Spent yesterday afternoon assembling a bike that a guy I know bought off the internet for his wife for Christmas.
It's a cruiser, single speed, coaster brake. So I pick up the box and take it back to the shop in my garage. I'm already a little disappointed that this guy, with a very high profile job in local government, didn't elect to buy from either lbs, even though one just suffered a smash-and-grab burglary the week before.
His rationale: "My wife's probably only going to ride it twice, so I shopped price."
Here are my impressions of his $150 bike: 1. Box has some damage.
2. Shiny black frame appears to be OK, even though the plentiful decals are all bubbled. Check headset: so tight it's almost impossible to turn. Fix that.
3. Wheels are steel, painted pink. Wait a minute! Busted spoke in the front wheel. Obviously some side impact was suffered, because the spoke is bent in and the nipple split. Fix that.
4. Mega saddle goes on the steel seatpost and everything goes smoothly.
5. Ditto megabars.
6. Front fender mounts OK, but when the front wheel got mounted, was wayyy off, so I had to bend the stays a bit (not adjustable). Fixed.
6. Drop front wheel into the dropouts. Uhohhh.... The left front dropout is bent inward, probably from the same side impact. Cold set it most of the way, grind the dropout out (goodbye shiny black paint), repaint and wait to dry. Fixed.
7. Check rear end. Cranks barely turn. The rear wheel is at the very inside end of the dropouts. Probably saved two or three chain links. Reset the back wheel and it spins.
8. Now, where are those pedals? Nope! Not in the box. Go to the old parts bin and find a pair of near-new "disposables." Fixed.
9. Park the bike -- at least the kickstand works out of the box.
Here's what he got for his $150: a $150 bike. No brand name anything. A guy who used to run one of the local shops used to complain about how he was inundated with these things every year the week after Christmas. Some of them were such basket cases he refused to let them into his shop.
Lesson I guess: shop local when you can. I'm waiting on a custom frame (I'm big -- 64 cm), but there's a set of wheels and parts waiting at the lbs.