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  1. #1
    Senior Member Kabir's Avatar
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    Walmart bike as winter bike?

    Hi guys,

    I will move to Waterloo, Ontario pretty soon. I am looking for a new bike to use there. Since it will be winter then, should I go for a decent bike or just some crap but fully accessarized from Walmart? I am a little reluctant to abuse a nice bike with salt/sand after reading this forum for a while.
    Last edited by Kabir; 09-15-06 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Remove stupid Walmart links

  2. #2
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    Nothing's gone wrong with my bikes riding winter after winter that wouldn't have gone wrong anyways.

  3. #3
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    Buy an entry level LBS bike. It ain't like winter is going to dissolve your bike. Crap, i'm on my 4th winter with my two mountain bikes and neither have ever suffered any harmful effects. Just be sensible and clean them up when they get covered in salt, slush, etc.

    I don't want to ride a toy bike regardless of the season. I especially don't want to ride one when it is freezing cold outside.

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    My snow bike is an old xmart huffy. Works fine for the wopping 4 miles I ride it every month or two in winter. Denver hasn't been getting much snow lately. My regular weather winter bike is the same touring bike I ride in summer.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I don't want to ride a toy bike regardless of the season. I especially don't want to ride one when it is freezing cold outside.
    It is funny that Walmart Canada website indeed categorizes bikes as toys. Thanks for the advice. I will check out LBS for an entry-level comfort bike.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Deej's Avatar
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    Check out Craigslist Kitchener-Waterloo. Some good used deals.
    http://kitchener.craigslist.org/bik/
    The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up. - Ogden's Law

  7. #7
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Go to Recycle Cycles in Kitchener. They usually have some bikes suitable for winter beaters that are are often superior to any xmart bike.
    1997 Mongoose Hilltopper, 1988 Bianchi Specialissima, 2006 Surly Cross-Check, 2010 Norco City Glide, 1947 CCM Single-speed.

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  8. #8
    Old fart redden's Avatar
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    My logic says that the worse the conditions the better quality tool is needed.

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    I actually commute to work with, on average, a more expensive bike in the winter. Seriously.



    But if they OP is leaving it outside with water and salt on the bike 24-7, I can see his point, provided the distance is fairly short and hazardous winter road conditions aren't part of the plan.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    But if they OP is leaving it outside with water and salt on the bike 24-7, I can see his point, provided the distance is fairly short and hazardous winter road conditions aren't part of the plan.
    That may be the case though. Since I will be living in an apartment building, I don't have much space inside the apartment to park the bike. Besides, I just need the bike to run around the city so I never ride very fast or very far.

    That also brings up another question. How do apartment dwellers bike during the winter? Apartment dwellers usually don't have the luxury of a garage.

    Thank you all for the wonderful suggestion.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've been using a Walmart bike for winter riding (real Canadian prairie winters) for 7 years ... the same Walmart bike that whole time! It has held up remarkably well and I've done relatively little to it in the way of repairs etc.

    Funny thing ... I was planning to use it just a few years and when it died, I was going to upgrade to a better bike ... but it hasn't died yet!!

    So, yes ... a Walmart bike can be a good option.

  12. #12
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    Depends on your riding conditions and maintence habits. I enjoy many days of light snow on heavily salted roads and I don't really like to do much maintence. So I ride a good quality older bike converted to fixed gear. Derailers and the cables controlling them don't last long in salty conditions so I eliminated them. Brakes can become inneffective so I have a fixed drivetrain providing a backup. I greased my seatpost and other connections well so I can get them apart when I want to.
    This provides for a reliable low maintence winter transport.
    I think a geared Walmart bike is likely to have drivetrain problems shortly after exposure to similar type conditions. A single speed or hub geared bike with coaster brake and the addition of a front brake would probably also make a reliable winter bike.
    If your conditions are not as bad or you keep your bike clean then you probably don't need a different bike for the winter.
    I think a winter commuter needs to be reliable but inexpensive. By going with a simplier bike I can achieve these conflicting goals.

    Craig

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    I ghetto-verted a Wal-Mart Huffy into a single speed winter commuter, it worked, but I didn't enjoy it that much.
    Now I'm building up an old Raleigh as my new SS winter/rain commuter.

    The Wal-Mart bike will work.

  14. #14
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Notice that the only people who are adimate that it can't or shouldn't be done are the people who have not done it? I am amazed at the amount a fun and effective transport that can be had on even a wallmart bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth
    Notice that the only people who are adimate that it can't or shouldn't be done are the people who have not done it? I am amazed at the amount a fun and effective transport that can be had on even a wallmart bike.
    I havn't used a MegaMart bike as a commuter but I have ridden several. The multigeared MTBs and expecially the ones with suspension are anything but fun. I think I'd be faster on a cruiser. I addition these bikes tend to have alot of cheap steel parts that rust quickly, including brake pivots and cables and derailer parts.
    I'm not saying it can't be done just that it would probably not be an enjoyable experience.
    I ride an 80s steel touring bike that I converted to fixed gear. I probably have <$200 + accessories in the bike and I really enjoy it. If I fit on more common sizes (or I was willing to wait to find the right bike) I probably could have picked up a bike from a garage sale or craigslist for a little over $100 including new rear wheel (I got mine on ebay).
    If you really want to use a megamart bike think simple as in the simpliest design you can find. Avoid suspension and if possible go with single speed or hub gears.
    Craig

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    I dont think too many people here who ride higher-end bikes STARTED OUT RIDING on them. Almost everyone started on a cheap bike, myself included. The limitations of speed and longevity eventually pushed me to stuff that cost more, but was faster and lasted longer.

    But if outdoor storage in a theft-prone or road-salt environment are the only options, cheap may be the way to go.

  17. #17
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kabir
    That may be the case though. Since I will be living in an apartment building, I don't have much space inside the apartment to park the bike. Besides, I just need the bike to run around the city so I never ride very fast or very far.

    That also brings up another question. How do apartment dwellers bike during the winter? Apartment dwellers usually don't have the luxury of a garage.

    Thank you all for the wonderful suggestion.
    I commutted 7 years, 10km round trip on a bike I bought at Sports Experts in 1986 for $300. I still have and use; the frame, wheels (new spokes though), thumb shifters, seat post and front derailler all other parts had to be replaced over time, just due to normal wear and slight upgrades I wanted.

    A Walmart bike for winter riding is a good option, depending on:
    1) the distance - longer the distance the more inclined I'd be to get a more reliable 'beater' bike
    2) your mechanical knowledge of bike repair - winter is harder on a bike, hence you'll probably be doing more maintenance and a more reliable beater will require less maintenance. When it does need maintenance, it will be easier to repair/adjust.
    3) Where can you lock this thing up? If stolen a Walmart bike is not as much of a loss.

    However, speaking in general terms, if your commute is not too long, you have pretty good mechanical know-how and it is a NEW Walmart bike then I think you'd be ok.

    As for living in an apartment; actually keeping it outside as much as possible will be better for the bike in the long run - it's not heating up and cooling off from the extreme temperature difference (condensation) and decay (rust) caused by salt is accelerated when warmer. I kept my bike for 7 winters in a small aluminum unheated shed.

    When winter is done, wash 'er off, new or clean chain, repack the hub and headset bearings (actually...CAN you even do that on a Walmart bike?)

    Digger
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  18. #18
    Junior Member cyclepromo's Avatar
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    No Walmart

    I'd suggest for the same amount of money you could find a decent used bike in a place like Kitchener-Waterloo. The Wally bike will likely weigh a ton and it won't be very attractive on some days depending on your riding conditions.

    Also spend the money on some good fenders and buy something with PLENTY of clearance in the rear chain stay (I love riding in the slush!!!).

  19. #19
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kabir
    Hi guys,

    I will move to Waterloo, Ontario pretty soon. I am looking for a new bike to use there. Since it will be winter then, should I go for a decent bike or just some crap but fully accessarized from Walmart? I am a little reluctant to abuse a nice bike with salt/sand after reading this forum for a while.
    Ya, you are from Ontario. It is difficult for most folks to understand what it is like to winter bike in a REALLY northern city. The salt just eats bicycles.

    I think a Wally world bike is fine for winter riding only because they are so cheap as to be dispensible. The down side is that they are mostly steel - most especially the simple spokes that are used on the Wally-World bikes. They won't last too long in the salt slush
    Mike

  20. #20
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Get a used MTB. I have a 13 yo Trek 830(original owner) that is built like a tank, but still reasonably light. You could easily get one for the same price as a walmart bike and it would be far more comfortable, stable, and of a much higher quality. The problem with Walmart bikes is that you can't fully accessorize them. They often don't even have the fittings for water bottles let alone racks and fenders.

    Also, in Ontario the winter will be much longer than in the States. I can't imagine riding a walmart bike for 6 months out of the year or more.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    Also, in Ontario the winter will be much longer than in the States. I can't imagine riding a walmart bike for 6 months out of the year or more.
    I guess this is my real problem with riding a cheap bike.
    I ride because I enjoy it. I know I would enjoy it much less on a cheap poor fitting bike.
    My winter bike didn't cost alot but it is good quality and fits me well.
    Craig

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    ^^ I'd say we effectively have winter conditions from early December until the end of March, although last year we had very little of anything. Northern Ontario is a different story.

    As for the road salt, I got in the habit of pouring a bucket of warm water over the bike at the end of salty rides and storing it indoors so nothing freezes up. At the beginning of a ride I'll also occasionally zip through some fresh snow while the bike is still warm to get some clean snow stuck to the thing before wading into the salty slush (careful not to freeze up your drive train doing this).

    None of this I can endorse as a complete winter bike-care solution, but I will say that I've had no corrosion issues in the four or five winters of daily riding.

    But as others have mentioned, less expensive bikes tend to use metals that corrode much more easily. Even with a generous amount of salt and water, Al, Ti, and hi-grade steel parts show little or no corrosion by the end of the winter.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike
    Ya, you are from Ontario. It is difficult for most folks to understand what it is like to winter bike in a REALLY northern city. The salt just eats bicycles.

    I think a Wally world bike is fine for winter riding only because they are so cheap as to be dispensible. The down side is that they are mostly steel - most especially the simple spokes that are used on the Wally-World bikes. They won't last too long in the salt slush

    Just a small correction ... that should read: north-eastern city.

    Over here on the north-western prairies, they don't use much salt on the roads, they prefer to use sand. Yes, there is a bit of salt in it, but not nearly as much as what I've heard is used in places like Ontario and Quebec. I've never had a problem with corrosion.

  24. #24
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Just a small correction ... that should read: north-eastern city.

    Over here on the north-western prairies, they don't use much salt on the roads, they prefer to use sand. Yes, there is a bit of salt in it, but not nearly as much as what I've heard is used in places like Ontario and Quebec. I've never had a problem with corrosion.
    Yes, salt is absolutely terrible in so many ways. It makes our lakes and water supplies saline. We have some communities where the wells have become salty from the years of road salt. Still, we continue to use salt on the roads in winter.

    Sand is OK on the highways and country roads, but it clogs up the city sewers which is a problem. In my city, they work very hard to physically remove the snow from city streets rather than use salt. They make a valiant effort, but salt is still used.
    Mike

  25. #25
    the great shark hunt goldfish's Avatar
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    yeah, in manitoba its pretty much just sand...in the slightly warmer days they'll put a bit of salt on the roads also, like Machka said. this year i am going to make a more dedicated effort to bike in winter. i have what is essentially a walmart bike (i think it was about cdn$350 new) and i've converted it to SS. I love it. its ****ty, but its TONNES OF FUN. a guy at work who doesn't even own a car has been riding his crappy xmart bike to work in rain/snow/shine all year round basically forever. he hasn't had a problem with his bike pretty much EVER. every once in awhile the saddle will change, but other than that his bike just keeps on keepin on.

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