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Artkansas 02-01-13 03:19 PM

What is the worst bike you've owned?
This question was inspired by Flying Merkel's comment of "Buy a crappy old pile. Ride it. Every thing else will be an up." in the "12 bikes in two years. am i being picky?" thread.

Most of us have had or ridden a crappy old pile or two. Tell us about them.

I have two. Both of which I shared with my brother.

The first was a three speed, maybe a Raliegh, but the "English Racer" style. My Dad bought it used. When I took it on the test ride, everything worked okay, but I got a creepy feeling about it. My brother and I were to share it. From my experience, it was like a fractious colt that loved nothing more than to buck off its rider, and it seemed prone to handling mishaps. I went off to college, and my brother, faced with riding it, rode it into a bad neighborhood and "forgot" to lock it and walked home.

That led to the next bike, a Montgomery Ward 10 speed. My Dad bought it for my brother after the 3 speed. It had fenders and tried to look like the 3 speed. He didn't like it much either, but brought it along when he moved from Dad's to Mom's. It was on the balcony of his apartment 8 years later, (his Peugeot got the riding) when I moved in with him to go back to school. He got a good job elsewhere and moved, leaving the MW behind.

Then, a month before I graduated, I was caught in a crunch, all my bikes needed work and I was running on financial vapors. I remembered the MW. I tried inflating the tires and they held air. Then I applied WD-40 to the drive train and it sprang back to life. Hoo Haa! It was uncomfortable, but it worked like a champ; for two weeks. When suddenly, while riding back from class the bike felt bizarrely soft. Then it felt like it was changing dimensions. I pulled over and the downtube had separated from the bottom bracket. Happily, I was able to pull the frame back together with turnbuckles and baling wire, and made it through to graduation. The frame died 3 days later on the way to work. I stripped all the components off and threw the bike in the dumpster. The rear derailleur got reused and is still in service.

ka0use 02-01-13 06:38 PM

a sears english racer, new.
from day one it never shifted right. the best i could get was any 2 of 3 gears.
we was po' folk, dad wasn't interested in me or 'chinery, so no repairs or adjustments.
still, i loved that bike and rode it into the ground. left pedal rubbers fell off, leaving
just the shaft thing until the bearings fell out. forty-'leven patches on the tubes,
tires so bald you could count both plies, bearings fell out of front axle and axle broke
while riding. oh, that was interesting. the wheel flopped from side to side until the axle broke.
i lost a fair bit of hide when it happened. no money for repairs. broke my heart.

that was my kid bike. haven't had any poor quality ones since. a sears free spirit 10 speed that was nice, and a 10 speed ross, nice, too. current bianchi has always been nice.

Flying Merkel 02-01-13 08:45 PM

I've told the tale of a second hand Huffy 10 speed before. I can't re-live the memory one more time.

The worst bike lately was a Schwinn Clear Creek comfort/hybrid. Bought it for $20 from a college kid who was 6'2" and didn't know you could raise the seat. The Clear Creek was designed to fit as many riders as possible, so he was trying to ride a bike adjusted for someone under 5'. The C-C was an ugly, heavy, & awkward toad of a bike. It brought no joy to ride, just a feeling that either you were a sucker to have bought it or a desperately sad loser who couldn't do better. The front shocks were boingy horrors and the springy seat floated around on a suspension post at odds with the rest of the bike. Novocain on wheels. I found a cruddy Micargi beach cruiser in the trash that was better. The Clear Creep went to a high school kid who hated bikes anyway.

I bought a Continental for $20 at night without looking it over. It had been abused and bad components replaced with worse. Even it is better after a clean-n-lube than the Clear Creek.


hueyhoolihan 02-01-13 09:07 PM

bikes i had as a kid don't count for me.

but i had a mid 90's cannondale 7 speed hybrid. what a dog! arf arf. i rode it a few times and took it on a few multi-hundred mile tours, then hung it up in my mother's garage. because i knew it wouldn't be long before she threw it out. i was right. good riddance.

wphamilton 02-01-13 09:19 PM

The worst by far was a Huffy my wife bought. She didn't like it (surprise :rolleyes:) so she let my son ride it and I kept it maintained for him. Which was a huge PITA, after practically every ride. When it got to the point where I didn't want to fix it - this was after probably only a few hundred miles - I briefly considered stripping parts off it and realized that there wasn't a single useful piece of it worth the space in a box, so I put it out back against a tree hoping someone would make off with it. It took almost two weeks to finally disappear.

sknhgy 02-01-13 10:02 PM

My 2010 or 2011 Rockhopper. I forget what year it is. It's been a POS. Many many many drivetrain problems. Took three LBS's to get it rideable. Specialized wouldn't honor their warranty. Did you know that they don't cover components on a new bike? Only the frame. I ride it now but it still doesn't work very smoothly. I'll never buy anything Specialized again. If you get a good one you are fine, but if you get a lemon they won't stand behind their product.

xenologer 02-02-13 03:08 AM

A Dean titanium mountain bike.
For a period of time, I'd been having insecurities about my height and thus had an unconsious habit of buying bikes that were big for me. It hadn't been apparant to me that I was going too large in general since I was on-road all the time.
Mountain bikes, with their fat tires don't let you get away with this.
Very sad, a beautiful frame sits unused.

cyccommute 02-02-13 10:01 AM

It's hard to say. The Western Hardware 3 speed and the Sears 10 speed weren't stellar bikes but they were okay at the time. My first mountain bike, a Miyata Ridge Runner, was a pretty good mountain bike until it started to break. Broke at the fork crown, cracked on the chainstay on both sides of the brake bridge and then cracked a dropout. The worst part was that Miyata wouldn't replace the bike under warranty. I even had a sales manager ask me if I had replaced the fork...I had...because "they are all breaking". But he wouldn't approve replacement under warranty.

I also owned a Specialized FSR Expert 120 which inch wormed when I rode it no matter how much air I pumped into the shock. All of my energy went into moving the shock up and down which made it a very tiring bike to ride.

I owned a Schwinn Montague which was the worst riding bike I've owned. It was a full size folder but it rode weird. It flexed wrong probably due to the mechanism for folding. I owned the stupid thing for 16 years and put 420 miles on it. It was that bad.

dynodonn 02-02-13 10:29 AM

My worst bike was a Trek 830 Antelope, it wasn't due it's quality but I was naive in letting the LBS sales person size the bike for me to off road specs rather than for on road commuting, making the bike too small for me. I had really nice bikes growing up, with only one being decided for me, and that was a really nice used English 3 speed.

MetalPedaler 02-02-13 12:51 PM

The old department-store POS that I found covered in house-paint in someone's garbage, was NOT my worst bike. (It was a cheap POS which I put into working order for practically nothing...and i had tons of fun with it)

The nearly new Sears 5-speed with drop bars and fenders which my brother-in-law gave me when I was 13....while heavy, uncomfortable and problematic...was also NOT my worst bike.

When my first bike, which a family friend had given me, broke, that same person gave me an old girl's bike to use temporarily (I was about 6). It had no seat(!), so I'd just ride it standing up. Let my nephew ride it when he came to visit (he's only a year younger than I) and that exposed seatpost ended up going up his wazoo, and giving him a nasty cut!(He's a very accident-prone person). THAT was NOT my worst bike! (I can still picture him, throwing the bike down, and running to mommy, yelling "I'm bleeding! I'm bleeding!" :D)

My WORST bike was a cheap mail-order "mountain bike" which I bought brand new in the early 90's for $150. It was heavy, slow, uncomfortable, ugly (Dayglo pink was the only color they had!) and generally made for a most miserable riding experience. I only rode it a handfull of times. It was your basic Wal*Mart bike....felt like a three-legged elephant riding that thing! I lived on Long Island at the time....where the riding is generally easy- but it wasn't easy on that POS!

Amazingly, it ended up getting stolen (The only bike I've ever had stolen)- I didn't care. I kinda felt sorry for the thief! He must've been a real dum bass to steal that thing! In fact...if I had known who he was, I would have written him a thank you note! That POS turned me off bikes, until just last year. I was leary of ordering my current bike from Bikesdirect, remembering that horrid mail-order MTB....but luckily, I ended up getting a GREAT bike this time, and now ride 25 miles at a time and enjoy it!

TheOtherBob 02-02-13 04:39 PM

My second bike growing up had six or seven gears, but bizarrely the shifter was a joystick-like device on the top-tube. It was supposed to be like an airplane throttle or something -- it had a plastic airplane motif going on throughout. It didn't work, of course -- I never once managed to get it out of the top gear. But I rode the heck out of that bike.

Since growing up, the worst was a Roadmaster from Wal-Mart -- but I can't really fault it. It worked just fine the entire time I owned it, and for a $50 bike that's really the absolute most you could ask.

GrouchoWretch 02-03-13 11:19 AM

In the early 2000s, I was taking DC metro into Union Station and then MARC rail out to my job in Baltimore. I got a dirt cheap bike, I think the $88 Something Glacier Something, from some big box. Hardtail rigid fork mtb, very basic. It more or less worked but was a pig to ride, and I remember especially the clankity clank accompaniment as I groped with the shifters to get the derailleurs into the right spot each time I changed gears. I locked it with a cheap cable lock. One day, picking it up at the train station, I noticed dents in the cable where someone had tried and failed to cut it. I laughed at the thought of someone aiming so low and missing. Eventually, I abandoned this whole commuting strategy and decided to lock my bike up on the University campus next to the library, using that cheap damaged cable lock, just to see how long it took to get stolen. It took a while. I hope the crack head who stole it rode it for many enjoyable hours of healthy exercise, or at least traded it for some nice crack.

In 2005, I found myself in a small city in Maryland for a couple of months, and I bought the same dark green generic POS mtb to putz around on. It was what I expected, and after getting my couple months of putzing out of it, I bestowed it upon a grateful colleague on my way out of town.

These were crappy but not absurd or unridable bikes. So later that year, I was visiting a town in Wyoming with soon-to-be Mrs Wretch Number 14, and I said, Hey, let's go to the mall (K-Mart) and grab a couple of crappy but not absurd or unridable bikes on which to enjoy Wyoming together, and when we are done we may dispose of them without having wasted a lot of money. So we pedaled a few blocks on our new steeds before realizing this was not going to work. I'm not incredibly picky, but I'm given to understand that a bike is supposed to have wheels that roll straight and brakes that stop them rolling. We brought them back and were sullenly dispensed our guaranteed refund according to the sterling K-Mart Return Policy, which I highly recommend taking advantage of.

One of the worst bikes I've had is this old AMF Roadmaster 3-speed. The guy who restored it and sold it to me made it look great, and he meant well, but he really didn't understand this particular genre of bike. He mismatched a newer Sturmey Archer hub with the original Shimano trigger shifter, and let me tell you, this was a mistake.

I was mystified that none of my attempts to adjust the spindle indicator succeeded in getting me all 3 gears for more than 2 consecutive cycles through the gears, so at one point I tightened it too much and rode off thinking I done good. Within a few blocks, the shift cable popped off and was eaten and mauled by the chainring. I coiled up the cable and hung it on the stem and rode her in 3rd gear to an LBS for a new cable and adjustment and some clue as to what was wrong.

After two months with the bike, no joke, they had given me one out of three. Because when they were tightening the rear wheel, the nut spun out because it was all cross threaded. Turns out that the nut was the wrong thread pitch, and the one sticking out of the old SA hub had an obsolete thread pitch, and the matching nut could not be had anywhere, not even an honest to God nut and bolt shop. Didn't even realize that such a thing existed. Eventually, they lucked across a right-side nut that fit and used that on the left side.

I still couldn't get 3 gears out of it. I thought ok, new cable, it stretches. Fiddled around with it and like the idiot I am brought it back to the Same LBS, and those cretins fiddled around with it and told me it was fine, which it manifestly wasn't. By this time, they were calling it The Bike From Hell right to my face.

I struck out on my own, and after about 5 minutes reading Sheldon Brown discovered that the no name shifter on my bars was a Shimano and as such could be absolutely counted upon not to work with my Sturmey hub. OMG DUH. Got hold of the right shifter and discovered it also requires a special damned Sturmey cable, got hold of that too, and now this bike is golden. Well, it's still a low quality DSB from 1970, with Ashtabula cranks and wonky pedals and no lugs on the frame, but for all that, it rides great and seems Apocalypse proof. Kind of a looker too if you're into that sort of thing.

So a tiny bit of basic knowledge turned The Bike From Hell into a really charming old clunker and a solid little townie.

GrouchoWretch 02-03-13 11:25 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Here she is, the Bride of Satan.

With some regret, I put a new modern saddle on her.

-=(8)=- 02-03-13 11:27 AM

This is not the exact one, but shaftee similar to this:

Should have been perfect -- hub gears, shaft, etc . . . But, the shaft just couldnt hold up to regular commuting.
The gear mechanism required constant attention and finally ended up being unusable. Donated it to the Bike Man
in West Palm Beach for parts.

MetalPedaler 02-03-13 11:46 AM


Originally Posted by GrouchoWretch (Post 15231453)
..... I bought the same dark green generic POS mtb to putz around on.

I thought I was the only one alive who used that expression?!

I think I once rented that three-speed of yours! I was in my late in NYC. Decided I wanted to do a bike-tour version of the NYC marathon...sans the Staten Island leg (As ya can't ride over the Guinea Gangplank [Verazanno Bridge] when it ain't blocked-off)....and I hadn't been on a bike at that point, in a good 4 or 5 years. Did 20-something grueling miles on that 50 lb. cement-block-with-wheels....I don't even remember how I got back to the bike shop in Manhattan from where I got lost in the Bronx....I was practically unconscious. That was the most tired I have ever been in my life.

GrouchoWretch 02-03-13 12:28 PM


Originally Posted by DayGloDago (Post 15231583)
I thought I was the only one alive who used that expression?!

I think I once rented that three-speed of yours! I was in my late in NYC. Decided I wanted to do a bike-tour version of the NYC marathon...sans the Staten Island leg (As ya can't ride over the Guinea Gangplank [Verazanno Bridge] when it ain't blocked-off)....and I hadn't been on a bike at that point, in a good 4 or 5 years. Did 20-something grueling miles on that 50 lb. cement-block-with-wheels....I don't even remember how I got back to the bike shop in Manhattan from where I got lost in the Bronx....I was practically unconscious. That was the most tired I have ever been in my life.

You can tell it's an AMF by the chainring and the 3 plate fork crown and the distinctive and dubious looking rear dropout, uh, cluster I guess they call it, appropriately.

Mine isn't really all that heavy except by today's standards. Fifty years ago, it was quite lightweight and sporty! 20 miles on this thing is a breeze unless you hit serious hills. Then it's your choice, thigh agony or walk it up. Short hills are OK as are mild grades.

But yeah, it's heavyish and steel, which on the plus side makes it ride smooth. Great neighborhood bike.

spectastic 02-03-13 03:39 PM

It was either a woman's vintage mountain bike or a BRIGHT PINK girl's scooter that I had to ride for several weeks when I was in 3rd grade, until I made my parents buy me a unisex bike from walmart :/. The vintage mountain bike gets the win because none of its shifters worked, and it would jump gears all the times because the rear sprockets were pretty much all washed out. And only the front brakes worked. That was my mom's bike that I used to ride to high school. Yea... my parents were pretty frugal. Then I began riding my dad's vintage mtb that he bought for $20. Both brakes were actually working. But none of its shifters worked. And what amazed me that it was actually stolen while I was at a football game. Who the hell would steal a piece of sht like that?

bici_mania 02-03-13 03:43 PM

A $69 no name Wal-Mart bike I took as payment for the $300 I was never going to get from an ex-room mate. It wasn't a total loss though, I fell in love with cycling all over again in spite of the beast. I broke it and then proceeded to buy my first LBS bike.

nelson249 02-03-13 05:10 PM

I've had two really crappy bikes

1) I had a bright orange banana seat single speed that my parents bought at Zellers.

2) I bought a black Ompax Meteor 12 speed with my paper route money. A boat anchor masquerading as a bicycle. The gears never worked right and the damn wheels would never stay true.

eja_ bottecchia 02-03-13 05:21 PM

There are no bad bikes, only bad riders.

tcarl 02-03-13 05:53 PM

The worst bike I've owned was an earlier 1970's Nishiki Competition - painted orange. It had three problems: a twitchy front end; long chain stays and wheelbase; and very soft, flexible frame. The twitchy front end resulted in quick steering - easy to avoid pot holes for example, which was nice, but those really long stays and wheelbase meant that the back end of the bike felt like it was just trying to follow along. It was sort of a criterium bike front and touring bike tail. It cornered and descended hills horribly. The really soft, flexible frame meant it was comfortable, but no good for hill climbing, hard riding, sprinting or trying to ride fast. On the other hand, the Suguino Mighty Compe crankset it came with is still going strong 40 years and untold miles later.

ahsposo 02-03-13 08:14 PM

The three that have been stolen.

JanMM 02-03-13 08:15 PM

1973 Schwinn Continental. But................that was my first bike as an adult and it held up with minimal maintenance for three years while I rode it many miles in Monroe and Brown counties - and got completely hooked on cycling in the process. It was heavy, the components were mediocre but it served me well.
In retrospect, I appreciate it but don't miss it.

shipwreck 02-03-13 09:45 PM

Diamondback Wildwood. Looks a lot like Flying Merkels Schwinn. Tried all sorts of stems, and seats. Bought it when I was living in Kansas going to school 15 years ago. I was actualy pretty drunk when I bought it. Many is the time I have told myself that it was a better thing to buy drunk than to get a tatoo of a bluebird over each nipple and the words SWEET and Sour under them. But not by much.

The brakes squeel no matter how much tuning or any tricks you try. The seatpost makes it impossible to ride with the hight set correctly. I have tried many different stems, but they all seem worse than the last. the crankset is made from old maxwell house coffee cans, and bends when looked at hard.

I could sell it, or give it away, or strip it for its wheels and, uh, well, the wheels are worth taking. But I keep it as a cautionary tale. Never buy a bike at a bike shop when drunk. At least the tattoo parlor would have sent me away to sober up.

devianb 02-03-13 09:58 PM

1995 lime green Huffy mountain bike with grip shifters. Fell apart after a year of abuse.

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