good new biked from an LBS that was last years model for the same price as one at X-mart. Having owned multiple mart bikes I am now going to stick with the LBS from here on out. This depends of course on your LBS. You can definately get an x-mart bike and commute on it, but that doesn't mean you'll enjoy riding it very much.

Just my opinion
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Old 06-22-06, 08:17 PM   #24
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'Hundreds of thousands of miles' on an X-Mart bike?
Get serious!
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Old 06-22-06, 08:18 PM   #25
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My problem with an X-Mart bike, had a $200 RoadMaster as a teen, was the thing worked great for awhile but then I started having trouble with the chain/gears (not sure exactly what was wrong). I tried have the LBS work on it but they said they were having trouble working on it because it was made with low quality parts (I know part was they wanted me to buy one of theirs... they kept mentioning their bikes were better In the end the bike sat in the garage for several years because the chain would never stay properly adjusted on the thing and would fall off after several minutes. Ended up getting stolen one day. Didn't even report the theft to the police... the thing was junked.

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