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Replacing Components on Walmart Bikes

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Replacing Components on Walmart Bikes

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Old 10-06-11, 06:07 PM
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SlimRider
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Replacing Components on Walmart Bikes

Hey guys!

Got a couple questions for you:

What's the biggest problem with replacing parts on a Walmart bike?


Why is it that some bike mechanics don't want to deal with the crank of a Walmart bike?

Thanx

- Slim
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Old 10-06-11, 06:20 PM
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polishing a turd maybe? parts and labor cost quickly exceeds the cost of a new one. i will do it if they pay but generally they get the 30 dollar safety check/minor adj
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Old 10-06-11, 06:23 PM
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A lot of the really dirty, crud-sack bikes have what is called a 'one piece' or 'Ashtabula' bottom bracket and crank assembly. THey aren't hard to work on, in my experience... they just represent a low point in a bike mechanic's life as they are usually only found on the lowest of the low, and remind him or her how low he or she will stoop for $6 an hour.

They are also found on some nicer old bikes. It is a perfectly good design and works fine. It is heavier than most of the more common 'threaded in' styles used on most decent quality bikes for the past 25 or 30 years.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:27 PM
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Are you looking to replace or upgrade the bike? Replacement parts are easy to do. Check around the area for a bike co-op shop. They should have a crank to replace yours. Upgrades are simply not worth the cost. Replacing the crank will not upgrade the performance of the bike.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:45 PM
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It's really easy to spend more money on this kind of bike than it's worth.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
polishing a turd maybe? parts and labor cost quickly exceeds the cost of a new one. i will do it if they pay but generally they get the 30 dollar safety check/minor adj
Hey! I take offense at that remark!

To the contrary, some turds polish perfectly fine...Thank you very much!

- Slim
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Old 10-06-11, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
A lot of the really dirty, crud-sack bikes have what is called a 'one piece' or 'Ashtabula' bottom bracket and crank assembly. THey aren't hard to work on, in my experience... they just represent a low point in a bike mechanic's life as they are usually only found on the lowest of the low, and remind him or her how low he or she will stoop for $6 an hour.

They are also found on some nicer old bikes. It is a perfectly good design and works fine. It is heavier than most of the more common 'threaded in' styles used on most decent quality bikes for the past 25 or 30 years.
Hey there LarDasse74!

This was the best and most useful answer. Coming from a really professional mechanic, no doubt!

Thank You!

- Slim
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Old 10-06-11, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
What's the biggest problem with replacing parts on a Walmart bike?
As my mother use to say, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."
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Old 10-06-11, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DMadro View Post
Are you looking to replace or upgrade the bike? Replacement parts are easy to do. Check around the area for a bike co-op shop. They should have a crank to replace yours. Upgrades are simply not worth the cost. Replacing the crank will not upgrade the performance of the bike.
Hey there DMadro!

No, I'm just curious as to why a couple of bicycle mechanics refused to change the crank on my nephews Kent bicycle. I would do it, but he lives over 150 miles away.

- Slim
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Old 10-06-11, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
As my mother use to say, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."
Now THAT'S funny!

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Old 10-06-11, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
It's really easy to spend more money on this kind of bike than it's worth.
A G R E E D!

- Slim
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Old 10-06-11, 07:49 PM
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I can't see why bike mechanics would refuse to work on the bike. Unless maybe the crank arm is so odd that they didn't have the tool needed to pull the crank?
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Old 10-06-11, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
.....I'm just curious as to why a couple of bicycle mechanics refused to change the crank on my nephews Kent bicycle. ......
My guess is that their shops have a policy of not working on department store bicycles. It's a pretty common policy among bike shops. Not universal by any means, but common.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:37 PM
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You'd have to ask the dude to know for sure. It could be the one-piece crank deal. OMG, I have to order one of those things? Seems like too much trouble for $5 markup and all the hassle. Then both pedals will be practically welded in there and one of them will probably fall apart upon removal. Plenty of pitfalls to encounter.

If it's a 3-piece crank it's probably so poorly made that there's a 33% chance one or both cranks' threads will strip upon removal attempt

Then Mom and Dad will freak out when he tells them, OK, that'll be $60. They'll say "Damn the whole bike cost $79!"
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Old 10-06-11, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
Hey! I take offense at that remark!

To the contrary, some turds polish perfectly fine...Thank you very much!

- Slim
Yes, some do polish up just fine but remain what they were.

I believe most bike shops won't work on Walmart and similar bikes because in many cases the components are so bad that they can never be made to work properly and the mechanic will spend a great amount of time and still not be able to satisfy the customer who will then not want to pay so everyone loses. Better not to even try.

Ashtabula cranks, at least the better ones, are rugged and durable but have a major weight penalty, Cheap ones are both heavy and have poor quality bearings.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Then Mom and Dad will freak out when he tells them, OK, that'll be $60. They'll say "Damn the whole bike cost $79!"
This would be my guess.

Money from anyone is still money.Shops probably get fed up with people pissed at how much a repair cost on their crap bike.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
You'd have to ask the dude to know for sure.
He may know the answer to the question, but unless "the dude" owns and/or manages the shop, it's not his decision.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I believe most bike shops won't work on Walmart and similar bikes because in many cases the components are so bad that they can never be made to work properly and the mechanic will spend a great amount of time and still not be able to satisfy the customer who will then not want to pay so everyone loses. Better not to even try.
Absolutely 100% correct. Again, some shops will work on them, and that's their business decision. The ones that won't, including ours, have this policy in place for pretty much exactly the reasons you mention.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by well biked View Post
He may know the answer to the question, but unless "the dude" owns and/or manages the shop, it's not his decision.
Yep, by dude I meant the powers that be.
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Old 10-06-11, 09:22 PM
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I've found that doing repairs on Walmart bikes tend to be more difficult than repairing even old Huffys or Roadmasters. These oldsters were low end, but often repairable.

With the WM bikes I've seen, you discover the grip shifter doesn't work quite right. Then the brake lever isn't functioning too well either after it comes off the handlebar. And make sure you look at the RD to ensure it's going to shift at all.

Generally, if you discover multiple problems, you just want to walk away from it.
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Old 10-06-11, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
I've found that doing repairs on Walmart bikes tend to be more difficult than repairing even old Huffys or Roadmasters. These oldsters were low end, but often repairable.
+1

At least the old bikes were made out of metal! Now everything is plastic and it just breaks. I was surprised at how "well" I was able to make an old Huffy 3-speed work. Today they're just hopeless.
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Old 10-07-11, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
........Then Mom and Dad will freak out when he tells them, OK, that'll be $60. They'll say "Damn the whole bike cost $79!"
Yes, and we should remember that Mom and Dad didn't care a rat's ass about using the bike for anything except to drive around the corner to the local shop to get a soda or ice cream. Why would they care to spend $100 on a bike to do that?

My custom built arvon1 cost plenty and it has excellent Schwalbe Marathons because I use it for touring. I NEED to maintain it, and such maintenance costs $$ My garage sale $20 Chinese built is ill-fitting and has cheap Chinese (?) tires, but I only use it when riding from my brother's farm to a neighbour's farm a couple of miles away. Maintenance is oil on the chain/ferailler/cables
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Old 10-08-11, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
Hey there LarDasse74!

This was the best and most useful answer. Coming from a really professional mechanic, no doubt!

Thank You!

- Slim
Uh, actually the LBS that I go to will only repair i.e. replace the tube if it has a flat tire and/or put air in the tire. They will not work on them beyond that. As the time spent on one of those "lovely" BSO's can be better spent on working on better quality bikes.

I remember one time some came in with a "Walmart" bike that he'd crashed. The head mechanic politely told him that he wouldn't work on it. The guy asked, you won't even at least straighten the handlebars out? The mechanic told him no, because it wouldn't end there.

Another guy came in with another "Walmart," I forget what it needed at the moment. But when he was told that they wouldn't work on it, he said "But I sept $175.00 on it." Yep, and he got his "money's" worth out of it too.

Then there was the guy I saw riding a Roadmaster bike down the sidewalk, flying off of the curb at full speed. I just thought to myself, "I reserve the right to laugh my arse off when you break your arse because you broke your 'bike' into to doing that."

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Old 10-08-11, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Yes, some do polish up just fine but remain what they were.

I believe most bike shops won't work on Walmart and similar bikes because in many cases the components are so bad that they can never be made to work properly and the mechanic will spend a great amount of time and still not be able to satisfy the customer who will then not want to pay so everyone loses. Better not to even try.

Ashtabula cranks, at least the better ones, are rugged and durable but have a major weight penalty, Cheap ones are both heavy and have poor quality bearings.
Agreed, which makes more sense to both the mechanic and the shop owner? To spend several hours working on one bike that will never be made "right," or using that same time to work on several bikes that only need minor adjustments? Then as others have said there is the cost overrun on them. And again what would be a quick and easy fix on a good quality bike is an all day project on a cheap BSO.
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Old 10-08-11, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
.......The head mechanic politely told him that he wouldn't work on it. The guy asked, you won't even at least straighten the handlebars out? The mechanic told him no, because it wouldn't end there........
I once had a guy who I had talked to before come into our shop and want to leave a _Mart bike for repairs. I told him we now have a policy of not working on these bikes. He was not happy, and got a little upset with me. I remembered that he repairs guitars for a living, and I had an idea for an analogy that might help him understand where I was coming from. I said, "Do you realize _Mart sells guitars?" He said he did. Then I said, "if I brought you one of those guitars to repair......would you do it?" He stared at me for a long moment and then, very politely and respectfully said, "I see your point."

I'll say this about a bike shop repairing _Mart bikes: there's PLENTY of business out there if a shop wants to work on them, based, I'm sure, on the fact that there are more of these bikes being sold today than any other.

We worked on them for a time. There were always several of these bikes in the shop for various things when we did that. Which brings up another problem: the folks who own these bikes often won't come and pick them up very quickly when you call them and tell them the repair is done. Probably not too much into cycling anyway, and the motivation to come pick up a low quality bike is just not there. And this was true even when we went to a pay-in-advance policy on these bikes. So honestly, that was part of our motivation to stop working on them.

We also charged more for some of the basic services we would do on these bikes, such as a tuneup. As Hillrider described earlier in the thread, it takes longer to work on these bikes, and in the service department, time is money, so you simply have to charge more to make any money on these bikes. Which, with any logical thought, a person would realize that this will quickly make having us work on one of these bikes cost-prohibitive. A tuneup would often cost as much or more than the bike cost. We would explain this. We would explain up front that the bike will probably still not work quite right by normal standards, even after we worked on it. Didn't matter, the shop would still fill up with them.

We finally installed our current policy based on a handful of factors; the bikes typically taking much longer than other bikes to get picked up by the customer, the scenario Hillrider described (which was all too common despite our explanations before we even worked on the bike). The fact that no one in the shop likes to work on them had an impact as well.

A good shop, once well established, should be able to stay busy with service work with or without these bikes. Like a lot of shops (most in our area, at least), we've decided to not work on them anymore. We do want to serve the cycling community, so it's nice that a mechanic we know who has just opened a shop wants the business, so we do give them his name and location so they can take their bikes to him for service.

Last edited by well biked; 10-08-11 at 09:49 AM.
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