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Why do some people refer to some bicycles as BSO?

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Why do some people refer to some bicycles as BSO?

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Old 01-17-19, 05:16 PM
  #26  
Ironfish653
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
It was originally a derogatory term. But it is often used now affectionately.
Yeah, not so much. Still pretty much means a department-store bike that's cheaper to replace than repair.

There's an old saying that 'The Best You Know is the Best You've Tried' In the US, bikes are primarily viewed as (kids) toys, purchased and treated accordingly. ere's a lot of people who don't think a bicycle should cost more than $200, and don't ever throw a leg over it until they've bought it and brought it home.


You (mfgr's) can make a bike with index shifting and a suspension fork for $200, and they can do it for $1000. Where do you think that difference comes from? It's not just the stickers.
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Old 01-17-19, 06:04 PM
  #27  
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I don't expect a Kia luxury sedan vehicle to deliver the same expectation as a Lexus or Ford version luxury sedan vehicle. I still view all three to be a vehicle, & not one of them I would refer to as a vehicle shaped object.
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Old 01-17-19, 06:17 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
I don't expect a Kia luxury sedan vehicle to deliver the same expectation as a Lexus or Ford version luxury sedan vehicle. I still view all three to be a vehicle, & not one of them I would refer to as a vehicle shaped object.
A BSO is not analogous to a Kia. It is analogous to a Ford Pinto. AKA-something fundamentally flawed from the factory.
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Old 01-17-19, 06:19 PM
  #29  
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Don't know about violins, but I'm a double bassist, and "BSO" has referred to "bass-shaped object" in the bass community since forever. There are basses that are likely to be of such shoddy quality, that they can't be brought into decent playable condition, and will quickly deteriorate beyond repair. Of course the term is controversial, and because quality is related to consistency, some of these basses will in fact work out OK for their owner. However, the fact that it's hit or miss is considered by some to be unacceptable. Repairs for these instruments can often cost more than the original purchase price, and some shops won't repair them at all. And the expense of returning such an instrument to the maker could be prohibitive.

When folks protest: "But this is all I can afford," it's sad, but it probably means the person really can't afford any instrument. Naturally, this is controversial, and the folks who advocate higher quality instruments are accused of snobbery etc. An instrument that I'd comfortably recommend to a beginner would start out around $1500, made in China.

Sound familiar?
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Old 01-17-19, 06:48 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
A BSO is not analogous to a Kia. It is analogous to a Ford Pinto. AKA-something fundamentally flawed from the factory.
safety standards are not equal to readiness & reliability.
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Old 01-17-19, 07:05 PM
  #31  
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I like my $200 department store BSO. I've used and abused it off and on for going on 20 years and still haven't had to replace anything but a chain and a freewheel and a pair of tires. Sometimes I wish it would break so I could justify shopping for a new bike...
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Old 01-17-19, 07:24 PM
  #32  
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If you have only had to replace the chain once in 20 years, you have hardly ridden it in 20 years---which is exactly what that sort of bike is good for----extremely light duty.

When I was starting out as a daily car-free bike commuter, I rode exclusively BSOs because i was broke. And they broke. I blew through a string of them. They were not up to the rigors of vigorous daily use. Lotso f peple can and do ride them with complete joy. But very few peole who are gong to work hard on a bike will be doing so for long on a BSO ... or at least not the same one.

But look ... this always happens. People confuse anecdotes for data.

Talk to people who have ridden a lot, not one ... talk to people whop have repaired a lot, over a span of years .... look for trends, clusters of data points, not outliers. And you will find that most BSOs that get treated like higher-quality bicycles fail ... and when those riders get higher-quality bicycles, the failures will end.

I don’t care if someone says, “I toured the world on a seven-dollar bicycle and never even patched a tube." What I care about was the time a crank arm snapped as I was trying to sprint across a multi-lane intersection at rush hour, leaving me paddling while cars rushed at me at ever-increasing speed.

I care about the various bottom-bracket, hub, and wheel failures which left me carrying a fully-loaded bike across town to get home. I care about he dozens of junk bikes I collected just to keep a couple junk bikes ready to use because they were junk and broke frequently.

I also care about the day I had saved enough money to get a real bike, and how it never needed anything but basic maintenance and always worked flawlessly no matter how hard I used it.

Anyone wants to drop off their “eternal” BSO for a week’s stress test, feel free. I cannot guarantee you will like what I give you back.
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Old 01-17-19, 07:27 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
I like my $200 department store BSO. I've used and abused it off and on for going on 20 years and still haven't had to replace anything but a chain and a freewheel and a pair of tires. Sometimes I wish it would break so I could justify shopping for a new bike...
Ummm . a 1998 Nishiki is not a BSO.

If you think otherwise, please post the info---parts, frame material purchase price when new, all that. Pictures, of course. The original catalogue, if you have it.

I had never heard that Nishiki made junk, I am willing to learn. Surprise me.
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Old 01-17-19, 07:32 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by balut bandit View Post
They are fine for tootling around which is all that many folks care about.

They are many examples out there of why BSO ≠ "real" bike in some situations.


Awesome video, I loved the kids towards the end commenting on the Huffy. Hey, it survived Whistler fine, and the guy returned it for a full refund no questions asked.

Full suspension BSOs are garbage but I'm partial to the dirt cheap rigid BSO mtbs.
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Old 01-17-19, 07:33 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
It was originally a derogatory term. But it is often used now affectionately.
Yes, my gravel/commuter/beater bike is a Roadmaster BSO. It's actually in surprisingly good shape, but I checked it over well before first riding and keep performing maintenance on it. As long as it stays in good shape I don't care if it's a BSO. And since it was given to me, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
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Old 01-17-19, 07:35 PM
  #36  
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I have and have had several BSO's, and I am not afraid to admit it. They serve a purpose. My fat bike was fun and not used enough to warrant $1k. Currently have a Wally world full suspension MTB basically purchased for the frame, now sporting a lot of my parts bin parts on it. A lot of the stock bits bolted to that frame are not fit for off road use. The worst was the Shimano Tourney rear derailleur disintegrating after only 2.5 miles of trail. BSO owners prefer the term Big Box Bike these days.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:00 PM
  #37  
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An avid cyclist looks at a bso the same way an audiophile looks at a clock radio.

They both sort of work....For a while...And not particularly well.

Last edited by Wileyrat; 01-17-19 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:06 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post

But look ... this always happens. People confuse anecdotes for data.
Do you mean the numerous negative anecdotes about so-called BSOs posted on BF by people associated financially or emotionally to LBS's and the products sold at those stores? Do you mean those kind of anecdotes that may just reflect the approved bias of so-called avid cyclists can now be considered "data"?
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Old 01-17-19, 08:18 PM
  #39  
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You aren't going to convince the 'kids', they know what's hep, what swings and what jives.

Their falafel is fluffed. No biggie, too jiggy.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:24 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Ummm . a 1998 Nishiki is not a BSO.

If you think otherwise, please post the info---parts, frame material purchase price when new, all that. Pictures, of course. The original catalogue, if you have it.

I had never heard that Nishiki made junk, I am willing to learn. Surprise me.
This is my bike:

https://knowyourbike.com/nishiki/meridian/sc/1999

I got the year wrong. I got it as a birthday gift when I started grad school. It was purchased at Dick's. MSRP was $249. I can't fathom that my parents would have paid retail for it. That is not their way. It's heavy as heck and has all tourney components.

You're right. I haven't put loads of miles on it. I used it to "tootle" around campus when I was in school. Then it sat unused and exposed to the elements for several years. Then I bought a cheap Chinese 2-stroke motor, drilled some holes in the frame to mount it, and road the heck out of it until the motor died. (Which didn't take all that long).

Then it sat unused for another few years until I decided it was time that I tried to get a little exercise. I started commuting to work and rode it an average of maybe 10 miles a day to and from work for most of a summer.

Then I bought a nicer but older road bike and that's the one I use now for daily commuting and longer rides, but my Nashiki is still my backup and winter bike, and the one I use for towing my daughter on the bike paths.

It was not expensive. It's not particularly nice, but it has suffered a lot of abuse and neglect and it continues to work.

Last edited by clengman; 01-17-19 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:49 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
Yes, my gravel/commuter/beater bike is a Roadmaster BSO. It's actually in surprisingly good shape, but I checked it over well before first riding and keep performing maintenance on it. As long as it stays in good shape I don't care if it's a BSO. And since it was given to me, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
A Sears Roadmaster?

I had a couple of their Firenze rigid MTBs early in my commuting career. maybe I should have tried the road model. What a different conversation we might be having.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:53 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
An avid cyclist looks at a bso the same way an audiophile looks at a clock radio.

They both sort of work....For a while...And not particularly well.
My clock radio is used to wake me up because I am not going to put a nice soundsystem connected to a clock to wake me up when the radio noise works fine. I see a clock radio for a different purpose than my turntable or audio equipment (though I am not super obsessed because that will get expensive and I am more interested in bike parts) Though if I could get a nice tube amp set up and get my reel to reel tape deck working and probably keep the turntable and some of the speakers I would be pretty happy. Even better a pair of those nice Sennheiser Orpheus headphones from the 90s that had their own tube amplifier so I don't bother the neighbors.
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Old 01-17-19, 09:02 PM
  #43  
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There's only one thing I like as much as clacky-clack-clacking around the supermarket and seeing the crestfallen/disgusted reactions on men's faces when they come around a corner expecting a smartly-dressed young woman in heels, but are instead confronted with a sweaty, chubby, snotty MAMIL, and that's riding snobs on their carbon Pinarellos, Canyons, Venges, etc. off my BSO's (a Schwinn) wheel when the light changes.
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Old 01-17-19, 09:04 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by clengman View Post
Since it has a serious frame, was built by a serious factory, and has actual name-brand (Shimano) components i wouldn't call it a BSO. Also, $249 back then was a Lot of money.

Glad you are still enjoying it.
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Old 01-18-19, 06:03 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
A bicycle is not a roller coaster. That guy is doing crazy suicidal stuff. I ride along the flat paved bikeway and just the tree roots coming out of the asphalt by the river bank can kill my back unless I stand up off the seat or slow to a crawl.

Says the guy who has started at least two threads complaining about the poor quality of his bike.
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Old 01-18-19, 07:40 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
An avid cyclist looks at a bso the same way an audiophile looks at a clock radio.

They both sort of work....For a while...And not particularly well.
My Tivoli clock radio works pretty well, thank you.
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Old 01-18-19, 07:52 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
An avid cyclist looks at a bso the same way an audiophile looks at a clock radio.

They both sort of work....For a while...And not particularly well.
I've had the same clock radio forever. Still ticking fine. A clock radio does not serve the same function is a good sound system, so your analogy is inapt.
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Old 01-18-19, 08:38 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
A Sears Roadmaster?

I had a couple of their Firenze rigid MTBs early in my commuting career. maybe I should have tried the road model. What a different conversation we might be having.
Honestly I don't know. I figured it was a Walmart Roadmaster. It's a Roadmaster chromium edition like this one:


Not a high dollar bike by any means, but I'll ride her 'til she drops. Mine's the same color as this, and after searching online apparently they were all this color. But I figure this is something I can punish on gravel while saving my hybrid for pavement.

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Old 01-18-19, 09:06 AM
  #49  
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I had a Murray Baja that was the analogue of that Roadmaster. I think it came from the PX. Rode it for years, weighed a ton, and eventually rode it in to the ground. Literally; I crashed in to a drainage ditch so hard it collapsed the forks and twisted the frame.

Those really, really bottom end bikes are almost better than the $200 full-suspension bikes. Ten-speed or 3x5 with thumb-shifters, bolt on wheels, one-piece cranks and stamped steel calipers; they're like AK-47s. They're loose and sloppy, and they never work well, but they're so simple, they always work, through the kinds of treatment/abuse that would break other, supposedly better bikes.
It's when mfgrs try to add features on the cheap like disks and suspension, that you get truly crappy bikes.

Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
Honestly I don't know. I figured it was a Walmart Roadmaster. It's a Roadmaster chromium edition like this one:
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Old 01-18-19, 09:22 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
In 1977, Mongoose was The "Sh_t" among young American boys who were into that BMX sort of thing which was never my bag.
Mongoose used to be an actual brand name. Now it's only a name owned by a conglomerate. Like Schwinn, GT, and Diamondback, to name a few.
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