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  1. #1
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    My impressions of quality of early Made in China Mongoose full suspesion bike

    So a friend of my son left his Mongoose bike here a couple of years ago and told us that we could have it. Well my son and I are heavy, too heavy for the bike, you can see just how low it sits when we sit on it so we never bothered fixing it. it just sat in the backyard.

    Welll my buddy wants a bike but doesn't have much money. So I dug it out and brought it into the house to start fixing it.

    Wow, what a piece of crap. Now I am not sure if the frame itself is bad or not, I'm basing my impressions on the external components.

    First of all the rear rim is out of true. I don't mean that side to side wobble but rather that if you spin the rim, you can see how the hub isn't perfectly centered so the rim has a bit of a jump. Not good.

    The excessive use of stickers and their placement. The bike is covered in stickers from the factory. Half of them aren't even properly placed. They just make the bike look like it was assembled by a child in China. Wait, that probably happened.

    The grip shifters just feel cheap. The rear derailleur feels cheap but it seems functional. I really haven't looked at the front derailleur but I imagine its just a standard low end Shimano, probably serviceable enough.

    Now onto the brakes. First impression is this: "Oh hey, look, they have the same design as my Specialized's brakes, that might be cool". When I grab the brake lever on my Specialized, I can feel the shoes hit the rim and the brake lever then stops its motion and it feels SOLID. Feels good, not squishy or loose. Now I grab the brake lever on the Mongoose. I can then feel the point where the shoes grab but the brake lever wants to keep moving. The resistance to the lever gets stronger but the lever keeps pulling. Wow, this isn't good. I keep pulling the lever until I can practically touch the tip of the lever to the handlebars. Mind you, the shoes grabbed when the lever was about halfway pulled. The cable sheaths seem to compress under load. Not good. Then I look at the brake levers. They are the cheapest pieces of crap that I have seen. My early '90s Huffy has brake levers that are FAR more solid and sturdy than these junkers. The brake levers and brake lever mounts are made of plastic. Not reinforced with metal underneath, they just are plastic. I then look at the cable adjuster nuts/barrels on the plastic brake lever mount. On the Huffy and my Specialized, they are decently made of aluminum or steel, not sure which. On this Mongoose, they are PLASTIC! The adjusters feel like junky toys. The brake lever mounts flex a ton but still that doesn't account for all the squishyness.

    The front shocks have NO adjusters whatsoever. Whatever preload you have is all you get. That seemed odd to be considering everyone is different.

    No wonder these chinese bikes get such crappy awful reputations. They are built like crap.

    I don't have the knowledge to judge the actual quality of the other parts such as the crank.

    Well today I am going to take this BSO to my local bike coop and fix it up enough to make it serviceable for my poor friend. I will run all new cables for the brakes and shifters. I will replace the brake levers with something decent and metal. Maybe then the bike might not be so bad. Later on I will remove all the cheesy looking stickers to make the bike look less like a toy. Hopefully at that point he will be able to ride it without having any serious issues. He isn't a big person so hopefully it should be okay.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the 'wonderful world' of big-box crap. Mass-market garbage designed to sell to the ignorant millions who think the only difference between Walfart and the LBS is the price tag. One of the great lies of our time.

    NEVER be misled by brand names; Mongoose and Schwinn are both readily available at Walfart, all day long, most topping out at $200 complete. You CAN'T expect much bike for that.

    I work for the Wally, building their crap bikes, and I'll tell you a few things:

    1.) The company has a QUOTA, which I have not equaled in 8 years; my managers KNOW why -- I REFUSE to just slap that crap together and roll it out, my bikes will be as well tuned as they can get before they roll. KIDS ride these things, and I will NOT endanger a child for THEIR dollars.

    2.) Bikes frequently come OUT OF THE BOX like that; that's a lot of what takes so long. In addition, the quality we HAVE to accept now would have been shipped back 8 years ago. As a result, I'm quick to order parts from the factory, and when they're slow about shipping them to me, I'll donate the bike to a local charity.

    3.) I'm not shy about telling a potential customer the truth. I get asked all the time, "What's the best bike you got here?" I answer, "There isn't one." I will NOT blow sunshine up somebody's ass so the Waltons can make another unneeded buck. I'm too valuable for my myriad skills to get trouble for this, and I've justified it to managers before -- they can't argue with my refusal to lie to a customer.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Rather than try to fix the POS BSO at the co-op I would see if they have something of better quality that could be donated to the friend, especially if he is on the heavy side.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  4. #4
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    Well no, this friend is not heavy. He has lost a ton of weight and is in good shape. He just wants a bike to go around town on.

    Well I and one of the guys at the bike coop fixed up this mongoose as best as we could. I replaced all the cables with new cables. Replaced the brake levers. The guy who was helping me did more than I even thought of doing. He even took the rear wheel off and trued it up. Once we got it back together, everything seemed to function as expected. Man I think those grip shifters are really substandard but they did work just fine after the cables were replaced.

    The brakes work much better but they still sorely lack the firm grip and grab of my Specialized.

    The shop head guy even took the bike for a spin and said it was fine and everything worked.

    I fully understand what it means with the difference between the big box store junk and a decent low end LBS bike.

  5. #5
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    I know the service dept at my LBS doesn't mind these poorly built bikes for the masses. I would venture to say that roughly half the work they get is due to these types of machines.
    One Foot Less

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    I know the service dept at my LBS doesn't mind these poorly built bikes for the masses. I would venture to say that roughly half the work they get is due to these types of machines.
    My LBS will service and repair them too, now why someone would be willing to spend the cost of the bike in service is beyond me. That would be like buying a brand new Honda Civic then taking it into the shop to have $15,000 worth of work done on it....

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Here is a question. The basic drive components seem to be just plain jane Shimano stuff. The cables are now replaced as are the brake levers (metal now). The grip shifters are basic low end Shimano. Now that the bike is all tuned up and rolling, just how sturdy are these frames and bearings? We checked and adjusted the crank bearings and the axle bearings. The head bearings seemed okay.

    In a nutshell, if you remove the shoddy workmanship and low end external components, are these cheap x-mart bike frames and bearings serviceable enough?

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Frames are a crap shoot, bearings were most likely produced by the lowest bidder.

    Here is a WM Huffy...sweet welding job...NOT! FWIW the equipment may say Shimano on it, but that doesn't mean it is any good, or even comes with a manufacturers warranty. I have taken a few too many of those bikes a part for salvage to be even remotely impressed with the quality of any part of them.

    Aaron

    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  9. #9
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    Wow, that is horrifyingly bad. Was that how it looked right out of the box?

  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobotech View Post
    Wow, that is horrifyingly bad. Was that how it looked right out of the box?
    Yup and the rear coaster brake hub failed a week later. IIRC I took that picture the day after the bike was purchased. So far it hasn't failed....

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  11. #11
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    These bikes are designed to be ridden around the block a few times then discarded. what bothers me is all the kiddies who are the impression that bikes are no fun at all after suffering through the BSO experience. My old Varsity was heavy but usable. Even the early 70's vintage Royce Union ten speeds I rode later were able to last for years.

  12. #12
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    Lol, I have to giggle a bit at all these "back in the good old days" comments. Y'all act like there weren't cheap POS bikes put together by some hardware store employee that didn't know or care enough to do it right. Buying a quality bike has always been about knowing what you are getting, and spending a few dollars.
    One Foot Less

  13. #13
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    The Royce Union was crap. Took constant fiddling to keep it in rideable shape. That's what $35.00 got you in 1974. But it was workable crap that I rode all over Orange County.

  14. #14
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    Something I'm wondering about, is a big portion of the problem with cheap bikes the lack of workmanship that went into putting them together? LIke would a professional bike shop be able to put a crappy 99 dollar Mongoose and have it be far more serviceable than a x-mart employee assembling it?

    I am overlooking some factors like how on the mongoose that I fixed up had cheap shoddy plastic parts like the brake levers.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    Lol, I have to giggle a bit at all these "back in the good old days" comments. Y'all act like there weren't cheap POS bikes put together by some hardware store employee that didn't know or care enough to do it right. Buying a quality bike has always been about knowing what you are getting, and spending a few dollars.
    I have a couple of Western Flyers, a Schwinn and a Huffy all from the same era. Even though the WF and Huffy were lower end bikes they are still worlds better than the low end ones being sold today, regardless of assembly.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobotech View Post
    Something I'm wondering about, is a big portion of the problem with cheap bikes the lack of workmanship that went into putting them together? LIke would a professional bike shop be able to put a crappy 99 dollar Mongoose and have it be far more serviceable than a x-mart employee assembling it?

    I am overlooking some factors like how on the mongoose that I fixed up had cheap shoddy plastic parts like the brake levers.
    No. I am a qualified bike mechanic, I have been riding for over 45 years and wrenching for nearly as long. One of my wife's nephews got a WM MTB for Christmas, of course it didn't work too well so it was brought over to my shop. I spent over an hour going over the bike making adjustments, lubricating and installing things correctly. He takes it out for a test ride and comes back with shifting problems and no front brakes. I take a closer look at the brakes and derailleurs, the cable stops are stripped. Replace both from my stock of odd parts, comes back later with a broken grip shifter and brake lever. I strongly suggested that the bike be returned to WM, get the money and let me find them something of better quality but used. No deal, they took that one back to WM and got a different BSO.

    WM has had a few bikes that were a reasonable value for the money, but they have been few and far between. I think what happens is that WM goes to a manufacturer and looks at what they are currently selling, then orders a few thousand of them, they start selling, WM goes back and says we need many thousand more, but we won't pay more than $XX for a unit, so the manufacturer starts cutting corners to meet the price point. Unless you KNOW what you are doing or are willing to spend large amounts of money on service somewhere else after the sale, I would steer clear of most big box store bikes (no WM isn't the only one, just the biggest and the worst offender) and either buy name brand from a reputable LBS or buy used.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  16. #16
    Mixte Power! Arrowana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobotech View Post
    In a nutshell, if you remove the shoddy workmanship and low end external components, are these cheap x-mart bike frames and bearings serviceable enough?
    I suppose technically they are, but in many cases they aren't worth the effort. The full-suspension ones add a ton of weight and suck away power. I have had a rigid aluminum one that while it was still pretty heavy, was a fairly decent ride.

    Also, Huffy has made some MTBs (I think from the early 90's) that have rigid steel frames that aren't complete boat anchors, and some decent components, like what appears to be nylon brake levers (Whatever they are, they definitely flex less than the crap on more recent ones) and one of the nicest sets of friction thumb shifters I've ever used. Once I'm in a situation where following N+1 is not a bad idea, I'd be tempted to get one and see what it would be like with a new set of wheels.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arrowana View Post
    I suppose technically they are, but in many cases they aren't worth the effort. The full-suspension ones add a ton of weight and suck away power. I have had a rigid aluminum one that while it was still pretty heavy, was a fairly decent ride.

    Also, Huffy has made some MTBs (I think from the early 90's) that have rigid steel frames that aren't complete boat anchors, and some decent components, like what appears to be nylon brake levers (Whatever they are, they definitely flex less than the crap on more recent ones) and one of the nicest sets of friction thumb shifters I've ever used. Once I'm in a situation where following N+1 is not a bad idea, I'd be tempted to get one and see what it would be like with a new set of wheels.
    I actually have one of those. Its a Huffy Manitoba from around 1991-1992 or so. Bought it brand new from Caldors back in CT. I think it was just under 200 dollars back then but I got it for a discount because the seat was torn. Has the Shimano SIS friction/indexing shifters that actually quite nice. The bike is heavy but it has been serviceable however my son keeps killing rear axles because of the freewheel rather than free hub. My son is quite large as I am. He did twist up the rear wheel which has been since replaced. Hopefully this new one won't get all twisted up.

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