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  1. #1
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    Upgrading Wal-Mart Bikes

    Hello,

    I dropped about $150 on a Wal-Mart bike. I know how anyone even mildly serious about bicycling will scoff; but I knew what I was getting myself into. It's an anchor, it doesn't shift, and the suspension feels like a cheap mattress. But the wheels roll, and I ride about once every year or so; so I'm not too unhappy with it.

    But I'm handy and feel like changing the components on the bike. The biggest problem I have is the shifting; I've spent several weeks adjusting it, and it just doesn't shift under any load. The front derailleur is no-name DLP, the rear is also no-name Shimano Tourney. The second problem I have is the front disk brake; it's junk.

    So now that I'm stuck with the bike; I'm thinking of upgrading the components. How about:

    1. Putting in Deore LX/XT Front/Rear Derailleurs (~50)
    2. New cables
    3. Front disk brake (~30)
    4. Would changing the cassettes help shifting? (the ones I have are useless with none of that hyperglide stuff)

    Again, I don't really care if it's an anchor or if it's a weak frame -- I don't ride that often or hard (read: around my street). But the shifting and breaking are critical, so I'm thinking of replacing those parts.

    Please don't tell me to go to a bike store (the tune ups cost more than my bike), I'm handy and have loads of free time to be miserable adjusting parts. I already bought the bike, so no buyer's remorse or I'll be sad.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    M_S
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    Even for that kind of riding, there are more worthy frames of a Deore LX dérailleur. Why not search out an older Specialized hardrock off of craigslist, and upgrade that. or you may not even need to upgrade it it at all for your type of riding.

    I guess there's nothing wrong with changing stuff out on this bike, as you can take it off later and use on another bike, but something without suspension that "feels like mattress springs" would simply be more fun to ride.

  3. #3
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    If you're handy and want a project, why not get a yard sale bike and upgrade that? You might get a better bike in the end than Wally.

    If you want to stick with Wally, ease up on the pedals when you shift...it's usually not necessary to "shift under load" unless you're a tourer freighting your gear over a pass or maybe in a race. Sounds like the front brake is the only really critical upgrade. That has to work.

  4. #4
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    Well I'm not going to end up just having the bike sit there with a junk brake and laughable shifting. Maybe shimano alivio, and a v-brake?

    Curiously, is it cheaper to build a bike from parts (I'm handy and interested in learning) than buying a pre-built on from a bike store?

    If so -- where would I go to get parts? Online stores like Jenson?

  5. #5
    M_S
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    Building up a bike yourself from scratch is generally considered to be much more expensive than buying stock models, not to mention the time involved. I'm not really sure why it costs more, but apparently it does. Maybe someone who has actually built a bike up from scratch could tell you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    You are polishing a turd my friend, but have at it if you like. The shifting problems are just as likely to be in the shifters themselves. The Tourney RD should be sufficient to shift if adjusted correctly. New cables and housing may help if there is excessive friction in the current ones.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    there is a long, fascinating thread by someone who bought and tested a WM bike

    i think it was on the commuting forum? (not sure)

    OP = CigTech?

    not so long ago

    if you can't find it with a search (e.g. Google advanced search, using bikeforums.net as the domain), you can probably just scroll through and find it without too much trouble....

  8. #8
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    Oh -- don't bike stores overcharge for assembly/profit?

    If the Tourney can shift with normal cable -- what's the difference between different derailleur "levels"?

  9. #9
    eternalvoyage
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  10. #10
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    I bought a target bike for my 9 year old with a tourney r/d and it shifts fine. I really think you should look for a frame on craigslist or ebay and take the components off the walmart bike and put it on that.

  11. #11
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heko
    Oh -- don't bike stores overcharge for assembly/profit?

    If the Tourney can shift with normal cable -- what's the difference between different derailleur "levels"?

    I will assume you are not trolling with the bikeshop question. There are some shops that charge more than others, just like any business. Most shops charge a rate that allows them to pay all the expenses and make a profit of around 5-10 percent, which is put back into the business for growth.

    Is this der. rapid rise? If so toss it and put a cheap conventional der on with a new stainless cable and the correct shift housing. That would make a huge improvement. If the brakes are junk, put on the cheapest V-brakes Shimano offers($12-15) They will be fine.

    While I would not reccomend upfitting a department store bike, I did it once myself with a Sears FreeSpirit. I still will upfit a beater for as cheap as possible when I get someone that just does not have the money to do more.
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  12. #12
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    Well the derailleur shifts it just doesn't do it well. It might miss a gear under stress and whatnot, and it surely isn't smooth. The rear derailleur is fine; the front one is truly a pain, though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_S
    Building up a bike yourself from scratch is generally considered to be much more expensive than buying stock models, not to mention the time involved. I'm not really sure why it costs more, but apparently it does. Maybe someone who has actually built a bike up from scratch could tell you.
    One would assume that for a scratch bike, each individually purchased part has to be separately handled and shipped and thus the price is marked up a lot; whereas if the bike is assembled at the factory or somewhere where they buy parts in bulk, the shipping and handling costs are much lower and hence the components are much cheaper.

  14. #14
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heko
    Well the derailleur shifts it just doesn't do it well. It might miss a gear under stress and whatnot, and it surely isn't smooth. The rear derailleur is fine; the front one is truly a pain, though.
    Most of the time you stay on the middle front chainring if there are three, or the smaller one if there are two, so sluggish front gear changing isn't too problematic.

    It really sounds like you are just itching to work on a bike. Do it if you must but don't spend too much money on Wally.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    The no name cassette isn't going to shift well Period!
    I had my rear wheel/free hub stolen off my bike.
    I found a "Falcon" to use and it shifts like junk. Crunches, skips gears. I've spent several hours trying to "tweak" the der and no luck.
    Your "no name" FW may have a proprietary hub that won't take other brands of FW's.
    Find a "junk bike" with a HG cogset and a lot of your problems will disappear. Maybe you have a friend that can loan you one for a few hours?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heko
    Curiously, is it cheaper to build a bike from parts (I'm handy and interested in learning) than buying a pre-built on from a bike store?
    Nope.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_S
    Building up a bike yourself from scratch is generally considered to be much more expensive than buying stock models, not to mention the time involved. I'm not really sure why it costs more, but apparently it does. Maybe someone who has actually built a bike up from scratch could tell you.
    Imagine that your name was Trek. You could ring up Shimano and say "I'd like to buy a container full of bicycle parts, 10,000 of this 5,000 of that etc. I don't want to pay for all of the consumer packaging because I'd just have to throw it all away. What kind of deal can you give me? Oh, by the way, I've also got Campy and SRAM on my other lines."

    Now imagine your name is M_S. You want to buy 1 derailleur. Shimano won't even take your call. Every step of the way from Shimano to you, and there will be several, involves a sales person and a purchasing person. Somebody has to unpack it, store it in a bin, and somebody else has to pick it out of the bin and repack it to ship to the next marketing level. On low cost products, all of these distribution costs will certainly exceed the manufacturing cost of the product.

  18. #18
    Dances a jig. Mchaz's Avatar
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    My advice: Ditch the Wal-Mart bike. Donate it to goodwill, or give it to some kid who doesn't have a bike. I have doubts if the Wal-Mart bike even has a standard derailleur hanger. Instead of spending money in upgrades that will go to waste, spend $50-$150 on an old Trek, Specialized, etc mountain bike from Craigslist or a garage sale. It will probably need a new chain, maybe cables, and a few other odds and ends. After you fix it up you will end up with a much better bike than the one you have now. You even might enjoy riding it enough that you will want to take it for more than just a spin around the block every so often.

    If you are just riding it on the roads find a bike with no suspension, and a steel frame. The tires and frame flex will give you enough suspension to smooth out the rough stuff, and you will find it pedals much easier than one with suspension. Eventually if you find you like riding the bike you could add slick tires to go faster, fenders to keep you dry, and a rack to carry a few groceries from the store. Old mountain bikes are really versatile, and durable. They make great all around bikes.

  19. #19
    M_S
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Imagine that your name was Trek. You could ring up Shimano and say "I'd like to buy a container full of bicycle parts, 10,000 of this 5,000 of that etc. I don't want to pay for all of the consumer packaging because I'd just have to throw it all away. What kind of deal can you give me? Oh, by the way, I've also got Campy and SRAM on my other lines."

    Now imagine your name is M_S. You want to buy 1 derailleur. Shimano won't even take your call. Every step of the way from Shimano to you, and there will be several, involves a sales person and a purchasing person. Somebody has to unpack it, store it in a bin, and somebody else has to pick it out of the bin and repack it to ship to the next marketing level. On low cost products, all of these distribution costs will certainly exceed the manufacturing cost of the product.
    I sort of figured this out after I wrote it... Foot in mouth as usual.

    Though to be economical when building up a bike I suppose I should stick exclusively to Dura Ace because the shipping costs are a smaller percentage of the manufacturing costs, right?

    Sounds like a plan!

    Now, I know I left that few thousand dollars for the full D-A group lying around somewhere...

  20. #20
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    If the OP is doing this to learn bike upgrading, I say go for it... its like going to a school for relatively cheap tuition.

    For a serious daily steed, I'd consider putting $250-$350 on a low end Kona, Trek, or whatnot, rather than have to deal with the strange and usually nonstandard componentry on those cheap X-Mart specials. For example, I was looking at one today, and noticed the bottom bracket and crankset was not any standard I've ever seen, and it looked like come time to fix it, there wouldn't be any reasonable way to find a BB for it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heko
    "...But the shifting and breaking are critical, so I'm thinking of replacing those parts..."
    The good news is that Wal*Mart bicycles are almost guaranteed to break very soon, and with very little effort on the part of the rider.

  22. #22
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    Upgrade it if you want to. I'm sure your LBS would appreciate the business. However, I would either stick to fixing the cheap parts (cables) or park it and purchase a decent used bike. I have had terrible luck with xmart bikes. Hence the reason I do not bother with them anymore.

  23. #23
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    It is bad enough you wasted $150 on a walmart bike. But now you want to waste a few hundred more on it?

    Why not just go on craigslist or spend a weekend going to yard sales for a older Trek or Giant and put the upgrade components on that? I bet that my 1993 with original components Trek 820 will outperform your Wally World bike any day. And it is probably only worth $100.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  24. #24
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    Oh I don't know. My wife rides a 5 year old Mongoose from walmart. No name everything, I've never even heard of the derailer mfg. I changed to narrow slicks, tuned it well, set it up to fit her right, and life is good. She rides between 50 and 100 miles a week (spring to fall). It's not FAST, it's not even fast. But its as fast as the specialized comfort bikes she rides w/ so she's happy, comfortable, used to it, and etc.

    No breakage problems, stays in tune, and a happy momma? I'm just fine w/that. Granted I'd never start there now.

    And for a knock around bike sombody rode once a week? Who really cares?

  25. #25
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danf58
    Oh I don't know. My wife rides a 5 year old Mongoose from walmart. No name everything, I've never even heard of the derailer mfg. I changed to narrow slicks, tuned it well, set it up to fit her right, and life is good. She rides between 50 and 100 miles a week (spring to fall). It's not FAST, it's not even fast. But its as fast as the specialized comfort bikes she rides w/ so she's happy, comfortable, used to it, and etc.

    No breakage problems, stays in tune, and a happy momma? I'm just fine w/that. Granted I'd never start there now.

    And for a knock around bike sombody rode once a week? Who really cares?

    It is like buying a dodge neon for $15,000 and replacing the transmission and motor for another $5000(because it is crap), when you could have just bought a Toyota Camry for 18,000 that will be reliable for 20 years.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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