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  1. #1
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    What's up with the cheap bike?

    recently, I wanted to buy my first bicycle to travel around the city occasionally. I went through a lot of web site to find a cheapy one. Then I came across a review on Yelp.com, and here is the content:

    I bought a big box bike (gasp! courtesy of Target) to ride around the city. I *knowingly* bought an El Cheapo bike, since I was worried about my bike getting stolen, since it's what I can currently afford, and since I didn't want to outfit my current road bike with a chain guard, fenders and a rack for commuting (the point of a road bike, after all, is to be light). I am not a bike expert, but I have a working knowledge about bikes.

    I knew my Tar-jay ride needed a little tweaking -- even I could tell the brakes were a little out of alignment, and the fenders were placed a little crookedly. And besides, I didn't trust that the bike had been competently assembled. Hence, I sought some professional assistance in making my brand-new, already assembled bike road ready.

    The shop was empty when I came in. I explained I wanted someone to look over the bike to tune it up and make sure it was put together correctly.

    Him: [smirking] Sorry, I don't work on those. You should just return it.

    Me: [totally confused] What? What do you mean? You won't even do a tune-up??! The bike is brand new; it rides okay and the gears even shift smoothly.

    Him: I see these all the time and I tell everyone I see to return those bikes. Just take it back to the store. It's not even worth it.

    [Then proceeds to go on a tirade about how horrible dept store bikes are, how my bike isn't the brand it claims to be, how it's crap because it's made in China or Taiwan and pontificates about the superiority of buying a used bike.]

    ((Yes, I know it's a licensed brand and the bike is manufactured by someone else, and what the hell is wrong with bikes made in China Taiwan -- even some of the Bianchi models are made in Taiwan. Flying Pigeons are made in China and bike enthusiasts still love their style, jerk! And don't you think I've already scoured CL for a suitable bike?! You try finding a used petite frame bike!))

    [Then he asks me how much I paid and nearly rolls his eyes when I tell him how much.]

    Him: Yeah. Definitely return it.

    Me: [befuddled and getting angry at realizing I'm being snubbed by a bike snob] Fine. Thanks for your time (jerk).

    You know what, Mr. Jerk? I have another bike, a nice one you'd probably like to work on. But I definitely won't be taking it to you. And I definitely won't recommend you to anyone I know.


    ========end of story==========
    really?
    I am a certified computer technician who work in bestbuy with hundreds of computer every month. Sometimes I have to fix a high-end computer, and sometimes I have to fix a crappy laptop which takes 10 minutes to reach the login screen. But that doesn't bother me at all.

    And when I surf through the forum people really take bicycle seriously (well this is a bike forum afterall). But What's up with the cheap bike? the sole purpose of bicycle is to travel us place to place, isn't it?

    While most of the people in here sees $1000up bike as decent, whats wrong with bike like this?:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/spo/2854993670.html

    I really know nothing about bike (besides how to ride it), do I necessary have to spend a thousand dollar more on a bike?

    I love bicycling.I used to ride them all the time when I was a child with my dad. But now the ugliness of the real world scares me off.

  2. #2
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    The way I look at it is you ride what you can afford, or want to ride, and as long as you are riding and enjoy it, then more power to you, and why worry about what someone else thinks.

    If it were a safety issue I could understand, but I don't think more people are killed or injured just because they ride a "cheap bike!"

  3. #3
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    in general, cheap stuff wears out quickly. sometimes it doesn't even work right out of the box. you never know. occasionally really inexpensive stuff is worthwhile. i have some really inexpensive tools that have lasted about 20 years. i don't use them that often and i'm sure if i did they would wear out quickly. i know that (and i think some of them have worn out, but i'm still using them!).

    for the most part bicycles, i think, are ridden a few times then parked in a convienent place and left to age for decades until disposed of by those who inherit them. so buying cheap is not a bad idea. saves money for most of those who buy them. (my brother-in-law just layed down a bunch for a "nice" bike, he won't buy anything else, he's ridden it once or twice and i KNOW it will sit in the garage until i attend his funeral after which time my sister will sell it for a pittance at a garage sale.)

    but those who have experience and know that their interest is long term are right in spending a bundle.

    so when inexperienced, buy cheap. if you like it, throw the cheap one away, and buy something better, if you still like cycling in a few years, invest in something that will last you a lifetime...

  4. #4
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Also, consider that most Big Box Store bikes are assymbled poorly. If you can go through every aspect of the bike's mechanical function and can asure yourself the bike is safe, then go buy BBS bikes. If not, go with LBS bikes. It costs more, but you can be almost certain that the bike was assymbled properly.

    I agree, you don't have to spend $1000 for a decent commuter bike.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  5. #5
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    Most Big Box Bike Store bikes have great frames and inferior components, that are poorly installed. If you have excellent mechanical skills with bikes, it shouldn't bother you to upgrade, as soon as you make your purchase.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 02-17-12 at 05:31 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I flip bikes on CL to earn a couple extra $ to supplement my meager retirement income.

    Some of the cheap bikes simply CAN'T be made to operate properly.

    I can get them to shift as well as they ever will and they still won't hit the correct gear shifting in one or both directions.
    I've yet to see one with what I feel is an adequate amount of grease in the wheel bearings.
    One piece cranks have pressed in bearing races. Basically non replaceable for any reasonable amount of $, if at all.
    Brake calipers are such thin metal, they often spring so much under hard braking, it puts the pads up into the tire.
    I've seen some with the brake mounting bolt through the fork bent from hard braking.
    Chains easily rust.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GNMac View Post
    recently, I wanted to buy my first bicycle to travel around the city occasionally. I went through a lot of web site to find a cheapy one. Then I came across a review on Yelp.com, and here is the content:

    I bought a big box bike (gasp! courtesy of Target) to ride around the city. I *knowingly* bought an El Cheapo bike, since I was worried about my bike getting stolen, since it's what I can currently afford, and since I didn't want to outfit my current road bike with a chain guard, fenders and a rack for commuting (the point of a road bike, after all, is to be light). I am not a bike expert, but I have a working knowledge about bikes.

    I knew my Tar-jay ride needed a little tweaking -- even I could tell the brakes were a little out of alignment, and the fenders were placed a little crookedly. And besides, I didn't trust that the bike had been competently assembled. Hence, I sought some professional assistance in making my brand-new, already assembled bike road ready.

    The shop was empty when I came in. I explained I wanted someone to look over the bike to tune it up and make sure it was put together correctly.

    Him: [smirking] Sorry, I don't work on those. You should just return it.

    Me: [totally confused] What? What do you mean? You won't even do a tune-up??! The bike is brand new; it rides okay and the gears even shift smoothly.

    Him: I see these all the time and I tell everyone I see to return those bikes. Just take it back to the store. It's not even worth it.

    [Then proceeds to go on a tirade about how horrible dept store bikes are, how my bike isn't the brand it claims to be, how it's crap because it's made in China or Taiwan and pontificates about the superiority of buying a used bike.]

    ((Yes, I know it's a licensed brand and the bike is manufactured by someone else, and what the hell is wrong with bikes made in China Taiwan -- even some of the Bianchi models are made in Taiwan. Flying Pigeons are made in China and bike enthusiasts still love their style, jerk! And don't you think I've already scoured CL for a suitable bike?! You try finding a used petite frame bike!))

    [Then he asks me how much I paid and nearly rolls his eyes when I tell him how much.]

    Him: Yeah. Definitely return it.

    Me: [befuddled and getting angry at realizing I'm being snubbed by a bike snob] Fine. Thanks for your time (jerk).

    You know what, Mr. Jerk? I have another bike, a nice one you'd probably like to work on. But I definitely won't be taking it to you. And I definitely won't recommend you to anyone I know.


    ========end of story==========
    really?
    I am a certified computer technician who work in bestbuy with hundreds of computer every month. Sometimes I have to fix a high-end computer, and sometimes I have to fix a crappy laptop which takes 10 minutes to reach the login screen. But that doesn't bother me at all.

    And when I surf through the forum people really take bicycle seriously (well this is a bike forum afterall). But What's up with the cheap bike? the sole purpose of bicycle is to travel us place to place, isn't it?

    While most of the people in here sees $1000up bike as decent, whats wrong with bike like this?:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/spo/2854993670.html

    I really know nothing about bike (besides how to ride it), do I necessary have to spend a thousand dollar more on a bike?

    I love bicycling.I used to ride them all the time when I was a child with my dad. But now the ugliness of the real world scares me off.
    The short answer is that you get what you paid for. One of the lessons that you've learned is that the bicycles that one can purchase from their local box store are not well assembled. Nor is there anyone there who can make any adjustments to the bike after you've purchased it, nor is there anyone there to adjust the saddle/handlebar height for you, you are not likely to be able to take it for a test ride. You can't go back to the store 30 - 90 for a tuneup. Nor have the wheels been checked for trueness, nor have the cables been stretched. Nor are the brakes and shifting likely to be setup properly.

    In order to keep the price down they're made from the cheapest, lowest end components available.

    Do a search for my post about the head mechanic at one of the LBS' that I go to that refused to work on a box store bike, and how the owner walked out grumbling about how he'd "spent a hundred dollars on it."

    Or look at it this way, you're not going to go out and buy an AMC Pacer and expect it to handle like a Jaguar XK-Z are you? Or be surprised that the mechanic at the Jaguar dealership isn't going to be interested in working on your AMC Pacer are you? So why be surprised when the mechanic at your LBS isn't going to show much interest in working on your box store bike.

    As it will take more time and energy for them to "tune it up" then to build a box store bike out of the box.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Regardless, refusing to even look at a brand new bike simply because 'I don't work on those' just stinks of brand-snobbery. Sure, it might not be the best bike in the world, but any decent LBS should at least look at the thing if you pay them to. I'd find a better bike shop, or (even better) learn your to do own maintenance if you're mechanically minded. In any case, I wouldn't go back to that shop.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    Regardless, refusing to even look at a brand new bike simply because 'I don't work on those' just stinks of brand-snobbery. Sure, it might not be the best bike in the world, but any decent LBS should at least look at the thing if you pay them to. I'd find a better bike shop, or (even better) learn your to do own maintenance if you're mechanically minded. In any case, I wouldn't go back to that shop.
    This ^^^ the only issue is that some people don't realize just how bad some of those cheap bikes are and expect it to perform like a much more expensive bike. Then they get po'ed at the shop when it goes out of adjustment a week after paying money to have it fixed.

    Learn to do your own mechanical work and you will be better off. I occasionally buy a box store bike when I need something cheap and disposable. I chose carefully.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    Regardless, refusing to even look at a brand new bike simply because 'I don't work on those' just stinks of brand-snobbery. Sure, it might not be the best bike in the world, but any decent LBS should at least look at the thing if you pay them to. I'd find a better bike shop, or (even better) learn your to do own maintenance if you're mechanically minded. In any case, I wouldn't go back to that shop.
    They have the right to refuse to do business with whomever they want. They do not have to service a box store bike if they do not want to. There are plenty of LBS' here that will work on them and there are plenty here that will not (beyond putting a new tube in the tire).

    Also again look at it from a productivity point of view. YOU own a bike shop, you're the one paying the bills. Someone comes in with a "brand new" box store bike wanting a "tune up." It's going to take your mechanic several hours to work on that one bike.

    Whereas he could have built a couple of bikes out of the box and worked on a couple of good quality bikes in the same amount of time. Which makes more sense to you? As I asked the OP would you buy an AMC Pacer and then expect the mechanic at the Jaguar dealership to work on it?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    This ^^^ the only issue is that some people don't realize just how bad some of those cheap bikes are and expect it to perform like a much more expensive bike. Then they get po'ed at the shop when it goes out of adjustment a week after paying money to have it fixed.

    Learn to do your own mechanical work and you will be better off. I occasionally buy a box store bike when I need something cheap and disposable. I chose carefully.

    Aaron
    It'd be a miracle if it stayed "fixed" for a week. I'd be willing to bet that the first time they rode it down the street everything that the LBS did to "fix" it would be undone.
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  12. #12
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    Refusal to do a safety check on any bicycle, due to its inferior construction and incompetent build, smacks of classism. So the gap continues to widen between the haves and the have nots...

  13. #13
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Agree with your decision not to do any business with them in the future. There are a couple shops like that in Montreal as well. Bottom line is that their business is centered around charging premium rates selling abd servicing high end bikes owned by high income cyclists and don't want to deal with anyone or anything else.

    There are definately other good bike shops around.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GNMac View Post
    ...the sole purpose of bicycle is to travel us place to place, isn't it? ...
    No. Not for me. It's to ride, and I virtually always end up where I started.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I flip bikes on CL to earn a couple extra $ to supplement my meager retirement income.

    Some of the cheap bikes simply CAN'T be made to operate properly.

    I can get them to shift as well as they ever will and they still won't hit the correct gear shifting in one or both directions.
    I've yet to see one with what I feel is an adequate amount of grease in the wheel bearings.
    One piece cranks have pressed in bearing races. Basically non replaceable for any reasonable amount of $, if at all.
    Brake calipers are such thin metal, they often spring so much under hard braking, it puts the pads up into the tire.
    I've seen some with the brake mounting bolt through the fork bent from hard braking.
    Chains easily rust.
    +1 from another flipper/ rehabber. Even when they are free, these bikes aren't worth picking up for resale. The last one i found in my alley, I stripped it down for parts. Broke my BB tool because the bottom bracket was cross-threaded from the factory. Chucked the frame into the alley for the scrapaderos.

    As stated above, these bikes often won't stay tuned up. My old Huffy needed something tweaked or tightened after every miserable ride. The department store Royce-Union demanded constant fiddling. Neither of these bikes had index shifting. Cheap index shifting set-ups can drive the most hard-bitten action hero to tears. BSO's are the trophies in the race to the bottom of the price wars.

    The OP's bike shop should have explained WHY they wouldn't work on a Target bike. The labor charge to set one up properly can cost more than the original cost of the bike, and there is no guarantee that the customer won't be back next week, breathing fire and demanding the shop does the job all over again.

    I've seen decent new bikes for sale in the $300-$350 range. This is a more realistic price that $100-$150.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Agree with your decision not to do any business with them in the future. There are a couple shops like that in Montreal as well. Bottom line is that their business is centered around charging premium rates selling abd servicing high end bikes owned by high income cyclists and don't want to deal with anyone or anything else.
    The OP is free to go elsewhere (as is the business is free to decline his business). It seems that the OP would be more trouble than he's worth as a customer.

    It's quite likely that somebody determined to buy a really cheap bicycle is going to complain about even reasonable service rates. And some of these cheap bikes are harder to repair.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 02-17-12 at 10:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    Regardless, refusing to even look at a brand new bike simply because 'I don't work on those' just stinks of brand-snobbery. Sure, it might not be the best bike in the world, but any decent LBS should at least look at the thing if you pay them to. I'd find a better bike shop, or (even better) learn your to do own maintenance if you're mechanically minded. In any case, I wouldn't go back to that shop.
    Why are you trusting the OP's version of events? We don't even know what bike he bought (and for how much). If he really went cheap, he is likely to have a problem with even a reasonable cost for service!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Refusal to do a safety check on any bicycle, due to its inferior construction and incompetent build, smacks of classism. So the gap continues to widen between the haves and the have nots...


    Doing a "safety check" means one has an obligation to fix problems. Or argue with the cheap person about it.

    "Inferior construction and incompetent build" is sufficient reason not to get involved since those things can't be remedied without a lot of effort.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 02-17-12 at 10:10 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Refusal to do a safety check on any bicycle, due to its inferior construction and incompetent build, smacks of classism. So the gap continues to widen between the haves and the have nots...
    On the other hand, shouldn't a business have the right to define what it's service consists of?

    That's a situation that can be a major money loser for the bike shop. When an experienced rider brings in a brand new department store bike to be "made road ready" what are they expecting? Does he want a hub, headset and bottom bracket overhaul and adjustment? Wheels trued and tensioned? Anything can be done at a cost, but agreeing on exactly what's to be done, at what cost, and what the warranty on the work is to be isn't going to be easily agreed upon.

    That said, assuming the OP's story is completely factual, there's a better way to address the customer. Tell him what you're willing to do, what it will cost him, and what he can expect. Then don't deviate from that. "Here's what I can do for you. I'll give you our regular tune up package at our regular price. That'll make it better than it is now, but it still won't be as good as a bike shop bike. Even at that, I won't be able to warranty the brake adjustment because those brakes aren't likely to stay aligned."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    As I asked the OP would you buy an AMC Pacer and then expect the mechanic at the Jaguar dealership to work on it?
    People who choose to shop at BBS doesn't know much about bike, and I have trouble picking a decent bike too.
    LBS often set their parts higher than what it should be, since they have to add the rental, water, electricity, labor fee on it. And if you sound like a newb, they tend to scam you to buy those bikes which sit at their store for a decade ( afterall they are doing businese, not trying to make friend with you and offers you the best deal).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    I've seen decent new bikes for sale in the $300-$350 range. This is a more realistic price that $100-$150.
    It takes experience to do that, which not everyone can tell whether a bike is decent for its price or not.
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/spo/2854993670.html
    will you say it's decent?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by GNMac View Post
    People who choose to shop at BBS doesn't know much about bike, and I have trouble picking a decent bike too.
    LBS often set their parts higher than what it should be, since they have to add the rental, water, electricity, labor fee on it. And if you sound like a newb, they tend to scam you to buy those bikes which sit at their store for a decade ( afterall they are doing businese, not trying to make friend with you and offers you the best deal).
    It looks like you are a really bad consumer.

    LBS often have bikes that are not much more than what a "big box" bike and the service to fix it would cost in total. (And I'm not talking about $1000 bikes.)

    And it's less effort and the bike is better too!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    It looks like you are a really bad consumer.

    LBS often have bikes that are not much more than what a "big box" bike and the service to fix it would cost in total. (And I'm not talking about $1000 bikes.)

    And it's less effort and the bike is better too!
    Again I have no knowledge about bicycle other than how to ride it. I can only speak with my personal experience.

    In bestbuy the salesman do have a responsibility to sell most of the computer before the season end. My colleagues in bestbuy who are responsible for computer sale do what other salesman do: when the costumer is a old lady who wants to buy a laptop for her kid, they would sell her a overpriced/overrated one; when the costumer is a young man who asks for a specific part or function, they would sell him a decent one, because they know that he cannot be scammed.

    back to the bicycle case, if you know that 1)you will be scammed by the BBS and as a result cost you $200, or 2) you will be scammed by the LBS and as a result cost you $1000. what would most newbie do?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GNMac View Post
    It takes experience to do that, which not everyone can tell whether a bike is decent for its price or not.
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/spo/2854993670.html
    will you say it's decent?
    Actually, that looks like a bike worth buying and overhauling. Grease will dry out, so when you buy an older used bike be prepared to do a bit of work to get it ready for the long haul. $300 new bikes are out there. Do a bit of online research to prep yourself.

    My buddy found an old '80's vintage GT low-end MTB in the trash. The rear rim was bent beyond hope. I had a rear rim assembly from the cheap bike mentioned in my previous post. A general clean & grease, a front shifter from an old Specialized, tires and tubes, he was riding for a total of $18.00. This is an exceptional case.

    Even though it's an old (25+ years) bike the GT is a bike that is worth fixing. Once fixed, it tends to stay in shape. He loves riding it, preferring it to his folding Montague MTB.

  25. #25
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I ride Walmart bikes and I ride them several 1,000 miles a year. If you are willing to do your own tweaking and adjustments, they do the job well as long as you don't want to race or try to fit in with the fashion group riders.

    It is a mistake to believe that LBS bikes are better, if you don't believe me, just go into one and check out how many of these higher ends are getting repaired. In fact, repairing those high end bike is what keeps many of them in business.

    (space reserved for the higher end bicycles to rant and rave)

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