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Bikes Direct/Nashbar really comparable to name brands?

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Bikes Direct/Nashbar really comparable to name brands?

Old 05-11-14, 07:03 PM
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Bikes Direct/Nashbar really comparable to name brands?

What are the general opinions/feelings on Bikes Direct and Nashbar branded bikes? Are they really comparable to the more expensive name brand bikes, or is that a load of crap? Believe me, I would love to support my local shops, but they are just out of my price range, and its pretty hard to find a bike my size on Craigslist...
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Old 05-11-14, 07:07 PM
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Define comparable....... Better to ask if they are OK.

Yes, they are decent bikes for the money, much better than most dept store bikes. But, you have to be willing to inspect, lubricate, adjust, or have a LBS do it for you.

They are very decent bikes for the money you pay.
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Old 05-11-14, 07:10 PM
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Well, I consider my current bike to be an ok bike,, its a high end department store bike... its just way to small for me unfortunately. Im still very new to cycling.
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Old 05-11-14, 07:14 PM
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Vexxer, Yes and no. BD, in the case of the Windsor Tourist, orders up at the start of the year only. This helps the price point by having one large order. The machine made wheel set is generally the weak link, but once re-tensioned seems quite good. Several have been used on trans con tours without a hitch. So the good is that the product itself is good, the bad is that making it a superior bike will take a fairly good amount of skill.

Brad
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Old 05-11-14, 07:23 PM
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BD doesn't offer the very latest in frame technology: bigger companies like trek and specialized invest heavily in R&D and are constantly 'innovating' (or at least changing) frame design. Examples include smartweld for specialized and isospeed for trek. You won't see any leading edge frame technology obviously, on BD bikes. They will use slightly older manufacturing techniques on carbon frames for instance.

Also, BD often advertises certain bikes as ultegra or 105 bikes, but never offer a full group. They will usually spec an FSA crank, tektro brakes and vuelta hubs instead. They will downspec cassettes and chains routinely also. Then again, so does Trek and Specialized as well as every other manufacturer.

BD sometimes uses component groups from the season (or two) previous. They always clearly list it in the spec sheet however.

It goes without saying that you will be doing all of your own mechanical work.


For what it is (less than cutting edge frames, downspec in components, sometimes outdated components), BD offers what I consider to be an excellent value in bikes.
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Old 05-11-14, 08:02 PM
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Comparable...yes, but how does one define comparable? It is a bicycle. It has two wheels and multiple gears/speeds. It likely has an "ok" saddle, and possibly a braze-on or two. You've likely heard that old saying..."You get exactly what you pay for!" Back in the late 80's, I decided I had enough spare time to get back into some more serious biking than I had been doing since I started working 10 years prior. I had been riding my old Schwinn 5 speed "forever", or so it seemed. I had paid less than $100 for it, and it was a "good" bicycle. I had a few bikes on mind, and really wanted a Miyata Touring bike because of the frame geometry. I had looked at the other bikes and now it was time to take a trip of 80 miles to see the Miyatas. I immediately fell in love with the Miyata 1000LT. It had everything I wanted in a bicycle. But the price...wow! The others had been in the $200 to $300 price range, and this one was north of $400! How could I justify spending that much on a bike? Well, I bought that Miyata in '89 and still enjoy riding it every chance it get. As of now, that makes the cost per year of ownership right at $16 plus maintenance needs. It's still mostly original except a few new tires in the rear, ( the front tire is still the original radial tire with over 25,000 miles on it! ), and a new Brooks B-17 saddle a couple of years ago. The sealed wheel bearings and bottom bracket are still going strong. I know if I hadn't bought this bike at that time, I would have likely been unhappy and traded a couple of times before I would have ended up with something as nice as this Miyata has been. Everytime you trade, you mostly lose money. So it just depends on what your "wants" and "needs" are at the time. I had to sacrifice some other things I wanted to get this bike, but it was sure worth it to me. Bottom line is the decision is yours. Buy what you want now, or always wish you had bought the bike you really wanted. Do a lot of research and hope you make the right decision.
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Old 05-11-14, 08:38 PM
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Department store bikes are in a completely different world from BD bikes/bike shop bikes. Bike shop bikes use much higher quality parts built to last.

Having said that, the most important difference between BD bikes and bike shop bikes is that BD bikes are NOT "90% ready to ride" or whatever it says on the website. My friend bought a disc brake cyclocross bike off BD last year. Nice bike, well equipped for the price. But NOT AT ALL ready to ride. I spent two hours getting it adjusted and tightening everything properly. Honestly, it probably would've been easier for me to start with a bare frame and building it up right the first time. So keep that in mind.

BD also plays games with the component groups. If a bike has a "105 group" that probably just means shifters and derailers. Brakes, hubs, crank, and other parts are cheap generic pieces but usually serviceable and decent.
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Old 05-11-14, 08:43 PM
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For these bikes to truly be a great bargain in price, one should be a good mechanic with a full set of tools. If not, taking the thing to a good bike shop will make the "bargain" questionable at best. If you are going to pull the trigger and buy one, please do review the components that are offered and be sure you understand what you'll be getting.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 05-11-14, 08:46 PM
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My opinion is that BD offers great bikes.

They come with great groupsets and often Ritchey stems and bars. Most of the frames are generic, obviously, but they aren't bad.

Wheelsets and tires are cheap, but they do decently.

I've recently become interested in the idea of buying a bike from BD and then upgrading the frame and fork later on. The idea is basically that expensive frames come with expensive componentry, and if you can't afford the whole package, you can go for the componentry first and frame a little later. It's not like 105 or Ultegra groupsets 2-3 years from now are gonna be that much lighter or better anyway.

EDIT: I prefer BD over Nashbar for complete bikes because they offer lower prices for the same quality and a wider selection.
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Old 05-11-14, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake

Having said that, the most important difference between BD bikes and bike shop bikes is that BD bikes are NOT "90% ready to ride" or whatever it says on the website. My friend bought a disc brake cyclocross bike off BD last year. Nice bike, well equipped for the price. But NOT AT ALL ready to ride. I spent two hours getting it adjusted and tightening everything properly. Honestly, it probably would've been easier for me to start with a bare frame and building it up right the first time. So keep that in mind.

BD also plays games with the component groups. If a bike has a "105 group" that probably just means shifters and derailers. Brakes, hubs, crank, and other parts are cheap generic pieces but usually serviceable and decent.
BD doesn't play games with component groups. They list exactly what components you will receive. They do make substitutions from time to time, but they are good about listing which components are likely to be subbed out.

You also don't mention as I already have, that just about EVERY manufacturer downspecs non drivetrain components, and very often the crankset as well. Actually, the only time I've ever seen full shimano groups is with build to order bikes and custom frames. You are singling out BD when in fact this is an industry wide practice.

I am led to believe, therefore, that you have an axe to grind with BD for whatever reason. Your prerogative, but no need to twist the facts around to try to bolster your case.

--

Originally Posted by Panthers007
For these bikes to truly be a great bargain in price, one should be a good mechanic with a full set of tools. If not, taking the thing to a good bike shop will make the "bargain" questionable at best. If you are going to pull the trigger and buy one, please do review the components that are offered and be sure you understand what you'll be getting.

Good luck and have fun!
You don't need a full set of tools. A standard mini-tool will suffice. You may (or may not) need a spoke wrench.

I bought several sets of mini tools for next to nothing years and years ago and they are still in excellent condition after heavy use.

Many people have reported that their lbs will assemble a BD bike for around $50 to $80. Considering the saving over an lbs bike, you would still be far ahead.
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Old 05-11-14, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by roadandmountain
BD doesn't play games with component groups...
+1 Thank you! Someone who tells it as it is.
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Old 05-11-14, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by roadandmountain
BD doesn't play games with component groups. They list exactly what components you will receive. They do make substitutions from time to time, but they are good about listing which components are likely to be subbed out.

You also don't mention as I already have, that just about EVERY manufacturer downspecs non drivetrain components, and very often the crankset as well. Actually, the only time I've ever seen full shimano groups is with build to order bikes and custom frames. You are singling out BD when in fact this is an industry wide practice.

I am led to believe, therefore, that you have an axe to grind with BD for whatever reason. Your prerogative, but no need to twist the facts around to try to bolster your case.
Sorry if my earlier reply came off as negative towards BD, that was not my intent.

Maybe you missed the part where I said my friend bought a BD bike (which was per my recommendation) and I said it was a nice bike and well equipped for the price. I have no ax to grind with BD and I might buy one of their fat bikes next winter if I can find room in my garage for one.

As far as the component comment, what you said is sadly true. All manufacturers do it and I shouldn't have singled out BD. I guess I'm just nostalgic for the old days when bikes would come with a FULL group - shifters, derailers, crank, BB, hubs, headset, brakes, brake levers, and in some cases even chain/cassette/seatpost/pedals and more.

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Old 05-11-14, 09:43 PM
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While I agree that your LBS may charge a relatively small some to assemble a bike from BD, this doesn't reassure me much that the bargain still reigns supreme. At least where I live.

Up here it very much depends on where you take it, and/or buy a new bike. While one or two shops around do a great job setting up a new machine, the others around bring me half of my bike jobs. These shops hire chimps with pliers who cannot/will not do certain vital tasks during the build. They don't adjust the brakes, properly size a chain, check the bottom-bracket for play or tightness, or even adjust the saddle. And having shown their true colors to the customer, many are unwilling to bring the bike back for what should be covered in the warranty they are obliged to honor as their contractual obligation to the manufacturer.

So I do understand your point, roadandmountain, but I'd say it depends on who is available.

Regards Nashbar bikes - I did get one of these "bargains" some years ago. It was a disaster from the frame and fork on up. I think it was made out of an old sewer-pipe. It was awful! Good thing I have a good sense of humor - otherwise I might have filled the frame with blasting powder and lit it off on the 4th of July. Never again...

Have fun!

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Old 05-11-14, 09:53 PM
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Well, so far, even figuring in $75 bucks for my lbs to build it, I can not find any LBS's that come close to matching the price... well, Performance comes kinda close with their closeouts, but not with their new bikes... I will swing by there tommorow though and see what they have in store, it might be slightly different then what they have online. The other LBS's that sell new bikes seem to think that all cycling enthusiasts are rich... Still hoping something will pop up on craigslist though... so few people on their even know the size of their bikes though, much less list them. Sucks being tall sometimes.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:11 PM
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I was doing a quick search on nashbar, and found this gem of a comment from an employee at an lbs:

"...My shop can't compete with Nashbarf on retail price, but we can in expertise. It's like a doctor. A visit may only be for 10 minutes, but it costs you $80. You pay for their knowledge.

That being said, sometimes I do buy stuff from them online because occasionally they have better prices than our distributors."

Cozy Beehive: The Story of Bike Nashbar

This idiot actually compares himself, a bike mechanic, with an MD. Enough said.

Then, after calling the company nashbarf, he admits he buys from them for the same reason everyone else does: price.

Tells you a lot about the intelligence level and ethics of bike shop employees.

You couldn't even make this stuff up.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Vexxer
Well, so far, even figuring in $75 bucks for my lbs to build it,
Your LBS is not there just to build it up. On a branded bike, the LBS is the manufacturer's local representative for any post-sale issues. BD has no local representatives.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by vstkrc
+1 Thank you! Someone who tells it as it is.
Not necessarily. While it is true that manufacturers will mix groups and upgrade or downgrade components, I've never seen the kinds of bat and switch that BD uses. I bought a BD bike as a donor bike for another frame I purchased. The bike was advertised as an "Ultegra" bike. It had Ultegra shifters and an Ultegra rear derailer and that was all. The "carbon" fork had a steel steer tube which made it into a boat anchor. The FSA crank was a good crank but the bottom bracket was tightened way too much and I had to destroy it to remove it. FSA has a different external bottom bracket that isn't compatible with other cranks which made the crank useless. And the brakes were just awful. The "carbon" seatpost was an aluminum post with carbon wrapped around it.

I ended up using the wheels, the shifters and the rear derailer...and shelling out $700 for the parts. They weren't worth that much. Let's just say I wasn't impressed.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:37 PM
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[QUOTE=roadandmountain;16749906]I was doing a quick search on nashbar, and found this gem of a comment from an employee at an lbs:

"...My shop can't compete with Nashbarf on retail price, but we can in expertise. It's like a doctor. A visit may only be for 10 minutes, but it costs you $80. You pay for their knowledge.

That being said, sometimes I do buy stuff from them online because occasionally they have better prices than our distributors."

Beautiful! Perhaps I should have blown that bike up with blasting-powder! Put it on u-tube disguised as a testimonial to their great products and prices.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bezalel
Your LBS is not there just to build it up. On a branded bike, the LBS is the manufacturer's local representative for any post-sale issues. BD has no local representatives.
Not worth two or three hundred dollars more, that I do not have. My LBS seem to think everyone is rich.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bezalel
Your LBS is not there just to build it up. On a branded bike, the LBS is the manufacturer's local representative for any post-sale issues. BD has no local representatives.
No. 1. Store brands and internet direct brands employ different pricing models which is reflected in the after sales service and to some extent in the technology that is used. You pick your poison here but it's silly to say one is "better" than the other. It depends on what you want and what you are willing to pay for it. I'm skeptical in any case that an internet direct brand is a good choice for a newbie.
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Old 05-11-14, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
No. 1. Store brands and internet direct brands employ different pricing models which is reflected in the after sales service and to some extent in the technology that is used. You pick your poison here but it's silly to say one is "better" than the other. It depends on what you want and what you are willing to pay for it. I'm skeptical in any case that an internet direct brand is a good choice for a newbie.
Believe me, I'm skeptical too. I do not know hardly a thing about components and such... but the LBS's around here simply do not sell bikes in my price range, So I do not see many alternatives.
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Old 05-12-14, 06:56 AM
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The BD bike I just bought for my wife is actually better than I anticipated. Nothing fancy but most everything is well made and nicely finished.

As others have mentioned the assembly and adjustments that needed to done required bicycle tools and some basic knowledge and skills. I adjusted the front bearing, the brakes, the IGH. the fenders and trued and tightened the wheels. Some special tweaking was needed to get the seat adjusted just right and the racks needed a little adjusting in the vice.

Being an old man I have developed a serious skepticism about the competency of many paid professionals. If you can't do the work yourself be very selective in who you hire. Choose the individual, not the shop.
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Old 05-12-14, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Vexxer
Not worth two or three hundred dollars more, that I do not have. My LBS seem to think everyone is rich.
I might have said the same thing a few weeks before I bought my Jamis Xenith Comp from my LBS. I was convinced that I couldn't afford a new bike and had spent plenty of time having Craigslist bikes either turn out to be trashed or sold by the time I got there. I'm 6'4", so not that many used bikes out there to begin with. But the time spent looking around nudged my estimate of what a good road bike would cost up a few hundred, and led me around a few different shops until a LBS found a bike from two model years previous that the distributor really wanted gone. They reached down, I reached up. It was more bike than I thought I wanted, but the discount was comparable to what I see on BD for a full carbon bike. It's hard to really compare apples to apples, but I got a bike that was spot on ready to ride. And whenever I go in for accessories and stuff they give me a small "feel-good" discount.

However, I can see how my experience was dependent on a particular shop having good mechanics and wanting my business. Some shops will understand that it's better to shear you a bunch of times than to skin you once, and if they don't make that first sale, there won't be a second. Other shops do have a "take it or leave it" attitude, which I guess suits a particular clientele.

Rich doesn't mean easy pickings, though. Years ago, I had a friend who worked in a fly shop at the Navajo Dam in New Mexico. He told me (right after it happened and he was still kinda mad) about a famous actor/actress couple that came in for a guided tour. They went around the shop picking out rods, reels, vests, lines, the whole shebang, top of the line everything. Piled it all on the counter, several thousands worth, and after it was rung up wanted to pay half. My friend just worked there and wasn't authorized to give ANY discounts -- not to mention some of the brands had distribution contracts that didn't allow discounting -- so he had to stand up to some very rich people who were clearly used to getting their way and didn't mind having tantrums when they didn't. The stars left in a huff.
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Old 05-12-14, 08:00 AM
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They both come in a box and you have to cope with them on your own after that.
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Old 05-12-14, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
They both come in a box and you have to cope with them on your own after that.
That's correct and the $75 the OP expects to pay his LBS to assemble and adjust the bike may be very naïve. I'd certainly confirm that number and ask about all contingencies before expecting to pay that.

Given the variable quality of BD bikes as received, the shop may have to do a lot more than just a simple assembly job. For every satisfied BD customer you hear about an equal number of badly disappointed ones.
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