A friend of mine in Chile has been giving me flack for paying $600 for a bike when his wal-martish cycle gets him around perfectly fine. He claims that cheapie bikes are good enough for anybody, and regardless of how I tried to explain it he just said "having an expensive bike does not make you an authority." So I decided to ride a cheapie bike.
When I first started looking into bikes as a means of transportation, my pal told me not to spend over $50 on a bike, and said, as a matter of fact, that he would give me a bike. It's an old roadmaster mountain bike that had been sitting in his garage for "who knows how long", said he only rode it for about a week before he got his first car. I accepted it and promptly bought a Trek T80 without even riding the roadmaster. It sat in my garage all summer. However, feeling the desire to ride down an old dirt trail that I haven't gone down since I started cycling, I decided to pull the roadmaster out and give it a spin despite the fact that it didn't fit me at all.
The first thing I noticed is that the rear tire is crookedish and brushes up against the kickstand and makes an obnoxious noise. Also, the shifting is wacky. The grip shifters have springs built in so that if you shift past the 3 on the left grip, it'll bounce back onto the three. The problem with this, was that when the grip shifter was in the 3 position, the chain would be pushed over just slightly towards the third ring, but not quite make it. In order to get into the third ring you have to continually twist the grip, resisting the spring. If you let go you'll bounce back into "second and a half" gear. Not to mention the brakes in the rear and in the front were completely ineffective. The ones in the front made a squealing sound like schoolbus breaks, but still no stopping power.
It did bring me down that trail in a satisfactory manner, and it was a fun ride despite the poor vehicle. However, on the way home I passed a group of kids. Two of them yelled requests for the bike I was riding ("Hey, gimmie that bike!"). Kids these days.