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Old 07-28-07, 06:11 PM   #1
996GT2
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Upgrading a Wal-Mart Bike (yes...I know, but read it anyway)

In 2003 I got a Schwinn Aluminum Comp from Wal-Mart and used it mainly for pavement riding...it's been tuned pretty well, and all of the parts still work like new (wheels are true, brakes stop well, derailleurs shift niecely)...I know it's a dept. store bike, but read on...

Earlier this year, one of my friends took me mountain biking. He was in a $600+ GT Full Suspension Bike, but I kept up pretty well on my cheap Schwinn. Afterwards, I inspected the bike and found that everything was working perfectly. I went biking on the local 7.5 mile trail pretty frequently after that (about 2-3x a week for the last couple of months)...even though lots of the riders are on full suspension, disc brake and XTR equipped bikes, I don't feel like my inexpensive bike is letting me down. The other day I even passed this guy on one of those $1000 bikes when he couldn't make it up a steep climb...

So since my Schwinn was performing pretty well, I decided to make some upgrades. I switched the stock tires for some Kevlar-Beaded WTB Velociraptors in the front and IRC Mythos XC in the rear. I also swapped the stock Altus rear derailleur for a 2006 Deore M510, which shifts a lot more crisply than the Altus. Recently, I managed to bend the seatpost coming off a bad landing (nothing else damaged though), so that's going to be replaced with a new alloy one as well. I recently weighed this bike, and it's about 30 lbs in an 18" size. A little heavy, yes, but not that much heavier than say, a $500 bike.

At this point, my question is whether it's worth further upgrading this bike. As it is, I feel like it works at least decently well on the local trail, though the RST fork feels stiff and short on travel (they advertise 63mm, but in reality it's more like 25mm). I was looking into getting a Manitou Axel or RockShox Dart 2 as an upgrade, and also switching out the stock hubs and wheelset for a lighter set (looking at a set of Mavics on Deore hubs)...the fork would probably run around $120, and the wheelset close to that also. The price of all of these upgrades is more than the original cost of the bike (around $200), so I was wondering whether a new fork and wheelset really made a huge difference in feel on the trail. I'm going to be a HS senior next year, so I'll probably only be able to go riding a few times a month.

If getting a new fork and wheelset aren't worth it, would there be any worthwhile cheap upgrades to make that would improve performance on the trail?

The Current Specs:

18" 6061 Aluminum Frame with 1 1/8" Threadless Headset (Cane Creek Aheadset)
RST 191 CL 63mm Fork
SR Suntour 22/32/42 Crankset
Tourney Front Der/Deore M510 Rear Der/7 SP Revoshift grip shifters
Alloy Linear Pull Brakes
Alex Alloy Rims, QR Hubs

Oh, and I'm 5"11, about 160 lbs, so I don't think I am too much of a burden on the frame

Thanks for any suggestions in advance.

Last edited by 996GT2; 07-28-07 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 07-28-07, 06:12 PM   #2
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Not worth it.
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Old 07-28-07, 06:48 PM   #3
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I disagree...

Generally, as long as the welds are good, the frame quality is similar to high price bikes. I would not do the wheel change, but with the suspension, I would probably do that. Just don't spend more than about the price of a specalized rockhopper upgrading the walmart bike. If you think you will, don't. Just go buy a rockhopper instead.

For instance, I ride a mongoose blackcomb from wal mart (normally $280, I got it for $75 with a new back tire, returned cause the old one popped) and it has mid quality parts found on bikes such as lower priced Specialized, GT, and Trek. The parts are mostly brand names like these: (RST, Quando, Sr Suntour, cane creek, kenda, Shimano Altus[mid quality shifters by shimano], PROMAX, Kenda, and wtb)

Since I only paid $75, I can afford to upgrade it without spending much more money than a bike with the same parts I started with. That way, I'll have a nicer bike at about the same price.

Pretty much, do what makes you happy. Your bike won't need to suit anyone but you. As long as its a strong frame, already had a 3 pc crank and 1 1/8" head tube, you pretty much aren't limited on what you can do with it.

Don't listen to the people that say buy this, buy that. It makes little difference what other people think, as long as you like it.

I say: Go for it.

-Crash

Wow, just went back over your post. Upgrade the front fork, leave the wheels alone. You will see a big change in performance. Go with an SR suntour fork with about 90mm of travel, you will love it.

Last edited by Captain Crash; 07-28-07 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 07-28-07, 07:03 PM   #4
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It's great that you're out riding. Don't ever be intimidated by other rider's expensive bikes. OTOH, don't put them down either. I've been known to push my own bike up a hill now and again. (I'm 45) But I'm out riding and having fun and getting some much needed exercise, and that's what matters, right?

Getting down to the question of upgrading your bike, I would be wary of investing more in upgrades than the bike is worth. Do you really need that new wheelset? If the old wheelset is still true, why not keep it and put that money aside for a new bike down the road? Ditto the fork, though I do tend to believe you would notice a fork upgrade a whole lot more than a wheelset upgrade.

FWIW, I've been struggling with the same sorts of questions as you when it comes to upgrading my two-year-old Rockhopper. When I add up the cost of all the new parts I want to install on the bike, the total comes to more than the bike is worth. So I've been lowering my expectations a bit, deciding that I can live without some of the nice-to-haves, and prioritizing the work so that I can do the most important things first and worry about the rest later.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 07-28-07, 07:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Crash View Post
I disagree...

Generally, as long as the welds are good, the frame quality is similar to high price bikes. I would not do the wheel change, but with the suspension, I would probably do that. Just don't spend more than about the price of a specalized rockhopper upgrading the walmart bike. If you think you will, don't. Just go buy a rockhopper instead.

For instance, I ride a mongoose blackcomb from wal mart (normally $280, I got it for $75 with a new back tire, returned cause the old one popped) and it has mid quality parts found on bikes such as lower priced Specialized, GT, and Trek. The parts are mostly brand names like these: (RST, Quando, Sr Suntour, cane creek, kenda, Shimano Altus[mid quality shifters by shimano], PROMAX, Kenda, and wtb)

Since I only paid $75, I can afford to upgrade it without spending much more money than a bike with the same parts I started with. That way, I'll have a nicer bike at about the same price.

Pretty much, do what makes you happy. Your bike won't need to suit anyone but you. As long as its a strong frame, already had a 3 pc crank and 1 1/8" head tube, you pretty much aren't limited on what you can do with it.

Don't listen to the people that say buy this, buy that. It makes little difference what other people think, as long as you like it.

I say: Go for it.

-Crash

Wow, just went back over your post. Upgrade the front fork, leave the wheels alone. You will see a big change in performance. Go with an SR suntour fork with about 90mm of travel, you will love it.
It isn't worth it, there is no real point to putting good parts on a frame that is weaker than a broken, wet Q-tip.
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Old 07-28-07, 07:19 PM   #6
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Ahhh! Its aluminum!

I guess that would be a good bit weaker than box tube frame like the blackcomb...

Sorry, didn't take that into account.

EDIT: It seems to be really weak around the headtube.
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Old 07-28-07, 07:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Crash View Post
Ahhh! Its aluminum!

I guess that would be a good bit weaker than box tube frame like the blackcomb...

Sorry, didn't take that into account.

EDIT: It seems to be really weak around the headtube.
The headtube seems to be the most reinforced part of the bike ...thick welds around the whole part with reinforced pieces in that area also...maybe I can post some pics up once I find my camera.

I'm assuming also that the frame isn't too strong, but I guess I'm lucky it hasn't cracked yet on me
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Old 07-28-07, 07:26 PM   #8
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Bears are no fun.

Trust me, I've seen one from 20 feet.
Taking this "bear thing" a little far, eh?

Don't let it define you or be such a big part of your alter-cyber ego, right?
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Old 07-28-07, 07:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Crash View Post
Ahhh! Its aluminum!

I guess that would be a good bit weaker than box tube frame like the blackcomb...

Sorry, didn't take that into account.

EDIT: It seems to be really weak around the headtube.

What the........I love this place.
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Old 07-28-07, 08:05 PM   #10
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Raiyn is going to have a stroke when he sees this thread.
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Old 07-28-07, 08:08 PM   #11
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Raiyn is going to have a stroke when he sees this thread.
Great!
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Old 07-28-07, 08:55 PM   #12
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I'm a new-again rider, and brand new to the forum here. Something keeps bugging me though:

Quote:
The other day I even passed this guy on one of those $1000 bikes when he couldn't make it up a steep climb...
I don't know why many riders stereotype other riders by the price of their bikes. The two things are entirely unrelated. As if someone with a more expensive car is a better/worse driver, or someone with a more expensive home is a better/worse housekeeper.

So why do you think you should have or shouldn't have been able to pass another rider just because their bike 'looked' relatively expensive compared to your's?

--------------------
Sorry to go off on that...
Back to your original question regarding the upgrade. Something that hasn't been mentioned: if you do upgrade the front shocks and spend more than the bike is worth, you could still use those shocks if/when you upgrade to a stronger more expensive frame in the future.

Best Wishes,
-Bob
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Old 07-28-07, 09:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I switched the stock tires for some Kevlar-Beaded WTB Velociraptors in the front and IRC Mythos XC in the rear.
Why would you not pick a pair of these tires and get a matching set? they both have a front and rear and are pretty similar. Normally when someone does something like this they have a reson .. please explain.

regarding the upgrade or replace... I'd recommending upgrading to a Target bike.
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Old 07-28-07, 09:48 PM   #14
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Don't put anymore money into that big. It is seriously not worth it. Ride it till it breaks then buy a real bike.
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Old 07-28-07, 09:53 PM   #15
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Don't bother changing the wheels. You won't notice a difference.

Feel free to experiment with tires. You will notice a difference.

You might want to change your fork. You will notice a difference.

You might want to ignore t*rds like Mr. Smashy and DylanTremblay. Anyone who says "get a real bike" will never make a difference.

Good luck!
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Old 07-28-07, 10:05 PM   #16
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Don't bother changing the wheels. You won't notice a difference.

Feel free to experiment with tires. You will notice a difference.

You might want to change your fork. You will notice a difference.

You might want to ignore t*rds like Mr. Smashy and DylanTremblay. Anyone who says "get a real bike" will never make a difference.

Good luck!
You may want to stick to threads giving advice on covering up man-boobs. You obviously are way out of your element here.
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Old 07-28-07, 11:51 PM   #17
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you should just save up about $300 more and keep your $200 and get a real mtb. Honestly, you'd be a lot happier doing that. If you like your schwinn, just ride it til it dies. I completely disagree with anything that Captain Crash has said in this thread because once you ride a nice bike regularly as opposed to some mongoose x-mart p.o.s. you'll notice a difference. We can all lie to ourselves and say it would be the same, but we'd just be lying to ourselves. Save up $500, and get something nice. You definitely won't regret it.
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Old 07-29-07, 01:07 AM   #18
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you should just save up about $300 more and keep your $200 and get a real mtb. Honestly, you'd be a lot happier doing that. If you like your schwinn, just ride it til it dies. I completely disagree with anything that Captain Crash has said in this thread because once you ride a nice bike regularly as opposed to some mongoose x-mart p.o.s. you'll notice a difference. We can all lie to ourselves and say it would be the same, but we'd just be lying to ourselves. Save up $500, and get something nice. You definitely won't regret it.

What he said!!!!!!!!
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Old 07-29-07, 04:21 AM   #19
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Some people are saying save up another 300 dollars. I know that that can be a very hard thing for a teenager to do.
Id suggest that you ride what yuo can be happy to afford.
You say you like your bike, but not the fork, and you can afford to upgrade the fork. So do just that.
Some people on here dont understand the concept of not having a credit card/unlimite budget. Do wat you want, its your bike. So long as youre riding, who cares?
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Old 07-29-07, 06:42 AM   #20
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Is it a threadless headtube setup? Most X-mart bikes have the old threaded design...but if its threadless and your looking for a dart 2, Im selling my slightly used one for cheap...PM me if your interested.
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Old 07-29-07, 06:51 AM   #21
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The ONLY things you should "upgrade" on that bike:

1. Fix flat tire
2. Fix broken chain
3. Adjust DR
4. Replace tires... if it lasts that long.

Eventually donate bike to charity and buy complete bike.
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Old 07-29-07, 07:24 AM   #22
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If you do any upgrades make sure that the parts or of good quality, and that they are swappable. Realistically you could up grade the entire bike and at a later date pic up a new frame, swapping over all your upgrade parts. But then nobody would have anything to ***** about....up to you.
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Old 07-29-07, 07:34 AM   #23
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New bike!
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Old 07-29-07, 07:56 AM   #24
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23 post and noone has said it so I'll throw it in.

Don't polish a turd
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Old 07-29-07, 08:21 AM   #25
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Quote:
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You might want to ignore t*rds like Mr. Smashy and DylanTremblay. Anyone who says "get a real bike" will never make a difference.
But aren't WalMart bikes under the heading of "toys" in their website? Aren't there warning stickers on the frames saying not to be used off trail? I could be wrong. But I have learned quite a bit from both Mr. Smashy and Dylan and I respect what they have to say.

I think maybe they were probably not only talking performance but perhaps safety?
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