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Vintage Cheap bikes vs New Cheap Bikes

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Vintage Cheap bikes vs New Cheap Bikes

Old 08-08-11, 11:33 PM
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Lycosa
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Vintage Cheap bikes vs New Cheap Bikes

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This might be a TLDR thread, but hey.. we all need a place to vent sometimes. So this thread is a good place and hopefully I'm in good company for it. For those of you who don't want to read it all, the last paragraph pretty well sums it up.

My wife and I decided to get back into cycling. Both of us have older Trek 520's since we are the touring type, not so much the speed demon type. Problem is, my son and his wife borrowed them and now they are a long way from home. Now that we've got new bikes we're happy with, we're letting them keep them.

It's getting the new bikes that are the story. At first, we weren't sure how committed we were going to be to cycling and the money that was coming in when we bought the 520's is definitely not the money that's coming in now. So, there would be no trips to our local bike store to shop for new Cannondale's or Treks.

After a bit of classified ad shopping, I found a Panasonic Sport 1000 for $60. I went and checked it out and immediately fell in love with it. The bike had been garaged kept it's whole life and other than a couple small scratches, looked like it came off the showroom floor. Sure it was from 1985, but without even researching it, I grabbed it up.

I was really impressed with the quality of the bike. It fit me perfectly with a few minor adjustments and it shifted like a dream. Not really much more I could ask for, especially for the $60 price tag. After my first couple rides out, I thought that I had lucked out and bought one of Panasonic's top of the line bikes.

I was pretty surprised when I started researching Panasonic's factory catalogs and online forums to learn that the bike I had was actually in their lower end market. I started to wonder if maybe the bike had been upgraded, but after looking over the checklist of stock components in the Panasonic catalog and the ones I had on my bike, I found the bike was completely stock. The frame has Tange 900 CroMo tubing and even that checked out to be very good. It was noted as being a little heavier, but heaviness to me doesn't matter all that much. As I mentioned before, I care about durability, not speed.

All in all, I had a bike that felt like it was built like a tank, road as smooth as any bike I had ever ridden, and cost me $60.

All I had left to do was buy my wife a bike. At first, she wanted something simple. To get her cycling legs back, she thought just getting a beach cruiser would be enough. We couldn't find any decent used beach cruisers on our local classifieds and riding around town looking at pawn shops, bike stores, thrift stores, and garage sales yielded no results. At long last, we were in our local Wal-Mart and my wife sees a Huffy beach cruiser in there that she likes. It doesn't look top notch, but she likes it, so against my better judgment we drop $150.00 and take the bike home.

Our first ride ends in disaster. I check the overall assembly and it seemed... ok. I guess I should have checked it much better because on our first ride out, at the bottom approach of our first hill, my wife stands up to put some 'oomph' into her pedaling and as she puts pressure on the handlebars they immediately drop and my wife hits the ground.. hard. She's banged up and bleeding, but luckily, not broken. That night, we take the bike back, speak with the manager of Wal-Mart about the quality of assembly and what exactly 'fully assembled' means and get a refund.

The next day, my wife finds another bike she likes online at Walmart.com that's a little better. A Shwinn...what could be wrong with a Shwinn right? It's a cruiser/hybrid with 10 speeds and it ups the price to $180.00. She decided that the gears were a good idea after all since pedaling wasn't all that easy and she wanted the options. The web site indicated that they had the bike available at a different local Wal-Mart, but still not all that far away so we went and bought it.

Before we set out this time, I went through the bike thoroughly. Here's what I found...

Seat post was loose
Handlebars were loose
Rear reflector was loose
Derailleur was way out of adjustment to the point of the chain jumping off the bike.
One pedal was only holding on by 1 thread, the other loose
Cantilever brakes were far enough out that it wouldn't stop the bike if your life depended on it
Front and Rear Fenders were loose
Tires were under- inflated, but I'm not sure if they purposely keep them that way or not

Basically, if I wouldn't have gone over the bike before she rode it, it might have been her last.

This thread isn't about the quality of Wal-Mart's assembly people, but it aggravated me enough that I think it deserves mention and serves as a good warning. I can't criticize every Wal-Mart bike assembler everywhere, but the 2 Wal-Mart stores near Ocala, Florida have people assembling bikes that really ought to be fired in my opinion. Gross negligence when assembling a bike can be dangerous for whoever ends up with it, but apparently it's not high on some people's priority list.

So after fixing my wife's supposedly pre-assembled bike, we go out for our first real ride. I let her stay in front and keep the pace. Immediately, I notice that her rear wheel is out of true. Not significantly, but seems odd for a brand new bike. My wife is petite and it's certainly not her weight that's overstressing the wheel. It doesn't seem to be causing her any significant worry, so we continue on. As I watch her ride, other things become apparent. The one piece crank is bent on the sprocket side. I watch as her foot moves in and out as the pedal spins. Her ankle gets awfully close to the crank arm as the pedals turn and now I'm starting to worry that she's going to bust her ankle if she's not careful and I warn her to keep her foot a little bit from the inside edge of the pedal just to be safe...and we keep riding.

Even more things start to creep up really showing the quality of the bike. Every time she hits a significant bump, the rear fender sways back and forth and sometimes it hits the tire making an awful noise. Watching it from behind, it looks like the fender supports are made of tin foil they are so flimsy. The springs on the seat make loud crunching noises as she pedals and I pull over to check it out and find that it's the poor design that allows the springs to rake across the seat support as they compress. Further down the road I notice that the kick stand is dropping down and every once in a while she smacks it with the back of her foot. Even though I spent quite a long time adjusting the derailleur, it keeps jumping gears and sometimes not engaging them at all causing that all too familiar whirring clinking noise that is starting to really annoy her. The bike has a grip shifter on it and as she shifts 1 gear up or down, it jumps 2 or not at all. We pull over again, I grab my multi-tool out of the back pack, and readjust it on the sidewalk. I tell my wife that it might be cable stretch as we break in the bike, but in my head I'm staring at a derailleur made of way too many plastic parts and knowing this thing is going to be nothing but trouble. I was right. A couple more miles down the road and it's doing the same thing. The spring in the cheap derailleur doesn't have enough tension to keep it in place. Finally, the deal-breaker rears its ugly head. The rear wheel is starting to rub against the brakes. We pull over again and I check to make sure the wheel is centered and it is, but spinning the tire reveals that the wheel has gone even more out of true. The only thing I could do with the tools I had on me was to loosen up the brakes enough that she could still stop, but not rub on the tire. As I grabbed the really cheap piece of aluminum garbage that is the barrel adjuster on the pull brake to pull the slack out of the brake cable, it sliced my finger because it has a sharp edge that apparently nobody at the factory could file off. At this point, I'm seething mad and make a call to have us picked up and taken home.

That afternoon, the manager at Wal-Mart gets read the riot act for selling bicycles that aren't even moderately assembled safe enough to ride. We get our $180.00 dollars back and vow we'll never buy another Schwinn or another bike from Wal-Mart... which is a shame since in my childhood I had quite a few Schwinn bicycles that were great bikes.

Now, I could use this as a lesson of 'you get what you pay for', but really? If you spend $180 on a bicycle, is it acceptable that it be such low quality as to make it impossible to ride? Has the level of acceptable quality in a product gone so far down hill that people will spend $180 and just deal with all of the issues because it's expected? I remember the bikes my parents bought me as a kid in the 80's. The Huffy bikes, the Schwinn bikes, and most of them were bought at K-Marts or a similar chain store. Those bikes were the same 'cheap' bikes my wife and I just bought, but there was an incredible difference in quality. My Panasonic was a real example of that. Buying a 1985 Panasonic lower end bike could be equated in quality to a new $800-1000 bike. I would find out even more truth to this idea a couple days later.

After a couple more days of looking around for a decent bike for my wife, and finding nothing, we just happened to be driving home the alternate route to our house and we noticed a garage sale. Low and behold, there was a woman's bike there and it was a 10 speed road bike. We got out to look and it was an older Schwinn 10 speed. The tires and seat were shot, but there was very little rust on it overall. I asked how much and was told $20 and I haggled the owner down to $15. I realize that I stated I would never buy another Schwinn, but for $15, I wasn't going to lose any sleep over it even if I had to throw it away.

We took the bike home and I went over the bike and wrote down a shopping list for the things the bike needed. The front and rear derailleur were in great shape, the brakes were good, the frame was great, the wheels were true just a little funky, but overall, it was in pretty good shape. Someone had painted the bike already so I didn't know the model of the bike at first, but it turned out to be a 1986 Schwinn Sprint, a lower end Schwinn 10 speed. Research showed that the frame was of good CroMo materials, but heavy. Components were supposedly cheap and very much the lower end gear for the time.

This older 'cheap' bike was built like a tank. Double butted welds, CroMo steel frame, and could basically carry around my wife x3 before it would even start to whine. Unless you are some connoisseur of vintage components, riding around with this old bike's brakes and derailleur leaves no reason to complain. The bike shifts smooth and brakes solid.

I managed to drop $100 at my local bike store buying some tires, tubes, handlebar wrap, and a seat. Although it didn't really need it, I pulled the wheels off, cleaned and greased the hubs. Took apart the bottom bracket and did the same. Finally, a shot of lube in the brake's and derailleur's moving parts, a good scrub on the frame and wheels to polish them up a bit, clean and lube the chain and sprockets, and installing the new parts and the bike was good to go. Honestly, less effort was required in fixing the old bike up than to tighten and adjust up that newer Schwinn from Wal-Mart.
In the end, my wife now has a bike that I'm confident will last forever. If we decide to upgrade, rather than blow $1500+ on a new high end bike, I'll not think twice about getting another older bike and doing the same. I may do it just for fun.

The lesson I've learned, and one I came here to share, is that there is a huge disparity between the quality of the low end bikes of today and the low end bikes of the 80's. Just because the bike was cheap back in the day it was made, doesn't mean it was junk.. in fact, there's a really good chance that the older bike was made better and with better quality materials than a lot of the more expensive mid-range bikes of today. If you're like me and ride for the enjoyment of it, for the scenery, and because a tour is more fun to you than a race, then those old bikes are well suited for you. If you are trying to shave off .25 second off a mile, then you'll most likely be better off with a much newer, and much more expensive racing bike. If you are looking to get back into cycling, wondering whether or not you'll commit to it, and debating on whether or not the cost justifies the 'trial period', then it's my opinion that you could do no better than keeping your eyes open for one of these older bikes and spend a bit of time making it shine again. It's also my opinion that going to your local chain store and buying a cheap bicycle off the rack because it's new could end up the worst decision you can make. Like my poor wife, you could end up bruised and battered, frustrated, and ready to call it quits before you ever got to experience just how much fun it can be. In the end, I feel like I bought my wife a $1000 bike for $115. She's happy, we're both having a great time, and we both have a bike that'll last us for years to come.
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Old 08-08-11, 11:49 PM
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Interesting point. To be fair, I would compare the WalMart bikes to other department store bikes like an older Huffy or JC Penney. Even the lowest bike store bike is many times better than a a department store bike. I've worked on a few older department store bikes and I would say they are more or less garbage...just like how today's Target and WalMart bikes will be after a few uses. Considering inflation, the bike store bikes from years ago may actually be comparable to the ones now, just different materials and some advances in technology. Even within a company, there's big differences. A Target Schwinn is nothing compared to a LBS Schwinn. It's about making goods that target different groups of people.

But of course, this is one of the few treasure of C&V. You can find excellent value in a used bike for less than the POS they sell at today's superstores. You just need to train your eyes to seek out the good ones and know what you want in a bike.

Hope your wife heals soon though. Also, you might want to make some room in your home for the influx of vintage bikes that might come in pretty soon. It's an addicting habit.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:07 AM
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FWIW the "schwinn" of today is NOT (NOT, NOT NOT NOT NOT) the same as the Schwinn of yesteryear. The name belongs to the Pacific Bikes grp out of Madison, Wi. Not even th same company, much less the same factory.

And I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this-- you should have been told sooner-- but when you buy a bike from Target or Wal-mart or K*Mart, you get what you pay for. And what you paid for is a piece of mass-produced, ChiCom crap.

I'm sorry.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:19 AM
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Lycosa
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Originally Posted by Veloh View Post
Hope your wife heals soon though. Also, you might want to make some room in your home for the influx of vintage bikes that might come in pretty soon. It's an addicting habit.
lol I can see it happening already. I've been searching Craigslist daily. I had a lot of fun fixing up my wife's bike and since I wasn't looking for the latest 'carbon fiber addon', it isn't all that expensive to do it either.

I guess it was a little presumptuous to assume that all bikes built in the 80's are better than the lower end bikes built today, but the leap in quality between our used 80's bikes and those chain store bikes was near Grand Canyon in size. I can just imagine how many people buy one of those new shiny garbage bikes on a budget thinking about how they would like to take up cycling as a hobby, and after a few disheartening rides, give up thinking the experience would be the same regardless of what bike they ride when it's completely the opposite. More than anything, I wanted to make sure that people out there with a tight budget realize that there's options...and really good options.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:26 AM
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Lycosa
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
FWIW the "schwinn" of today is NOT (NOT, NOT NOT NOT NOT) the same as the Schwinn of yesteryear. The name belongs to the Pacific Bikes grp out of Madison, Wi. Not even th same company, much less the same factory.

And I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this-- you should have been told sooner-- but when you buy a bike from Target or Wal-mart or K*Mart, you get what you pay for. And what you paid for is a piece of mass-produced, ChiCom crap.

I'm sorry.
Well I do realize that Schwinn isn't the same as it used to be. I'm not familiar with the company changes or anything, but I didn't expect such a huge drop in quality. I didn't expect a super perfect bike when I bought it for my wife, but I also didn't expect to buy a bike that was seemingly 'broken by design' either. I expected lower quality, but.. just.. damn.. lol
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Old 08-09-11, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Lycosa View Post
lol I can see it happening already. I've been searching Craigslist daily. I had a lot of fun fixing up my wife's bike and since I wasn't looking for the latest 'carbon fiber addon', it isn't all that expensive to do it either.

I guess it was a little presumptuous to assume that all bikes built in the 80's are better than the lower end bikes built today, but the leap in quality between our used 80's bikes and those chain store bikes was near Grand Canyon in size. I can just imagine how many people buy one of those new shiny garbage bikes on a budget thinking about how they would like to take up cycling as a hobby, and after a few disheartening rides, give up thinking the experience would be the same regardless of what bike they ride when it's completely the opposite. More than anything, I wanted to make sure that people out there with a tight budget realize that there's options...and really good options.
That's one of the reasons why new cyclists give up on cycling. Their expectations don't match their needs. I see people buying heavy, bulky mountain bikes to commute on when they should be getting something lighter, more dependable. Many fail to realize that buying the cheapest bike on the lot may end up costing more money than something that costs a little more. Cheap bikes also break down more easy which, coupled with a buyers lack of basic maintenance skills, results in the bicycle and the hobby being banished to the garage.

As an aside, I would argue that the 1980's is one of the best periods to buy a bicycle from. Schwinn made huge leaps in their lineup: Tenax tubing, good components, solid build quality, light. You also have index shifting, cassettes, funky colors. etc. Great time.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:41 AM
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Tragically, there were also some Godawful bikes put out there in the '80s (and '70s. and '60s). As always, one has to know what one's looking for, and be willing to negotiate for it.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
Tragically, there were also some Godawful bikes put out there in the '80s (and '70s. and '60s). As always, one has to know what one's looking for, and be willing to negotiate for it.
I have much to learn of course. The best bike I've ever owned was a Trek 520 so everything else will be compared to that. My wife and I used to weekend tour and stealth camp when we were in our early 20's but raising kids put that on hold.. for 18 years. So I'm a bit out of the cycling 'loop'. I guess I'll have to nag fellow forum members for purchasing advice when the opportunities arise, but I definitely believe I've been bitten by the old bike bug.
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Old 08-09-11, 03:13 AM
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I find, work on and compare hundreds of old and newer bicycles, each year. And, yes, the quality of the older machines is stunning compared to the junk Walmart, and the like, are puking out these days. The problem is, millions of people line up, year after year, gobbling up the puke. Good grief!

So, if you want a good deal, buy a used anything and let the crap creators keep their dung. That's the way I see it and I rarely buy anything new anymore. Just too much good used stuff out there begging for the chance to be again.
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Old 08-09-11, 04:30 AM
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We've become a box-store addicted society.

Even here in NYC, a place that not long ago prided itself in not having malls or box stores is now flooded with them. We are still fighting to keep Wal-Mart and their Chinese made junk out of here, but I'm sure that we will someday see them here among the Targets and other junk stores. Somehow, the powers-that-be have convinced us that quality no longer matters. Just make it shiny, cheap and disposable. We are no longer a very discerning group of consumers, just consumer pigs.

For me, I'll take a mom&pop store anyday over the box stores...

Support your local bike store!!!
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Old 08-09-11, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
I find, work on and compare hundreds of old and newer bicycles, each year. And, yes, the quality of the older machines is stunning compared to the junk Walmart, and the like, are puking out these days. The problem is, millions of people line up, year after year, gobbling up the puke. Good grief!

So, if you want a good deal, buy a used anything and let the crap creators keep their dung. That's the way I see it and I rarely buy anything new anymore. Just too much good used stuff out there begging for the chance to be again.
This - ten times over! (And be sure to check out randyjawa's website before the bug bites you too hard... it's a terrific resource.)
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Old 08-09-11, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Lycosa View Post
Well I do realize that Schwinn isn't the same as it used to be. I'm not familiar with the company changes or anything, but I didn't expect such a huge drop in quality. I didn't expect a super perfect bike when I bought it for my wife, but I also didn't expect to buy a bike that was seemingly 'broken by design' either. I expected lower quality, but.. just.. damn.. lol
Got to adjust for inflation. The bottom end Schwinn of the early 1970s, like a Varsity, cost about $100, which is $540 in todays money. Or look at it in the other direction, $180 now equates to $33 back in 1972. You couldn't buy a single new discount store adult bike for that price. Obviously, they had to cut a lot of corners to get the cost that low.

So if you want to compare value to value, compare that Walmart bike to something you could have bought new for $33 in 1972. Don't think it existed, but if it did, that new Walmart bike would be better.

For $540, I can buy a new bike at a bike shop that will be 10X better than that Varsity.

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Old 08-09-11, 05:52 AM
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Good story. I have bought a few Wal-Mart/sporting good store bikes over the years and I agree. The quality of my wife's bought new $150 Quest and my $100 1987 Trek 330 are night and day. Last year when she wanted to get back into cycling she wanted a new bike and wouldn't let me buy her a used one. In her mind a new department store bike was better than a used one off of Craigslist. I think a lot of people feel this way and why box stores get away with the poor assembly and poor quality bikes .
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Old 08-09-11, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
Tragically, there were also some Godawful bikes put out there in the '80s (and '70s. and '60s). As always, one has to know what one's looking for, and be willing to negotiate for it.
+1

Some of the worst bikes I've ever encountered were department store bikes from the 70's and 80's. A beautiful Free Spirit roadster stands out in particular - it looked like a bike, but was nearly unusable due to a fake "lugged" construction that allowed the frame to flex like a plastic spoon.

I generally agree with Lycosa, but the junk has always been out there, there's just more of it now.
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Old 08-09-11, 05:58 AM
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They just don't build things like they used to........
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Old 08-09-11, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Got to adjust for inflation. The bottom end Schwinn of the early 1970s, like a Varsity, cost about $100, which is $540 in todays money. Or look at it in the other direction, $180 now equates to $33 back in 1972. You couldn't buy a single new discount store adult bike for that price. Obviously, they had to cut a lot of corners to get the cost that low.

So if you want to compare value to value, compare that Walmart bike to something you could have bought new for $33 in 1972. Don't think it existed, but if it did, that new Walmart bike would be better.

For $540, I can buy a new bike at a bike shop that will be 10X better than that Varsity.
Exactly! The low quality now is priced MUCH lower than back in the day. The Panasonic you are comparing as the low end is very different from a department store bike. It was the low end of a high quality bike line. It probably cost a few hundred dollars in the mid-80's. To get a modern equivalent you would be shopping in a bike shop and looking in the $500-$600 range.
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Old 08-09-11, 06:23 AM
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When you think about all the parts in a bike and the cost of manufacturing and transportation, plus how many people in the supply chain have made a profit, it's amazing that you can even buy a bike for $150.00, junk or not.

The manufacturing cost must be like $20.00 . . .
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Old 08-09-11, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Got to adjust for inflation. The bottom end Schwinn of the early 1970s, like a Varsity, cost about $100, which is $540 in todays money. Or look at it in the other direction, $180 now equates to $33 back in 1972. You couldn't buy a single new discount store adult bike for that price. Obviously, they had to cut a lot of corners to get the cost that low.

So if you want to compare value to value, compare that Walmart bike to something you could have bought new for $33 in 1972. Don't think it existed, but if it did, that new Walmart bike would be better.

For $540, I can buy a new bike at a bike shop that will be 10X better than that Varsity.
+1

Junk is junk regardless of when it was made -but it seems like the junk of today is much more prevalent and people are much less willing to spring for something that is better. Most consumers have no idea to judge quality. To them a bike is a bike so when the box store puts together an object that is generally bike-shaped they just lack the tools to differentiate. Modern industrial production techniques has allowed the construction of some pretty bottom end bikes for some outrageously low prices and still make a profit. They are so successful at doing this that it has become the norm rather than just a smaller group of bottom-end bikes.

The real reason is that people are strapped for cash and they really can't tell the difference. That means they gravitate towards the cheap bikes.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:14 AM
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This reminds me of a thread not too long ago from a member explaining to all that buying a new wal-mart bike for a day laborer in exchange for the Raleigh International he was riding, and how that was a good thing.

As explained, Schwinn is not the Schwinn of old, and now there appears to be two levels of these bikes, one level sold by big box stores and another sold by local bike shops. How the small shops explain things to customers I do not know, it must be tough.

The big box store bikes of today are a bit better than the cheap cheap stuff sold decades ago, the 26" wheeled ten speeds with one piece cranks, steel brakes and spot welded dropouts and similar. (BMA/6 certified, et al)

But thinking that a Big Box Schwinn or similar is better than an old Trek 520 is just poor research, yes it will have index shifting, but its like assuming that any car with electronic ignition is better than a car with points and condenser...
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Old 08-09-11, 07:17 AM
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Back in the day - the quality on everything was better because things did cost more, but in relative terms, people MADE more.

Even when I started working, the term "working poor" would have been an oxymoron: There were plenty of good paying factory jobs, so chances are, if you worked 40 hours a week, you weren't poor.

-But if you work 40 hours at Wallmart today, chances are, you are.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Coop500 View Post
Good story. I have bought a few Wal-Mart/sporting good store bikes over the years and I agree. The quality of my wife's bought new $150 Quest and my $100 1987 Trek 330 are night and day. Last year when she wanted to get back into cycling she wanted a new bike and wouldn't let me buy her a used one. In her mind a new department store bike was better than a used one off of Craigslist. I think a lot of people feel this way and why box stores get away with the poor assembly and poor quality bikes .
It was bright and sparkley. You could of said, want a cubic zirconia or a real rock? Of course she may have said, get me the big zirconia, then you know you were not going to win the discussion.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
T
The big box store bikes of today are a bit better than the cheap cheap stuff sold decades ago, the 26" wheeled ten speeds with one piece cranks, steel brakes and spot welded dropouts and similar. (BMA/6 certified, et al)
Other than weight, pray tell us what makes a OPC or steel brake so inferior?

"You look maaavalous! It's better to look good than to feel good."

The OPC, in itself, has nothing wrong with it. It's nearly indestructible over the (extremely) long term and can be repaired/serviced with nothing but an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver. BMX bikes used them for many years (many good ones still do) because they are so indestructible and are superior in almost every way to a 3-piece crank of any design or configuration in almost every respect except for the HUGE weight penalty and pedal choice (1/2" spindle threads.)

The OPC is not leprosy although it does serve as an indicator to a general low-quality bicycle once a certain date is passed once the 3-piece crank became more fully-adopted by the better bikes to such a point that while nothing was wrong with the OPC itself, it was just an indicator that usually pointed to an over-all inferior bike.

Saying that the OPC design itself is "junk" is just plain ignorant.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
Other than weight, pray tell us what makes a OPC or steel brake so inferior?

"You look maaavalous! It's better to look good than to feel good."

The OPC, in itself, has nothing wrong with it. It's nearly indestructible over the (extremely) long term and can be repaired/serviced with nothing but an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver. BMX bikes used them for many years (many good ones still do) because they are so indestructible and are superior in almost every way to a 3-piece crank of any design or configuration in almost every respect except for the HUGE weight penalty and pedal choice (1/2" spindle threads.)

The OPC is not leprosy although it does serve as an indicator to a general low-quality bicycle once a certain date is passed once the 3-piece crank became more fully-adopted by the better bikes to such a point that while nothing was wrong with the OPC itself, it was just an indicator that usually pointed to an over-all inferior bike.

Saying that the OPC design itself is "junk" is just plain ignorant.
One piece cranks CAN be on decent quality bikes, but when clustered with the other attributes I mentioned... NOT good. I have torn apart a number of "junk" one piece crank sets, the stamped and non machined pressed in bracket cups are just that, cheap. At least the Schwinn of old used decent thickness material to start and heat treated it. And I won't comment on cheap stamped chain rings that were warped when the bike came out of the box new.

And I made no mention of weight, on a cheap bike, weight is the least important factor.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:36 AM
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...and it starts! Clear out you garage for the bikes.

An awesome story (and would be even better with pics, please!). Luckily you managed to get your money back from Walmart (x2!).

I have said this on another thread but something that really appeals to me about old bikes is that you can potentially get something to ride that would be a LOT more if you had to buy it new. Plus you get the crazy cool style, the satisfaction of fixing it up and for me, the jaw drops when you say you fixed it yourself.
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Old 08-09-11, 07:38 AM
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Having been forced by necessity to try and make various B.S.O.'s (Bike Shaped Objects) Serviceable, I prefer 20-30 year old American Huffy/Columbia junk over modern Chinese junk. Granted, the assembler has a lot to do with it. But old/cheap Huret/Shimano drivetrains had the major benefit of not being indexed. Indexing on an $8 derraileur is simply never going to stay in adjustment.

Every single one of those $99-$200 beach crusier's I have encountered have been a deathtrap obviously never meant to be ridden more than a mile (Cumulative).
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