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Box Store Bike Life Expectancy

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Box Store Bike Life Expectancy

Old 08-01-15, 03:31 PM
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Lumpyton
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Box Store Bike Life Expectancy

I am a 47 year old, 5'11" 353 pound man thinking it's time to do something about my lack of physical fitness. I rode a bike daily as a kid, and did some road cycling as a young man. I hate treadmills and staring at TVs so I am considering trying cycling again. I am on a very tight budget so I considered a box store junker to get me started and see if I even want to stick with it. I am not really in a position to drop $500 - $800 on something I might decide I hate 2 months from now. While I realize I will eventually crush it/wear it out, can I get at least 6 months out of one?

I actually have a 25 or so year old Trek road bike I would like to one day get on again. But that will be down the road a ways.
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Old 08-01-15, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
I am a 47 year old, 5'11" 353 pound man thinking it's time to do something about my lack of physical fitness. I rode a bike daily as a kid, and did some road cycling as a young man. I hate treadmills and staring at TVs so I am considering trying cycling again. I am on a very tight budget so I considered a box store junker to get me started and see if I even want to stick with it. I am not really in a position to drop $500 - $800 on something I might decide I hate 2 months from now. While I realize I will eventually crush it/wear it out, can I get at least 6 months out of one?

I actually have a 25 or so year old Trek road bike I would like to one day get on again. But that will be down the road a ways.
Not likely you will get 6 months out of a Wal Mart bike. Almost certain you will hate it.
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Old 08-01-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
I am a 47 year old, 5'11" 353 pound man thinking it's time to do something about my lack of physical fitness. I rode a bike daily as a kid, and did some road cycling as a young man. I hate treadmills and staring at TVs so I am considering trying cycling again. I am on a very tight budget so I considered a box store junker to get me started and see if I even want to stick with it. I am not really in a position to drop $500 - $800 on something I might decide I hate 2 months from now. While I realize I will eventually crush it/wear it out, can I get at least 6 months out of one?

I actually have a 25 or so year old Trek road bike I would like to one day get on again. But that will be down the road a ways.
I think Sheldon Brown estimated once that the average *-Mart bike was designed to only last 50 miles, since that's more miles than the average bike was ridden, from store-to-dumpster.

With good maintenance, I'm sure you can squeeze a lot more miles out of one, but in the long run you're going to want a "real" bike, I think.
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Old 08-01-15, 03:43 PM
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Here we go:

Department Store Bicycles

There are two entirely separate bicycle industries. Bicycles intended for real use are sold primarily in bicycle shops, and also, to some extent, in sporting-goods stores. Bicycles sold through this side of the industry are well made and sturdy, and are sold fully assembled, tested and guaranteed.

A parallel business uses department stores and discount stores for distribution. They concentrate on a much lower price segment, and sell a drastically inferior product. The bicycles sold in department stores are made as cheaply as possible, from the poorest materials available. The average department-store bicycle is ridden about 75 miles in its lifespan from showroom floor to landfill. The manufacturers know this, and build them accordingly. Department-store bicycles are most commonly sold in a partially disassembled and un-adjusted condition. ******



Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Glossary Da - Do
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Old 08-01-15, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
I think Sheldon Brown estimated once that the average *-Mart bike was designed to only last 50 miles, since that's more miles than the average bike was ridden, from store-to-dumpster.

With good maintenance, I'm sure you can squeeze a lot more miles out of one, but in the long run you're going to want a "real" bike, I think.
Problem being...if you want to work at Wal-Mart assembling bikes, your only qualification is having opposable thumbs.

WallyWorld and other big-box store bikes are routinely assembled wrong (front forks backwards for example) and badly calibrated (brakes don't work properly for example)...that even before you worry about the quality of the product itself-you need to have someone who actually knows WTF they are doing look at it and fix screwups.
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Old 08-01-15, 03:57 PM
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With such severe budget restraints, you will want to scour the used market, or consider an alternate form of exercise like walking until you get into the range for your current bike. It's highly likely your Trek will be good for you again with a little TLC. Is there any reason you can't ride it now?
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Old 08-01-15, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
I am a 47 year old, 5'11" 353 pound man thinking it's time to do something about my lack of physical fitness. I rode a bike daily as a kid, and did some road cycling as a young man. I hate treadmills and staring at TVs so I am considering trying cycling again. I am on a very tight budget so I considered a box store junker to get me started and see if I even want to stick with it. I am not really in a position to drop $500 - $800 on something I might decide I hate 2 months from now. While I realize I will eventually crush it/wear it out, can I get at least 6 months out of one?

I actually have a 25 or so year old Trek road bike I would like to one day get on again. But that will be down the road a ways.
The issues I see with your plan are:
1) a crappy bike is going to give you a crappy biking experience and you will not want to continue.
2) a quick look at ****mart.com showed most prices in the 100-200 dollar range so it is getting close to what you didn't want to spend, and it would be a crappy bike.
3) to save some money on the bike wait for the bike shops to close out older inventory this fall or look on craigslist for a quality used bike

Last edited by DarthMonkey; 08-01-15 at 07:21 PM. Reason: I can't spell
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Old 08-01-15, 04:34 PM
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where are ya located Boss?.... roughly, don't give out anymore information than you feel comfortable with disclosing on a public forum. Given that info, some of us might could help you track down a suitable used bike in your area that meets your budget needs.
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Old 08-01-15, 04:37 PM
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I agree, look for a used bike. For example, I have 1996 Trek 850 mountain bike (no suspension) that I bought new (had dropped out of road cycling 15 years before that) so I would have something to ride around with my kids. Steel frame, reasonably good components and you could probably pick up something like this or similar for less than $150. Might need new tires and brake pads, but these are much better quality than dept store bikes. And with your weight you can run larger tires on it for comfort.

When I got back into riding two years ago I started back on this bike first before buying a road bike (I set a goal of being able to ride the Trek 20 miles before I would get a road bike). I just gave my 850 a full tune up a few months ago, new chain, cleaning, regreased the hubs and new brake pads, etc. the bike still rides well, shifts and stops well. It has a flat bar instead of drop bars, but something like this might be a better way to start with minimum investment up front. If you like it and eventually get a nicer road bike, something like this would still be a keeper for casual rides or errands.
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Old 08-01-15, 10:02 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I will give up the box store cheap route immediately.

I am in the metro Atlanta area. I have no problem with the used market at all. It's not something I really thought about.

Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
It's highly likely your Trek will be good for you again with a little TLC. Is there any reason you can't ride it now?
I assumed a lightweight road bike wouldn't hold me up. I look at those little frame tubes and tiny tires and I just can't imagine it not buckling under me.
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Old 08-01-15, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
I assumed a lightweight road bike wouldn't hold me up. I look at those little frame tubes and tiny tires and I just can't imagine it not buckling under me.
Honestly, it's usually the wheels that crap out. Feel free to peruse Craig's List and post your finds here, I'm sure somebody can give you relatively good info on whether it would work or not.

The only problem with your current bike (stand by for assumptions) is that it's probably 7 speeds in the rear, which means 126mm rear triangle spacing. (8+ speeds is 130mm so they're all compatible after 8) That's not a big deal on a steel bike, but if it's Al, you can't really stretch it out if you were to upgrade to a more modern drive train. Just thinking out loud here, that's all. I took my 7 speed steel Bianchi and stuffed a 9 speed drive train in there without any special considerations and it's still working great.
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Old 08-02-15, 04:12 PM
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Go take your Trek down to the local bike store and have them give it a good tune up and see if it already comes with 32 spoke wheels. If so you are good to go.

I am around our weight now (360) and have been riding a road bike since I was 390 pounds.

Start a relationship with your local bike store.
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Old 08-02-15, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
Go take your Trek down to the local bike store and have them give it a good tune up and see if it already comes with 32 spoke wheels. If so you are good to go.

I am around our weight now (360) and have been riding a road bike since I was 390 pounds.

Start a relationship with your local bike store.
32 spokes might be alright for a front wheel, but 36, or even 40 spoke back wheel would be better.
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Old 08-02-15, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
32 spokes might be alright for a front wheel, but 36, or even 40 spoke back wheel would be better.
True it might be better. My 30 year old Centurion 12 speed wheels (32 spoke front an back) have held me at 400 pounds, but the 28 spoke rear wheel that came on my Raleigh road bike didn't work for riding here. I switched to a 32 spoke wheel for the rear on the Raleigh and haven't had issues.

The 32 spoke wheel set that came on my Orbea haven't had any issues with my weight, and I ride chipseal and uneven asphalt and they have 560 miles on them so far. Some wheels are made better than others.
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Old 08-02-15, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
I assumed a lightweight road bike wouldn't hold me up. I look at those little frame tubes and tiny tires and I just can't imagine it not buckling under me.
You've received some good advice. I'll reiterate that if you do not want to use your current bike, check the used market. But, I'm betting your current bike will be fine. Just avoid potholes and jumping off curbs. Treat your bike gently and with respect and it will return the favor. Also agree about taking it to a shop first and getting a tune-up.
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Old 08-02-15, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
Thanks for the responses. I will give up the box store cheap route immediately.

I am in the metro Atlanta area. I have no problem with the used market at all. It's not something I really thought about.



I assumed a lightweight road bike wouldn't hold me up. I look at those little frame tubes and tiny tires and I just can't imagine it not buckling under me.

You might want to check out a Performance Bike store near you. They have cruisers that start in the $300-$400 range.

GH
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Old 08-02-15, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Problem being...if you want to work at Wal-Mart assembling bikes, your only qualification is having opposable thumbs.

WallyWorld and other big-box store bikes are routinely assembled wrong (front forks backwards for example) and badly calibrated (brakes don't work properly for example)...that even before you worry about the quality of the product itself-you need to have someone who actually knows WTF they are doing look at it and fix screwups.
My wife and I were on our bikes and stopped on the sidewalk because she wanted to go into the store. A guy came riding towards us on a bike, and stopped abruptly just before he crashed into us by using his feet. He was riding a bike from Target that even still had the giant cardboard disc in the spokes. I took a look and the handlebars were rotated 180 degrees so that he couldn't use the brakes. I got out my multitool and adjusted a few things for him so that he could at least ride it safely.
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Old 08-02-15, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Lumpyton View Post
[h=2]Box Store Bike Life Expectancy[/h]
They can last a good long time if you repack and adjust all bearings and properly tension the spokes.
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Old 08-02-15, 09:34 PM
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Here's something nobody ever talks about when it comes to x-mart bikes - the seat posts. Sure, the wheels might be the primary concern (as they should be) but very few of those seat posts are designed to support 200+lbs for long stretches. Unfortunately, unlike say a Thomson that will bend, when those break its catastrophic.
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Old 08-02-15, 10:14 PM
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yah but Thomson seatpost cost as much as two walmart bikes....
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Old 08-02-15, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by RollingBlubber View Post
Here's something nobody ever talks about when it comes to x-mart bikes - the seat posts. Sure, the wheels might be the primary concern (as they should be) but very few of those seat posts are designed to support 200+lbs for long stretches. Unfortunately, unlike say a Thomson that will bend, when those break its catastrophic.
huh.

BSO seatposts are plenty stout. Super thickwall steel. Saddle rails and seatclamps maybe somewhat suspect but...
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Old 08-03-15, 03:15 AM
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My advice is to not take opinions of riders on this forum on low priced bicycles very seriously. Look at what they are riding--- if their bike costs over $2000, they are really poor sources of information on non-LBS bicycles. If you are handy at all, you can get a serviceable bicycle and stay around $150-200 to start. Realistically, almost all bikes are built on the same machines, and welded by the same robots in a few factories in China. Sure, a Wally World Schwinn will be heavier, and it's not going to have top of the line components, but as a cheap way to get into cycling, it is an option. Yes, the cheap components will fail--- as they do, try to replace them with better components. Eventually, you may be able to get hold of a better frame, and then you can swap the components onto the better frame. The point is (And this is something the rider of an expensive bike will never understand.) you don't have to drop a thousand dollars or more all at once. When you go to Target, Wayfair, or Sears, or even WalMart, keep it plain & simple. Stay away from suspensions on cheap bikes, along with models that are overly accessorized. Open & grease all the bearings yourself, and adjust the brakes and derailleurs, or have all that done. If you're paranoid about the weight bearing capabilities, stay with 26" wheels instead of 700s or 29s--- smaller wheels are intrinsically stronger. A non suspension 26" MTB will probably hold up fairly well as a street beater. Check out www.bigboxbikes.com ? Index page . The simple fact is, big box stores sell thousands of bikes every year. If all of those were going into landfills, there would be no more landfills. Instead, Keurig cups and plastic containers are the problem, not bicycles.
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Old 08-03-15, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclosaurus View Post
My wife and I were on our bikes and stopped on the sidewalk because she wanted to go into the store. A guy came riding towards us on a bike, and stopped abruptly just before he crashed into us by using his feet. He was riding a bike from Target that even still had the giant cardboard disc in the spokes. I took a look and the handlebars were rotated 180 degrees so that he couldn't use the brakes. I got out my multitool and adjusted a few things for him so that he could at least ride it safely.
+500 Bike Riding Karma for you.

Originally Posted by Needles View Post
My advice is to not take opinions of riders on this forum on low priced bicycles very seriously. Look at what they are riding--- if their bike costs over $2000, they are really poor sources of information on non-LBS bicycles. If you are handy at all, you can get a serviceable bicycle and stay around $150-200 to start. Realistically, almost all bikes are built on the same machines, and welded by the same robots in a few factories in China. Sure, a Wally World Schwinn will be heavier, and it's not going to have top of the line components, but as a cheap way to get into cycling, it is an option. Yes, the cheap components will fail--- as they do, try to replace them with better components. Eventually, you may be able to get hold of a better frame, and then you can swap the components onto the better frame. The point is (And this is something the rider of an expensive bike will never understand.) you don't have to drop a thousand dollars or more all at once. When you go to Target, Wayfair, or Sears, or even WalMart, keep it plain & simple. Stay away from suspensions on cheap bikes, along with models that are overly accessorized. Open & grease all the bearings yourself, and adjust the brakes and derailleurs, or have all that done. If you're paranoid about the weight bearing capabilities, stay with 26" wheels instead of 700s or 29s--- smaller wheels are intrinsically stronger. A non suspension 26" MTB will probably hold up fairly well as a street beater. Check out www.bigboxbikes.com ? Index page . The simple fact is, big box stores sell thousands of bikes every year. If all of those were going into landfills, there would be no more landfills. Instead, Keurig cups and plastic containers are the problem, not bicycles.
Problem with your upgrade and replace theory...in no time at all you spend more money fixing, or trying to fix, the BSO than the BSO was ever worth. At which point, you could've gotten a better quality machine to start with, that came with some LBS adjustments package.

Because ultimately that is what rubs people the wrong way. To service a bike, like you advise, requires a collection of tools that costs as much or more than the BSO is worth retail unless you get a Performance Bike toolset on wicked good sale. Then you need a book or two to tell you how to do anything, and so on. Friend of mine wanted a bike with little to no money, advised him to shop used or buy an LBS bike cheap...he went on Amazon instead and got a GMC something roadbike with grip shifters for sub-$150 and Prime and was proud of his thrift...6 months later the Amazon bike was defunct and he had to buy another-because the GMC simply wasn't worth fixing (needed a truing job and/or new wheels-both of which exceeded the value of the bike, shifters crapped out, chain was rusting...).
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Old 08-03-15, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
yah but Thomson seatpost cost as much as two walmart bikes....
A Thomson seat posts costs $100 retail and can be found much cheaper online or by joining a LBS "supporters club", I don't see how that's twice as much as an X-mart bike. For $100 I'd rather know when it fails it's not going to impale me like some of the thin, cheap crap that come on X-Mart bikes. I didn't even discuss the cranks (hollow, usually) on the super low-end bikes.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Needles View Post
My advice is to not take opinions of riders on this forum on low priced bicycles very seriously. Look at what they are riding--- if their bike costs over $2000, they are really poor sources of information on non-LBS bicycles.
I have a Sekai '70s steel framed bike on my trainer that I paid all of $50 for and with a decent wheelset ($200 online for 36h Single Speed) I could probably ride that thing into the ground at my current weight (380lbs). Of course, that bike has most of the original components (mostly steel and very strong) so, yes, while I do have a two other bikes that I've put well over $5,000 into and am very anti X-Mart bike for the over 300lb set, I'm not one of those people that thinks you have to buy the best to get started.

If I were this person I'd look around on CL and see if I could find either a step through frame cruiser (probably aluminum, but super strong) or an old 70s or 80s steel road bike and just set it up as a single speed to get going. For less than $300 you could get either of those and get a good feel for what you do and don't like before you decide to buy a mid-range bike. I'm all for people getting going but I'm also well aware that at over 300lbs few thrown together sub-$500 new bikes are worth a damn.
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