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Old 11-26-10, 06:35 PM   #1
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Hipsters Grieve: The $150 Walmart Fixie Or How Much Is That Bike In The Window?

With the arrival of the madhouse Holiday spending frenzy, let us now turn our attention to the rising cost of bicycles here in North America. As this is a very serious forum on cycling either to partially eliminate-or even a more attractive goal-completely eliminate automobile dependence from the lives of North Americans & other car dependent cultures. One of the biggest blocks of bringing cycling to Everyman, Everywoman, and Everychild is price as almost no bike is free to be had. Unlike a few years before bikes became "in" when you were able to pick up your choice of bike at thrift stores or friends of friends at giveaway prices or even free. Or go to a LBS and have your choice of whatever well tuned up cycle they had in stock at a reasonable price. With the arrival well-to-do or simply rich Hipster or the new former middle class forced to give up the car perhaps forever, that is a almost guarantee of additional price hyperinflation & speculation in both used and new markets. But, take heart, perhaps one way of something trickling down to "affordable" (read cheap) department store level is not bad at all as "fashionable" clothes and home accessories prove time and time again. When the big box stores offer an "in" product, it is sure to come back down to a sane level as the flaky tail chasing trendies are sure to go elsewhere and do their best damage there with something else! Plus I can go back and buy up all the rejected Hipster toys or the lucky joe who finds a decently paying job to support a car again discarded bikes for my own serious enjoyment and transportation like before from the late 1970s to around 2007-the beginning of this current "craze."

Hell, I am not grieving for sure-bring out the Champagne. Let's celebrate!

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/03/hipsters-grieve-the-150-walmart-fixie/

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Old 11-26-10, 08:31 PM   #2
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I have yet to see a Wally world bike that was worth 60 bucks let alone 150. And one or even 20 gears will not turn a Diamondback into a hip bike.
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Old 11-26-10, 08:43 PM   #3
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I have yet to see a Wally world bike that was worth 60 bucks let alone 150. And one or even 20 gears will not turn a Diamondback into a hip bike.
I have seen two but they no longer sell either one. One was the Mongoose Paver the other was a 3 speed IGH.

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Old 11-26-10, 09:15 PM   #4
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I have seen two but they no longer sell either one. One was the Mongoose Paver the other was a 3 speed IGH.

Aaron
Yes there was a time before Pacific bought Diamondback they were pretty nice bikes. Now the ones from Wally world come with the bottom of the line bottom bracket, wheels and crank set. Not many are in the good category now. And a fixie is easy enough to make out of any reasonable good frame. They are hard on the knees.
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Old 11-26-10, 09:52 PM   #5
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Notice how most the selection is full suspension bikes as well, it is the latest craze and they make these cheap knock off with fancy looking frames and cheap shock and components and charge huge prices for a single season lifespan of a bike. I miss the old days when you could see no suspended bikes with descent drive-trains that were quality bikes with little frills.
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Old 11-26-10, 10:31 PM   #6
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I miss the old days when you could see no suspended bikes with descent drive-trains that were quality bikes with little frills.
Actually the bikes of the 1970s were often heavy, clunky department store bikes. Department stores like Sears rather than Walmart... but the idea was much the same. The big difference -- I've repaired both ancient Sears bikes and recent Walmart offerings -- is that the former were pretty bullet proof. Even 30-40 years later, some of the parts are still working. Light they weren't, but they were durable.

One good think about an SS or Fixie is that it does eliminate the shifters, which are often the first thing to go on Walmart bikes. However, the wheelsets are often the worst type of crap. You might get 1,000 miles out of the rear wheel.

No, the extremely low-end department store bikes aren't really worth it, even if you are poor. It's ultimately cheaper -- if you are using the bike for transportation -- to shoot for at least the low end of the LBS offerings.
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Old 11-26-10, 11:08 PM   #7
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I've lost count of the abandoned BSOs I've seen locked to bike racks in my neighbourhood. Most are Supercycle "mountain bikes" from Canadian Tire, often on sale for $79-99. The city should gather up the orphaned Supercycles and return them to Canadian Tire or at least bill them for the littering.

I guess the hipster single speeds will be added to the garbage heap as well.
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Old 11-27-10, 06:50 AM   #8
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I agree with Gerv.

I have been working on bikes for over 30 years. I can remember when we used to piss and moan about how crappy the Huffy bikes were in the 1970's...little did we know that they were actually pretty decent bikes compared to the BSO's out there today. I would have never believed that they could reach lower than a Huffy.

I rebuilt a Huffy 3 speed for a friend of mine recently, while the quality was not that of a Raleigh or a Schwinn it still was much better than what comes out of WM today. What is sad is that places like CT or WM could use their buying power to produce a reasonable quality bike for the masses at a decent price, but that is not what people have been conditioned for. They have been conditioned to believe that they can get something for nothing and WM delivers. In the US in particular price is the only requirement for most people.

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They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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Old 11-27-10, 01:33 PM   #9
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Recently I've been considering buying a Wal-Mart single speed with an aluminum frame. I would then change the rear wheel and hub to a two or three speed internal geared hub (IGH). If there were enough room I'd get a NuVinci hub for it. I suppose I'll need to bring a measuring tape to the store to check how wide the rear frame is spaced.

Several people on the Wal-Mart site complained about the rear wheel bearings being too tight and breaking. Since I'd be swapping the whole thing that wouldn't be a problem for me.

Some people complained about getting flat tires and said they brought the bike back. I just wonder about those people. Why do they expect tires to never get flats? Would they return their cars if they got flats?

The people who seemed to know about bicycle mechanics commented that the bicycles worked fine. They too noticed some of the problems that others had but just made adjustments to the parts. They used the frame as a starting point for their own customization. I'd be doing that too.

So far this is just a mental exercise of what if. It seems like a good idea. A three speed made by Felt costs almost $400.00. I test rode one and it was OK but the gearing was too high for the hills in my area. The rear sprocket was already a twenty-two tooth unit so I'd need to switch the front sprocket. If I recall correctly that would cost a lot to do because the expensive Felt had a single piece crank. Buying a Wal-Mart bicycle and customizing it could be cheaper than buying a three speed Felt from a bicycle shop. The modifications could be done at a pace that is affordable instead of just buying the more expensive three speed. The Wal-Mart single speed aluminum frame bicycle costs $99.00. A new wheel with a two to three speed IGH would cost about $200.00. The Wal-Mart bicycle also has a three piece crank.

It's not likely that I'll ever find an aluminum frame cruiser for sale in the thrift stores or on Craigslist in my small town. Buying from a big box store might be the best alternative for people in some circumstances.

Will a hipster know to go to Wal-Mart to find his single speed or fixed gear bicycle? Maybe the word will get out. Is such a bicycle appealing to a new cyclist who is at the store just looking for something fun to ride? Perhaps the internet will make this bicycle a hit.
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Old 11-27-10, 03:03 PM   #10
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Small wheels, what you are proposing isn't a bad idea, but check the frame over carefully. I have gotten had my hands on a couple of Huffy cruisers that looked like they were welded up by a drunk monkey.

Aaron

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Old 11-27-10, 05:14 PM   #11
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Interesting.... never seen welding like that before. Most dept. stores bikes I've ever seen at least have no ventilation holes... I'd ask for a refund.
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Old 11-27-10, 05:24 PM   #12
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I've lost count of the abandoned BSOs .... Supercycle "mountain bikes" from Canadian Tire, often on sale for $79-99. The city should gather up the orphaned Supercycles and return them to Canadian Tire or at least bill them for the littering.

+1. The irony is that not only do companies like Malwart and Canadian Dire encourage the transformation of perfectly good metals directly into garbage, they also encourage corner-cutting and environmentally unsound practices within the process itself. There should be a minimum standard to which excavated metals and other raw materials can be formed into bicycles. Turning good materials directly into junk should be a finable offense at least.
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Old 11-27-10, 05:31 PM   #13
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Small wheels, what you are proposing isn't a bad idea, but check the frame over carefully. I have gotten had my hands on a couple of Huffy cruisers that looked like they were welded up by a drunk monkey.

Aaron

That is more than ugly welding that is an unsafe frame.
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Old 11-27-10, 05:38 PM   #14
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Actually the bikes of the 1970s were often heavy, clunky department store bikes. Department stores like Sears rather than Walmart... but the idea was much the same. The big difference -- I've repaired both ancient Sears bikes and recent Walmart offerings -- is that the former were pretty bullet proof. Even 30-40 years later, some of the parts are still working. Light they weren't, but they were durable.
Remember, however, that the 30-40 year-old bikes you're seeing are the survivors. The ones that were crap are long gone.
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Old 11-27-10, 06:41 PM   #15
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That is more than ugly welding that is an unsafe frame.
Dunno about that, it hasn't broken yet. That bike is one that I keep around the farm for quick runs up to the barn, too lazy to walk. Sad part is that is one of the better ones that I looked at.

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Old 11-27-10, 08:29 PM   #16
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Small wheels, what you are proposing isn't a bad idea, but check the frame over carefully. I have gotten had my hands on a couple of Huffy cruisers that looked like they were welded up by a drunk monkey.

Aaron

Sad, but this is normal for Huffy now, across the board....

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Interesting.... never seen welding like that before. Most dept. stores bikes I've ever seen at least have no ventilation holes... I'd ask for a refund.
And you'd get it, no questions asked in most cases.

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That is more than ugly welding that is an unsafe frame.
Yup, but Huffy doesn't care, and neither does WM.

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Dunno about that, it hasn't broken yet. That bike is one that I keep around the farm for quick runs up to the barn, too lazy to walk. Sad part is that is one of the better ones that I looked at.

Aaron
Hope your path to the barn is smooth. And yeah, I've seen worse, too.

BTW: my job is to make that garbage as rideable as it can get out of the box.

Oh, and the Mongoose Cachet....

There was a review posted, we have a copy of it at work, of a customer who said something to the effect of:

"I've never hit so many cars and pedestrians in my life! I took the brakes off so I would be cool like the older kids -- now I can't control the bike, but all the girls say, 'who is that they're peeling off the front of that bus, he's so hot, oh my god.' "

So... it has entertainment value.
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Old 11-27-10, 09:35 PM   #17
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Remember, however, that the 30-40 year-old bikes you're seeing are the survivors. The ones that were crap are long gone.
Or just kept in the garage, basement, and rafters. Bikes of years ago were not cheap, my 1969 Varsity would be equivalent to a 600 dollar bike today, making many persons reluctant to just toss them out like some dirty paper plate.
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Old 11-27-10, 09:54 PM   #18
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Or just kept in the garage, basement, and rafters. Bikes of years ago were not cheap, my 1969 Varsity would be equivalent to a 600 dollar bike today, making many persons reluctant to just toss them out like some dirty paper plate.
The "disposable" bike is a myth. Either you go ahead and buy the present cheap department store questionable bike or you pay the rising price for a good used one from the 1960s & 1970s or around several hundred dollars to around 1000 dollars for a nice new one. To look at Craigslist & Ebay gives one the impression that people no longer give away anything of value like they did when I was little-i.e. informal neighborhood or family support. They can make some hard cash for most anything now.
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Old 11-27-10, 11:04 PM   #19
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The "disposable" bike is a myth. Either you go ahead and buy the present cheap department store questionable bike or you pay the rising price for a good used one from the 1960s & 1970s or around several hundred dollars to around 1000 dollars for a nice new one. To look at Craigslist & Ebay gives one the impression that people no longer give away anything of value like they did when I was little-i.e. informal neighborhood or family support. They can make some hard cash for most anything now.
The net effect of the current value of used bicycles is that people now believe they have something that is worth money. Previously, there was a told of both serviceable and even really nice bikes that ended up in the landfills... just because they weren't worth any money.

It's good to see bicycles are now viewed as an important asset. Most of the CL and eBay bicycles you see really have to keep a value under the current price of new bikes. So you can often pick up a really nice older bicycle for less than the price of an entry level bike. You won't generally find a great bicycle being tossed out... and that's a good thing.

One problem we see at the bike coop I volunteer at is a number of pretty nice frames that sit there waiting for a wheelset. Apparently the price of the frame and the wheelset make it out of the price range people are willing to pay.

So a really good deal this day would be to find a good frame, buy it and hang on to it until you can get a wheelset at a decent price.

Last edited by gerv; 11-27-10 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 11-27-10, 11:38 PM   #20
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The "disposable" bike is a myth. Either you go ahead and buy the present cheap department store questionable bike or you pay the rising price for a good used one from the 1960s & 1970s or around several hundred dollars to around 1000 dollars for a nice new one. To look at Craigslist & Ebay gives one the impression that people no longer give away anything of value like they did when I was little-i.e. informal neighborhood or family support. They can make some hard cash for most anything now.
Today, bikes are more easily tossed out, if Lil' Johnny wants a first bike, Lil' Johnny's parents can go down to Wally World and get him a 16 inch wheeler for less than than 50 dollars. Looking at a 1962 ad for a Schwinn 16 inch for 30 dollars( 250 dollars today), parents back then would be more apt to hang on to it, plus there would also be more persons willing to take it as a donation than today.
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Old 11-28-10, 07:06 AM   #21
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The "disposable" bike is a myth. Either you go ahead and buy the present cheap department store questionable bike or you pay the rising price for a good used one from the 1960s & 1970s or around several hundred dollars to around 1000 dollars for a nice new one. To look at Craigslist & Ebay gives one the impression that people no longer give away anything of value like they did when I was little-i.e. informal neighborhood or family support. They can make some hard cash for most anything now.
Some of us don't live by the disposable creedo, I know I don't. I try to only purchase things that I need, and try to make sure they are durable and hopefully repairable (if I can find parts).

The BSO's from places like WM quite often end up tossed in the ditches around here or put out for the trash. I pick them up for recycling. I can get ~$6-10 scrap value for an aluminum frame. Not sure what the components are worth, they all go in a big barrel that gets hauled in a couple of times a year.

I abhor the amount of plastic that is being dumped, it will be haunting us for hundreds if not thousands of years to come. I try and purchase stuff in metal cans or glass jars, both of which are readily recycled.

Aaron
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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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Old 11-28-10, 01:03 PM   #22
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Remember, however, that the 30-40 year-old bikes you're seeing are the survivors. The ones that were crap are long gone.
+1. My Raleigh frame is plus 40 years old
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Old 12-01-10, 09:53 PM   #23
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I had a couple of those garbage Canadian Tire supercycles in my youth. They actually held up pretty well. I think it took me two full years before the headtube snapped. Because as well all know, these were built for dirt jumping
I also owned a couple CCM bikes too. They were okay
Of course, this was 20 years ago. Lord know what the quality is nowadays.
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I've lost count of the abandoned BSOs I've seen locked to bike racks in my neighbourhood. Most are Supercycle "mountain bikes" from Canadian Tire, often on sale for $79-99. The city should gather up the orphaned Supercycles and return them to Canadian Tire or at least bill them for the littering.

I guess the hipster single speeds will be added to the garbage heap as well.
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Old 12-03-10, 03:22 PM   #24
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Remember everyone. As a fashion conscious culture that the North Americans are (in contrast to the Europeans where bikes are useful tools-enjoyable but still tools-period), mass adoption of bicycling and other pedal powered vehicles seems to go in cycles. The last one was from the late 1960s to around the mid-1970s. Then, until around 4-5 years ago, if cycling was done at all, it was a Weekend Warrior type of sports activity done on a specialized bike (i.e. "mountain"). It seems to be "in" for most yahoo Hipsters and other wannabe trendies right now imitating the bike messengers with their choices of bikes and bags.

The department store adoption of a former trendy bike (first mountain bikes, now at present the fixie one), signals the end of this popularity cycle. Now the real serious commuter, utility, or other user will be back to a more sane way to select, price, buy, and keep really good bikes from really good shops. The department stores bikes and the trendy LBS will mostly go away-or at the very least stay in the background-until the next bike craze happens. I guess and hoping for 20-30 years from now.

Unless this present downturn in the economy continues or gas/petrol prices skyrocket again. Then it is back to the ol' dependable bike.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 12-03-10 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 12-03-10, 03:55 PM   #25
Artkansas 
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
The department store adoption of a former trendy bike (first mountain bikes, now at present the fixie one), signals the end of this popularity cycle.
Well, yes and no. I imagine that the hipsters may be dissuaded. But from what I've heard and seen, the high schoolers are tuning into fixies. It's found a new market.
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