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Old 11-30-09, 09:40 PM   #1
Don in Austin
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Something HORRIBLY wrong with my bike, but WHAT??

I seem to be missing something that should be obvious. The bike is a Schwinn S-25 full suspension that I bought at a pawn shop for $130 tax included. Originally the idea was to have a spare bike at the shop for anybody who wanted to use it. It sold new for as little as $189. So this is a hard-core "department store bike" -- a piece of unmitigated crap in other words. But yet I like to ride it as much or more than my Cannondale, my Trek or my new Dawes road bike. I tweaked it to my taste with street tires and set the suspension preload firm enough that it doesn't "pump" excessively, but will handle potholes or going over curbs with no fear. I don't do hard core off-roading through creek beds and rock piles etc. The rear derailleur was getting sloppy, so for the price of $34 I upgraded it to a Shimano Alevio. The brakes work fine after I put a "horseshoe" brace on the rear caliper to eliminate some annoying flex. The Shimano full index shifters work very well. The bike is a tad heavy, but with my weight of 175 lbs with clothes and boots an extra 10 lbs doesn't really make that much difference. I have put several hundred miles on it with no breakdowns. Average speed on pavement is only 2 mph less than the new road bike with equal effort and it is a butt load more comfortable than the road bike. It is, of course, more versatile in terms of surfaces it happy on. The Cannondale and Trek are hybridized mountain bikes and they are fine, but don't do anything for me that this Schwinn can't do.

What exactly is so wrong with this "department store bike?" I'm not getting it!

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Old 11-30-09, 09:47 PM   #2
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What makes you think there is something wrong with it?
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Old 11-30-09, 09:57 PM   #3
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I am not familiar with that model of bike, but I have done some maintenance work on newer XMart bikes and it is always very frustrating (lots of pot metal and plastic). Many of the parts appear to be throw away. But as long as they are working, I did not see anything wrong with them. You did the right thing upgrading the derailleur.

And for $50 or less, I routinely find nice name brand mountain bikes, my last ten MTB finds: five Trek, three Specialized, a Giant, and a Gary Fisher.


But all that matters is that you are happy with it! So keep enjoying it.
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Old 11-30-09, 10:00 PM   #4
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What makes you think there is something wrong with it?
The overwhelming consensus on internet bike forums, the LBS etc is that "department store" bikes are totally shoddy and contemptible. I might agree regards a Huffy --- or perhaps they sell certain models that are perfectly serviceable. I took my Schwinn to a class where the bike is hooked to a dyno and where I had bought ten sessions. (Not learning much. I am saving the sessions for the rainy season.) This is in the basement of a real high-tone bike store. The coach damn near had me asking if they had a back door service entrance I could use to slink out when the session was over.

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Old 11-30-09, 10:08 PM   #5
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I am not familiar with that model of bike, but I have done some maintenance work on newer XMart bikes and it is always very frustrating (lots of pot metal and plastic). Many of the parts appear to be throw away.
Are these pot metal bikes Huffys? This Schwinn despite the low price appears to have totally respectable components throughout. This is an earlier version of the S-25, the one with the rear shock attached to the top bar.

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But as long as they are working, I did not see anything wrong with them. You did the right thing upgrading the derailleur.

And for $50 or less, I routinely find nice name brand mountain bikes, my last ten MTB finds: five Trek, three Specialized, a Giant, and a Gary Fisher.


But all that matters is that you are happy with it! So keep enjoying it.
I would buy any of those brands you mention for $50 but not likely to find here in Austin

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Old 11-30-09, 10:46 PM   #6
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Last summer a friend brought over a new department store Schwinn for me to check out and tweak up. He had purchased it for his 12 year old daughter. It was decent quality - aluminum frame, alloy wheels, QR front, and bottle cage bosses on the DT. The assembly was almost spot on and took very little tweaking. Wheels were true and even the chain had been oiled. I was impressed.

The only thing I didn't like was. . .it had front suspension. But, hey, that's the style these days.
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Old 12-01-09, 12:00 AM   #7
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IAnd for $50 or less, I routinely find nice name brand mountain bikes, my last ten MTB finds: five Trek, three Specialized, a Giant, and a Gary Fisher.
But all that matters is that you are happy with it! So keep enjoying it.
In my poor college days in the '70s, and again in the last few years when my kids were in school, I used to cruise thrift shops for interesting bikes. I scored quite a few for $50, $25 or even less, some in almost unused condition. A few that come to mind: Specialized Hard Rock (added fenders and road tires for commuting), $10; Centurion LeMans for $40; Bridgestone MB3 (good '80s mountain bike) for $25; and a Bridgestone RB-Something for $50. My wife or I rode each of them for a couple of years or more, then donated them back to the thrift shop when we could afford new bikes.
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Old 12-01-09, 04:32 AM   #8
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Last summer a friend brought over a new department store Schwinn for me to check out and tweak up. He had purchased it for his 12 year old daughter. It was decent quality - aluminum frame, alloy wheels, QR front, and bottle cage bosses on the DT. The assembly was almost spot on and took very little tweaking. Wheels were true and even the chain had been oiled. I was impressed.

The only thing I didn't like was. . .it had front suspension. But, hey, that's the style these days.
Life has never been the same since they put electric lights on the fronts of cars............
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Old 12-01-09, 05:16 AM   #9
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I doubt there is anything "wrong" with it. It's go a 6061 AL frame as a foundation. But, tThere is more than a fair amount of bias around department store bikes on many forums. But bias is not the same thing as reasoned thinking based on current facts. Long story short - if you like it, you like it. One thing about most department store bikes that does make sense to me is the service issue. Although this is probably true for mail order/internet purchases as well. If I buy a new bike at a bike shop and it needs adjustments or something is wrong after a few weeks of riding, I can take it back and get the issue(s) resolved - usually without much problem. There's a pretty good chance that most department stores are not able to do the same.
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Old 12-01-09, 06:45 AM   #10
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I doubt there is anything "wrong" with it. It's go a 6061 AL frame as a foundation. But, tThere is more than a fair amount of bias around department store bikes on many forums. But bias is not the same thing as reasoned thinking based on current facts. Long story short - if you like it, you like it. One thing about most department store bikes that does make sense to me is the service issue. Although this is probably true for mail order/internet purchases as well. If I buy a new bike at a bike shop and it needs adjustments or something is wrong after a few weeks of riding, I can take it back and get the issue(s) resolved - usually without much problem. There's a pretty good chance that most department stores are not able to do the same.
My road bike was a mail order/internet purchase. I had to assemble it myself. I actually considered that an advantage as I would start of more familiar with the machine. I am most comfortable doing my own repairs and adjustments. If I am riding and my bike doesn't want to shift properly I will pull over and take out my 17/1 tool and adjust it on the spot. I just can't deal with making an appointment to leave a bike for a tuneup. When I tried that a couple of times in the past then as soon as I rode the bike I ended up re-adjusting shifters or brakes. The Dawes road bike had a for crap front derailleur, but I bought a much better one for $15 on e-bay. For the several hundred dollars I saved I didn't complain. Fortunately I don't have much of a problem bending wheels, because truing a wheel is the one thing I haven't learned at this time.

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Old 12-01-09, 09:07 AM   #11
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I have had to work on many bikes for friends, acquaintances and relatives. Many of those have been department store bikes. I have noticed that the cheapest of the cheap are pure crap and I don't like to work on them because the components are so cheaply made that they are very hard if not impossible to adjust properly and they don't stay adjusted even if I do manage to get them right. But there are others that aren't too bad. The materials and components are very low end but functional. These are the bikes that sell for $150 to $250 (rough estimate) as opposed to the $75 to $100 landfill material.

I try my best to refuse to work on the real cheap ones and I always recommend that people not let anyone they care about ride on such a thing. But I think the better department store bikes are OK for light duty use. I hesitate to recommend upgrading anything on them however, because I believe that most people would be better served by riding them until they fall apart and save the money for a better bike. I also think that for most people a used shop quality bike for $150 to $250 would be a better value than a new department store bike at the same price. But people get to make their own choices about how to spend their money.

Bottom line, I think the higher level department store bikes are better than many of us are prejudiced to believe, but there is no denying that there are better bikes available and those bikes are better in real and important ways. Weight, performance, longevity, adjustability...
But any bike that does what you want it to do and that makes you want to ride is a good bike.
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Old 12-01-09, 10:14 AM   #12
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If a freakin bike works for you, it works for you, no matter the brand or where you bought it from.
Dude, you're over 50 years old, you should know better than to put any stock into the tons of FUD you read on the internet if it doesn't jibe with your own experiences.
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Old 12-01-09, 10:49 AM   #13
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If a freakin bike works for you, it works for you, no matter the brand or where you bought it from.
Dude, you're over 50 years old, you should know better than to put any stock into the tons of FUD you read on the internet if it doesn't jibe with your own experiences.
I do know better. Just commenting on the rampant elitism in so much of the biking community. But very little on this particular forum I am happy to say.

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Old 12-01-09, 11:32 AM   #14
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I do know better. Just commenting on the rampant elitism in so much of the biking community. But very little on this particular forum I am happy to say.

Don in Austin
How true How true ! I can not believe silly people spend 6 & 7 or even 8 thousand on a bike then turn their nose up at you for what your riding to me that's rather odd
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Old 12-01-09, 11:33 AM   #15
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What exactly is so wrong with this "department store bike?" I'm not getting it!
It lacks a pie holder I believe.
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Old 12-01-09, 12:31 PM   #16
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If it works for you, what does it matter what others think? If you just want to putt around town almost anything will work. If you're going to bomb down a mountain pass at 50mph, you should be more selective.
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Old 12-01-09, 12:37 PM   #17
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I just saw one of these in the sub shop were I went for lunch today. It had a flat tire.

I think the likes of Schwinn, Diamondback, and Mongoose are somewhere between a bike shop and totally cr@ppy dept store stuff. It's definitely not up to top quality standards, but it's serviceable and for someone who can do their own tune-ups and isn't worried about a few extra pounds they should be good basic transportation.
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Old 12-01-09, 04:52 PM   #18
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Old 12-01-09, 06:19 PM   #19
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Besides the quality of the components I think the quality of big box bikes depends on two things. #1 Do they have an employee that knows how to correctly assemble the bike. #2 Are they willing to give that employee the time to correctly assemble the bike.
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Old 12-01-09, 06:24 PM   #20
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What's WRONG????

It's all in YOUR mind!
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Old 12-01-09, 06:24 PM   #21
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I just saw one of these in the sub shop were I went for lunch today. It had a flat tire.

I think the likes of Schwinn, Diamondback, and Mongoose are somewhere between a bike shop and totally cr@ppy dept store stuff. It's definitely not up to top quality standards, but it's serviceable and for someone who can do their own tune-ups and isn't worried about a few extra pounds they should be good basic transportation.
I am trying to figure out the difference between the Schwinn and a less than high end bike shop bike other than the original selling price. I have found ONE design flaw and that's really all. The frame was flexing with brake application where the rear caliper bolts on. I bought a horseshoe brace to make it rigid and now no problem. But my Cannondale V800 had one of those braces on it when I bought it used, that's how I knew how to fix the Schwinn. The rear derailleur on the Schwinn was a Shimano Tourney -- guess what the rear derailleur is on my Trek MTB? The Schwinn is a little heavy, so's the Trek. I will concede that the suspension is not very advanced, but it serves my purpose for street, curb-crossing and alleyway comfort.

Now here at my shop is a friend's daughter's Huffy -- that really IS an unmitigated piece of crap.

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Old 12-01-09, 06:52 PM   #22
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Old 12-01-09, 06:57 PM   #23
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Besides the quality of the components I think the quality of big box bikes depends on two things. #1 Do they have an employee that knows how to correctly assemble the bike. #2 Are they willing to give that employee the time to correctly assemble the bike.
I'd rather assemble the bike myself.

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Old 12-03-09, 01:57 PM   #24
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I am trying to figure out the difference between the Schwinn and a less than high end bike shop bike other than the original selling price. I have found ONE design flaw and that's really all. The frame was flexing with brake application where the rear caliper bolts on. I bought a horseshoe brace to make it rigid and now no problem. But my Cannondale V800 had one of those braces on it when I bought it used, that's how I knew how to fix the Schwinn. The rear derailleur on the Schwinn was a Shimano Tourney -- guess what the rear derailleur is on my Trek MTB? The Schwinn is a little heavy, so's the Trek. I will concede that the suspension is not very advanced, but it serves my purpose for street, curb-crossing and alleyway comfort.

Now here at my shop is a friend's daughter's Huffy -- that really IS an unmitigated piece of crap.

Don in Austin

I have several Wally mart bikes that I maintain for the kids in the road. They are not nice to work on.

But I have a cheap bike. A Giant OCR3. Lowest of the low within the Giant range of road bikes and in general it is not too bad. Sora equipped- bit heavy and it did have rubbish wheels on it.(Theye were changed) I rode it for a year as my sole bike and no complaints (Other than the wheels) But Eventually I got a Good bike. I decided to keep the OCR as a wet/foul weather bike but did not ride it for about 5 months. Then the day came with wind and rain and rode down to the LBS. Compared to Boreas- that OCR was bad- and it was not the weather making me say that. My ideas of keeping it as a Wet bike changed and while in the shop ordered a Giant TCR-C.

So all the time you are happy with a "cheap low end" bike- stay with it. Just don't upgrade tp something better as it then starts getting expensive.
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