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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-16-08, 01:21 PM   #1
mrbike27
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walmart bikes!

are they really junk or just a bad rap cause there a bike built in china?
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Old 01-16-08, 02:07 PM   #2
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It depends on how you define junk. You won't get a $600 bike shop bike for $200 at Walmart. They won't be the same quality. But for $200, they aren't bad bikes for kids, someone who doesn't ride much or for someone that wants a winter beater. You will have to go over everything and make sure the Walmart quality employee who built the bike didn't leave any bolts or screws loose.

BTW, most good brand name bikes today are built in China.
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Old 01-16-08, 02:43 PM   #3
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a lot of them really are crap.... Many of them pack maximum "features" in trade for quality & reliability.

I did buy a wall-world bmx bike for my brother: coaster brake, no suspension, very simple, $65 and going strong 6 years later! so they can be just fine for their purpose.

Cheers
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Old 01-16-08, 02:56 PM   #4
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I rode a kmart cruiser frame for years as a beater with no problem, but when the frame bent cuz i bunnyhopped a pothole it threw the chain, locked up the pedals, and ruptured my spleen with the handlebar.
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Old 01-16-08, 03:28 PM   #5
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..........ruptured my spleen with the handlebar.
well that's no good.....
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Old 01-16-08, 04:49 PM   #6
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well that's no good.....
Yeah i was in the hospital for 4 days and got billed 9800 dollars but its not like that couldn't have happened on an expensive bike... Ive broke a chainstay weld on a Trek frame before and that had to be at least a $400 bike. Didnt smash any organs when that one broke though.
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Old 01-16-08, 06:33 PM   #7
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I have some recent experience with walmart bikes in the process of building this xtracycle inspired load-carrier bike out of a few dumpster-rescued x-mart bikes....




The first thing I learnt in stripping them down was that they are assembled with fairly poor quality components. Bolt heads and threads strip and round off with very little effort. Bearing surfaces are left soft instead of surface hardened. There is plastic in places where there really should be steel or at least aluminum alloy.

In the process of stripping down an almost new bike I found that they're put together very poorly, obviously assembled in a hurry. None of the bearings were properly adjusted or locked, and they had virtually no lubrication.

The frame welding is adequate. The frames are heavy but not strong, they're made of a relatively soft grade of steel. I was surprised at just how soft they are. Subsequently there's fairly thick walled tubing to compensate. The welding also looks to be the absolute minimum to hold these frames together and obviously done in a hurry. The ones I cut open had voids where the welds were done 'cold' and had not fused to the tubes, a fault caused by running the weld too fast. Thicker welds in this case give a much stronger joint, you can see the difference between my welds and the original welds here....





The situation isn't all bad, it comes down to just how you use the bike. If you just putter around occasionally at low speed on a local MUP then these bikes are OK. I suspect that 99% of people that buy these bikes do exactly that. If you're a dedicated commuter or car-free and heavily rely on your bike, and consequently are an above-average strong rider then I think you're risking serious injury on one of these bikes.

If you get one of these bikes I would suggest you take the time to completely strip it down to a bare frame and reassemble it properly. Lube all the bearings, set the preloads properly, replace bolts at critical points with high tensiles, and adjust everything as you go. I did just that on this project and now the components performs far better than on the original bikes.

My kids ride on these x-mart bikes after I stripped and rebuilt them (the bikes, not the kids ), but the oldest only just came off her training wheels and can barely hit 8 mph. As she gets stronger and rides longer distances at higher speeds she'll be on a better quality bike.

Last edited by Cyclaholic; 01-16-08 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 01-17-08, 04:25 AM   #8
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^^^ supports my experience and arguments...If you plan to ride at all I would suggest getting a decent used "brand" name bike. I quite often suggest to people that they head down to my LBS, they usually have several decent used bikes for 1/3-1/4 of new that come with a 6 month warranty and free 30 day check up. I buy them on occasion. My last one was a 2003 Staiger that will have sold for over $750 new, I picked it up for $175. That bike came fully loaded with fenders, lights, racks, V brakes, air pump and a Nexus generator hub

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Old 01-17-08, 01:09 PM   #9
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are they really junk or just a bad rap cause there a bike built in china?
Maybe a little of both. Well, not so much that they're made in China, since a lot of "good" bikes are made there too. Just that they're bought at a discount store and have no status value. Of course they have junk components and they're harder to work on, but millions of people ride them every day. including the majority of utility cyclists who don't bother to join Bikeforums.net.

My first bike, about 6 years ago, was an abused Roadmaster (Walmart, I believe) MTB that I bought used for $40--and that was overpriced. But it got me riding regularly and served me faithfully for 5 or 6 months. At that point I knew enough about what I was doing to buy a good used Specialized.

Too many beginners get hung up on wanting the "just right" bike. They worry so much about buying the wrong one that they don't buy anything at all. Ride something, it doesn't much matter what, as long as it fits you. Worry about getting the "just right" bike later, when you know more about what you're doing.
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Old 01-17-08, 01:13 PM   #10
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I think wal-mart's bikes are sold almost exclusively to people who a)don't know what makes a quality bike, and b)won't be doing any riding outside of their local neighborhood. So really, they don't have any reason to produce a nice bike.
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Old 01-17-08, 03:01 PM   #11
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When bikes are made with cheap frames and cheap components, things will go wrong in a hurry. And if a bike is assembled improperly and not checked, it can result in ongoing maintenance issues. For anyone using a bike for commuting or day-to-day riding, the bike should be reliable and dependable. That's my only complaint about department store bikes.

There are some good bargains to be had in the local bike shops. An adult bicycle at a department store costs around the $200 mark. At a local bike shop, I can get something of a similar style but much better built for just over $300. If a bike shop carries used bikes, it's possible to get a lower price on a much better bike than the department store special.
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Old 01-17-08, 03:18 PM   #12
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For what its worth:
I have been goofing with a Mongoose IBOC that was originaly sold at Target. I don't have more than 20 miles on it. (An aside I did not buy this bike, it was left over when a co-worker brought me 3 bikes to make two.) It riides OK but I have replaced these parts on it:
wheels
seat post (to short for the average adult male)
rear derailur
front brakes
Will be changing soon:
crank and chain rings
front derailur

So it rides pretty good and only needs a few things replaced. Oh I havent broken it down to see what is used for the bushings in the pivots. I don't expect them to last long.
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Old 01-17-08, 03:24 PM   #13
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For what its worth:
I have been goofing with a Mongoose IBOC that was originaly sold at Target. I don't have more than 20 miles on it. (An aside I did not buy this bike, it was left over when a co-worker brought me 3 bikes to make two.) It riides OK but I have replaced these parts on it:
wheels
seat post (to short for the average adult male)
rear derailur
front brakes
Will be changing soon:
crank and chain rings
front derailur

So it rides pretty good and only needs a few things replaced. Oh I havent broken it down to see what is used for the bushings in the pivots. I don't expect them to last long
.
How much did it cost to change all that?
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Old 01-17-08, 03:58 PM   #14
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Not much but I tinker with cycles alot. So I had all of it in the parts bins. If I would have had to even use Nashbar it would have exceded the cost of the bike new. So the idea is you would be ahead to buy a better bike from the start.
If you like doing your own work you can keep an eye out at the local charity thrift stores. This is the time of year when people donate. I know I have found some very sweet old road bikes for very little money.
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Old 01-17-08, 04:53 PM   #15
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A good middle range go to a Dick's sporting goods type place, they have Diamondbacks for 200-600 and they really aren't all that bad for light use.
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Old 01-17-08, 05:34 PM   #16
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A good middle range go to a Dick's sporting goods type place, they have Diamondbacks for 200-600 and they really aren't all that bad for light use.
I guess that would work if you insist on having a brand new bike...I am headed to the LBS Saturday to check out a traded in Trek 830? MTB in a 23" frame. If it pans out should be the base bike for my Xtracycle, they are "probably" only going to ask $125 for it. It will come with 6 month warranty and 30 day free tuneup. It will have been thoroughly checked over and will be ready to ride. That bike sold for around $400 10 years ago, to me a much better deal than an entry level $300 bike today. Besides the money saved goes for beer, pizza and bike parts

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Old 01-17-08, 06:29 PM   #17
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Some of the single speed cruisers would probably last a little while and be relatively trouble-free, but anything at that price point even attempting to have front and/or rear shocks, a triple in the front and 8-speed in the rear is going to be complete, grade Z crap. A couple people will inevitably disagree with this, but they are wrong.

Giant, Trek and others have plenty of fine entry-level stuff for just a little bit more money, and even better quality used stuff can be found in Craigslist or the paper. I say this not because I hate Walmart, but because I love bicycles. Friends don't let friends buy bikes from Wally World.
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Old 01-17-08, 07:25 PM   #18
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I've only bought one bike out of a big box discount store, Zayre I believe. The link has a nice ad for them. This link has Batman at Zayres It was a Royce Union 10 speed. The frame was fine, but all the screws were cheap and stripped within 6 months. I had one other bike from Montgomery Ward, another 10 speed that I got off my brother. The frame came apart two weeks after I started riding it.

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Old 01-17-08, 10:06 PM   #19
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I never bought from Walmart but I did buy a department store bike that I would say was half a step up. The store couldn't keep the BB running for more than a week without problems. I swapped it out for a cheap sealed unit. I broke the rear axle (twice) OK, that took a while. The frame gave up after a couple of years, cracking through at the seat post clamp. The paint was thin as paper.

However, it did good duty for 2 years, and for the money was worth it.
I now have a mid range older bike and have much more enjoyment out of it.

If you accept that what you are buying is mostly a bike shaped toy, then OK, It will work, but don't expect to get much mileage out of it without putting some more into it, and don't trust it till you've stripped and rebuilt ti.
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Old 01-18-08, 12:37 AM   #20
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If you accept that what you are buying is mostly a bike shaped toy, then OK, It will work, but don't expect to get much mileage out of it without putting some more into it, and don't trust it till you've stripped and rebuilt ti.
But I expect more. If I'm buying a new item, whether a bicycle, computer, a piece of machinery or a tool I'll use, I want something that will work reliably. I've turned down so-called bargains because I wasn't convinced of the quality of the product. And if I buy something unreliable and it breaks down, I'll have to buy it again. In that case, I'll pay twice instead of spending a bit more to get a more dependable item the first time.
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Old 01-18-08, 03:15 AM   #21
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One of the bikes I have is an aluminum frame "Schwinn" Prelude from Target. I've switched out the seat, handlebars, and levers, and added Power Grips to the platform pedals. I paid $150 for the bike, and about another $90 on the aforementioned accessories/parts. It wasn't put together too badly; I had to adjust the derailers and brakes, but everything else seems spot-on. It seems fairly solid compared to any other bike from xmart. I don't worry about it falling apart at speed, or anything.

I probably could have just spent a little more and got a "proper" bike from the LBS, but on the other hand I really don't see why this xmart bike can't be used to commute, even unmodified. The only thing that really needed to be changed was the seat (the stock one is awful), but everything else was basically preference. I've gone on 30 mile round trip rides with it, with no major complaints. I don't see why something of the nature couldn't be used for commuting, honestly, as long as you know enough about bikes to keep an eye out for problems. The things are built to a price, and I imagine they aren't as durable as many pricier bikes.
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Old 01-18-08, 06:03 AM   #22
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My first "adult" bike was a department store MTB. I actually rode it for a couple of years, but by the end of that time it was completely trashed. It was $115, which is $60 more than the very good '88 Mongoose Alta I got recently that is an infinitely better bicycle, and it was an entry level Mongoose in its day (which is far different from an "entry level" Mongoose today, I'm afraid).
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Old 01-18-08, 09:25 AM   #23
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For an example, my local craigs list has a Trek 800 listed for $80. By going to vintage-trek.com I can see the specifications. It was entry level when it was made but its frame is Cro-mo main tubes and nice rapid fire shifters. The frame was desighned to last a life time -so the warranty states for the original owner. It is very plain looking compared to the glitz of dual suspension and chrome glitz of the department store bike but it is good solid trasportation.
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Old 01-18-08, 12:40 PM   #24
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I got a schwinn crossfit from goodwill for 15 dollars, put 40 dollars of good new tires onto it, and swapped the seat and stem with ones i had at home, cleaned it and threw on some fenders.

So now i have this touring-geometry bike with 700c wheels for cheaper than a fugly huffy full-suspension walmart turd. the frame is made of hi-tensile steel instead of cro-mo so it weighs more than it should, but for 15 bucks i dont care.

But while I looked for a thrift store deal, i rode my moms diamondback hybrid to work and the grocery store for about a month. it got the job done.
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Old 01-18-08, 11:13 PM   #25
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a lot of them really are crap.... Many of them pack maximum "features" in trade for quality & reliability.
/snip
I agree, I used to have a mart bike when I was a kid. The brakes failed on the first day I rode it, and the gears wouldn't shift properly when they were supposed to, but sometimes did shift when I put more pressure on the pedals. Also, a mate of mine got a mart bike a month ago, and the crankset is stuffed already! He doesn't ride far, fast, or aggressively, either.
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