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  1. #1
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    B/F is DETERMINED to get a department store bike with shocks!!

    Ok, I understand now that a department store bike with shocks is a bad idea, and that a department store bike is not a good idea in general.. But my b/f is convinced that he can't live without shocks, and that the dep. store bikes are fine. He had a Huffy for a long time--it put up with a lot of abuse and apparently took it well. It had shocks, was $100, and came from K-Mart. He claims that the shocks make a very big difference in his riding experience. But I have been told here that unless I am willing to pay several hundred for a serious off-roading bike, shocks are useless?? Why is this (if they are useless, then why does b/f feel such a huge improvement on a bike with shocks, even one that is under $100??), and how can I explain in a convincing way to my b/f that he is better off saving up for a shock-less hybrid from a LBS? He has had only one dep. store bike, his only bike, he loved it, and he is convinced that all dep. store bikes will be just as worthy. I am sure some are, but I don't want to risk it (even though my own dep. store bike DID handle very well considering what I did to it).

  2. #2
    Mooninite shakeNbake's Avatar
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    Most of the time it's just placebo. You have no idea how many people are surprised that I paid $600 for a road bike when it "doesn't come with shockbreakers".

    Take him on a longer (10+ miles) ride with the Huffy and then again with a hybrid(or a road bike). Hopefully he would be able to tell the difference.

    Some LBS will have loaner bikes for around $25.

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    Senior Member Eddie Loves You's Avatar
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    I'm not sure many people here will say this, but the department store bikes are much better than they used to be; even passable. If the bike he wants fits him and he feels comfortable, let him save a couple of hundred bucks. Of course it won't be as good as an entry level LBS bike, but it will get him around. If the cheap components freeze up or something, you'll just be able to say "told ya so!"

    Millions of people around the world ride bikes that are extremely old and in terrible condition EVERY DAY as their only mode of transportation.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    It's hard to explain "quality" to somebody who is fixated on "features". If he has something in his life that he's passonate about like golf or stereo equipment or cars, try to make the analogy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seijun
    Ok, I understand now that a department store bike with shocks is a bad idea, and that a department store bike is not a good idea in general.. But my b/f is convinced that he can't live without shocks, and that the dep. store bikes are fine. ...
    There's two matters here: suspension bikes, and dept-store bikes.

    Firstly--suspension is wonderful, as long as you're willing to accept the minor weight increase and the potential efficiency problems it may include (depending on the exact design). For a casual rider, those drawbacks are nearly meaningless, while the suspension can be felt over every bump they hit. The last upright bike I could stand to ride before going to recumbents was a full-suspension MTB, and the reason it was more comfortable was the suspension. If you test-ride a bike with suspension and like it better than one without, then get the suspension. This all is supposed to be fun, and it's difficult to have fun when you're in physical pain.

    But then of course--most of the self-appointed "experts" who insist you don't need suspension, are also people who don't know jack squat about recumbents either--which tend to be vastly more comfortable than any upright bike. I'd own a recumbent with suspension if I could easily afford it, but the fact is, on the recumbent bikes I have, I don't feel like I need it.

    Secondly--dept store bikes are still a mixed bag. If you're willing to accept that the pieces may not last long and you'll have to put in new better parts now and then, have at it. The odd fact here is that for dept-store bikes, the name-brand doesn't even matter, it's the DEPT STORE that dictates how these bikes are built! The store chain dictates a price point they want, and the bike company has to build a product that meets it--by any means necessary. You may get lots of generic parts on these bikes that don't work well, where even a low-end bike shop product will tend to have Shimano Deore components. Shimano cheap parts still work better and last longer than a lot of generic cheap parts.

    On dept store bikes, all I can advise is to make sure that the head tube bearings, crank bearings and wheel brearings have dust covers, and make sure there's always decent grease in them.
    ~

  6. #6
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    I perservered with rigid forks for long after I should have done but eventually got a bike with Front suspension. Only Rockshox Jetta forks but they worked well enough- For about a week. Now if that is the cheap end of a reputable manufacturer- Think how good a Bike from Wally Mart is going to be when the whole bike costs less that the jetta's cost me.

    If the bike is just on smooth tarmac- They will go up and down and take the "Sting" out of the odd pebble it might run over. And they will certainly go up and down. More like a pogo stick than any form of suspension. And the pogo effect will also come in at every pedal stroke aswell so let him get the Damn thing. It will give you a chance to show him how fit you are by leaving him in the background when you go tearing off up the road with half the effort he is using- and enable you to catch up with the new found friends that have proper bikes.
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  7. #7
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Hehehe, Stapfam hits the nail on the head. The reason you don't really want suspension on a cheap bike which is mainly to be used for road riding is because the suspension absorbs energy that would be better put into forward motion. Your boyfriend will be working twice as hard as you to get half as far. If you are riding a lot of trails, then the suspension will probably be blown out within the first week.

    If you want your boyfriend riding WITH you instead of riding a few hundred feet ahead of you and impatiently waiting for you to catch up, you may WANT to encourage him to buy the bike with suspension. His current choice will slow him down that much.

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  8. #8
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by East Hill
    If you are riding a lot of trails, then the suspension will probably be blown out within the first week.
    East Hill
    And you know that from experience? I've had 2 dept. store full suspension mountain bikes, and the suspensions are still going strong on both after 2 years. I have friends with similar bikes and still going strong. Granted, I don't drop cliffs or anything, but I don't baby my bikes either. One is a $69 Next all steel jobber from Wally and the other is a $259 Schwinn from Target.

    Having said that, unless he knows he's going to be riding trails, I"d avoid the rear suspensions or get something used. Mainly because they will rob him of cycling energy. I've also found that the lower the price on the bike, the cushier (is that a word?) the front suspension which means lots of wasted energy. And there's usually no way to lock out the front suspension and the rear spring thing can only be tightened down so tight. Granted, lockout front forks will cost more than most of the pricier dept. store mountain bikes.

    I commute 34 miles rt on a full suspension mountain bike, and the weight and fatty tires are getting old. However, my route has some pretty nasty roads for long stretches so the suspension does come in handy, but at a weight and efficiency cost. I do like the lower gears for my hill climbs, though.

    If he spends at least $150, he's probably at least getting shimano badged components. That's sort of my price bench mark when looking for bikes for my kids.

    What kind of price range is he looking at?

  9. #9
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    And you know that from experience?
    Nope! I am old school--I have no suspension on my MTB at all. Just what I've heard. Your experience is certainly more valid than mine for this post.

    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    Granted, I don't drop cliffs or anything...
    In the OP's other thread, she specifically mentions that she might just do that every once in a while. That's why the discussion about a good mountain bike suspension versus a Wal-mart bike suspension .

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  10. #10
    You rode how far??? GamecockTaco's Avatar
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    Seijun,

    While you seem to understand that a dept. store bike won't be as good as a LBS bike, for him, it may be. You haven't told us anything of the terrain you'll be riding, nor distances you'll be doing.

    If all you will be riding is a couple of circles around the neighborhood a few nights a week, then the dept. store bike may very well be all that your b/f needs. That's what they're made for. Somebody who isn't going to be doing a lot of shifting of the gears and someone who isn't going to be making that suspension actually work. That setup is designed as "shock absorbers" not suspension. BIG difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I perservered with rigid forks for long after I should have done but eventually got a bike with Front suspension. Only Rockshox Jetta forks but they worked well enough- For about a week....
    Forks are easy to replace if the OEM's don't work out.
    The only major concern is if one buys a bike with a frame that has integral rear suspension, because it may not be possible to put in a better shock (though I think shock lengths and widths have become fairly-standard across the board). A lot of "full-suspension" cheapo MTB bikes I've seen lately just had suspension seatposts anyway.

    For casual riding, springy suspensions really aren't much of a drawback. They make the ride more comfortable and are only an issue if the rider is standing and pedaling, and recreational riders don't stand and pedal a whole lot anyway. And at the lower-end prices, shoppers don't have a whole lot of choices about bicycle weight either. Is riding a cheap, heavy suspension bike worse than not riding at all?

    ----------

    It's popular to opine that dept store bikes are worthless, I used to say as much too but over time my opinion changed. Most of the people who start shopping at this price level don't plan on riding a lot anyway, for external reasons. Spending five or ten times as much for a better bike isn't going to make them ride it any more. If you had to ride 100 miles a week it would likely wear out parts pretty soon, but if it's only ridden for 100 miles a year it may last for several years, and really isn't that bad of a deal.
    ~

  12. #12
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    What we are going to be using the bikes for is going to be mostly casual riding on a gravel road and on pavement, maybe once a week, maybe only a mile or two at a time, and occasionaly hitting an off-road trail for a hundred yards or so or leaping off of mini cliffs just for the heck of it (me anyway). I will let him know what you all had to say. I honestly could stand not having shocks. They would be nice on a comfort level, but I have always done without shocks in the past. His budget, right now, is about 70 dollars for a bike. 100 dollars by the end of the week. I will urge him to keep saving though. If he wants a dep store bike, I think he should at least get one over 100. I kinda do want him to be able to keep up with me though, which is part of why I really don't want him to go for a dep. store bike again.

  13. #13
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Different strokes for different folks. Some are happy with a beater. Often this is simply due to ignorance of the possible difference in ride with a decent bike.

    However some people just have a less serious riding style and enthusiasm. They don't work it so much and aren't interested in maximum efficiency and whatnot.

    Comparing an x-mart bike with shocks against a name brand hybrid without is apples and oranges.

    I agree with Stapfam. It's up to the individual, maybe he likes to ride off-road or hit curbs for the fun of it. Perhaps never had extensive experience with a non-suspension to be able to compare.

    I recommend something decent. And I recommend rigid fork. But to each his own.
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  14. #14
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    And you know that from experience? I've had 2 dept. store full suspension mountain bikes, and the suspensions are still going strong on both after 2 years. I have friends with similar bikes and still going strong. Granted, I don't drop cliffs or anything, but I don't baby my bikes either. One is a $69 Next all steel jobber from Wally and the other is a $259 Schwinn from Target.
    I'd have to agree with East Hill. I bought a $69 bike from Walmart a few years ago, and it was total crap. Brakes made noise from the start, the gears never shifted correctly, and the front wheel BENT when I took a very mild crash--I couldn't even ride it most of the way home. I had absolutely no fun riding that POS. Total waste of money, but then again, what did I expect?

  15. #15
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150
    There's two matters here: suspension bikes, and dept-store bikes.

    Firstly--suspension is wonderful, as long as you're willing to accept the minor weight increase and the potential efficiency problems it may include (depending on the exact design).
    Yeah, and the exact design of suspension on department store bikes is not exactly great. As others said suspension is useful IF YOU'RE WILLING TO PAY for a good system. The suspension on Walmart MTBs I've had over the years was total good-for-nothing pogo stick.

    If you test-ride a bike with suspension and like it better than one without, then get the suspension. This all is supposed to be fun, and it's difficult to have fun when you're in physical pain.
    PAIN? From riding a rigid bike on the road? Well, sure if you're in pain, get a bike with suspension. This situation is not about bike advice anymore - it really becomes medical advice, because if you are in pain because of lack of shocks, you have medical problems and need special arrangements to be able to continue biking. Not trying to put you down or anything, just stating a fact.

    But then of course--most of the self-appointed "experts" who insist you don't need suspension, are also people who don't know jack squat about recumbents either--which tend to be vastly more comfortable than any upright bike.
    Huh? How do recumbents come into all of this? You may as well have written that the "self-appointed 'experts' about shocks are also people who don't know nuthin' about... grand pianos".

    You may get lots of generic parts on these bikes that don't work well, where even a low-end bike shop product will tend to have Shimano Deore components.
    Whaaaa?.. What planet are you from? Deore on low-end LBS bikes? Yeah, right, how about XT?..

  16. #16
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seijun
    What we are going to be using the bikes for is going to be mostly casual riding on a gravel road and on pavement, maybe once a week, maybe only a mile or two at a time, and occasionaly hitting an off-road trail for a hundred yards or so or leaping off of mini cliffs just for the heck of it (me anyway).
    For a couple of miles a week that includes 100 yards of off-road absolutely any bike will do. Your boyfriend will be able to keep up with you too because most likely you'll be riding at a pretty relaxed pace (if you go for 2 miles at a fast pace, the ride will be over before you know it). My only concern would be the cliffs since Walmart bike shocks are not meant to take too much abuse. But then if they break within 90 days you could probably take the bike back to Walmart and get a replacement (I'm not sure about that - check with them before you buy) and if they don't well, good. If they break on Day 91, bad luck, I guess. Even if they do break, the bike is probably going to be rideable. It's not like they're gonna snap in half.

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    The problem is that some people don't want to get it. Quality is not part of their thinking. Only price. They think they are getting over on the 'fools' who pay more for bikes. You can't change their minds, so don't even try. Let them have their cheap crap. bk

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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    Yeah, and the exact design of suspension on department store bikes is not exactly great. As others said suspension is useful IF YOU'RE WILLING TO PAY for a good system. The suspension on Walmart MTBs I've had over the years was total good-for-nothing pogo stick.
    -Yea but for casual riders it doesn't need to be great.
    You could also say that "all sports cars are lousy except for Ferraris", and it might be true, but it doesn't help the vast majority of people who want a slightly-sporty car and who don't wish to pay Ferrari prices.

    PAIN? From riding a rigid bike on the road? Well, sure if you're in pain, get a bike with suspension. This situation is not about bike advice anymore - it really becomes medical advice, because if you are in pain because of lack of shocks, you have medical problems and need special arrangements to be able to continue biking. Not trying to put you down or anything, just stating a fact.
    -No, I mean--pain, like,,, from saddle pain. From sitting on the saddle, but especially from going over bumps. I've had upright bikes, I've had padded shorts. I don't own any padded shorts anymore, because the bikes I ride now don't require them. How many pairs of padded shorts do you own?.....

    Huh? How do recumbents come into all of this? You may as well have written that the "self-appointed 'experts' about shocks are also people who don't know nuthin' about... grand pianos".
    Because recumbents tend to be a lot more comfortable than upright bikes, but you wouldn't know that if you'd never had one. A shocking number of people will not ride bicycles even recreationally because of the painful saddles.

    ...Whaaaa?.. What planet are you from? Deore on low-end LBS bikes? Yeah, right, how about XT?..
    How much do you think a "low end" bike from a bike shop costs? The low-end bike-shop bikes I've looked at cost ~$300 total.

    I ordered a pair of pre-built XT-hub 26" wheels just a while back (through a LBS) with the lowest-end Mavic dowhhill rims----and those wheels cost about $300 for the pair. XT is the second-tier Shimano line, under XTR, is it not?....
    ~

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    For a couple of miles a week that includes 100 yards of off-road absolutely any bike will do.
    Thanks, see, I wasn't sure. I have no idea what "regular" mileage on a bike is, what is heavy, and what is light. When I do go for rides, they are short, not fast pace, and really just for the fun of it. Sometimes I would hit the speed bump going as fast as possible just to see if I could make the bike jump a little, or I would set up mini ramps using boards and rocks, and jump the bike off those. Not sure how much of that the average wal-mart bike would take these days.. I know my b/f though will probably be treating his alot better than mine, regardless of what we get We may, MAY be taking the bikes out for an occasional several-mile spin, or maybe visit some part of the Katy trail for an all-day ride, but it would be VERY infrequent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seijun
    Why is this (if they are useless, then why does b/f feel such a huge improvement on a bike with shocks, even one that is under $100??), and how can I explain in a convincing way to my b/f that he is better off saving up for a shock-less hybrid from a LBS?
    Stand behind a rider on a bike with shocks. Watch that rider pedal, preferably uphill. What you will see is the rider bobbing up and down with each revolution. Some of the rider's energy is transferred into forward momentum, and some of the rider's energy is transferred into useless and wasted up and down motion.

    Shocks have no place on anything other than an offroad bike for some types of offroad riding. One look at somebody transferring their energy into useless up and down motion should clue anybody in to the truth of that.

  21. #21
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm
    I'd have to agree with East Hill. I bought a $69 bike from Walmart a few years ago, and it was total crap. Brakes made noise from the start, the gears never shifted correctly, and the front wheel BENT when I took a very mild crash--I couldn't even ride it most of the way home. I had absolutely no fun riding that POS. Total waste of money, but then again, what did I expect?
    I don't doubt you. I think this falls into the "quality at that price is a crap shoot from brand to brand". Last year when I had no clue about bikes, I noticed a huge difference from the $69 bike I bought compared to the "other" $69 bike. It was night and day. That's why I say that if you have to go dept. store bike, at least spend $150 where things seem to even out a bit.

    From what I gather from the OP, if $70 - $100 is the budget, then even finding something used is a crap shoot in that price range as well. More so if the OP's BF doesn't know what to look for. Maybe he gets the bug riding his $69 jobber and starts planning next year's tax return. Worst case scenario, he doesnt get the bug and a quality LBS bike doesn't end up in the rafters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    Worst case scenario, he doesnt get the bug and a quality LBS bike doesn't end up in the rafters.
    Some of us like those unused quality LBS bikes up in the rafters... when it comes time for the guy who never got the bug to sell them at a bargain rate.

  23. #23
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    When I bought my Wally-World-Cheapie, I rode it for probably 200 miles, and never got the bug because the thing was crap and I never had any fun. Bought my Specialized, and while it isn't the best bike, I'm definitely addicted now.

  24. #24
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150
    -Yea but for casual riders it doesn't need to be great.
    You could also say that "all sports cars are lousy except for Ferraris", and it might be true, but it doesn't help the vast majority of people who want a slightly-sporty car and who don't wish to pay Ferrari prices.


    -No, I mean--pain, like,,, from saddle pain. From sitting on the saddle, but especially from going over bumps. I've had upright bikes, I've had padded shorts. I don't own any padded shorts anymore, because the bikes I ride now don't require them. How many pairs of padded shorts do you own?.....


    Because recumbents tend to be a lot more comfortable than upright bikes, but you wouldn't know that if you'd never had one. A shocking number of people will not ride bicycles even recreationally because of the painful saddles.


    How much do you think a "low end" bike from a bike shop costs? The low-end bike-shop bikes I've looked at cost ~$300 total.

    I ordered a pair of pre-built XT-hub 26" wheels just a while back (through a LBS) with the lowest-end Mavic dowhhill rims----and those wheels cost about $300 for the pair. XT is the second-tier Shimano line, under XTR, is it not?....
    ~

    Bent riders tend to overstate the discomfort of upright bikes. It's understandable, since a big part of the reason that they buy 'bents in the first place is that they find them comfortable. However, there are far more riders on upright bikes and most of us are not experiencing any pain other than normal muscle aches that come from exercise. A properly fitted upright bike need not be painful.

    I don't own a 'bent, but I've ridden them and so has my wife and neither of us were converted. My wife has arthritis and found the 'bent caused her more lower back discomfort than her upright.

    I can't imagine why I'd ever consider putting suspension on a road bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    Bent riders tend to overstate the discomfort of upright bikes. .....
    The original poster already said the BF wanted a suspension bicycle, "shocks made a very big difference in his riding experience".... If the reason was not comfort, what else would it have been?
    ~

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