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Quality control on an inexpensive kid's bike

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Quality control on an inexpensive kid's bike

Old 12-04-22, 08:27 AM
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Quality control on an inexpensive kid's bike

I recently helped a friend who was working on a kid's bike that was frequently throwing its chain. The chain ring appeared to have been bent as it was wobbling significantly. A closer look revealed that the chain ring was not seated well against the one-piece crank. Upon disassembly we found that the washer behind the nut that held the ring to the crank was significantly messed up. The hole was mis-punched and the whole thing was bent, no doubt during manufacture. The chain ring was flat so a replacement washer worked perfectly.

The assembler on the factory floor surely had a choice to reject this obviously faulty piece but chose not to. This quick lazy decision resulted in a child's joy being frustrated by a less-than-ridable bike. Karma will prevail, no doubt.




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Old 12-04-22, 09:06 AM
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Where did your friend get the bike and how much did it cost? I assume it was a Big-Box store and around $50. This is not unusual given the cost and quality of those BSO bikes. The cost of adequate quality control would be considered prohibitive. When my kids were little we bought their bikes at a Trek dealer (it could have been Cannondale, Giant, Specialized, etc. but the idea is the same) and paid a good deal more but got vastly better bikes.

So many parents, particularly those who don't ride themselves, consider kids' bikes as disposable toys and pay as little as possible and the results are what you found.
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Old 12-04-22, 10:45 AM
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Or this...

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Old 12-04-22, 11:41 AM
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I worked at a Walmart for a few months. Customers would return these bikes for myriad reasons--slipping handlebars and seatposts, shifting problems, brake problems, broken cranks, wheels out of true, hubs that stopped turning, flat tires, . . . As long as they came back within 30 days, they got their money, and the bikes went directly into the crusher. Return them to the manufacturer for a refund? Are you kidding? It cost more to ship these things from China than the labor and parts that went into them.
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Old 12-04-22, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
So many parents, particularly those who don't ride themselves, consider kids' bikes as disposable toys and pay as little as possible and the results are what you found.
Sometimes they'll even ask their bike riding friends like me for recommendations. I tell them to go to a legit bike store where someone will assist them and stand behind the product, and not a box store. I tell them that the box stores use poorly trained kids to assemble that stuff and they don't have any maintenance staff and if anything isn't perfect they'll be SOL. Sometimes they listen to me and check out the LBS, and then buy the BSO at *Mart anyway because it was cheaper. Then they ask me for advice again on getting a brake adjusted or a flat fixed and I just shake my head.

My daughter had Trek and Specialized as a kid, and I never had any trouble re-selling them when she out-grew them.
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Old 12-04-22, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
I worked at a Walmart for a few months. Customers would return these bikes for myriad reasons--slipping handlebars and seatposts, shifting problems, brake problems, broken cranks, wheels out of true, hubs that stopped turning, flat tires, . . . As long as they came back within 30 days, they got their money, and the bikes went directly into the crusher. Return them to the manufacturer for a refund? Are you kidding? It cost more to ship these things from China than the labor and parts that went into them.
I've worked as a third party assembler at the big W and let me tell you assembling bikes in the dark outside in the rain for 3 dollars each doesn't really put you in the christmas season.
There's a pile of dead bikes in the assembly area that are used for parts. crap for the crap.
I know guys who assemble 80 bikes a day. Think there's any quality there?
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Old 12-04-22, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott
I tell them that the box stores use poorly trained kids to assemble that stuff .
They use adults that know better to hack 70 to 80 bikes together every day for 3 or 4 bucks each.
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Old 12-04-22, 02:50 PM
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[QUOTE=Schweinhund;22729309
There's a pile of dead bikes in the assembly area that are used for parts. crap for the crap.
I know guys who assemble 80 bikes a day. Think there's any quality there?[/QUOTE]
I assembled, too. Fortunately, I quit long before Christmas. I kept a box of parts, too, that I cobbled into rat bikes that we'd sell as used on the sidewalk.

We were near the University of Colorado. In August, families from, erm, places far from Boulder, would arrive with their freshmen in tow and set them up on a $250 "full suspension mountain bike." I'd have to laugh. I imagined those bikes were junk by Christmas, and the kids probably ended up replacing them with used Trek 820s.

I quit before September. I was hired for lawn and garden. It was hard work in the hot sun most of the time, but I learned a lot about soils, mulches, fertilizers, and barbecue grilles, and how to operate a fork lift. And we didn't have to deal with the idiots inside the store. And our vests were green, not blue.

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Old 12-04-22, 03:13 PM
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the bikes at Walmart are not all that much cheaper overall. like ya 140.00 for a little kids bike. my daughter bought one for our granddaughter. but our little girl was only 30 pounds at 4 and could not peddle the thing as it was so hard. so I went to trek less then a mile away and could not resist getting her a bike. a month later no training wheels. so her birthday is up and she is out growing the 12" so we took her there to test the 16" bikes she loved it. now the first time was 300 but we got 1/2 off with the trade in of her last bike so now they are about the same cost but the quality is much much better.
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Old 12-05-22, 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
I worked at a Walmart for a few months. Customers would return these bikes for myriad reasons--slipping handlebars and seatposts, shifting problems, brake problems, broken cranks, wheels out of true, hubs that stopped turning, flat tires, . . . As long as they came back within 30 days, they got their money, and the bikes went directly into the crusher. Return them to the manufacturer for a refund? Are you kidding? It cost more to ship these things from China than the labor and parts that went into them.
Originally Posted by Schweinhund
I've worked as a third party assembler at the big W and let me tell you assembling bikes in the dark outside in the rain for 3 dollars each doesn't really put you in the christmas season.
There's a pile of dead bikes in the assembly area that are used for parts. crap for the crap.
I know guys who assemble 80 bikes a day. Think there's any quality there?
Originally Posted by fooferdoggie
the bikes at Walmart are not all that much cheaper overall. like ya 140.00 for a little kids bike. my daughter bought one for our granddaughter. but our little girl was only 30 pounds at 4 and could not peddle the thing as it was so hard. so I went to trek less then a mile away and could not resist getting her a bike. a month later no training wheels. so her birthday is up and she is out growing the 12" so we took her there to test the 16" bikes she loved it. now the first time was 300 but we got 1/2 off with the trade in of her last bike so now they are about the same cost but the quality is much much better.
Our shop works on a lot of Big box store bikes, both new and used.

Walmart no longer sends them to the crusher if a legit charity in town wants them. We actually pickup from our local Walmart 8-12 bikes every two weeks +/-.

They will not re-sell a returned bike and their "assemblers" are not mechanics, they would not even change a defective tube. Most of these bikes are returned due to poor workmanship of the assembler, misadjusted DERs, crushed cables, handlebars loose, chains too tight, you name it.

The ones we get with a bent frame or fork are dismantled for all the other "new" parts. We get about 90-95% rolling again. True they are not Treks (or insert your favorite brand here) but to a kid that doesn't have a bike, it's gold. With decent care and maintenance, they can last for years.

We have noticed for the last few years that, especially on the smaller bikes that, the chains are set too tight from the factory (bikes in boxes) and this year, that the one piece cranks are also set too tight, both easy fixes and gets a bike into am kids hands that their parent couldn.t otherwise afford.

I welcome the poor assembly, it is lining our shop with plenty of bikes.
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Old 12-05-22, 03:13 AM
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1. If you think the person assembling this, assuming a person was even involved, is looking at those parts then you’ve never worked in/near a low wage factory assembly position. The time to inspect things isn’t there, and neither is the motivation. I once worked at a place where we assembled parts the size of a shoebox. One of our samples, spray painted bright orange, ended up in the workflow. It finally got noticed 4 or 5 operations later not because it was bright orange but because the paint prevented it from fitting together.
2. You get what you pay for. Maybe the karma hit belongs to the person buying cheap junk for a child and then not making sure it works first. Think you can provide better quality at that price point? There’s a market if you can.

Good on you for making it better, but I would go easy on laying lame on someone who probably doesn’t realize they committed the offense that bothers you.
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Old 12-05-22, 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM
Our shop works on a lot of Big box store bikes, both new and used.

Walmart no longer sends them to the crusher if a legit charity in town wants them. We actually pickup from our local Walmart 8-12 bikes every two weeks +/-.

They will not re-sell a returned bike and their "assemblers" are not mechanics,

I welcome the poor assembly, it is lining our shop with plenty of bikes.
Really. Tell me, when you have a fork leg turned 180 how do you fix it? You throw it in the pile.
As an assembler your job is not to adjust anything but the gears and maybe the brakes. You"re not paid to fix anything, just assemble.
I refused to build the damn things after a period because I have a little pride in my work, and you can't have pride in something you have to build in less than five minutes.
You're right to say that this is not mechanic work and the vast majority are completely ignorant to the correct method of building/adjusting anything, much less a bicycle.
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Old 12-05-22, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM
Walmart no longer sends them to the crusher if a legit charity in town wants them. We actually pickup from our local Walmart 8-12 bikes every two weeks +/-.

I welcome the poor assembly, it is lining our shop with plenty of bikes.
I'm going to call you out here joe, Bull.
Walmart doesn't allow any "defective" bikes out of the store. They have a contract with all their bicycle companies to turn it in and crush it. I know the contract. IF you are getting bikes from a local Walmart I want to know what store. There's a manager who needs to be talked to.
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Old 12-05-22, 09:15 AM
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I purchased decent / quality bikes for my kids when they were younger / growing - even though I knew they would quickly outgrow the bikes

most were used and inexpensive purchases - although we did purchase a couple new bikes

most I got at flea markets or garage sales ; if I found a quality bike cheap I grabbed it ... some were also given to relatives and friends

we had no issue selling the bikes the kids rode - some were actually sold for a profit
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Old 12-05-22, 09:26 AM
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four of the bikes I got at flea markets or garage sale

probably spent less than $100 combined for the four bikes

installed maxxis holy rollers on the GF shortcut - the tires cost more than the bike lol
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Old 12-05-22, 09:34 AM
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this bike was a dumpster find ... literally

leaning against a parking lot dumpster - rear wheel and derailleur damaged

waited a couple days - bike still there so I assumed it was placed there to be trashed - so I grabbed it before it was crushed
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Old 12-05-22, 06:40 PM
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K2 and Mongoose could be quite decent if they were assembled well. And it looks like Walmart is carrying Decathlon now.
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Old 12-05-22, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM

We have noticed for the last few years that, especially on the smaller bikes that, the chains are set too tight from the factory (bikes in boxes) and this year, that the one piece cranks are also set too tight, both easy fixes and gets a bike into am kids hands that their parent couldn.t otherwise afford.
I've been out of the loop for about a year now. But a lot of kids' Treks were coming in with tight chains, hubs, headsets, and bottom brackets. I always took the time to set them right.

And, come to think of it, my daughter's second bike was a Walmart return, a 20" Next. I think it came back with a flat tire. Now she has an Emonda S that she can't ride because she lives in Georgia.
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Old 12-05-22, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost
The assembler on the factory floor surely had a choice to reject this obviously faulty piece but chose not to.
You rant is silly.

If I was a shareholder of that factory, those workers better pump out as many as possible for maximum revenues in the big box stores.

Besides, 19 out of 20 folks lose their store purchase receipts, so they are stuck with their lemon bike. And since the pandemic, most stores don't even allow refunds anymore, just free repair (for those that do have their store purchase receipt).

But your prayers have been answered. Behold, kids' bikes are also made by Specialized, Cannondale, Trek, Canyon, Giant...

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Old 12-05-22, 10:40 PM
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It's an inexpensive bike for a reason.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:04 PM
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"Inexpensive" and "quality control" are mutually exclusive and should not be in the same sentence.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:43 PM
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My peeve regarding recent big-box small-wheel Huffys is they don't even have real headsets - the handlebar/stem combo is supposed to snap into the steerer tube, and the headset top bearing has been replaced by a plastic bushing. More often than not, the finished assembly either has a lot of slop or is too tight - and there is no good way to adjust it. Given the importance of the headset to proper balance and steering, this ain't a good thing.
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Old 12-06-22, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Schweinhund
I'm going to call you out here joe, Bull.
Walmart doesn't allow any "defective" bikes out of the store. They have a contract with all their bicycle companies to turn it in and crush it. I know the contract. IF you are getting bikes from a local Walmart I want to know what store. There's a manager who needs to be talked to.
Do you work for Walmart? Do you know about their participation in the Good360 program for charities?

Why do you want to rain on my parade?
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Old 12-06-22, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
My peeve regarding recent big-box small-wheel Huffys is they don't even have real headsets - the handlebar/stem combo is supposed to snap into the steerer tube, and the headset top bearing has been replaced by a plastic bushing. More often than not, the finished assembly either has a lot of slop or is too tight - and there is no good way to adjust it. Given the importance of the headset to proper balance and steering, this ain't a good thing.
Agreed, One of the poorest design out there. There is another version that showed up this year. It no longer snaps in but had a conventional bolt and wedge nut but still the crappy plastic knurled nut headset is still there.
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Old 12-06-22, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM
Do you work for Walmart? Do you know about their participation in the Good360 program for charities?

Why do you want to rain on my parade?
Yes, I'm in the food chain. The company I work for has the contract for assembly.
I do not assemble at Walmart anymore, but that doesn't mean I want to see the rules that Walmart has for liability reasons, broken.
There are reasons why Walmart the corporation does not do defective bicycle donation. They have already made a claim, that is fraud. The bike is a unique model # to the Walmart chain and can be traced back to them.
They donate boxed bikes/not defectives or returns, to charities though the corporation.

​​​​​​​If you have a secret deal, you shouldn't announce it to the world.

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