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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 01-24-19, 07:20 AM
  #151  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Nah, they are pretty sucky. It's just the bar for 'adequate' performance on a bike like that is pretty low. Fortunately the demands placed on your typical $100 BSO are also pretty low.

If all you've ridden are $100 department store specials, you just don't know how much better a quality bike works.

It's when manufacturers dress up cheap bikes in flashy graphics and badly-cost-engineered 'features' that produces truly bad bikes. Passing these off as 'performance' bikes is what causes buyers to expect more of them than they can deliver.
1972 P15-9 Paramount
1981 the "ELITE" Paramount Custom Touring Frame built to personal specs by PDG Waterford, wife has 1 of 3 modified Mixtie frame the "ELITE" Paramount

the following is taken from ------ https://waterfordbikes.com/w/culture...ord-1980-1994/

.................When Ed Schwinn took over the company in 1979, one of the first things he did was to shut down Paramount production. If it couldn’t be a world-class bike then don’t make one until it could.
..........Marc was put in charge of re-building Paramount – almost from scratch. He started out by retooling the department including a new brazing fixture and alignment table. In June of ’80, the company decided it needed the Paramount back but that they would have to move out of the Chicago factory. Marc’s first bikes were built for Eric Heiden and the 7/11 team in 1980.
..........That year, Schwinn brought back the Paramount as a super-custom bike – “anything you want” for the then outrageous sum of $3,000. These became known as the “Elite” Paramounts. By 1981, enough demand had built up to justify bigger plans. Marc got the go-ahead to build a factory which, after a considerable search, landed in Waterford, Wisconsin. The new factory housed what became Paramount Design Group, or PDG. Not simply a framebuilder, PDG was to become a design laboratory for both the re-born Paramount as well as the rest of Schwinn’s product lines. Frame production grew dramatically, matching all but the boom years of the early 70’s. In addition, PDG built the Sting, Schwinn’s high-end BMX race bike.......


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STRAVA 2018 miles at 9,600+
STRAVA 2017 miles at 11,000+

2002 $100.00 Target Magna 7 speed Hybrid with 10,000+ miles of enjoyable, very minimal maintenance riding from store commutes to club riding on A rides of 40+ miles at 20+mph average to 60+ mile individual rides.

I really enjoy my POS that rides like crap.
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Old 01-24-19, 08:06 AM
  #152  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Nah, they are pretty sucky. It's just the bar for 'adequate' performance on a bike like that is pretty low. Fortunately the demands placed on your typical $100 BSO are also pretty low.

If all you've ridden are $100 department store specials, you just don't know how much better a quality bike works.

It's when manufacturers dress up cheap bikes in flashy graphics and badly-cost-engineered 'features' that produces truly bad bikes. Passing these off as 'performance' bikes is what causes buyers to expect more of them than they can deliver.
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Again, tools for jobs.

Most people who ride BSOs don't Care about "performance." The bike rolls, they pedal, they get where they wanted or needed to be. Perfect.
I usually keep a BSO or two around as errand bikes. Something I dare leave by the train station a Friday/Saturday evening.
If I get them early enough, I can adjust and repack all bearings to get both tolerable performance and life out of them. (Although quite often I find bearing cups that have cracked)
And I'm quite content with all the other "characteristics".
The weight, the wobbling chainrings, the single-wall rims with all the structural integrity of a disposable pie plate. All fine, for a certain kind of riding.
But the brakes can be scary. I can always choose when to (try to) go fast. And how fast to go.
A hard stop is a decision that might be forced upon me by circumstances.
I'm much happier even a tiny step up the quality ladder, into the territory of the unbranded v-brakes.

Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
It's when manufacturers dress up cheap bikes in flashy graphics and badly-cost-engineered 'features' that produces truly bad bikes.
Sure, the more features a limited amount of money is supposed to cover, the less there is to spend on each feature.
A simpler thing done well is often better than a complicated thing done poorly.
It's a bit interesting to look at the development of disc brakes.
Early brakes were expensive and often not that great.
Then we went to expensive and generally good.
Then to moderately priced and good.
And now we're getting the full range again.
Everything from expensive and great to cheap and poor.
I don't often wish for a way to hold back "progress". But I really think we might have been happier w/o disc brakes produced and used as selling points through mere existence, w/o any discernible relationship with functionality. It's cargo cult thinking, "if we add the part, performance will follow"...
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Old 01-24-19, 08:40 AM
  #153  
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
2002 $100.00 Target Magna 7 speed Hybrid with 10,000+ miles of enjoyable, very minimal maintenance riding from store commutes to club riding on A rides of 40+ miles at 20+mph average to 60+ mile individual rides.

I really enjoy my POS that rides like crap.
Well, that must be an exceptional bike if that's your go-to for A-group rides, considering the rest of your fleet. Chapeau to you, sir.
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Old 01-24-19, 08:54 AM
  #154  
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post

2002 $100.00 Target Magna 7 speed Hybrid with 10,000+ miles of enjoyable, very minimal maintenance riding from store commutes to club riding on A rides of 40+ miles at 20+mph average to 60+ mile individual rides.

I really enjoy my POS that rides like crap.
As I said above, there is a big difference in nearly 20 years between Big Box Store bikes. HelMart and Target are selling bikes in 2019 for the same price as they did in 2002. Something has to give and that is quality. They hang eye catching stuff on the bike like disc brakes (which are brakes in name only) but save pennies by short changing the important bits like bearings, axles and spindles. The bottom bracket cups will often pull apart when you try to take them off which makes removal almost impossible. The axles bend like butter on a hot day. The bottom bracket spindles twist apart along the length. And the bearings and bearing cages in the bottom bracket often grind down to dust. Not shavings but actual dust.
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Old 01-24-19, 12:46 PM
  #155  
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A bike that is not much loss when it's stolen.
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Old 01-25-19, 05:51 PM
  #156  
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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.
To paraphrase what you say. A BSO is to bicycling, what a cheapie Crosley or similar is to a owner of a proper turntable with a good tonearm and cartridge. Both are poorly built, unsafe (in the case of the BSO can cause injury), and frequent failures, unreliable, perform poorly, and frustrate newbies to these pursuits. The cheapie Crosley is unreliable, poorly made, often wears or damages your record collection rapidly, and sounds horrible. Both do these two hobbies no favor, or wins no long term enthusiast users. Both are marketed and sold deceptively. Both unfit for purpose. I happen to be both an audiophile and a bicyclist.

There are quality, well made clock radios with decent sound for the purpose they serve. A vintage good Zenith, or better make old clock radio is good for what it does, sounds OK, as does a Tivoli today. But the best always cost a little more, but in the long run is a happier purchase.

Last edited by Kent T; 01-25-19 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 01-26-19, 06:36 AM
  #157  
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I don’t think all $200 bikes are BSOs.

i think there are examples of rigid bikes that are either single speed or have just a few gears in the back with rim brakes that are fine for their intended purpose: cruising around flatish neighborhoods.

Where the “BSO” honor comes into play is when for that same $200 they try to build a “mountain bike”, add suspension, disc brakes and deraileurs at both end.

These are truly MBSO (Mountain Bike Shaped Objects).

They are not mountain bikes, they are more like an idea of a mountain bike. An aspirational statement, perhaps.

They are roughly shaped like mtbs, but the suspension is so bad it is worse than none at all, the brakes suck and are no better than rim brakes (in some ways worse) and you can’t actually mountain bike with them..

Sort of like putting fake shutters on your house, except that these shutters make your house leak and then fall off.
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Old 01-27-19, 07:19 PM
  #158  
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
If I'm looking for a durable cycle that can carry a load, pull a load, not be mistaken as a steamroller or 1958 Fury I'd opt for a modern trike.
1958 Furys are badass, argue and they'll run you down autonomously.
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Old 01-27-19, 07:46 PM
  #159  
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Originally Posted by Rollfast View Post
1958 Furys are badass, argue and they'll run you down autonomously.
This Car Shaped Objects can also be your best friend or your worst nightmare.

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Old 01-29-19, 11:57 PM
  #160  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs 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.
My $99 full suspension Mongoose Walmart full suspension mountain bike had Shimano components on it.

That bike served it's purpose quite well, and inadvertently served a 2nd purpose. Originally it was bought in 2005 when I was teaching my oldest how to ride a bike. I used it for 2 years riding a mile and a half out on a rail trail with her. After that it got tossed in the corner of the garage.

Many years later after outgrowing 2 kid bikes, she asked if she could ride my old bike since she was now nearly as tall as I am. So I pulled it out and dusted it off and she played around with it for a summer. The following year when the snow melted I found it out in the yard. Tossed it back in the garage.

Another year went by and I was trying to come up with some sustainable exercise. Thought of the bike, dug it out of the corner again and found the chain completely frozen with rust. I hit it with penetrating oil for 2 days and got the chain loose again. Jumped on it and rode it daily until winter hit. That was it's secondary purpose, to get me exercising on the bike. Bought my Giant the following spring and a few years of just wanting daily exercise, I found myself several hundred miles away from the car on a trial heading to my next overnight stop. 2 weeks after that and another week long trip.

Now I don't ride daily for exercise. I don't like rides less than 500 miles.

Well worth the $99 I paid.
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Old 01-30-19, 03:43 PM
  #161  
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That was a bike, not a BSO. Inexpensive, sure - but it worked for various purposes.

BSO would have left you stranded miles from anywhere with bent or broken parts NLA ...
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Old 01-30-19, 06:39 PM
  #162  
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Originally Posted by BrocLuno View Post
That was a bike, not a BSO. Inexpensive, sure - but it worked for various purposes.

BSO would have left you stranded miles from anywhere with bent or broken parts NLA ...
$99 Walmart Mongoose full POS suspension. It is exactly what people refer to as a BSO.
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Old 01-31-19, 08:54 AM
  #163  
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Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
My $99 full suspension Mongoose Walmart full suspension mountain bike had Shimano components on it.
Shimano makes a lot of components.
From the cheapest, like this TZ-31 ($12.99)




To this M-9000 series XTR that costs 3 times what you paid for your whole bike.

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Old 01-31-19, 01:30 PM
  #164  
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Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
$99 Walmart Mongoose full POS suspension. It is exactly what people refer to as a BSO.
Yeah, 99$ Walmart FS bike is pretty much the gold standard for BSO.
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Old 01-31-19, 01:36 PM
  #165  
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Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
$99 Walmart Mongoose full POS suspension. It is exactly what people refer to as a BSO.
Wonder how meaningful it is to compare a BSO from 2005 to one from today.
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Old 01-31-19, 09:45 PM
  #166  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Wonder how meaningful it is to compare a BSO from 2005 to one from today.
Doesn't matter, it would still be a POS on this site..
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Old 02-01-19, 08:59 AM
  #167  
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Originally Posted by jasnooks View Post
Doesn't matter, it would still be a POS on this site..
Well yeah. As is any department store bike.
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Old 02-01-19, 02:33 PM
  #168  
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A $99 bike from 2005 would be like a $79 bike from 2000. Still a BSO. Like any BSO, if it got put together correctly, it could hold up for years under easy use. Even used daily, a few miles on a mup at pedestrian speeds would be sufficiently easy to count.
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Old 02-01-19, 03:21 PM
  #169  
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I bought and drove a 1960 Plymouth Golden Fury (top of the line) for several months working as a messenger in NYC around 1977. Translucent metal-flake rectangular steering wheel, speedo on stalks, stainless steel body (except bumpers), 395 cu. in. engine (supported by hinges in the front and a huge spring in the back, or maybe it was the other way around). The owner's manual (given to me, along with a trunkful of brand-new spare parts, when I bought the car from the original owner) noted that the "stabilizers" ("a term we prefer to 'fins' ") were designed to improve handling (above Mach 1, no doubt).

Any time I want to reminisce about how that engine sounded from the driver's seat, I need only watch "Christine" and crank up the bass.

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
This Car Shaped Objects can also be your best friend or your worst nightmare.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oezKQEF0deY

Show Me!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aU5l2e9YlQ
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Old 02-03-19, 09:30 PM
  #170  
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VSOs & PSOs

Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Yes. AAMOF.

All those Amazon violins? 95% of them cannot be made to sound decent by professionals...forget about amateurs. The fingerboards aren't even glued on straight. They are literally "violin shaped" objects....that have all the best acoustic properties of a 2x4, a snow shovel, and a chalkboard. And no one on earth can make them pleasant to listen to.
I am qualified to comment on violins and pianos.

The biggest problem with cheap musical instruments is their final regulation and adjustments. I can get a violin to hold tune and I can fix an untunable piano but it might not be worth the investment in my time. Similarly, getting a cheap bike to ride well might take more work than the bike is worth... someone has to make a profit somewhere along the manufacturing and sales line.

Another big difference is that violins and pianos are mostly wood and a bit of metal. Bikes are lots of metal and cheap metal is heavy. There is no way to get those bent steel cranks lighter and those stamped steel caliper brakes will never be Ultegras.

BUT, put a world class musician on a cheap violin and they can make it sing.

Put a Tour de France cyclist on a WallMart bike and they will beat us every time.

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Old 02-03-19, 09:57 PM
  #171  
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Originally Posted by oldbear63 View Post
I am qualified to comment on violins and pianos.

The biggest problem with cheap musical instruments is their final regulation and adjustments. I can get a violin to hold tune and I can fix an untunable piano but it might not be worth the investment in my time. Similarly, getting a cheap bike to ride well might take more work than the bike is worth... someone has to make a profit somewhere along the manufacturing and sales line.

Another big difference is that violins and pianos are mostly wood and a bit of metal. Bikes are lots of metal and cheap metal is heavy. There is no way to get those bent steel cranks lighter and those stamped steel caliper brakes will never be Ultegras.

BUT, put a world class musician on a cheap violin and they can make it sing.

Put a Tour de France cyclist on a WallMart bike and they will beat us every time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HotrHNXwpE
I cannot speak for pianos...but, violins are my forte.

No, they really cannot. No amount of technique and artistry can compensate for awful carpentry common in cheap VSOs. A $100 Amazon special will never sound good. A professional would all but never win or hold playing job with one....some have on lower tier equipment but not the VSO level, but they tend to have bad habits due to needing to saw and force the instrument to get tone. It is insanely hard and frustrating to get anything beyond a basic forte chicken scratch. I've had parents come to me proud of their thrift of their Prime score of a badly painted lavendar violin that had the bridge glued on and the fingerboard not even in axis--nevermind the string action entirely wrong.


Youtube video comparisons are specious at best. Compressed audio, poor microphones, poor acoustics, etc. Nothing compares to being in the room.

Last edited by Marcus_Ti; 02-03-19 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 02-03-19, 10:33 PM
  #172  
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BSOs

Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
I cannot speak for pianos...but, violins are my forte.

No, they really cannot. No amount of technique and artistry can compensate for awful carpentry common in cheap VSOs. A $100 Amazon special will never sound good. A professional would all but never win or hold playing job with one....some have on lower tier equipment but not the VSO level, but they tend to have bad habits due to needing to saw and force the instrument to get tone. It is insanely hard and frustrating to get anything beyond a basic forte chicken scratch. I've had parents come to me proud of their thrift of their Prime score of a badly painted lavendar violin that had the bridge glued on and the fingerboard not even in axis--nevermind the string action entirely wrong.


Youtube video comparisons are specious at best. Compressed audio, poor microphones, poor acoustics, etc. Nothing compares to being in the room.
This is not the hill I care to die on.
BUT: are you comparing that VSO with another violin with much better strings, set up, proper sound post, good bridge, correct nut clearance..... ?
Put the $50 violin through $300 worth of set up and I would bet it plays a whole lot better (but still not worth the price)!

I am in the process of reconditioning my old LeMond Reno (their bottom end road bike) and with new wheels, a better seat and a decent handle bar it rides a whole lot nicer (for another $300).

Last edited by oldbear63; 02-03-19 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Needed editing
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Old 02-04-19, 12:44 AM
  #173  
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There is a reason professional musicians with trained ears choose better instruments ... and it is not all ego. A $62 violin with $400 worth of rebuilding would be a $500 violin .... and still wouldn't meet the needs or really talented musicians.

I could buy a $99 Walmart bike such as a good friend owns, replace the wheels, the brakes, the headset, maybe the BB, break it down to bare metal and lube and adjust every part .... and I would have a $500 bicycle. Why?

If a person's needs are met by a $99 bike or a $62 violin, great. Pretending there is no difference between a $62 violin and a $285,000 violin is ridiculous. And I have ridden enough BSOs to destruction that I know for daily hard riding they are not a viable choice.

Sadly, the way I ride now, a BSO probably Would meet my needs. But I would never try to pretend it as anything but what it was. Some people here seem to be so deep into the debate they have lost sight of reality.

I used to be a musician, used to pay in a band .... I used to have listening skills which have decayed through disuse. A lot of people have never developed those skills. But I can guarantee you a person playing a much better instrument can feel and hear the difference.

For all of the people who think pointing out that really cheap bikes are really cheap is "snobbery" if any of you own anything except super-cheap BSOs ... that is called "hypocrisy."

Walk the talk.
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Old 02-04-19, 06:22 AM
  #174  
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Have you ever tried commuting on a Stradivarius? The brakes really suck, and it goes out of tune turning corners.
This is a really silly analogy. Bikes are utilitarian objects, violins are not.because of the very nature of its use, subtle differences will make huge differences to all users of a violin who want to go beyond just getting it to make a sound.

Bikes are used by people for a whole lot of reasons that really don't require high levels of super-efficient characteristics. The question is whether any department store bikes are reliable enough for commuting and non-serious recreational riding, not how fast a professional rider could make it go.
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Old 02-07-19, 07:50 AM
  #175  
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The bottom line remains, the "real cyclist" that look down on any bike that doesnt cost at least $5000 apparently dont understand not everyone has unlimited money. People will buy what they can afford. To sneer at them and call them BSO or anything else is just plain snobbery.
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