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Old 09-21-13, 07:11 AM   #1
CycleTrick
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If cheap bicycles are BSOs, how are they functioning ok?

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?
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Old 09-21-13, 07:18 AM   #2
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You did miss something, we're snobs really, first world snobs as it were.. in reality any bike used for transportation or utility is a fine bike. The majority of riders here though are recreational, then there's the hobby racers, a lot of DIY wrenchers, actual frame builders etc. Not a lot of people who need transportation at a set price so "low" to them, the other factor here is the BSO's they refer to are pretty much sold as disposable bikes here, often times you won't even find grease in the bearings on a new one, and most of the people buying said bikes don't want to or know how to work on their bike themselves.
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Old 09-21-13, 07:28 AM   #3
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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.
Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

I've never heard of any bicycle being called a BSO. Very odd. Must be something "tongue in cheek".
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Old 09-21-13, 07:34 AM   #4
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The analogy isn't quite right. If someone in the developed world has say $200 to spend, why should they buy a POS for a commuter? At that price, you can get a decent quality bike. There will be some disagreement around the margins for what is a decent bike but there is considerable agreement as to what is a POS bike. I haven't seen any posts here that purport to give any advice to desperately poor people in the developing world many of whom, I imagine, have at best limited access to the internet (though I know that is changing fortunately with low cost computers and cell phones). The point is that if someone finds a bike in their price range that fits their needs, that is a bike not a BSO and more power to them. I just wish countries like Bangladesh would do something to outlaw cars.
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Old 09-21-13, 07:35 AM   #5
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Low price does not necessarily mean Cheap.

What you're describing as a cheap bike sounds to me like they are simply inexpensive bikes. From what I remember of bicycles witnessed during my travels in SE Asia, most were coaster brake bikes marrying very simple designs with very stout construction.

Here in the states, cheap bikes are anything but simple. It's almost as if there's an arms race between manufacturers to see how many complications they can add under an amazingly low price ceiling. Disc brakes and full suspension are not uncommon. As you can imagine, adding parts and keeping the price the same means the overall quality decreases of the extant parts.

BSO's do just that- they have all the features of MUCH more expensive bikes, but every part is made to be absolutely as cheap as possible. Not only are these bikes are dripping in stamped steel components, pro manufacturing tolerance, and very low grade bearings, but they're assembled by the same guy who assembles the fitness equipment and gas grills.

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Old 09-21-13, 08:04 AM   #6
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I think the geometry of that bike was designed for touring with a heavy front load over the bars.
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Old 09-21-13, 09:02 AM   #7
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The cutoff point between an entry level bicycle and a BSO is really below $250. I would put it about $125 price point. It is the discount store $99 bikes that are notorious for resembling bicycles.
The $99 includes transport, tax, and retail profit in the US/Europe.

I have ridden £125 Raleigh bicycles and they work just fine. The Shimano stamped steel derailleurs work OK. It is stuff like frame alignment that suffers in BSO as well as excess weight.
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Old 09-21-13, 09:36 AM   #8
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there you have the Bicycles of India, that are derived of 100 year old British Roadsters.

also the Chinese ones the people rode before the big jump into the world market economy..


meeting the New Market contract manufacturing for the west .. by the Asian countries .
and the Western brands wanting the best innovation without pushing past the customers income
moving manufacturing to where labor is cheap , likeTheOP's country..
Leaving western customers with suppressed wages ,
and then they are getting goods made for them rather than by them because the wages went in the
pockets of their overlords not them , and that is all they can afford ..


Are they functioning OK? the one in the picture can be made to function adequately ,
but not by the clerks assigned to take them out of the Box .

None are trained , as the fork facing backwards on many of the discount store bikes
in inventory, attest .. not even trained to reverse the fork, when assembling the bike .
from how it was placed to fit in the Box, to be shipped across the Sea.


It can be made more serviceable It there is an intervention bu someone
that can re do the assembly Better.

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Old 09-21-13, 09:44 AM   #9
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I think that there are no bad bicycles, there is just use other than intended.

I have routinely advised posters to acquire a semi-disposable bike for commuting on a college campus. Some refer to that as a BSO, some call it a POS. As long as it performs it's function, who cares what somebody else calls it?

For the kind of recreational riding that I do, I prefer something a bit more upscale. What's wrong with that?
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Old 09-21-13, 11:07 AM   #10
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BSO's aren't meant to be ridden, they are meant to satisfy a momentary notion of exercise that quickly fades. I'd be curious to see some photos of these $90-$150 bikes to compare with a $90 Walmart bike.
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Old 09-21-13, 11:17 AM   #11
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The analogy isn't quite right. If someone in the developed world has say $200 to spend, why should they buy a POS for a commuter? At that price, you can get a decent quality bike. There will be some disagreement around the margins for what is a decent bike but there is considerable agreement as to what is a POS bike. I haven't seen any posts here that purport to give any advice to desperately poor people in the developing world many of whom, I imagine, have at best limited access to the internet (though I know that is changing fortunately with low cost computers and cell phones). The point is that if someone finds a bike in their price range that fits their needs, that is a bike not a BSO and more power to them. I just wish countries like Bangladesh would do something to outlaw cars.
I agree with your point about selecting good cheap bikes. Walmart and the other chains sell good cheap designs, but a lot of cyclists buy a cheap POS instead--the flashy ones with fake suspensions and tinny "discos" for example.

Why would you expect Bangladesh, which hardly has any cars, would outlaw cars? It would do much more good if rich countries made some reasonable limitations on cars. We actually have more cars than licensed drivers in the US, for example. Reducing the US fleet by one percent would probably eliminate more cars than abolishing the entire Bangladeshi fleet. Bangladesh has almost the lowest carbon footprint on the planet, while the US is pretty much tied for first place.
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Old 09-21-13, 11:20 AM   #12
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I agree with your point about selecting good cheap bikes. Walmart and the other chains sell good cheap designs, but a lot of cyclists buy a cheap POS instead--the flashy ones with fake suspensions and tinny "discos" for example.

Why would you expect Bangladesh, which hardly has any cars, would outlaw cars? It would do much more good if rich countries made some reasonable limitations on cars. We actually have more cars than licensed drivers in the US, for example. Reducing the US fleet by one percent would probably eliminate more cars than abolishing the entire Bangladeshi fleet. Bangladesh has almost the lowest carbon footprint on the planet, while the US is pretty much tied for first place.
I'd love to see the US raise gas prices and do something about our car use. Unfortunately the politics of that is hard if not impossible. The politics of this are somewhat different in developing countries. Fewer people would be as negatively impacted and so there might be a slight chance that a country like Bangladesh could so something sensible about transportation. The politics that might make this possible are different if there was sufficient social pressure for change.
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Old 09-21-13, 11:25 AM   #13
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I'm not usually a defender of Walmart. But here's a decent bike for $85:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/23428861?w...529836&veh=sem

Heres a very nice bike for about twice the money:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/23428861?w...529836&veh=sem

I would ride it! (men's version)
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Old 09-21-13, 11:40 AM   #14
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I'd love to see the US raise gas prices and do something about our car use. Unfortunately the politics of that is hard if not impossible. The politics of this are somewhat different in developing countries. Fewer people would be as negatively impacted and so there might be a slight chance that a country like Bangladesh could so something sensible about transportation. The politics that might make this possible are different if there was sufficient social pressure for change.
Each country must do what it can, or we are all toast. There is a lot of political/social advocacy in America: pro-transit, pro-bike, Complete Streets, anti-pollution and so forth. Change doesn't happen unless people work for it.

also doesn't it seem hypocritical (at best) to expect the people who already have the least to make additional sacrifices, while we continue an extravagant and destructive overuse of private cars?
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Old 09-21-13, 11:45 AM   #15
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Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

I've never heard of any bicycle being called a BSO. Very odd. Must be something "tongue in cheek".
How did you miss that over the past 10 years and 34,808 posts ?
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Old 09-21-13, 11:45 AM   #16
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Fellas, table the political discussion and get back to the topic at hand.
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Old 09-21-13, 11:47 AM   #17
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I live in Bangladesh. It’s 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?
There is a difference between things being inexpensive and things being cheaply made.

Would like to see what $90.00 - $150.00 gets you there compared to what is sold here for the same price.
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Old 09-21-13, 12:33 PM   #18
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Fellas, table the political discussion and get back to the topic at hand.
The topic at hand is political, IMO.

Or mayb it's only political when poor people comment about choices made by affluent people. Then when rich people comment about bicycle choices made by poor people, it's considered "good advice".

In deference to the mod, I will bow out of this thread
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Old 09-21-13, 12:54 PM   #19
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Low price does not necessarily mean Cheap.

What you're describing as a cheap bike sounds to me like they are simply inexpensive bikes. From what I remember of bicycles witnessed during my travels in SE Asia, most were coaster brake bikes marrying very simple designs with very stout construction.

Here in the states, cheap bikes are anything but simple. It's almost as if there's an arms race between manufacturers to see how many complications they can add under an amazingly low price ceiling. Disc brakes and full suspension are not uncommon. As you can imagine, adding parts and keeping the price the same means the overall quality decreases of the extant parts.

BSO's do just that- they have all the features of MUCH more expensive bikes, but every part is made to be absolutely as cheap as possible. Not only are these bikes are dripping in stamped steel components, pro manufacturing tolerance, and very low grade bearings, but they're assembled by the same guy who assembles the fitness equipment and gas grills.

Spotted at a local target this summer:

I see bikes assembled like that all the time here in France. I was beginning to think that mounting the fork backwards was simply another new fad that I didn't understand.

I recently bought new bikes for my two kids. You'd be amazed at how difficult it was to buy 20" and 24" wheel bikes that didn't have a useless (and very heavy) front suspension. They're kids' bikes for chrissakes. I eventually did find them bikes with rigid forks that were suitable for their needs, but it wasn't easy.

As for cheap bikes in general, they can be well made. We have a 7 year old rigid mountain bike that weighs 15kg (33 lbs). The parts are cheap because they're heavy, but they're quite durable. The bike is more like a tank. 7 years and 1000s of km later, it still rides well. My expensive bikes are not more durable, just much lighter and faster.
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Old 09-21-13, 01:33 PM   #20
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The topic at hand is political, IMO.

Or mayb it's only political when poor people comment about choices made by affluent people. Then when rich people comment about bicycle choices made by poor people, it's considered "good advice".

In deference to the mod, I will bow out of this thread
No. 1; agree that the thrust of the thread had to do with choices of political economy between different nations and I'll bow to the mod as well even though I think this could have been an interesting discussion about bikes and the economy of different nations. Too bad.
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Old 09-21-13, 02:51 PM   #21
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I used to have a landlord who didn't allow you to store you bicycles inside. And since I went around with a snow-mobile helmet and ski pants during the winter, a lot of my bicycles were ruined in one or two years. So I replaced them regularly.

When I used a 1992 GT Karakoram with Shimano Deore LX/DX parts, I thought the difference was night and day. Both in the way the bicycle rides, the way it functions, the way it's easier to adjust/replace parts and in some cases, the weight as well.

I did notice over time the department store bicycles started changing over time. Now there are parts like the brakes and brake levers that can be easier to adjust. However, there are still things that are different like threaded headsets and 7 speed freewheels.

With all the hills in my area, I found if you want to keep going fast after descending a hill, a 48 chainring at the front and 14T cog in the rear doesn't allow you to go that fast. And 28T front and 28T rear doesn't give you quite enough leverage when you're climbing a hill with a cheap hybrid that weighs 40 lbs with backrack, panniers, etc. When I wanted to change to 11-32T in the rear, I realized I had a freewheel and not a cassette. And that freewheels are made in a way that won't allow for less 14 teeth for the smallest cog. And if I wanted to change to an 8 speed cassette, I'd likely want to change shifters as well. As a matter of fact, the last time I looked for bicycles online by curiosity that had V-brakes, rigid forks (so the shifters/derailleurs wouldn't be as cheap for the same price*) and 8 speed cassettes, they started around $500.

*I noticed bicycles with disc brakes and suspension forks usually have cheaper shifters/derailleurs when compared to bicycles of the same price with rigid forks and V-brakes.
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Old 09-21-13, 05:46 PM   #22
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you need someone other than the guy that sells paint and fishing tackle to re do the assembly.

then throttle back your expectations.. beats walking .. longer distances.
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Old 09-21-13, 06:32 PM   #23
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How did you miss that over the past 10 years and 34,808 posts ?
It's not a term generally used in the forums I frequent or thread I read. I only read a fraction of the threads here.
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Old 09-21-13, 09:29 PM   #24
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I don't know many people that will say they will fall apart after one week. Go to any local yard or garage sale and you will see an abundance of old, ridden hard and put away wet cheap/inexpensive bikes that still work and I'd suspect many people in impoverished or very low income areas would be glad to have.

The difference is such bikes are designed and built for their specific use...just riding along...getting there and back again. I doubt if any of them could achieve twenty miles an hour without some white knuckling going on.
You are talking about two entirely different types of "bicycles".
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Old 09-22-13, 08:23 AM   #25
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My 7 year old Walmart BSO now acheives 16-17 mph and sees faster speeds every week and that is after sitting out in the rain and snow for 7 years still with all original worn and rusty parts. Theres a fat guy riding it who is 60-70 pounds overweight which is far more weight than the BSO could ever be over a "real" bike. Calling department store bikes BSOs is just snobs making themselves feel superior over others because they have more money to spend.

Would I like and appreciate a better bike? Sure, but my "BSO" from Walmart does just fine.
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