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Old 03-24-09, 08:52 AM   #1
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Don't really know what to think of this...

So I just learned that the elementary schools in my district are going to be doing a "bikes for books" project. All grade schoolers can do this program. basically, if you finish the assigned reading list, you get a nearly-free bike from Wal Mart. They said that they can't do it with the LBS, because the bikes have to be under a certain price point...


In one sense, I'm glad that they're raising awareness of biking, but in another sense, I shudder to think of those contraptions holding up my future students...

At least I'm doing what I can - offering a bike maintenance and mechanics class for the parents and students if they want to take it with their shiny new bike...
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Old 03-24-09, 09:07 AM   #2
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Sounds like you are doing something positive...
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Old 03-24-09, 11:05 AM   #3
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It'll be interesting to see what kind of response you get to the classes. I live across the street from an elementary school with about 300 students, about two-thirds of whom live within a mile of the school. Every morning there will be from zero to three bikes in the rack out front, and 150 SUVs dropping kids at the gate. The principal is a friend and a cyclist, and we've offered classes twice teaching kids and parents the basics of bike repair, fixing flats and doing minur adjustments. Got two takers the first time and none the second.
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Old 03-24-09, 12:00 PM   #4
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Starter bikes. No problem, plus they have you to check 'em.
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Old 03-25-09, 08:10 PM   #5
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Come on, don't be such a snob. A Walmart bike is a crappy bike, but it's not a death machine nor a torture device. It's a bike, it has wheels, it rolls, it kinda stops (if you fiddle with the brakes some), it bring kids joy. They'll be okay.
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Old 03-26-09, 03:50 AM   #6
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It'll be interesting to see what kind of response you get to the classes. I live across the street from an elementary school with about 300 students, about two-thirds of whom live within a mile of the school. Every morning there will be from zero to three bikes in the rack out front, and 150 SUVs dropping kids at the gate. The principal is a friend and a cyclist, and we've offered classes twice teaching kids and parents the basics of bike repair, fixing flats and doing minur adjustments. Got two takers the first time and none the second.
This the Middle school (grades 5-8) near me, enrollment about 350. Probably not one bike with an LBS provenance or could get the approval of a BF bike snob. Who wudda thunk it possible?
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Old 03-26-09, 06:31 AM   #7
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Outside a school all day, chained to a rack with that many bikes, I wouldn't bring in a bike that would get the approval of a bike snob either.

At least they're doing something. Most kids might ride these bikes around the block. A WalMart bike is fine for doing that.
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Old 03-26-09, 08:24 AM   #8
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Outside a school all day, chained to a rack with that many bikes, I wouldn't bring in a bike that would get the approval of a bike snob either.

At least they're doing something. Most kids might ride these bikes around the block. A WalMart bike is fine for doing that.
Most kids wouldn't ride a bike anywhere if they had to deal with parents or would be role models who display the contempt of some enthusiasts (as seen here on BF) for bicycling that doesn't met their lofty/snobbish standards.
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Old 03-26-09, 02:52 PM   #9
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Well, it's not being a snob in my case, it's giving kids a voucher for a machine that might not be put together correctly, and very well may not be checked for tightness, etc before the kid rides it. I'm just thinking of it from a liability aspect...
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Old 03-26-09, 03:37 PM   #10
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Well, it's not being a snob in my case, it's giving kids a voucher for a machine that might not be put together correctly, and very well may not be checked for tightness, etc before the kid rides it. I'm just thinking of it from a liability aspect...
Do you believe that alleged liability is eliminated/altered by giving vouchers only for bikes with an LBS provenance?
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Old 03-26-09, 04:41 PM   #11
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SHouldn't that be the parents' problem- making sure that the bike that they allow their child to ride has been safely asembled? I bought a WalMart Huffy for my 7 year old last week. I gave it a once over, and everything appeared to be properly assembled. Maybe all this bigbox alarmist BS is based on the exception and not the norm.
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Old 03-26-09, 05:03 PM   #12
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Walmart bikes may well be crap (I have one with a broken FD, rear brake, rattling hub, and untightenable headset, albeit rideable), but they are by no means "deathtraps" that will kill anyone who rides one.
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Old 03-26-09, 05:33 PM   #13
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Don't get me wrong, I prefer non-Walmart bikes but wouldn't Walmart get sued to death if the bikes they sell were the exaggerated deathtraps you hear here all the time? I've heard one or two cases, but no mass suing yet.
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Old 03-26-09, 06:57 PM   #14
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SHouldn't that be the parents' problem- making sure that the bike that they allow their child to ride has been safely asembled? I bought a WalMart Huffy for my 7 year old last week. I gave it a once over, and everything appeared to be properly assembled. Maybe all this bigbox alarmist BS is based on the exception and not the norm.
My take on the alarmist BSing on BF about the terrible dangers of WM bikes is that a good deal of it is generated by individuals with a specific agenda. Either economic associations with LBS and the WMs are cleaning their clocks on sales, or are WM bashers for political reasons.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:06 PM   #15
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Don't get me wrong, I prefer non-Walmart bikes but wouldn't Walmart get sued to death if the bikes they sell were the exaggerated deathtraps you hear here all the time? I've heard one or two cases, but no mass suing yet.
Suing the guy with the big pockets is one thing, winning the case is another
WM sells a zillion more bikes than all the LBS' put together. It stands to reason they have more exposure to lawsuits based on the amount of their product in the hands of the public, some of whom are known to shriek "I'll sue" on any pretext. WM has very much bigger pockets than a gaggle of LBS' and certainly makes a more tempting target for those inclined to look for a big payday on shaky grounds.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:06 PM   #16
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X-mart bikes ARE cheap...and they served me well for commuting for many years when they were all I could afford or X-mart was the only place that sold bikes within 100 miles.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:14 PM   #17
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I just can't see how kids being given bikes - even cheap ones - for reading books - can be knocked by anyone.

Ok, the bikes need some setting up - big deal.

In a country with high levels of illiteracy and morbid obesity, giving kids bicycles for reading is a fantastic idea.



And all you small bike shop owners, stop whining about the competition and get some perspective, this could turn some of the kids into life long cyclists, you can profit from them later.
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Old 03-27-09, 10:13 AM   #18
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it, but I would feel bad that a child might get a bad bike that would turn them off of cycling. Yes, I know, that you can get a bike that's "wrong" from an LBS, but if the first thing a child knows about bicycles is that every gear skips, you will never have straight legs, and your tires should be half flat and wobbling, they aren't going to think of a bike as a tool, are they? Then again, there's my case, where I rode box store crap for years, putting on thousands of miles, never to have a failure (well, except for the occasional component), and now that I'm getting back into cycling, I'm seeing the true difference between a Yugo and a Cadillac...

I dunno. I'm in the program already as a sponsor, and I plan to bike to every meeting, but it just rubs me a bit wrong somehow...perhaps that's why I volunteered to be the "bike mechanic." I guess I'm just conflicted. *sigh*
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Old 03-27-09, 11:27 AM   #19
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How do the bikes they give away to kids in the Elves and More program hold up? I bet there about the same quality as the xmart bikes, and they're assembled by volunteers.
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Old 03-27-09, 12:30 PM   #20
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Depends on how they're using it.

My first bike (not including kids bikes which were all hand-me-downs) was a $150 Walmart Huffy that I got in elementary school. It was 21-speed gripshift that took forever to shift, had the worst cantis known to mankind, had wheels that were never quite true, was probably hi-ten steel, came in one size and didn't actually fit me very well, and billed itself as a mountain bike. But I loved that thing, and I was so proud of having my own bike that wasn't a hand-me-down that I hardly noticed the brake rub or the poor shifting performance or anything. I rode it around town and it never exploded or had anything horrible happen to it. In fact, it lasted me until I finally decided to take it on a real trail years later, which finally broke it. I took it to a bike shop, and the guy there explained to me that it would cost more to fix than the bike was worth, and a few weeks later, I was the proud owner of a new Giant hardtail. A few years after that, my roommates yelled at me for having seven bikes sitting in the living room...so I guess that old POS Huffy didn't turn me off to bikes TOO badly.

Think of these bikes as a gateway drug of sorts. It'll last them long enough for them to enjoy, and then they can move on to a nicer bike later. And any bike, even a crappy big box store bike, is better than no bike.
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Old 03-27-09, 01:08 PM   #21
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it, but I would feel bad that a child might get a bad bike that would turn them off of cycling. Yes, I know, that you can get a bike that's "wrong" from an LBS, but if the first thing a child knows about bicycles is that every gear skips, you will never have straight legs, and your tires should be half flat and wobbling, they aren't going to think of a bike as a tool, are they? Then again, there's my case, where I rode box store crap for years, putting on thousands of miles, never to have a failure (well, except for the occasional component), and now that I'm getting back into cycling, I'm seeing the true difference between a Yugo and a Cadillac...

I dunno. I'm in the program already as a sponsor, and I plan to bike to every meeting, but it just rubs me a bit wrong somehow...perhaps that's why I volunteered to be the "bike mechanic." I guess I'm just conflicted. *sigh*
Rather than looking at the worse case scenario - that a child might be put off - consider a more realistic case scenario - lots of children getting some exercise and enjoyment, for some of them it may well be the first new bicycle they own.

My first bicycle was a handpainted 3spd frame, sprung open to accept a 5spd rear wheel, with parts from wherever I could get them.

It had one brake that didn't work very well and not a single new component on it.

Even though it was a POS it gave me transport, freedom and an entry into cycle touring (and mechanics).

You are being a bit snobby, very few bikes are so bad that they can't be made at least usable with some (admittably a lot in some cases) fettling.

Just be glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it and help to make it better.

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Old 03-27-09, 02:54 PM   #22
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it, but I would feel bad that a child might get a bad bike that would turn them off of cycling. Yes, I know, that you can get a bike that's "wrong" from an LBS, but if the first thing a child knows about bicycles is that every gear skips, you will never have straight legs, and your tires should be half flat and wobbling, they aren't going to think of a bike as a tool, are they? Then again, there's my case, where I rode box store crap for years, putting on thousands of miles, never to have a failure (well, except for the occasional component), and now that I'm getting back into cycling, I'm seeing the true difference between a Yugo and a Cadillac...

I dunno. I'm in the program already as a sponsor, and I plan to bike to every meeting, but it just rubs me a bit wrong somehow...perhaps that's why I volunteered to be the "bike mechanic." I guess I'm just conflicted. *sigh*
Your heart is in the right place, so use your volunteer time to make sure the bikes are assembled correctly. Even if the kids won't know the difference, or care, you will feel better and you will be doing a good thing.
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Old 03-27-09, 03:09 PM   #23
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I agree with ILTB. I'm as big a bike snob as anyone, but my kids have Target bikes and they're perfectly suitable as a first bike. They're heavy, cheap, and bombproof. As long as they've been given a once-over by a competent wrench, they'll be fine.

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Old 03-27-09, 08:35 PM   #24
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The thing about cheap-a55 bikes is that it only takes one great moment on one to find out what you're next bike is going to be like. In my case it was a $400 LBS bike that was almost as crappy as one from Canadian Tire or Walmart, but was just good enough to get me into the spirit of things. It taught me to hate suspension seatposts, cheap brakes, weak wheels and bad tools. It tought me to love single track and maintenance.

An awful old Supercycle road bike that my roommate threw out three years ago taught me to hate steel rims, stem shifters, bad bar wrap and old sidepull brakes. It taught me to love singlespeeds, road wheels/frames and drop bars.
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Old 03-27-09, 09:27 PM   #25
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They're a kid, it's a bike.... who cares? My dad owned a bike shop though, so I always had the sweetest bike in the hood.
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