I live in Bangladesh. Itís a developing country and naturally exchange rates, purchasing power parity and economic functions means that the average weekly wage is about $10.
The terrain here is that of a flat delta except for a mountain range in the south. The roads are mostly broken and complete with potholes, mud, dirt and sewage.
Even under these conditions there are more than 20,000 people who have ridden BSOs (bicycle shaped object) for at least 5 years. These BSOs did not need any important replacement within 5 years, and it fits their needs of transport and recreation. These cycles cost around $90-$150, are geared and are either chinese made like Merida, Laux or made in Bangladesh by Meghna (which also manufactures for Raleigh). Sure, there are a few mountain biking enthusiasts who would shell out $500 for a Trek and their numbers are increasing too. Still, for the most people, who commutes for 200km a week and goes on recreational rides of 100km a trip on the flat, these bikes have been working fine.
I have read on the internet that ANY bicycle below $250 is a BSO or a Bicycle Shaped Object. They are garbage and fall apart only within a week. Yet, these BSOs have lasted for more than 5 years and suited the needs.
So why are cheap bicycles called terrible, if they are functioning ok and get the work done?? Or am I missing something?