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  1. #1
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    Mongoose Paver (Walmart) review (was "What's wrong with a Walmart bike?")

    Introduction

    This post is a continuation of a topic started by "caroline162" in July 2008 concerning the Mongoose Paver at Walmart for $119.

    I hope we can keep the anti-Walmart comments to a minimum. They were adequately expressed in Caroinle's topic. I tend to agree, although I'm not religious about it. (All things in moderation.). Personally, I try to only buy loss leaders from Walmart (so they lose money). I viewed this purchase as an opportunity to waste Walmart's time if anything went wrong.

    >>> The Bike

    The Paver is a hybrid with a lightweight aluminum frame; 700x45 tires (close to mountain-bike width on a street-bike diameter?); a comfort-bike handlebars; seven speeds; rear rack; no shocks.


    • Photos found on the internet. (Scroll halfway down. Some photos show replacement handlebars.).



    Despite all the valid criticisms of retail bikes (Walmart, Target, et. al.), my Google searches found many experienced riders who said this was a decent bike... for Walmart. That's what got me interested in it, and led me to Caroline's topic. However, after reading all *300* posts, I discovered there was no conclusion. I posted my introduction and circumstances there.

    >>> My Goals

    As mentioned in my intro, I haven't ridden in 30-35 years. I wasn't prepared to spend a lot of money on a LBS bike. I've also been semi-retired for over a year. I have a lot of time on my hands. For me, wasting time is better than wasting money.

    Considering the "Paver's" unique description of as a "decent bike... for Walmart," I thought I would give it a try. I could tear it apart and learn how to do my own maintenance without risking damage to an expensive bike. If I messed it up, I could return it to Walmart. If it went well, I could end up with a decent bike that I could sell for as much as I spent.

    The Walmart Experience

    I ordered the bike "site-to-store" thinking it would be shipped to the store with regular merchandise, reducing the risk of my local UPS mouth-breather damaging it.

    However, when I went to the store to receive it, the box was beat to heck. Cardboard squares were taped over large sections of the box. Personell exhibited shame that the warehouse shipped something that was most certainly damaged.

    Instead of inspecting it in the store, I took it home so I could examine it more closely.

    The axle threads were dinged. Front rim bent (about a 1/2" wobble). Some scratches in the paint. Gouges in the front rim's finish.

    I took it back to the store. All they could do is refund the money and tell me to order another online.

    I went home to order another, but found they were "out of stock." I called 1-800-Walmart to see if anyone could tell me if they would get more. All they could do is offer me $40 off any other bike.

    That caused me to think I may have received the very last Mongoose Paver. That would make me almost famous(!). And, I really wanted that bike. So, I went back to the store and asked the manager if she'd give me the $40 discount on the damaged bike.

    I got the bike for $79.

    The Bike Experience

    Using tutorials from www.bicycletutor.com, I disassembled everything. Axels, bottom bracket, headset, brakes. Keep in mind that everything mentioned below is a result of factory assembly, not a Walmart employee.

    1. The bottom bracket had about 1/2 tsp. metal shavings in the grease. The bearings were running over metal shavings. It looked like they used a tool to size and tap the BB, and didn't blow it out.
    2. The front and rear axles were over tightened. They felt "crunchy" when I spun the wheels.
    3. The front rim had a spoke poking about 1/8" past the nipple (into the tube).
    4. I don't think they used actual grease. I think it was Cosmoline (a preservative for long-term storage and shipment of metal objects like guns). The stuff smelled putrid, rancid. Like dirty laundry.

      Only the headset bearings had a petroleum smell (and greasy feel).
    5. Both inner tubes failed.

      1. The 45mm tires seem too wide for the 21mm rim. One tube exploded when the tire slipped off the rim. That was a common complaint when customer feedback was displayed on the Walmart page.).
      2. The other tube developed a leak in a seam after I aired it up 4-5 times (trying to get some experience with how easily the tire might slip off the rim). That was another common complaint.



    Conclusion

    • I spent the most time fixing the 1/2" wiggle in the front rim. I guess I had a bias toward one direction because I inadvertently "dished" the rim. I had to "un-dish" it.


    • I spent about $80 on Bontrager H4 Plus (700x35) tires and Avenir thorn resistant tubes. (I didn't want to invest in new tubes and risk blowing them if the tires were too wide and would slip off.).

      I literally have more money in the tires/tubes than I have in the bike. But, that's ok because I'd like to ride reliably with low risk of flats. I don't mind putting some money there.


    If I had to do it over again, I might have purchased a KHS or Giant at a LBS for about $220-$270. But, for me, this was a good experience. Especially at $79.

    • I learned a lot about doing my own maintenance which I would have been reluctant to do on a $500 bike.


    • I've got a decent bike for $79. Better tubes and tires than would have come with a $220-$270 bike.


    • I can determine my passion for riding, and comfort adjustments. I can donate the bike to the local co-op when I'm ready for an upgrade. (I may donate the 700x45 tires now.).


    I thought this review could help others who may consider the Mongoose Paver. But, it appears that model is discontinued. (Strange coincidence that I got the last one?). But, hopefully it will be a useful review of big-box retail bikes generally.

    It amazes me to think of all the people riding around on Cosmoline and metal shavings in their bottom bracket.

    I wouldn't recommend others do what I did. If you're employed and your time has some value, a $220-$270 bike should be worth more than all the hassles I went through.

  2. #2
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    Welcome to BF!

    A thoughtful and informative post.

    I just sold a couple of kids' Mongeese purchased ~10 years ago (ToysRUs, I think) that worked well as purchased and held up well over the years. I can't imagine what might have happened to Mongoose inthe mean time...

    Happy biking!
    Geoff
    "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am"

  3. #3
    12mph+ commuter
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    I bought a Paver Spring 2008. It's gone through 2 minnesota winters as my nasty weather bike. I put on new brakes, new freewheel, new chain, new tires, and some new spokes. It works fine for what I need, and there is a paltry used market in my area.

  4. #4
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    Pics of your newly fixed up bike, please? It is our custom.

    How's the ride? Is the set up a comfort style or more a stretched out ride? Do you ride more on streets or on MUPs?


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclokitty View Post
    How's the ride? Is the set up a comfort style or more a stretched out ride? Do you ride more on streets or on MUPs?
    I haven't ridden in 30 years. So, it's hard to make comparisons. (That's one reason a cheap starter bike appealed to me. I can get my "legs" and make a valid comparison when trying better bikes.).

    Having said that ...

    1. I'm 6'-0". The frame length feels a little cramped (front to back). Based upon sizing/adjustment guides I've read, it seems like the seat needs to go back 1-2".
    2. The seat hurts my butt. I'll give it some time to see if that's just a matter of killing off some nerves back there.
    3. I'm impressed with the light weight. The rear rack, kickstand and crank arms are steel. They weigh almost as much as the rest of the bike. If I keep this bike, I might replace some of that with aluminum parts.


    I intended to just ride to the grocery store on sidewalks/pavement. 1/2 to 2 miles one way. But, I might get into it and ride some of the paths around here. Some are gravel.

    The $40 discount (online purchase) is still available to me. I might buy the Schwinn Avenue for $159.[1]

    I hate to patronize Walmart again. But,

    1. They won't make much money at that discounted (20%-off) price.
    2. I get to learn maintenance on another bike. Just have another project.
    3. I'm 2 miles from a university. It will be a seller's market in 3-4 months (August-September). Students don't want a lot of drama with a bike. I could easily sell them for what I'll have in them if I advertise them as freshly maintained, flat-resistant, tubes, available to tune up the bike, etc. (Although I may want to keep the expensive Bontrager tires and install the original Pavers.).


    I'm toying with that idea.

    [1] Video I found when looking at the Paver video (same guy).

    Mark

  6. #6
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Sounds very similar to buying more complex equipment from Harbor Freight. Usually there are the bones of a workable system there, but they're assembled for ****. A friend said he bought a metal brake from HF once, and it was junk to use. He took it apart and found the only thing wrong with it was that it still had casting sand in the joints, and it wasn't tightened properly. After cleaning and properly reassembling, it was actually a pretty good piece of equipment that he's still using.

    Sounds like the same thing here. If you were really broke, but were capable of disassembling, cleaning, relubing and reassembling the bike, you could probably get a servicable bike for little money but several hours of your time.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    This is a rather interesting discussion. I was looking at one of these several months ago to try to help out an international graduate student. He was broke, but had been given a Next full suspension wal-mart mountain bike that had been left in the elements for several years. It quickly became apparent to him (long after I had told him) that it was a money pit. Even at $130 or whatever, it would have been a much better starting point.

    So, how does it ride? Are the brakes acceptable? How much do you think it weighs?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Chris_in_Miami's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Sounds very similar to buying more complex equipment from Harbor Freight. Usually there are the bones of a workable system there, but they're assembled for ****. A friend said he bought a metal brake from HF once, and it was junk to use. He took it apart and found the only thing wrong with it was that it still had casting sand in the joints, and it wasn't tightened properly. After cleaning and properly reassembling, it was actually a pretty good piece of equipment that he's still using.
    I somewhat agree with that, but I can't help but be amazed at how bad some of their tools are. I bought a set of snap ring pliers for a quick project a few weeks ago, and one of the angled tips broke off on the first use. I looked closely at the tip and realized that they were cracked at the bend, and I'm sure nobody inspects these cheap tools at the factory... FWIW, I do have a few HF tools that have not broken yet, but I keep telling myself "never again..." I figure it's only matter of time before the magnetic parts tray I bought begins repelling ferrous metals with great force.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    So from this I guess you learned that the thread with 300 posts was essentially correct and that junk from Wall Mart is still junk from Wall Mart and is in fact pretty junky.

    Seriously, get a real bicycle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
    I somewhat agree with that, but I can't help but be amazed at how bad some of their tools are.
    Speaking of Harbor Freight, I bought this small thumb-operated grease *** for $5. It stands about 5" tall, 2" diameter.

    It works very well. It has a floating base plate inside the unit. Push it all the way to the bottom, fill the base with your favorite grease, screw on the top. Then, while operating the plunger, push the bottom plate up until it begins squirting grease. (There is a hole in the bottom, non-floating plate to poke a screwdriver against the floating plate). After it's "primed" like this, it will suck the bottom plate up as you dispense grease.

    It discharges a tiny stream of grease. Maybe 1/32" diameter. One (slow) thumb press will cover a typical bicycle bearing race.

    I like it a lot (for $5). I bought a large cartridge of Lubrimatic Marine Bearing grease at Lowes. That's more grease than I'll use. I spoon it out of the cartridge and into the Harbor Freight tool. Cheaper than buying plastic tubes of grease.

    I agree that a lot of HF's merchandise is bad. But, this is a nice tool for the money.
    Last edited by az2008; 04-25-10 at 02:09 PM. Reason: Typos

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
    How much do you think it weighs?
    Sorry for the delay. I lent my bathroom scale to a traveling friend to weigh his luggage.

    After replacing the tires and tubes, the bike is 33 lbs. Those Avenir thorn-resistant tubes are heavy. I bet they added 2-3 pounds. The Bontrager tubes weigh about the same as the originals (heavier tires, but I'm using a narrower size, so about the same).

    Guestimate: The steel rack, kickstand and crank arms add 5-7 pounds. I think the bike could be made much lighter replacing those.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
    So, how does it ride? Are the brakes acceptable?
    As mentioned earlier, I don't have much experience to compare it to. Still figuring out what's comfortable to me. It's a bit cramped for me lengthwise (6'-0", 33" inseam). The seat and bars adjust higher than I need. But, I feel I'm too close to the headset. Or, it might be the comfort (pull-back) bars.

    It rolls well. (Better than if I hadn't overhauled the over-tight axles, and bottom bracket containing metal shavings, and trued the wheels.). The brakes stop well. No squealing.

    The brake components (levers, v-brake hardware) look cheap. I disassembed everything and regreased/oiled them. It works fine. But, there's a cheapness to the feel.

    I went to Target last night and looked at the Schwinn Trailway ($239). It's the same bike as the Walmart Avenue ($199, which I can get for $159 because of all the troubles I had with the site-to-store Paver experience). That confirmed to me that the Paver is a little more compact. The Trailway/Avenue is taller and longer. I didn't want a bike with a front shock (shocks seem like eye-candy marketing, like everyone expects a "good" bike to have a shock). But, I may get that bike considering the special price available to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
    Even at $130 or whatever, it would have been a much better starting point.
    For the price, I think it's a good bike. But, a person has to set their expectations. It's a good base to work from. But, it has cheap components, unusable inner-tubes, poor assembly (even from the factory), and the site-to-store process may damage the box (nobody seems to be able to read "do not lay flat"). If a person's willing to put some effort into it, it can be a good bike for $20-$40 more.

    But, at that point, the KHS or Giant bikes at my LBS look good at $239-$259, about $100 more than what you'd end up in the Paver. I think it's a matter of how valuable a person's time is. For me, I have way too much time on my hands.

    I'll probably end up regretting that I didn't do one of those bikes (hindsight's always 20/20). But, it was a good experience, and an opportunity to learn a lot about maintenance. Especially at the discounted $79 price due to damage.

    Unfortunately, I get the impression Walmart has discontinued the Paver. My review may only be useful as a general "retail" experience. I just felt obligated to post because I responded to Caroline's old topic and said I'd share my experience. (I didn't know I was going to get the last Paver in the world.).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    After replacing the tires and tubes, the bike is 33 lbs. Those Avenir thorn-resistant tubes are heavy. I bet they added 2-3 pounds. The Bontrager tubes weigh about the same as the originals (heavier tires, but I'm using a narrower size, so about the same).
    I find that weight a little shocking for aluminum. My steel bike only weight 30 lbs. While I accept the tires are heavy and the components are cheap, it still seems like it should be lighter than that.
    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    As mentioned earlier, I don't have much experience to compare it to. Still figuring out what's comfortable to me. It's a bit cramped for me lengthwise (6'-0", 33" inseam). The seat and bars adjust higher than I need. But, I feel I'm too close to the headset. Or, it might be the comfort (pull-back) bars.
    Whether you're buying cheap or expensive, most bikes are sized just by their height...until you get into performance racing bikes, little thought is put into front-to-back distance. Most seats are somewhat adjustable, though, and you may have room to back up an inch or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    The brake components (levers, v-brake hardware) look cheap. I disassembed everything and regreased/oiled them. It works fine. But, there's a cheapness to the feel.
    This is usually the downfall of cheap bikes. While you can overhaul them and make them rideable, the components tend to be made out of cheaper, softer, metal...and less of it wherever possible. So the brakes have a tendency to be spongy, and the front derailleur easily bends and fails to shift smoothly, and I've seen cases where the brake levers start shedding metal. Still, if you're willing to put the work in, it's not a terrible way to try biking for minimal cash investment.

    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    poor assembly (even from the factory),
    While the cheaper the bike, the poorer the assembly...in general factory assembly isn't great on any bike. One of the biggest things separating the LBS from the department store is how much work they put into final assembly, and making sure that the factory adjustments are right. You can buy pricier bikes with better components from the department stores, but they'll still be poorly assembled.
    Last edited by neil; 04-26-10 at 11:21 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    Speaking of Harbor Freight, I bought this small thumb-operated grease *** for $5. It stands about 5" tall, 2" diameter.

    It works very well.
    Does it leak? I can't seem to find a grease *** that doesn't leak.

  14. #14
    Fred on Foot dwilbur3's Avatar
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    My wife commutes to work 2-3 times a week (11 miles round trip) on an old Target bike I payed $85 for 15 years ago.

    The only thing I really don't like about it is the brakes. They're V-brakes and they weren't too bad for their day, but they're really a pain to keep adjusted.

    I've tried to talk her into getting a new bike (we can certainly afford it) but she had a friend that bought a new bike at a LBS last year and it gave her such bad back problems she never rides any more. So it looks like we have to keep this one until it catastrophically fails.

  15. #15
    Senior Member TonyS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
    So from this I guess you learned that the thread with 300 posts was essentially correct and that junk from Wall Mart is still junk from Wall Mart and is in fact pretty junky.

    Seriously, get a real bicycle.
    That isn't what he said... he said (and I'm loosely paraphrasing here) that he discovered that this particular mongoose had good parts but the assembly was apparently performed by orangutans with parkinsons... which is my experience with X-mart bikes as well. And if you're willing to put time into fixing them (and sometimes even if you're not) they make decent bikes for use on MUPs and as beater bikes that you won't mind if they get stolen.

    I had a Pacific full suspension mountain bike that I purchased for $20 at a yard sale that served me faithfully for 4 years despite my constant neglect (it lived in and was often ridden in the rain and snow; never did any maintenance to it whatsoever) plus however many years it served the family before me. I then rode the Katy Trail on it, so it took me across Missouri, and finally on day 4 of that trip, a cable snapped, and in trying to fix the cable we broke the shifter for the FD. So I just put it in the middle chainring, and it's effectively a 7 speed... and when I moved a month ago it was stolen from the pile of trash I left at the curb... so it's still out there chuggin' along somewhere. It just won't die!

    Anyway, the point is... for $20 I got 4 years and ~ 1000 miles of use out of that thing. And had it been stolen or wrecked, I wouldn't have flipped out like I did when my Trek that I won was stolen. Yes, bike shop bikes are nicer. No, that doesn't mean that there isn't a legitimate place for X-mart bikes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member mechanicalron's Avatar
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    My bike has a home and it is my local bike shop! I can go and ask all sorts of things and tell them my needs, pick one out that is MY size and get that bike fitted to me. I may even get to meet the mechanic that put it together and will tune it up for free after I get some miles on it and he will tweek it in for me! Lots of shops talk and meet directly with bike co reps as they tend to be real people that stand behind what they make and sell. Lots of shops (if they can stay in buis in the proxi of a wallmart) have to charge extra for a department store bike tune-up do to the soft mettals used. I like the bike shop and am happy I can buy what I want the FIRST time and have the thing serve me well for a long time!
    "newbie at heart"

  17. #17
    Pro Paper Plane Pilot wunderkind's Avatar
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    You can't argue against a $79 new commuter bike. Period!
    Vancouver Modern Portrait Photography

    Zenfolio.com membership discount code: UBV-HJY-SCY

  18. #18
    Fred on Foot dwilbur3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
    You can't argue against a $79 new commuter bike. Period!
    I think you'll find that people here can argue about almost anything.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Praxis View Post
    Does it leak? I can't seem to find a grease *** that doesn't leak.
    So far it doesn't. I suppose the big test will be when it's 120 degrees here in June.

    It might have something to do with the grease. Some greases seem to separate into a liquid form more than others. There is a minimal clearance for the internal floating bottom to rise up with the grease as it's discharged (just suction pulling it up). So, if a grease separates, I think it will leak.

    I'm using Lubrimatic Marine Bearing Grease. I don't know yet if it separates. If it does, I'll try Super Lube multi-purpose synthetic grease. I suppose synthetics don't separate.

    For now, I cut the top of a styrofoam egg carton and use that as a tray to hold the grease ***. If it leaks, it won't make a mess. It won't be bad to wipe off the ***, and tray floor.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Some people will got to any expense to save a dollar.

  21. #21
    Senior Member TonyS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwilbur3 View Post
    I think you'll find that people here can argue about almost anything.
    It is the Internet we're talking about, after all...

  22. #22
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by az2008 View Post
    I went to Target last night and looked at the Schwinn Trailway ($239).
    That's the bike I got last year. I'd had a "real" bike (Trek) from an LBS before (got stolen), but I just didn't have the funds last year for more. In hindsight, I probably should have gone the Craigs List route, but you know what they say about hindsight. That said, it's all Shimano components - of the the same quality I could have gotten on an entry-level LBS bike. Only real weak spot's been the wheels. And other maintenance/repairs so far have been learning opportunities for me, be it about bikes themselves or cycling-community things like coops, etc.

    In the end, the bike's been great to me. I've commuted nearly 3,000 in the last year on it. I'm taking it on a weekend tour or two this summer. If it weren't for my Target bike, I'd probably not be cycling right now. Will I get another Target bike? No. But it got me hooked on cycling in a big way that I might not have become otherwise. And for that, it was worth all $219 I paid for it and all the headaches since.
    Last edited by EKW in DC; 04-26-10 at 02:17 PM.

  23. #23
    Alfredo Contador |3iker's Avatar
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    ^ The Schwinn Tourist from Target is a respectable hybrid. To me it is better than many other costlier LBS products.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by |3iker View Post
    ^ The Schwinn Tourist from Target is a respectable hybrid. To me it is better than many other costlier LBS products.
    I saw the "Tourist" last night when I went to see the Trailway. It really caught my eye. I pulled it down twice and rode it in the aisles. Very nice. It seemed a bit low and compact to me. The Trailway fit me better. But, my friend (about 5'-6 or 7") liked the Tourist's fit. The Trailway was a bit too tall for him.).

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by EKW in DC View Post
    That's the bike I got last year. I'd had a "real" bike (Trek) from an LBS before (got stolen), but I just didn't have the funds last year for more.
    That's been my predicament. Unemployed/semi-retired (not looking) for over a year, I'd like to get into riding. But, I don't want to spend a lot of money on what may not pan out. In the end, I'll probably spend as much (or more) than an LBS bike. But, psychologically, I couldn't pull that trigger.

    For example, you mention theft. If I'd bought a $500 Trek 7.2, I would have been nervous about locking it up. I might not have ridden it as much. With this discounted $120 bike (for $80), I'm not as stressed. If I get a better bike, this can be my "beater" that I ride to higher-risk locations.

    To me, all roads lead to Rome. I think what's more important than religious fanaticism is informed consent. If an individual knows their calculus, and accepts the risks/tradeoffs, a big-box retail bike can serve a useful purpose (get started sooner, ride more, interested in an upgrade). IMO, someone who buys more bike than they're ready for is just as mistaken as those who expect a $100 bike to be rideable.

    I talked (sheepishly) to my LBS stores about my decision. They were ok with it. They said they make a lot of money on Walmart bikes. And, if it gets me riding (and buying accessories, and interested in a better bike...). One store remarked that I wouldn't be there buying a pump, tires and tubes if I hadn't bought the Paver. Another was happy for me that I could end up with a good bike after doing all the work I did (and most people don't).

    I think those stores were surprised because most retail buyers don't realize the risks/tradeoffs. They just think all bikes are the same, and (like a moth to a flame)... ooohhh.... $100..... (zap)

    Informed consent.

    Quote Originally Posted by EKW in DC View Post
    Only real weak spot's been the wheels.
    What kind of problems have you had with the wheels? I've read that finding tubes with the long (double-wall) Schrader valve is a problem. The YouTube guy said he runs Prestas without a grommet/adapter. I'd worry about debris getting inside the tire cavity.

    I don't know anything about spoke configuration, but the Trailway/Avenue spoke configuration concerns me. I don't see how you can true a wheel with large spokeless gaps like that.

    I'm still thinking about buying the Avenue. If it weren't for the special $40 discount I will get at Walmart (due to my Paver problem), I'd spend $30 more for the Trailway. I like the silver color. But, for an $70 difference, I can't justify it.
    Last edited by az2008; 04-26-10 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Typos

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