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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 03-06-12, 06:07 AM   #1
951bike
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Walmart commuter bike?

Hey i've spent the last hour lurking here. and i thought i'd ask a question .

Getting a cheap wal-mart single speed to commute in a city to save on crazy gas prices is what i had in mind.

only problem is I'm a college student.

i know you guys don't like people riding cheap bikes on the road, but i don't have $5000 to put into a carbon fiber racing bike, and i don't want a $900 bianchi that the local bike shop was pushing on me. the cheapest bike there was a bianchi pista at $800.

i feel that it's going to be stolen.
i've also asked a few bike riders around here and they are pretty snobby when it comes to brands and what you decide to commute with.

so is commuting on a bike not welcome unless you spent at least a grand? does it not save any money unless i get a "quality" $1000+ bike with carbon fiber or forged alumium compoentes?

if so i think im better off buying a kawasaki ninja 250R for $3500, since its a little more useful than a carbon fiber trek with aerospokes and what not that everyone must have. CHEAPER TOO!
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Old 03-06-12, 06:17 AM   #2
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I see lots of fat guys riding sportbikes around.

If you want to get a cheap bike and ride it to school, that's great. If you get one from WalMart, that's fine, but understand it's only going to last a year or two with actual use. Maybe by that time you'll know what you want, and could see spending more for something that will last decades.

Just get on a bike and ride, we don't care what kind it is. Most of us have been through the "cheap bike" phase and realized that if you actually use the thing, it's a waste of money in the long run. I was the same way.
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Old 03-06-12, 06:23 AM   #3
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Well if the fat guys on those sport bikes are less confrontational than bike riders i'll ride tight there with them on my commuter 250R that i got for cheaper than a bike i only plan to ride until i graduate which is in a few months
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Old 03-06-12, 06:39 AM   #4
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Getting a cheap wal-mart single speed to commute in a city to save on crazy gas prices is what i had in mind.
And why not? It's a good idea. You get exercise and fitness and health. You save money. It's all good.

Last fall I stumbled across a Thruster 700c fixie in my nearby Walmart. I actually found myself liking the rather garish color scheme on the thing. The price was only $99.99, which is a good thing if theft is a concern.
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Old 03-06-12, 06:45 AM   #5
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Most commuters don't ride the really expensive bicycles. Commuters tend to be less snobbish than roadies. However, nobody really wants to ride a Walmart bike, if it can be avoided. That's why we all try to maintain jobs and incomes that can one day, afford us the opportunity to upgrade our bikes, or replace them with newer ones, when possible. I guess that's why we commute to work and to school. We do it to maintain and improve upon both our lives and our rides.

Hey! That sorta sounds like you too... College student!

PS.

Actually, if you're good with a wrench, you can MacGuyver a Walmart bike into service, indefinitely...

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Old 03-06-12, 06:56 AM   #6
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A single speed Wal Mart bike should be fine, but I'll bet there are plenty of free or super cheap used bikes for sale in a college town...
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Old 03-06-12, 07:48 AM   #7
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i know you guys don't like people riding cheap bikes on the road, but i don't have $5000 to put into a carbon fiber racing bike, and i don't want a $900 bianchi that the local bike shop was pushing on me. the cheapest bike there was a bianchi pista at $800.
Quote:
is commuting on a bike not welcome unless you spent at least a grand? does it not save any money unless i get a "quality" $1000+ bike with carbon fiber or forged alumium compoentes?
Quote:
i think im better off buying a kawasaki ninja 250R for $3500, since its a little more useful than a carbon fiber trek with aerospokes and what not that everyone must have. CHEAPER TOO!
Geez, a little judgemental aren't we? Believe it or not, not everyone who rides an LBS branded bike is an arse. Most of the people here are very helpful and many started out right where you are, including me.

Forget the snobs. They are no different than the trust fund babies who think you need a Mercedes Turbo to go on a beer run. I ride 20+ year old frames, two of which are chrome-moly and I don't hang my head for anyone. You are still better off staying away from WalMart bikes, not for the snob appeal, but because they tend to be very low end and will cost you more in the end, either with repairs or early replacement. Look for a used, brand name bike like Trek, Giant, Fuji, Cannondale, Specialized, etc. I've found good used MTBs for under $100 and decent road bikes for under $250. As long as you get a good solid, straight frameset that fits you well, you can ride them for a very long time. You can even put money into repairs and refurbishing without flushing it away like you would on a department store bike. My main bike is based on a 1990s Trek 700 frameset set up as a light touring bike with midrange components. I bought the original bike in ridable condition for $35. Even with the upgrades I have less than $400 into it (way less if you consider the money from flipping a couple of donor bikes). I'll be riding this bike for many years after a new Huffy or Roadmaster would have been sold for scrap. The bike snobs might look down on my bike but I don't give a rat's arse. It's comfortable, reliable, reasonably fast for a touring bike, and I built it with my own hands.

It's not inexpensive bikes that most of the forum members warn against, it's "cheap" bikes that won't perform well or hold up. You don't save money with a cheap bike, you just spend smaller amounts over and over. If you think brand name bikes are expensive consider it this way, a soda or coffee costs $1.00 or more. For the cost of skipping one soda or coffee per day for one year you can get a very decent used bike and a helmet. After the first year you can ride your bike for a decade virtually free. If you can even contemplate spending $3,000+ for a motorcycle, you can certainly ride a quality, reliable commuter.

And don't knock those guys on the carbon fiber bikes. I purchased my used aluminum Trek 1400 from a community bicycle co-op for $200 when one of those roadies upgraded and donated three older but high quality road bikes (all Treks). It appears he even had them serviced not very long before donating them, all the bearings were freshly packed, the wheels were true, and everything was in proper adjustment. Doesn't sound like a snob to me.
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Old 03-06-12, 07:49 AM   #8
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I say so what a Walmart bike will only last a year, so if you bought a bike a year for the next 10 years at $99 that is only going to be $1,000 dollars, which is still less than some of those bikes the LBS wants to sell you, and who actually keeps even an expensive bike that long before they buy another?

I'm just making a silly point here, but just buy what you can afford and ride it, and don't worry about what others think!

That said, some of us still have to learn the hard way!

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Old 03-06-12, 07:55 AM   #9
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I'd go back to bike shop and tell them you want a bike for what ever your budget is (say 300)and see what they can do. If they dont want your bussiness they are idiots.

Next step is get on Craigslist.
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Old 03-06-12, 08:09 AM   #10
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I think part of this that you have to have a bike that you will actually ride. If you buy the wrong bike (cheaper, whatever) then you won't want to ride it and you will end up throwing your money away. So.... the bike has to be "right enough". As others have said you could probably take the money you would spend on a new bike and get a better used one.

As far as what someone else may think, make it your hobby to irritate them. Ride a cheaper bike and be happy, that would be fun. Put a bell on it... maybe some baseball cards in the spokes and say "WEEE!" a bunch when you go down hills.
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Old 03-06-12, 08:26 AM   #11
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Is this the bike? http://www.walmart.com/ip/700C-Men-s...-Bike/13398142
If you just want it for a year, grab it. Put some crappy stickers all over it and some spoke cards and you'll be one of the cool kids.

Going by the tone of your posts, you couldn't care less about the bike anyway, and unless you are wanting attention from other commuters, I can tell you now they wouldn't give it a second glance. Just get the bike and ride. Forget about the motorbike as you'll be just feeding the gas companies.

I would see easily over three hundred commuters a day, and I couldn't tell you the brand of not even one bike out there from today, even if my life depended on it.
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Old 03-06-12, 08:34 AM   #12
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Wow, my LBS sells Giant and Trek bikes and they have rides for any budget. They also carry used and consignment bikes. I'm relatively new to cycling but I guess maybe I'm spoiled by my LBS if yours is so pushy and carries such a limited selection. O.o

Anyway, get a walmart bike if you want. Especially if you're only going to be riding it for a year or less. It'll work just fine.
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Old 03-06-12, 08:38 AM   #13
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I think I smell a
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Old 03-06-12, 08:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jimbo47 View Post
I say so what a Walmart bike will only last a year, so if you bought a bike a year for the next 10 years at $99 that is only going to be $1,000 dollars, which is still less than some of those bikes the LBS wants to sell you, and who actually keeps even an expensive bike that long before they buy another? .......
I had the same thought process many years ago, but my commuting needs trashed even the entry level LBS bikes in less than a year, and there's no pleasure in making repairs to, or lugging around a disabled bike far from home.

Another thing, my commuter bike is personally set up for my size, needs, has considerable amount of accessories and set up time, which makes my rides far more enjoyable than an off the rack bike, regardless if it's a Wally bike or an LBS bike. If the bike goes down, I'm definitely not dumping the bike on the spot, and start heading for the nearest big box or LBS.
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Old 03-06-12, 08:54 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by 951bike View Post
i know you guys don't like people riding cheap bikes on the road, but i don't have $5000 to put into a carbon fiber racing bike, and i don't want a $900 bianchi that the local bike shop was pushing on me. the cheapest bike there was a bianchi pista at $800.
Bite your tongue! This is the commuting forum, not road racer forum. We like any kind of bikes on the road.

I don't know about Walmart's single speed, but this is my fourth winter using a Denali, around 18-19,000 miles.
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Old 03-06-12, 10:13 AM   #16
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I purchased one of the higher priced Wal Mart bikes when I first started riding. I rode it on a 16 mile round trip commute and I was constantly having to fiddle with it mechanically, there were many trips that were flat out painful due to some type of failure or another. After 2 months, the seat clamp had stopped holding tight, the rear wheel was destroyed, the front wheel was almost destroyed, and my left crank arm wouldnt stay on, no matter what I did. I trashed it and bought a used Trek hybrid that serves me well as my hauler/rain bike now that Ive upgraded. The only good thing I can say about buying that Wal mart bike is that it got me hooked again and I learned about the importance of quality over price. I also saved enough from not driving for those 2 months to pay for the bike, so I lost nothing.
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Old 03-06-12, 10:30 AM   #17
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From a guy with a few snobish looking bikes, you would be much better off finding an old bikeshop quality bike like an 80's rock hopper for $50 than to buy a new bike from wal-mart. You can get new bike shop bikes for just over $300 from many manufacturers , ie: Giant, Trek, Specialized, Kona, etc. Keep in mind if you buy a walmart bike you will likely end up spending quite a bit of money on repairs if you are not comfortable with bike repair.
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Old 03-06-12, 10:45 AM   #18
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I went down the Wal-Mart road about 2 years ago. 1/4 mile from home on my first ride the chain slipped under heavy pedaling. From that moment on I stopped trusting the bike. I was always a little anxious riding it. Eventually I shelved it. I just recently got a new bike from my LBS. I am already happier I paid a little extra cash to get a bike I feel I can trust. I have had no problems. It's been less than 100 miles so far but like I said earlier. The Wally bike was giving issues after 1/4 mile. It never stayed adjusted.

Find a good bike in your price range from Craigslist or LBS and go with it that way. The big box store bikes are just trouble.
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Old 03-06-12, 10:57 AM   #19
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You may be able to find a quality used bike on craigslist for the same, or maybe a little more than at wally's. You can get a better bike. Best if you know something about bikes, or take a friend who does.
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Old 03-06-12, 11:02 AM   #20
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I agree with going the used route instead of Wally world. You'll need to learn what you are looking at first and how to determine the condition, but you can get yourself a much better bike for $100-150, perhaps even less if you can be patient enough for that good deal to come around.

I recently fixed up a pawnshop find for one of my wife's coworkers. An 80's or early 90's Diamondback Topanga. Low end bike store model. Good bones but needed a little work. $55+tax for the bike, new tires, brake cables, grips and some other stuff out of my spares bin. That and a bit of work. Ended up spending $110 and she got something far more durable and better performing than something from Wal-mart. Not as flashy, perhaps.

After that I ran across a steal of a deal on about a 15 year old GT hybrid for $40 on Craigslist. This is going to be my spare bike for when someone is visiting and wants to go riding with me. (I need to post some pics in the N+1 thread)
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Old 03-06-12, 11:09 AM   #21
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Inverse of .. heavier the lock, as the [expensive] bike gets lighter.
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Old 03-06-12, 11:14 AM   #22
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I'd go back to bike shop and tell them you want a bike for what ever your budget is (say 300)and see what they can do. If they dont want your bussiness they are idiots.

Next step is get on Craigslist.
+1 ... My LBS (I'm located in a very small, rural town) has plenty of vintage, quality bikes between 300-400 USD. I'm not sure where you're located, but if you're somewhere in Southern California (assuming 951 is your area code), then I'm sure there are plenty of options available to you (at least more than are available to me here in Mississippi).
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Old 03-06-12, 11:23 AM   #23
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I had the same thought process many years ago, but my commuting needs trashed even the entry level LBS bikes in less than a year, and there's no pleasure in making repairs to, or lugging around a disabled bike far from home.
I met up with a guy while on tour from Pittsburgh to Washington DC who began his ride in San Fransisco. He flew to San Fransisco with his seat and pedals, bought a Schwinn from Walmart and proceeded across country with no problems other than flat tires. He had panniers and a trailer. He put over 4000 miles on the bike including some rough trails. He went the Walmart route because he figured he would trash a good bike on the ride. He originally thought he may have to replace the bike during his trip figuring the cost would be less than a good touring bike, but the Walmart bike prevailed.

Buy what you want, and ride it for all it's worth and then some.
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Old 03-06-12, 11:25 AM   #24
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I agree with others that say to buy a good used bike. What I worry about on those cheap Walmart bikes are the brakes. Some of them are unbelievably crappy, and I'm not going to bet my life on those.

Whatever you buy and ride, don't worry about what other people think. You can't go through life that way.
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Old 03-06-12, 11:52 AM   #25
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You are young, you still care about what other people think. I get that, but it's an impediment to sound judgement.

Just get on Craigslist and get it done.
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