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Bikesdirect... my first impressions

Old 03-25-11, 11:02 AM
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Bikesdirect... my first impressions

I hope those who have been considering buying a bike online would find this useful. I was always a person to support my locals, but every now and again I find myself up against a block wall. I welcome your questions or feedback.

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and placed my first order ever from Bikesdirect.com. I bought a Windsor Tourist. This bike will eventually replace my Jamis Allegro as my primary commuter. Maybe not right away, but eventually. I also have an interest in taking some short over-night touring trips but with the gardening season right around the corner plus raising our chickens, I’ll just have to see how realistic that ambition will become.

I chose the Tourist based on posts I’ve read here on BF and the fact that none of my LBS’s seem to have a lot in the steel-framed line of bikes. Fact is, no one even had an aluminum frame/fork bike in stock!! I have nothing against carbon… just prefer real metal between my legs!! And for $600 and free shipping I figured it was worth a shot.
I had placed the order on a Saturday morning. My bike arrived the following Thursday. Just so you know Bikesdirect requires a signature upon delivery.

Before we begin, for those who have not done a lot of their own maintenance on their bikes (beyond changing flats) I would highly recommend purchasing a copy of Park Tool’s Blue Book of bike repair and maintenance. Amazon.com sells them and it is well worth the money. Even if you have no plans of ever doing a complete rebuild or over-haul, get the book. I bought the book when I had placed an order for some other books/DVDs from Amazon and was able to get free shipping out of the deal.

Anyways, first order of business is unpacking the bike. I would recommend you allow yourself plenty of time for this. Do not rush this simple process! I resisted the urge to pull the bike from the box until the next day after work. I will admit I opened the top flap to see how what the color of the frame looked like. But I waited until the weekend had officially began at my house before ripping into it. Once I finally pull the bike out my youngest children found this to be huge fascination and of course wanted to “help.” By “help” I mean they wanted the bubble wrap to amuse themselves with (they eventually got it).

The bike comes well packaged. I was impressed with the time and care that was invested into packaging the bike and parts. The wheels and handlebars are zip-tied to the frame, with packing foam and bubble wrap everywhere. It was so thick at places I used a pocket knife to cut the foam and/or bubble wrap off, not too mention the zip-ties. Please keep a wire cutters or such like tool handy for this process. We were able to lift the entire contents straight up and out of the box. I spent a good half-hour slowly separating the pieces. It takes time. Don’t rush this or you’ll run the risk of damaging something or loosing parts. Trust me!!

Make sure all the parts are removed from the shipping box. There was a small baggy of parts and a smaller box of parts, too. Somewhere in the mess is an instruction manual for assembly. I followed this somewhat, but I was a little disappointed as to how vague the manual really was. For starters, it appears they printed one manual for both MTB and road bikes. For instance, for the assembly of the brakes, there were directions for caliper and disc brakes. Most of us here know the difference but if you were a total newbie, you’d be left wondering about some things. They also completely skip some items, items that I think were exclusive to the Tourist. After I had the stem and bars installed, and I moved on to getting the brakes working, I discovered that there was a ring that held the front brake cable that should have been in the stem assembly. So I had to remove the stem and slide that ring in. No big deal, but there was nothing in the manual about it.

I took my time and had the bike together in about an hour. It took me another half-hour to adjust stem and seat post. I took it for a spin and it was obvious the brakes needed tweaked some and the front derailer hardly worked at all. The rear was great, but the front was a mess.

This is where the Park Blue Book came in handy. I’ll spare the gory details but I ended up completely taking the front derailer off, re-installing it and starting from scratch with cable tension, limit screws plus moving the derailer height a bit. In the end I was shifting smooth from the small to middle chainring and the large chainring was doable but noisy.

Let it be understood this is my first bike with a triple so maybe that’s the way they are, plus I never had a bike with the integrated brake/shift levers before. So maybe I am in for a learning curve myself here. At any rate, I will wait until my cables stretch after a few miles and then make some more adjustments. I’m sure I can fine-tune the front derailer more than it is.

Another recommendation I can make when it comes to working on bikes: get yourself a bicycle work stand… or make one! This makes stuff like this so much more enjoyable. If you own more than one bike try to find some bucks in you commuting budget to make this happen. I got mine from Nashbar (ever notice that within 20 minutes of buying your first ride a Nashbar catalog shows up in the mail?!). I paid about $80 for mine. We have about a dozen working bicycles here at home (from 16-inchers all the way to adult bikes) and it really helps. Try getting a three-year-old to hold the bike while you work on it…. you’ll learn quick!

Now that I am satisfied with the bike as assembled and tuned I hope this weekend to put some miles on and see how it handles before adding the needed commuting accessories. I have all my gear bought for this rig: Fenders, rear rack (the Tourist actually came with one but I am partial to another brand), computer, lights, the whole nine-yards. I will eventually move the handlebar bag and panniers from the Jamis to this one. But due to going from a flat-bar road bike to a drop-bar road bike, I need to do a good shake-out ride before I am able to trust myself to the new shifting pattern, especially at 4am in the dark on the way to work. I may also change the tires out for something a bit more aggressive, too. I have Ritchey ‘cross tires on the Jamis and they have performed well over the last 18-months. I may purchase another pair since I am really impressed with this tire for commuting.

So folks, hope you find this helpful. If I were to rate my experience with Bikesdirect.com I would give them a 8.5 out of ten, based on delivery speed, packaging and the quality I have seen thus far. They do lack a bit in the printed directions, and I suppose the worst that could happen is you need to have a LBS assemble your ride.

I welcome your questions and feedback. Again, I hope this was helpful to someone.
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Old 03-25-11, 11:22 AM
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https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm
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Old 03-25-11, 12:44 PM
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My experience was pretty much as you wrote. I 86'd the rear rack for a nicer one and added a Brooks B-17. I got some better brake pads and an adjustable stem. My rims needed truing and I replaced the tires as soon as I had my first flat ( about a week) all in all I really like my Tourist its a very capable and comfortable bike. All the replacement items were bought new so if I wanted to save even more I'm sure with the exception of the brake pads and tires I would have spent less with pre owned parts.
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Old 03-25-11, 12:57 PM
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I agree, bought my gf a bikes direct bike. the wheels needed truing, the directions suck but if your experienced with bikes you don' treally need it and if your not, you should pay your LBS. even if you pay $50 for lbs to assemble, you still end up saving a ton of money on the deal.
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Old 03-25-11, 01:47 PM
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Thanks for the write up.
I rode for a few miles on a MUP with a guy who had the Windsor Tourist, and he was really happy with it.

I have purchased two BD bikes, and would agree with your assessment overall. I've wrenched on bikes for more than 30 years - I didn't even look at the instructions so can't speak to their quality. I believe BD offers a video/DvD/youtube which I would imagine to be more helpful to a novice mechanic.

All in all I feel that BD offers tremendous bang for the buck from what I've experienced and heard from others, and from what I see on their site.
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Old 03-25-11, 02:02 PM
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i've had my BD.com Moto Le champ SL Ti for almost a year now and have been exceptionally pleased with the bike. i've put over 4,000 miles on the bike and i still haven't had to make a single adjustment to the brake or shift cables or the derailleurs! seriously, from out of the box to 4,000 miles later, everything is still perfectly dialed in! how is that possible? do ultegra level components come with pre-stretched cables or something? the mavic wheels rolled perfectly true right out of the box and have needed no adjustment after 4,000 miles. even the rubino pro tires that came with the bike have never flatted (knock on wood) and are still in pretty decent shape (though i'll probably replace them before my big tour in britain this summer).

overall, i found the assembly of my BD.com bike pretty damn easy. attach the front wheel and brake to the fork, attach and align bars/stem onto steerer, adjust saddle position/height, and screw my pedals into the crank arms. anyone with some hex wrenches and a modest amount of mechanical inclination should be able to figure that stuff out.

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Old 03-25-11, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
i've had my BD.com Moto Le champ SL Ti for almost a year now and have been exceptionally pleased with the bike. i've put over 4,000 miles on the bike and i still haven't had to make a single adjustment to the brake or shift cables or the derailleurs! seriously, from out of the box to 4,000 miles later, everything is still perfectly dialed in! how is that possible? do ultegra level components come with pre-stretched cables or soemthing? the mavic wheels rolled perfectly true right out of the box and have needed no adjustment after 4,000 miles. even the rubino pro tires that came with the bike have never flatted (knock on wood) and are still in pretty decent shape (though i'll probably replace them before my big tour in britain this summer).

overall, i found the assembly of my BD.com bike pretty damn easy. attach the front wheel and brake to the fork, attach and align bars/stem onto steerer, adjust saddle position/height, and screw my pedals into the crank arms. anyone with some hex wrenches and a modest amount of mechanical inclination should be able to figure that stuff out.
Alright, stop it.
I've been trying to keep the temptation at bay, but those BD ti bikes have been working me over. I want one.
I'm torn between their 29ers and the CX bikes.
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Old 03-25-11, 02:32 PM
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^ you know you want one






would it help if i talked about how beautiful the welds are on my Ti frame, a Ti frame and full ultegra group w/ a higher end mavic wheelset that only set me back 2,000 bones? oh wait, that probably doesn't help at all

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Old 03-25-11, 03:33 PM
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I have two BD bikes (Windsor Tourist and a Mercier WT5) and have nothing but good things to say about both of them and BD's service and shipping.





The Mercier is currently going through a transformation right now but this is what is looked like prior to stealing a few parts to donate to the Windsor.

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Old 03-25-11, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
^ you know you want one



would it help if i talked about how beautiful the welds are on my Ti frame, a Ti frame and full ultegra group w/ a higher end mavic wheelset that only set me back 2,000 bones? oh wait, that probably doesn't help at all
[](><)[] LALALALALALALALALALALALA I can't hear youuuu!
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Old 03-25-11, 03:52 PM
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My own experience w/a BD purchase was about the same. Probably a 9 out of 10. My choice was a https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm in yellow. A minor truing of the rear wheel and swapping out the tires for some Schwalbe Marathon Plus w/the installation of all the lights, bags, rack, etc. was all that was required. It was pretty much ready out of the box.

It'll be 3 years in May. I've repacked all the bearings once and relubed the cables twice in 15,000 commuter/utilitarian miles. I clean and re-lube the chain and cassette after every rain or about once per month. It's been a very satisfying experience. I'll continue to purchase bikes from them and other needs from the sister site @ https://www.bikeisland.com
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Old 03-26-11, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by aceofspaids View Post
I have two BD bikes (Windsor Tourist and a Mercier WT5) and have nothing but good things to say about both of them and BD's service and shipping.





The Mercier is currently going through a transformation right now but this is what is looked like prior to stealing a few parts to donate to the Windsor.
I love the look and the idea of that WT5. What are your impressions of it?

Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
[](><)[] LALALALALALALALALALALALA I can't hear youuuu!
BD is planning on having a Ti monstercross available yet this year. I want a Ti mini velo. =)

Personally I think BD is a great value. The bike I received from them was much better in overall quality than I expected. I had a damaged brake hood from shipping and they sent me a replacement set of hoods with no hassle at all. This is the Windsor Shetland Mini Velo I bought from them in November after maybe 30 minutes of assembly.



I generally buy used bikes becasue thats the best value and in my area its easy to get a heck of a deal on a bike, but BD has so many tempting bikes. They have such a variety of offerings and the price for what you get can be pretty amazing compared to other new bikes offered at your local LBS.
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Old 03-26-11, 07:42 AM
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Thanks for all the replies! I do think that BD will certianly get my business next time around.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:04 AM
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You don't really need the book with the net

https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help

https://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830606982.pdf
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Old 03-26-11, 08:33 AM
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My first BD bike has been stripped of all it's usable components, it's frame has now been recycled as scrap metal, and the money lost on that deal could have made a really good down payment on the LBS bike that I really wanted to buy in the first place.
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Old 03-26-11, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by monsterpile View Post
I love the look and the idea of that WT5. What are your impressions of it?



BD is planning on having a Ti monstercross available yet this year. I want a Ti mini velo. =)

Personally I think BD is a great value. The bike I received from them was much better in overall quality than I expected. I had a damaged brake hood from shipping and they sent me a replacement set of hoods with no hassle at all. This is the Windsor Shetland Mini Velo I bought from them in November after maybe 30 minutes of assembly.



I generally buy used bikes becasue thats the best value and in my area its easy to get a heck of a deal on a bike, but BD has so many tempting bikes. They have such a variety of offerings and the price for what you get can be pretty amazing compared to other new bikes offered at your local LBS.
i love the WT5, its been a great bike. I've changed the sprocket to get lower gearing, but that was just personal preference.
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Old 03-26-11, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
My first BD bike has been stripped of all it's usable components, it's frame has now been recycled as scrap metal, and the money lost on that deal could have made a really good down payment on the LBS bike that I really wanted to buy in the first place.
What did you buy from BD, and what did you buy from your LBS? Sounds like the BD compnents were good enough to use again?
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Old 03-26-11, 09:35 AM
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Mmmmm Titanium.....


Also have no complaints about my BD purchase; Great riding bike, showed up quickly and on the date that they said it would.
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Old 03-27-11, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
You don't really need the book with the net
I'm a big fan of eBooks, but in this case I'll take the paper. It really is an excellent book, and it's good enough that it's actually fun to just read even when you don't have a job pending.
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Old 03-29-11, 02:07 PM
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I do not have internet access at home... gotta drag the laptop to where I have wireless service. This being said, as the above poster mentioned, I'd rather read the book, especially in this case.
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Old 03-29-11, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I'm a big fan of eBooks, but in this case I'll take the paper. It really is an excellent book, and it's good enough that it's actually fun to just read even when you don't have a job pending.
Plus I'd rather transfer grease from my fingers to the pages of the book rather than to my computer.
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Old 03-29-11, 04:39 PM
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I'm an unabashed triple fan. Both my commuters have 'em and I wouldn't have them any other way. When set up properly, the triple should shift crisply and easily in both directions between all three rings. With time and practice, I've gotten both my triples to shift just as nicely as both my doubles.

I like the Park Tool book and web site too, except for troubleshooting derailleur indexing. Then I find the Shimano information (either on paper in the box, or on the web) to be more helpful.

I refer the OP to the Shimano link dedhed supplied above, (Thanks for saving me the trouble of finding it myself!): https://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830606982.pdf

The troubleshooting section is in the lower right corner. Your problem is the second on the list, "If shifting is difficult from the intermediate chainring to the largest chainring."

The cure is: "Loosen the top (H) adjustment screw counterclockwise (about 1/8 turn)."

It's fairly common to set this screw a little too to tight in an effort to be sure you don't overshift off the big ring entirely.

Oh, BTW, nice bike. A friend of mine has one. He likes his too.

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