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  1. #1
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    Walmart cruisers any good?

    I have a decent Trek hybrid bike for my longer rides, but am now also looking for a 7 speed retro looking fat-tired cruiser just to crawl around town with...
    I'm 70+ and still got me a soft spot in my heart for these old time looking bikes that were the mainstays of my boyhood days!

    I saw a nice looking one in (gasp!) WalMart... Thing even had chrome steel fenders! Anyone have any experiences with these Wallywurld bikes? Sheeeesh, it was only $139, which ain't too had to take..?

    Thanks,
    Namaste,
    Chazzlee ">**)

  2. #2
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    They often are not put together very well. It will likely need some adjustments that you may be able to do yourself. If you take it to a bike shop to have them tighten up and adjust I'd expect the bill to be around $100. Maybe less, maybe more.

    For just cruising around and if not abused, they do fine.

  3. #3
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    I've been considering something like this as well to be able to tag along with my 4-year old daughter who's learning to ride her bike.

    I'd probably just go with a single speed though. Anything coming from Walmart with derailleurs on it will probably need a tune up before it can be ridden.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Yea, a contract bike assembler in my past, for Sears, speed is productivity, lowering quality of workmansip
    of the bike and all its parts, to maximixe margin, takes a lot longer to cope with.

    But as the business model of Wal~Mart is to crush all the small business that are anywhere around.

    I'd Avoid them and pay a little more, at a real bike shop, as they will give you service after the sale.

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    No good, you will end up with a bike that needs more work than it is worth. My sister got a Walmart bike at the beginning of last summer, and before the summer was out the bike was worn out. So I think it was waste of money.

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    Senior Member social suicide's Avatar
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    The Wal-mart bike is probably the best bike for the money going. That chrome will start to rust in a year and the bearing grease will start to turn to glue but for another $139 your bike will be shiney and new and you can donate the old one to charity! Go for it! Your fun meter will be pegged on an old cruiser.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You may get cheap stuff, but it IS social suicide.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    You may get cheap stuff, but it IS social suicide.
    Huh?
    My friends don't judge me by my possessions..
    -And if any did I'd sure lose them fast and get new ones who weren't so inclined......!
    Namaste,
    Chazzlee ">**)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Speedball's Avatar
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    social suicide?....ha, ha, ha What the heck do you mean by that.

    Just for old times sake, visit the Felt bicycle website and view their cruisers to get a look at some eye candy.

  10. #10
    Senior Member csimons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joyfulmama View Post
    My sister got a Walmart bike at the beginning of last summer, and before the summer was out the bike was worn out. So I think it was waste of money.
    These threads about whether Walmart bikes might be worthwhile in some particular circumstance tend to pop up from time to time, and the response is always the same. Everyone says they aren't worthwhile and so forth.

    I'm interested in knowing what, specifically, 'wore out', because these statements in these threads always seem to be vague. I don't understand how a bike can 'wear out', so please enlighten me.

    If there is a cheap component that breaks, can it not be replaced? So long as the frame and wheels are alright, what is the big deal? Nothing else on the bike seems to be too expensive to be worth fixing. Occasionally when I'm at Walmart and my wife wants to shop around for crap, I'll wander on over to the bicycle section and take a look at what's on their bikes. A lot of time it is lower-end Shimano derailleurs and some other components are unidentifiable from the distance. Plastic pedals? Big deal, swap them out. Even new chromoly pedals can be bought at JensonUSA for less than $15. Assembly probably needs to be checked at every juncture, but who rides bikes seriously and doesn't know how to do this?

    So please, cyclists who naysay Walmart bikes, humor me and tell me specifically what has happened in your experience with Walmart bikes.
    Last edited by csimons; 08-05-10 at 12:29 AM. Reason: Corrected spelling error.
    2009 Windsor Wellington

  11. #11
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    +1 to the assembler that used to deal with Sears bikes. I too once worked for a bike shop that assembled bikes for a local department store. All of the mechanics would want to run out the back door when a customer came in with one. They took twice the time to work on and rarely really worked well no matter how much time you spent on them. We also had people bring in trashed bikes bought at the local police auction and then want them fixed up for riding. By the time you added up what they paid for the bike and the cost of repairs, they often could have bought a brand new bike with a warantee.

    I can understand the nostalgia for the bike you rode as a boy. Do you remember just how heavy and inefficient it was as well? I did a 50 mile bike ride on a Schwinn one-speed bike for cycling merit badge in the mid 1950s. I can't imagine doing that today on such a wretched bike though I can easily ride 50 miles even now. My first really efficient bike was a used 10-speed Fiorelli racing bike with Campi components. It weighed 29 pounds. Had I not discovered that bike in the late 1960's, I would probably have given up on bicycling entirely and not still be riding 45 years later.

  12. #12
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    The problem with Walmart bikes (department store bikes generally..) is that not only are they made from cheaper components, these components can sometimes be so cheap as to not function from day one or worse , be dangerous. Add to that the fact that the bike will not be properly assembled or adjusted and you have an exercise in frustration as opposed to an exercise in exercise which is probably your desire. And while the quality of bikes at Walmart and such like is improving, they still come one fits all.

    Some of these bikes are approaching bike shop money to boot. My local mart has bikes as high in price as $500.00. The math doesn't add up. If you buy a $150.00 bike and have to get $100.00 of work done to it, you could have gone to a bike shop and purchased something much better. If you spend bike shop money at the 'mart, you can DEFINATELY do better at a bike shop. You could even purchase a good used bike and ended up better off in the long run. You definately get what you pay for with bikes as with anything. You can buy a $250.00 - $300.00 cruiser, hybrid, or comfort bike that will last you a lifetime. Depending on how and how often you use your bike, this may be all you ever need. Don't be distracted by the high end of the market which drives cycling marketing. Do get yourself something of quality that will be a joy forever.
    Brian Daniels
    East Nassau NY

  13. #13
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    Specifically what I have seen with them:

    1. The derailleurs don't shift reliably
    2. The cables are cheap and stretch alot
    3. The dropout are cheap and bend alot
    4. The rims are cheap and are often out of true. Sometimes can not be trued.
    5. The brakes are cheap and don't stop very well
    6. The brakes sometimes have plastic components that fail making the brakes inoperable
    7. The seats are cheap
    8. The shifters are cheap and not very durable
    9. The pedals are cheap and often have bent axles
    10. The cable housing is cheap and often needs replacement within a year or two
    11. The tires are cheap
    12. The frames are cheap and heavy
    13. The crank may be a one piece that you will not want to fix or be able to reasonably get chainrings for
    14. The rear cluster may be hard to find replacements for


    All of the above make the Walmart bikes not a good choice for anything more than light duty. I see plenty of them around that limp along but I know that for a little bit more you can get a much better bike. Something that will save you time, money and effort in the long run.

    If you just want to cruise around the neighborhood occasionally, they can be a fine choice. If you regularly want to ride to the coffee shop, I'd think about spending a little more.

  14. #14
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    I don't know about wallmart since -luckily- there aren't any wallmarts in Belgium.
    I do, however, know about cheap supermarket bikes in general and I also know why I do not buy them.
    A radio consumer program here in Belgium went to one of these supermarkets and bought one of these extremely cheap bikes ... then they completely disassembled it and checked every little piece of hardware.
    It concluded that the bike was not even roadworthy since the brakes were designed for kidsbikes and could not handle the size and weight of the large bike they were mounted on.
    The supermarket immediately stopped selling the bike.
    If I would let my kids ride on cheap crappy bikes and they would die because one of their brakes snapped ... I would feel responsible.

  15. #15
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    It always seems funny to me how ever one run's down wal mart bicycle.I had them as a kid and never had a problem at all.A few years ago I wanted a new schwinn bicycle it has 21 speeds I have well over 6000 miles on it and only had to adjust the rear shifter cable one time.I do all my own work on bicycles around here and help out the kids on the block with theirs.It's not hard to get any part you need for any bicycle if you know where to look at.Why pay more than you have to.I still like to ride all of my old/cheap bicycle I have around here.Now far as doing a tour on one no I would not.I have a Surly LHT that I put a lot of money in to it.Wal mart bike are good if you know how to work on a bicycle the first thing I did whit my LHT was to redo the wheels and took off the barend shifters and put on down tube shifters add a Brooks Saddle B17 Special better tires and so on.I got my grand son a wal mart bicycle and service it my self so I know he has a good bicycle that did not cost me a arm and a leg.I just hate to hear people running down/so call lower end bicycle.You can pay a lot for a bicycle and still have a P.O.S. My 2cents on this.And just so all can see here is a pic of my LHT.Attachment 163409

  16. #16
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    For those who don't know - Schwinn went bankrupt some years ago because they couldn't compete with the imported bike manufacturers and the name was bought up and put on imported bikes from Taiwan or China. There are two distinct levels of Schwinn bikes, those sold by bicycle stores and those sold by mass merchandisers. It has been an endless source of irritation to bike store owners when Schwinn started to supply the box stores as well as the bike stores. Some of them refused to carry the Schwinn brand because it had been cheapened by the low-end bikes that were being sold at these large stores.

    If you want a bike that fits and is properly assembled, go to a reputable bike store. Better yet, learn how to properly choose a bike and buy it used. You will get a much better bike than you ever could for the same amount of money bought new. I teach cycling merit badge to kids from about 11 to 15 years of age. I watch them struggle to propel a piece of metal that often looks pretty spiffy but is better suited for weight lifting than it is for cycling.

  17. #17
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    Two of my kids bike are from department stores (one from Wal Mart the other from Sports Authority) and they work quite well. However, I bought my bikes online (from bike direct) that worked well for me too. I agree with people who said that you get no service with Wal Mart bikes. Sports Authority is a tad bit better.

    But buying online is best, in my opinion. You save a lot. If you're new to bikes like me, you struggle through putting it together (most of the complicated stuff is already assembled, it's just handle bars, saddle, wheels etc.). You learn and also form a closer connection with you bike from having put together a few piece. And then you spend a whole lot of time adjusting the saddle and the handle bar and piss everyone else in your family off. So it's a win-win-win situation.

  18. #18
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    Big box bikes may be good bikes. It depends what you want the bike for. If you're riding is going around a city block two or three times a month they will probably be just fine. If you want to do centuries or brevets they'll need a lot of work.
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

    Pogo

  19. #19
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    I've worked on that particular model the OP wants. It is decent, if you know how to adjust your brakes and shifting. Knowing how to true a wheel is helpful too. Don't overtighten the stem bolts, they strip easily. The rear cluster is just a Falcon freewheel, which is easily replaced by any competent bike shop with the right freewheel tool.

    If you can fix it, get it, but keep it indoors as it will rust like a good cheap Schwinns do and have done for a century.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  20. #20
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    kdc1956, you may find supermarket bikes fine for what you use them for, but I have seen their frames snap in half (!) on rocky descents where quality bikes (not mountainbikes either) had no problem at all.

  21. #21
    Senior Member GP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexenmeister View Post
    I'd probably just go with a single speed though. Anything coming from Walmart with derailleurs on it will probably need a tune up before it can be ridden.
    This is my experience with big box store bikes. I live close to the beach and see a lot of cruisers. The cheap ones are OK, they're good to keep around for loaners or occasional use. The problem areas are deraillers, caliper brakes and rear wheels. I don't see many derailler models that are more than 1-2 years old.

    If you want a geared cruiser that will last, get an Electra with a Shimano Nexus hub. We've had one that we park outside for 6 years. It's got surface rust on the bars and cranks but it still runs like new.

  22. #22
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    When you purchase a bicycle. One should know who they are buying it from. While a/some company business tactics have made them the biggest corporation in the world and brought astoundingly low prices to the masses, we have unwittingly "low priced" our jobs elsewhere. Find out community impact, company policy and how the employees are treated (pay, benefits, etc) and use that information as well as the pricing of the item you wish to purchase.
    Each of us is personally responsible for our environment. Vote with your pocketbook. The company(s) will listen.
    The alternative box store I frequent sells comparable bicycles for only 10-20% more in retail pricing. They also pay a decent wage, offer full time work, and modest benefits. I will shop there or an LBS.
    Lowest prices should not be the only deciding factor.

    And no, I don't have any ties or work in retail. (not a shill)
    - Solo Attack: When you attack, let the sprint group lead you out. You take no points. But when they sit up, you put your head down and hold threshold. Remember: When you see Jesus you are still about 2 minutes from blacking out. Hang on.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by csimons View Post
    These threads about whether Walmart bikes might be worthwhile in some particular circumstance tend to pop up from time to time, and the response is always the same. Everyone says they aren't worthwhile and so forth.

    I'm interested in knowing what, specifically, 'wore out', because these statements in these threads always seem to be vague. I don't understand how a bike can 'wear out', so please enlighten me.

    If there is a cheap component that breaks, can it not be replaced? So long as the frame and wheels are alright, what is the big deal? Nothing else on the bike seems to be too expensive to be worth fixing. Occasionally when I'm at Walmart and my wife wants to shop around for crap, I'll wander on over to the bicycle section and take a look at what's on their bikes. A lot of time it is lower-end Shimano derailleurs and some other components are unidentifiable from the distance. Plastic pedals? Big deal, swap them out. Even new chromoly pedals can be bought at JensonUSA for less than $15. Assembly probably needs to be checked at every juncture, but who rides bikes seriously and doesn't know how to do this?

    So please, cyclists who naysay Walmart bikes, humor me and tell me specifically what has happened in your experience with Walmart bikes.

    There have been several posts on this in this forum and I have given very clear specifics. For instance, the frame isn't tight. Within 25 miles the connections on my sisters bike (which was a Walmart cruiser) needed tightening every single time she rode. The Handlebars would twist in a circle and could not be tightened to the place to stop this. The brakes and shifting were inoperable by 45 miles. The tires themselves were practically bald. Sure you can replace parts, but as we have found most Walmart, Kmart, and Target type bikes do not take standard bike parts. Thus making repairs difficult, costly, or impossible.

    Here is a link to where I outlined the situation with my brother's Walmart bike http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ation-for-kids

    As I stated in that post, I think that the cost of the bike, plus cost of repairs that are needed within the first year of an average riders use are such that most should consider a LBS bike. If however you like making bike repairs or you just want to stand back and admire the bike, I think that a Walmart bike could be the best thing for you!

  24. #24
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    We all need a reality check, there's no doubt that LBS bikes are better than Dept. Store bikes. But can a D.S. bike be functional and durable with proper maint.?,Yes...Case in point: I once had a friend that rode a Huffy on 40, 80, and even 100 mi. training rides, with very little trouble. I even rode with him for one summer, so I know this is factual.

  25. #25
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    I ride a Wal-Mart cruiser, it's a Next brand La Jolla in orange color. Frame is aluminum, 26" wheels, coaster brake, very easy to ride. I think I paid $90 for the bike, and it was already assembled, just rolled it off the bike rack and out the door.

    For the money, I wanted a cruiser to ride with my girlfriend. I bought her a beginner bike, another Next cruiser but in 24" size, I let her ride my Giant STP but the bike was too big for her so she wanted something smaller.

    Honestly the bikes are great for just riding around town but switching back and forth between my other bikes, I can tell a big difference in quality. The forks on my Next are off, just a little bit but I can tell one blade is slightly off center, also both bikes don't roll very well, even after pumping up the tires to max PSI. I think it's partly due to the entire drive system being sloppy, just feels like the bikes are not efficient with each pedal.

    To give you an example on the difference, riding my Giant STP, with chain guide, and disc brakes, I feel less drag than riding the cruiser which is a single speed coaster brake bike.

    But again, for the amount of both bikes, I paid under $200 with tax. I already knew that I wanted a cheap bike that if it was stolen I wouldn't be out $800 to replace a bike. Also my girlfriend hasn't ridden in a long time and she was not sure if she wanted a bike, so it was better to buy a cheap bike, and if she liked riding we could get a more expensive bike later.

    Good news, she likes riding and I'm sure moving up from the little 24" cruiser will be a big jump.

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