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  1. #1
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    You get what you pay for

    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.

  2. #2
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    i agree, you do get what you pay for, but when did we all start hating on cheap, entry level bikes anyways? i've owned many high level bikes (cannandales, specializeds, schwinns, marins, diamond backs, paramounts, univegas and others) as well as cheap bikes like huffy, next, murray, ross and kent and i have been able to fix them all. i've never turned away a cheap bike and have got more of them on the roads to stay than all my other higher end bikes.

    "inundated with these things..." and "some of them were such basket cases he refused to let them into his shop.", as if they were some monstrocities, diseased with non name brand components and cheap frames. i can't believe a bike shop would refuse to service lower level bikes. is it they can't work on them or WON'T work on them? i can do it, and i am nothing special. isn't that what it is all about? just the fact we are out there riding and that can fix all bikes, and not just the ones we want to work on? not everyone can afford $400 plus bikes shop "quality" bike and they shouln't be looked down on, and those who do look down on them and their cheap bikes just don't get it.

  3. #3
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    Wal Mart has got a certain crowd thinking $69.00 is the right price for a bike. When you talk to them, they want you to justify why you paid so much more. They really can't understand what I paid for my recumbent. I just figure that cheap goods are meant for cheap people. bk

  4. #4
    Senior Member JustChuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ogbigbird View Post
    is it they can't work on them or WON'T work on them? i can do it, and i am nothing special. isn't that what it is all about?
    Our employer expects us to make a profit.
    It comes down to the people with the cheap bikes are often unwilling to pay what it cost to fix them. The labor charge to perform repair "X" is the same regardless of the cost of the bike. So the guy with the $70 bike is often shocked that it might cost $20+ to true his wheels. We never turn a bike away but I do require deposits on cheap bikes because they ,often, are not picked up otherwise.

  5. #5
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    just chuck... that is a very valid point. maybe those are the ones who should do what i did and pick up a basic bike repair book and learn to do some basic repairs.

    as far as the $20 bucks to true his wheels, i hope that is for both but $20 is the most anyone should have to pay for that.

    that is rather sad someone with a $70 bike would abandoned their bike at the bike shop and taking the deposit is a wise move.

  6. #6
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    Hi,

    Not to quibble, but the bikes my friend refused were big box junk, the kind with crimped in dropouts. He deemed them to be barely safe in good condition. With a frame in need of coldsetting and steel rims badly out of true (they can't be re-trued) I think he was doing a safety service.

    I still like the guy, but I wonder what my services would have been worth. Repack bearings, re-adjust everything, install fenders, bar, stem, saddle and post, lube chain, coldset front left dropout and grind droput before repainting. I'm not asking anyone to give me salaams, but for crissakes, had he gone to the lbs, he could have gotten a great cruiser for under $300. Had he paid for my services, he would have come out about even, supported a local business, gotten himself free service and discounts down the road, and put sales tax into local government. Seems like a no-brainer.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ogbigbird View Post
    is it they can't work on them or WON'T work on them?
    Another consideration may be liability, if its a Bike-like-object that is not going to be truly safe to ride no matter what they do (ever heard the saying 'you can't polish sh*t'?) then the LBS may not want to have their good name associated with something that may very well end up getting someone injured when it breaks down again later(think lawsuits).

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paxtonm View Post
    Hi,

    Not to quibble, but the bikes my friend refused were big box junk, the kind with crimped in dropouts. He deemed them to be barely safe in good condition. With a frame in need of coldsetting and steel rims badly out of true (they can't be re-trued) I think he was doing a safety service.

    I still like the guy, but I wonder what my services would have been worth. Repack bearings, re-adjust everything, install fenders, bar, stem, saddle and post, lube chain, coldset front left dropout and grind droput before repainting. I'm not asking anyone to give me salaams, but for crissakes, had he gone to the lbs, he could have gotten a great cruiser for under $300. Had he paid for my services, he would have come out about even, supported a local business, gotten himself free service and discounts down the road, and put sales tax into local government. Seems like a no-brainer.
    Yeah...but you did it for FREE! I have rebuilt many a low end bike over the years, the labor always costs more than the bike. Ditto what justchuck says too. When I worked at the LBS we used to get stuff left behind all the time. I has someone ask me the other day where to get a new rear wheel for a BSO from WM. My suggestion was the LBS. A new fairly low end wheel was going to cost 75% the price of a new BSO from WM...so guess where they headed...

    Too many people look at the price and don't take into consideration the true "cost". It is the $100 vs $99.95 mentality.

    Aaron
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  9. #9
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    Wal Mart has got a certain crowd thinking $69.00 is the right price for a bike. When you talk to them, they want you to justify why you paid so much more. They really can't understand what I paid for my recumbent. I just figure that cheap goods are meant for cheap people. bk
    Or the low income single mother of four who just wants to make her kid happy.

    I finally got my very first new bicycle at the age of 9. It was an inexpensive ($39?) Roadmaster from back in the day. Everybody else was getting Schwinn Stingrays. I was lucky to get what I got. That bike got me through four years of riding and from it grew my love of cycling. The only problem I had with it was when it was stolen.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ogbigbird View Post
    as far as the $20 bucks to true his wheels, i hope that is for both but $20 is the most anyone should have to pay for that.
    That might be another one of those "you get what you pay for" things.

    Trueing wheels goes from "I don't want to waste the time it takes to ring it up" to "You need a new wheel".

  11. #11
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    if he got a decent bike then maybe his wife would like riding more


    starting out on junk...no one wants to ride, 'cuz it sucks from day 1

    smack your friend around will ya ?
    I like fat bikes
    and I cannot lie.

  12. #12
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    I think of the low end bikes as entry level bikes. Somewhere a kid might not have a bike because the family can't afford a lot of money.I have seen a lot of these bikes that were passed around from kid to kid. Everyone learned how to ride on that bike and it looked it.
    The OP said his friend's wife may only ride it once or twice. If she reilly got into biking I'm sure she would upgrade into something better. In the meantime, why not let the cheap bike take all the abuse until the rider becomes more experienced.

  13. #13
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    I see it all the time. I use to , but can no longer call a " low end bike, an entry level bike, due to the poor quality. Poor & incomplete welds that are already rusted sitting inside the store. We are so used to buying "CHEAP," that we buy anything JUST because it is so cheap. Counting for inflation,,, the $40 Sears, bike I bought in 1964,, in today's dollars,, would be $260 !! BUT,,,, we want & believe we can get a good bike for $69, today !!!
    I am beginning to believe that if W Mart had bikes for $5 that were rusted in half, people would jump all over them, just because of the price.
    I don't consider myself to be a bike mechanic, more a " shadetree " bike repair person. But, in the rural area where I live, people bring their bikes to me for repairs. I will be busy next week [ after Christmas ] , repairing & properly assembling ,those $69 bikes, that may already be broken. What do you think I should charge them for 2 hours worth of work, repairing their $69 bike ??

  14. #14
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    Or the low income single mother of four who just wants to make her kid happy.
    This just needed to be repeated.
    That which does not kill me has made a massive tactical blunder.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    Or the low income single mother of four who just wants to make her kid happy.

    I finally got my very first new bicycle at the age of 9. It was an inexpensive ($39?) Roadmaster from back in the day. Everybody else was getting Schwinn Stingrays. I was lucky to get what I got. That bike got me through four years of riding and from it grew my love of cycling. The only problem I had with it was when it was stolen.
    And the Roadmaster of 20-30 years ago is still a better bike today than the BSO that WM and many of the others are pushing for the $70-$100 price point today. I have a couple of old Roadmasters and Huffys from the early 70's and they are still viable bikes. I purchased a Huffy from WM this year to use as a disposable plant bike (corrosive atmosphere). I paid ~$80 for it. The rear hub self destructed in the first two weeks. Took it back for replacement, but they didn't have that bike in stock and wanted to try and "upgrade" me to something else or give me money back. Fortunately the district manager was in the store and told them to give me a wheel off of another bike that was similar. I still have that bike but the welds are rusty and were incomplete to begin with, if it lasts another year without structural collapse I will be greatly surprised.

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban32696 View Post
    What do you think I should charge them for 2 hours worth of work, repairing their $69 bike ??
    Exactly!

    The reason they brought the bicycle to you is because the customer thinks that you have tools or knowledge that they lack. I'm thinking "start a stop watch and $30.00 an hour is fair" but the market probably won't support that.

    I'm not money motivated but I don't like feeling that I've been taken advantage of either. I don't think there's a good answer to your question. Honestly, I'd rather do those jobs for free and leave them oweing me a favor.

  17. #17
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    i think an entry level bike is 3-400 dollars. i say this because bikes at walmart are below entry level, they are disposable. i dont buy anything that my life depends on that is poorly manufactured. my friends walmart bike had both brakes fail in the same day! another friend wiped out because the entire rear portion of his drive train imploded while he was standing on the pedals. an entry level lbs bike or used bike is under 400 bucks, thats a one time charge, its not like a car. if you can afford it by all means dont be a cheap ass. its not worth the headaches.

    i wish box stores still sold single speed bmx sized (16'-20') bikes with coaster brakes, those are actually worth something and wont fall apart in an afternoon, i had a couple as a little kid and they worked fine. but no these days they have double suspension eleven hundred gears and crappy v brakes that are almost always installed wrong.

    i feel bad for the low income single mother buying that for her kids
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban32696 View Post
    What do you think I should charge them for 2 hours worth of work, repairing their $69 bike ??
    Friends, and selected neighbors who DON'T leave their bikes out in the snow all winter long, are always welcome to bring their ride to the backyard bbq. There's always a workstand set up. Some want some basic instruction/supervision and others will take charge of the cooking. I'll give it a fair assessment, get it running as best I can in an hour, and tell them to bring it to the next one for a little more work after they've put some more mileage on it. More often than not, the $100 bikes get upgraded to $400 bikes after a few bbq's, a few hundred miles with a few problems, and a few test rides on some others' bikes. After that, it's all justification. Only a few of my friends ride enough to justify anything over $600.

    I won't skimp on the brakes though. I just let my junk box fill up with whatever low end and used brake parts I can scavenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Honestly, I'd rather do those jobs for free and leave them oweing me a favor.
    I'll even babysit for sexual favors.

  19. #19
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    These bikes are what they are. They are cheap. Cheaply made and available to less fortunate folks than yourselves. Not every bike sold by big box is a death trap waiting for an unsuspecting rider to try to break the land speed record. They sell millions of them and if they were that bad the the lawyers would eat them up alive.
    Read the other forums on this website and see the trials and tribulations that folks with higher end bikes are going through with their unique problems. Not only the "junk" has problems.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cachehiker View Post
    I won't skimp on the brakes though. I just let my junk box fill up with whatever low end and used brake parts I can scavenge.
    That's one of the first things that I learned about messing with bikes: "Never throw away brake parts." Shifters and derailleurs on low end bikes honestly don't work that much differently than the good stuff. Brakes, on the other hand, are something else. I've spent tons of time trying to get low end brakes to work well enough to meet even my bare minimum standard. All those small parts like funny looking housing ferrals and cable anchor hardware come in handy when you're working on low end brakes.

  21. #21
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    Can sympathise with the OP's friend. A cheap bike will do to see if the wife wants to continue riding and you get what you pay for. But a cheap cruiser single speed? Can see that the less money spent will be less money wasted. Unless the wife is really keen- this quality of bike will turn her off biking for ever so no need to get another bike.

    I have the job of maintaining the kids bikes in the road. All of them cheap but some of the parents did take my advice and got basic single speed bikes--of a particular type. I can work on those and keep them running. The full suspension with 15 gears are not easy to keep running-


    One of my neighbours said he had a bike that needs servicing and sorting before he starts riding. I thought- OK- another Wallymart type bike to keep running. Saw it in his garage today- A Raleigh Blue Streak from about 1965. When I was 18 it was my Dream bike. Just hope it is in good enough condition to renovate.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member KungPaoSchwinn's Avatar
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    Hello and Merry X'mas to everyone. I have no beef to debate on what is cheap or expensive, "you get what you paid for" means just that, when i first picked up my Schwinn Skyliner from Wallyworld's internet sales counter and took it home to see the bike, i knew exactly what i paid for, and it wasn't really that bad, it rode good and everything worked ,didnt expect too much for the price.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I seem to remember my dad paying $79.95 each in 1970 for three Royce-Union ten speeds from Gemco. These were steel rimmed low end bikes, but they were decent. Took a bit of fiddling to keep them going, but nothing ever broke badly.

    I don't know what that works out to in todays dollars, but I'll bet that even the most expensive bike from Walmart or Target are way below this.

    There's a minimum amount that you can pay for quality. The $85 mountain bike is just not going to hold up. Wobbly rims are acceptable on a coaster brake equipped cruiser, but not on a bike with rim brakes.

    Wish that the single mommy of 4 could get decent bikes for $69.95. Wanting & deserving it don't mean it's going to happen.

  24. #24
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    I seem to remember my dad paying $79.95 each in 1970 for three Royce-Union ten speeds from Gemco. These were steel rimmed low end bikes, but they were decent. Took a bit of fiddling to keep them going, but nothing ever broke badly.

    I don't know what that works out to in todays dollars, but I'll bet that even the most expensive bike from Walmart or Target are way below this.

    There's a minimum amount that you can pay for quality. The $85 mountain bike is just not going to hold up. Wobbly rims are acceptable on a coaster brake equipped cruiser, but not on a bike with rim brakes.

    Wish that the single mommy of 4 could get decent bikes for $69.95. Wanting & deserving it don't mean it's going to happen.
    That would actually buy a pretty decent "entry level" bike in today's money. According to the inflation calculator it is about $423 in 2007 dollars. Somethings have improved; alloy rims are no longer considered state of the art, we have a huge selection of tires to chose from, drive trains have become more dependable and easier to operate, but they don't come on $69.95 bikes. If WM REALLY wanted to market a decent entry level bike I am sure they could do it for around $100. They have at least one on the rack right now that I have ridden and worked on and can generally recommend to anybody looking for a basic bike. That is the Mongoose Paver it has a few minor issues, but nothing life threatening. My biggest concern is that WM doesn't cheapen it up in an attempt to lower the price point or raise the profit margin, as they are so fond of doing.

    Aaron
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  25. #25
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    The issue with walmart bikes isn't the bikes anymore; it's the assembly.

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