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Are Big Box Stores Promoting a Throwaway Bike Culture?

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Are Big Box Stores Promoting a Throwaway Bike Culture?

Old 03-29-20, 07:17 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
You have obviously never tried to repair a Walmart bike.

Most of the parts are proprietary and ultra-flimsy---hard plastic or stamped pot-metal levers, stamped chain rings, cheap and flimsy stamped brakes .... you cannot buy replacement parts so you have to go to a real bike retailer and pay----almost always half or more of the total worth of the bike---to get real parts.

Now you have a $120 bike with $60 brakes and the rest is still crap. When the next bit fails .... spend another $60?

As far as recycling goes, when is the last time you actually took a bike to a recycler? How much of it gets reused?

The plastic might ... but probably none of it is recyclable. The metal might ... but how much does the recycler pay to have workers disassemble the bike for $1.22 worth of aluminum?

And where I live, a lot of "recyclable" material is Not accepted for recycling any more because there is no profit---the market is flooded with cheap crap. A lot of it cannot be reused due to contamination, and a lot of the plastic is already partially recycled and all it is good for is blown-in insulation for houses ... and there are only so many houses.

I know it is probably regional, but I question how much of any "recycling: is actually done---as opposed to companies shipping everything to landfills in India so they can meet their federal requirements for waste-stream recycling by percentage.

I thought they were easy to repair? Hmmmmm .....

Also ... High-end bikes Don't get thrown away. Most of them are used by their owners and then relegated to back-up or rain bike when they get replaced by a new model. A lot are sold. And even the expensive bikes which don't get ridden get sold---garage queens? ever heard the term?---and then ridden by someone else who really appreciates a good bike.

High-end bikes Can be repaired, and generally get good maintenance, because not a lot of people spend a lot of money on expensive stuff and trash it. And even if they don't get maintained, they still get sold ... and people replace the worn bits and ride them for years longer. It is worth doing if the basic bike is of good quality.

Walmart bikes ... break them, toss them, because almost any repair will cost more than a new bike.
The bad walmart bikes in my opinion are the bikes featuring suspension especially rear suspension but lots of walmart bikes don't have suspension they are just rigid frame and fork designs. I'm not in the US I'm in the UK but many of the bikes you see on the walmart site
are available under different brands in the uk. I bought a cheap 29.99 rigid mountain bike a few years ago from a company called sterling house, there were no proprietary parts, while the rear derailleur was a bit naff it had the same pull ratio as Shimano.

It all worked fine although I replaced the caged bearings with loose bearings in the 2 wheel hubs and the headset. Yes the bike was heavy but it was very comfortable and an upgrade on the brake pads sorted out the V brakes. More importantly the quill stem meant I could get a
excellent bike fit on it. Of course it wasn't a mountain bike it was just a rather heavy duty normal bicycle, the freewheel axle didn't have the strength to be taken off road. Absolutely nothing proprietary on it, every single component is easily replaced by components stocked at any bike shop. It was only a 12 speed (2x6). I think its very similar to the Roadmaster Mt. Fury. Again I'm not saying its the best bike ever but its a great workhorse bike that you can use in areas with high risk of theft etc. Incredibly strong and abuse-able, the frame has no lightweight butted tubing even the top tube is difficult to dent if its falls over. Basic high tensile steel bikes are the majority of bikes sold in the world, India and China buy such bikes and expect to get many decades out of them. Admittedly riding a bike in China now is seen as a sign of poverty but many outside the cities still use them. There is a lot of elitism in cycling where some people seem to think a bike has to be expensive with the right brand but much of the expense of those bikes is to make the bike lighter not stronger. There are many that simply don't care about a light bike that may cost 10x as much but is 4kg lighter especially if the bike is going to have a rough time, knocked over and potentially stolen. A beater bike has its purpose.

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Old 03-29-20, 07:38 PM
  #77  
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Promoting... maybe; contributing to... MOST definitely....
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Old 03-29-20, 08:36 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by hillyman View Post
Well my bikes as a kid were Huffys and Western Flyers and I've been around awhile. Cheap stores sell cheap stuff. We're the ones who buy it so who's to blame?
When I was a kid like you Huffys and Western Flyers were decent bikes, serviceable and good values for our parents. A Western Auto was a great place to shop. Likewise Sears and Penneys.
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Old 03-29-20, 08:55 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
if you ride a bike past a discarded bike ... it depends if you are heading somewhere else, or back form somewhere else.

If I rode by a bike on the way to work, I couldn't grab it. If I was coming home from doing laundry and grocery shopping, I might be loaded down .... because if you are on a bike, transporting another bike home can be a challenge. And if that other bike is not functional (say, everything on the bike is good but the wheels) then how do you get the thing home? i guess if you have a trailer .... but if i could have bought a trailer i could have bought a cheap bike.

And what do you do if there are Two good but beat-up bikes at the end of a driveway several miles from home? it would be an hour walk to get one, but a very short bike ride, and time is always limited ... plus someone else could nab them. But if I ride out there, now I have to somehow transport two bikes on a third bike.

Yeah, scavenging bikes takes a lot of energy. I did it for a couple years .... try it or take my word for it.
I have done a lot of different things.

Sometimes I have walked home with a bike in each hand.

Sometimes I have strapped the other bike to the rack on the back of my bike.

Sometimes I have moved the bike I want to pick up to another location where someone else is not likely to see it and pick it up. I often do this if I see more than one thing I want to pick up.

I have asked the people living there if I can put a lawnmower out of sight in their yard. I came back to get it with the car.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:31 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
I have done a lot of different things.

Sometimes I have walked home with a bike in each hand.

Sometimes I have strapped the other bike to the rack on the back of my bike.

Sometimes I have moved the bike I want to pick up to another location where someone else is not likely to see it and pick it up. I often do this if I see more than one thing I want to pick up.

I have asked the people living there if I can put a lawnmower out of sight in their yard. I came back to get it with the car.
Well, if I had a car I wouldn't be out picking junk bikes!

Yeah, I have done those things .... and it took a lot of time and energy, which is what i said. I made it work, but it took dedication .... and back all those years ago i could miss half a night's sleep and still function.

A bike makes a good -two-wheeled cart---one can hang all sorts of stuff off it. However, it can be hard to push and balance .... but back then i'd push an overloaded bike a few miles rather than lose a couple good finds.
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Old 03-29-20, 10:52 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Well, if I had a car I wouldn't be out picking junk bikes!

Yeah, I have done those things .... and it took a lot of time and energy, which is what i said. I made it work, but it took dedication .... and back all those years ago i could miss half a night's sleep and still function.

A bike makes a good -two-wheeled cart---one can hang all sorts of stuff off it. However, it can be hard to push and balance .... but back then i'd push an overloaded bike a few miles rather than lose a couple good finds.
I think the situation will vary a lot, depending on where a person lives. In some places, there may not be many good finds in trash. In other places, people may discard a lot of things when they are only a bit old. You can also get lucky or unlucky. Being able to repair things yourself also gives you a big advantage. Most bicycles I have picked up needed something doing to them. People who did not know how to repair them would not think about picking them up.
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Old 03-30-20, 09:33 AM
  #82  
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Scavenging a used bicycle is where a rear rack on your bike and a pair of toe-straps and a pair of 48" Coghlan's Arno straps in your seat bag come in might handy. Then if you come across a nice bike out for garbage or for sale cheap and you want to bring it home then, you can. Just rig up the secong bike like this.



That bike was sold to me for $30.00 CDN and included two brand new tires. You can still see the card wrapped around them.

With the bike fastened to the rear rack like that it's very stable and riding isn't affected at all. I use a toe-strap on each fork leg to make it even more secure.

Cheers
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Old 03-30-20, 11:17 AM
  #83  
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People who don't know much about cycling can't see what's wrong with non-LBS bikes, so they buy on price and convenience, and then don't enjoy riding enough to wear much out, although they may let it rust. I became friends with a woman about my age, and when we climbed a hill together, I saw that our fitness was about the same. However, she thought her bicycle range was just a few blocks. She had always used garage-sale bikes - probably all those lightly-used junkers, and never learned to raise the seat. I set up a bike for her and it was a total revelation. Too bad she didn't listen to the locking lesson.
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Old 03-30-20, 11:23 AM
  #84  
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I used bungees ... cheap and more versatile, and I always had a bunch on my rack anyway.

Nice job there .... looks very professional.
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Old 03-30-20, 12:06 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by RandomlyWest View Post
Recently, there was a thread in this sub-forum where the owner of a new Breezer Downtown lamented that the bike was already "starting to deteriorate" after "a couple hundred miles."

The "deterioration" = some worn bar tape, a loose bolt on a fender, and a missing bar end cap. This is also known as "normal wear and tear" (or something close).

I got to wondering, did the OP not realize bikes could be repaired? Is there a whole community of people out there raised on bikes from XMart or wherever, with the presumption that bikes typically "deteriorate" after 100 miles of use, and when they "deteriorate" you should just throw your bike away and get another one?

Obviously, the Breezer Downtown is not an XMart bike; I've ridden one, and I think it's a really cool, durable utility bike...

Agreed, the Breezer Downtown is a great bike for certain riders. Bought one for my wife and she loves the smooth ride, how easy it pedals and it also relieves her nerve pain as a side benefit. Plus it looks pretty cool (she tells me every time) with that contrasting leather seat. At any rate, it's a decent quality bike. Like others have said, big box is big box and the rider on the other thread needs to have expectations on keeping up his/her bike. Larger repairs won't be worth it because cost vs. a new bike just means a new bike. Just an additional thought...saw my 20 yr old nephew post on facebook the other day that he is trying out downhill mountain biking. He posted a picture of his bike and lo and behold it is a Wal Mart MTB with full suspension front and back, and I'm more than a little concerned that as a noob to downhill he might be even more likely to get hurt, due to the lack of quality of the big box bikes. Anyone have any thoughts on that, or should I move that question to a different thread?
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Old 03-30-20, 01:06 PM
  #86  
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Just wanted everyone to know my throwaway bike culture just came back negative.
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Old 03-30-20, 03:58 PM
  #87  
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An interesting question with perhaps not that clear of an answer. Is it from the consumerism "throw-away" culture (bikes, clothing, appliances, etc.)? Is this cultural response ingrained by increasingly short lives of even "durable" goods (I had a very experienced appliance salesman state that most new appliances were made to last 5 years at most....we have all seen Grandma's 50 year old round top single door fridge still working). Low cost has to be made at the expense of quality and durability it seems.There is also the issue of repair costs, the availability of repair professionals, and the hourly cost of such labor with the exorbitant cost of aftermarket parts in many instances. Paying for a compressor and $100/hr labor on that 5 year old fridge makes no sense. Perhaps by design (esp. the cost of repair parts)? Repair parts for bikes are quite reasonable, but again labor is expensive by necessity (the operational costs for the shop and a decent skilled labor pay). Thus.....the bikes end up in the garbage. I recently rescued a mid quality Mongoose alloy mountain bike. Typical Wallyworld assembly job (every adjustment/assembly was drastically off....wouldn't shift or stop. One wheel bearing loose....the other tight). Was apparently dumped and rear derailleur bent....so in the garbage it went. I put an hour and a few dollars into it and gave it to a friend's daughter to ride. I see this constantly....I think "planned obsolescence" is less of a factor really. Cheaply made bikes CAN run a long time with maintenance and repair.
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Old 03-30-20, 04:05 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by RandomlyWest View Post
Recently, there was a thread in this sub-forum where the owner of a new Breezer Downtown lamented that the bike was already "starting to deteriorate" after "a couple hundred miles."

The "deterioration" = some worn bar tape, a loose bolt on a fender, and a missing bar end cap. This is also known as "normal wear and tear" (or something close).

I got to wondering, did the OP not realize bikes could be repaired? Is there a whole community of people out there raised on bikes from XMart or wherever, with the presumption that bikes typically "deteriorate" after 100 miles of use, and when they "deteriorate" you should just throw your bike away and get another one?

Obviously, the Breezer Downtown is not an XMart bike; I've ridden one, and I think it's a really cool, durable utility bike. But I wonder if hastily-assembled, poorly-lubed big box bikes are giving consumers the perception that this is just how bikes are - bikes look good when you first buy them, but they inevitably "deteriorate" within three months or 100 miles.
You make some good points and I never gave the big box stores much credit for having decent bikes. Lately though I've come across a couple bikes being nearly given away because they need minor repairs and found them to be reasonable transportation after getting a thorough going over. The bearings were loose. They were misadjusted etc. but once put together properly they were comparable to mid level bikes from the 70's. The welded aluminum frames were sturdy and reasonably light and with better wheels and some minor component upgrades I could ride these bikes for a long time without a problem. Frankly I was impressed with the frames.
Now don't get me wrong. I love my '87 Klein touring bike and there's no way I'd love the GMC Denali or Trayl Dispatch that passed through my workshop recently but, properly assembled, they make decent commuters and reliable transportation.
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Old 03-30-20, 04:37 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by collcs View Post
An interesting question with perhaps not that clear of an answer. Is it from the consumerism "throw-away" culture (bikes, clothing, appliances, etc.)? Is this cultural response ingrained by increasingly short lives of even "durable" goods (I had a very experienced appliance salesman state that most new appliances were made to last 5 years at most....we have all seen Grandma's 50 year old round top single door fridge still working). Low cost has to be made at the expense of quality and durability it seems.There is also the issue of repair costs, the availability of repair professionals, and the hourly cost of such labor with the exorbitant cost of aftermarket parts in many instances. Paying for a compressor and $100/hr labor on that 5 year old fridge makes no sense. Perhaps by design (esp. the cost of repair parts)? Repair parts for bikes are quite reasonable, but again labor is expensive by necessity (the operational costs for the shop and a decent skilled labor pay). Thus.....the bikes end up in the garbage. I recently rescued a mid quality Mongoose alloy mountain bike. Typical Wallyworld assembly job (every adjustment/assembly was drastically off....wouldn't shift or stop. One wheel bearing loose....the other tight). Was apparently dumped and rear derailleur bent....so in the garbage it went. I put an hour and a few dollars into it and gave it to a friend's daughter to ride. I see this constantly....I think "planned obsolescence" is less of a factor really. Cheaply made bikes CAN run a long time with maintenance and repair.
Maybe so. However some department store bikes run a remarkably short time before needing something expensive replaced because it can't be repaired. A number of years ago my mother bought me a Sears MTB. One day I was riding it from my place to her place only a block and a bit (maybe 100 feet) away. As I turned onto her street the rear wheel came loose and the wheel hit the chainstay. I got off the bike and the wheel wobbled quite a bit. I walked to her place, borrowed a 15mm wrench and took the wheel off. The problem was immediately apparent. The drive side cup had COMPLETELY DISINTEGRTED. I mean there was absolutely nothing left of that cup. That required getting a new wheel. Trouble was that a new wheel from a bike shop would have cost almost as much as the bike did.

Another time a friend of mine bought a blue 21 speed dropbar Medalist road bike from Canadian Tire. He went to ride it home and punctured about 150 feet from the store exit. Why? Because there were metal filings and bits inside the tire and also inside the rim and those bits were left over from drilling the holes for the spokes and valve (the vale hole was punched. We figured that out when we extracted the disc from in between the rim haves) plus a lot of the filings were brass from the spoke nipples. And no, Canadian Tire would not give him a new tube.

I've seen department tore bikes with lots of miles on them. I think that if a person is not a competent bicycle mechanic or doesn't know one who'll check over their bike for them, that buying a department store bike is a crap shoot = you might get lucky but chances are if you stay with it (ride the bike for any length of time) you'll end up losing money.

Department store bikes do fill a niche for those who do not have much money to spend at one time and who can't or don't want to use credit to buy a bike.

Cheers
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Old 03-31-20, 09:12 PM
  #90  
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On the plus side, these are a major source of income at the co-op where I volunteer. They also feed the “Earn-Bike” program. They are donated with minimal use and only need lube/adjustments to make them safe and road worthy. The components are OK, but the assembly sucks.
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Old 04-02-20, 09:39 AM
  #91  
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jay leno explained it

Jay pointed out that a hundred years ago technology was expensive but skilled labor was cheap. Today it is the other way around. Tech is cheap and skilled labor expensive. While building most everything has been cheaply automated we (at least not yet!) have not automated replacement of individual skilled labor. Hence the "dispose- don't repair" culture.
In so far as distinguishing BSOs which do serve some purposes from bicycles I try to think and label them as such,

Bicycle shops with mechanic sell bicycles. Hellmart and the like mostly sell bikes. Junior (JV?) versions of the real thing.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:40 PM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Scavenging a used bicycle is where a rear rack on your bike and a pair of toe-straps and a pair of 48" Coghlan's Arno straps in your seat bag come in might handy. Then if you come across a nice bike out for garbage or for sale cheap and you want to bring it home then, you can. Just rig up the secong bike like this.



That bike was sold to me for $30.00 CDN and included two brand new tires. You can still see the card wrapped around them.

With the bike fastened to the rear rack like that it's very stable and riding isn't affected at all. I use a toe-strap on each fork leg to make it even more secure.

Cheers
I have an extra-strong rear fender stay made of Aluminum tubing, which comes in very handy. For short distances, I just put my left hand on the stem of a 2nd bike to ride with it, but for long distance, I bungee the front wheel, still attached, close to my rear wheel, and it trails perfectly.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:33 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The first thing you should notice is that that isn’t a $100 bike. It’s a better bike than most of the $100 offerings but it’s still got lots of warts. Corners were cut to make it that cheap and that may show up down the road but I would hope that it is at least a bit better quality than the very cheapest HelMart bikes. At about $400, it’s about the cost of a 40 year old HelMart bike if you adjust for inflation.
I have an Axum. Just to try it out. It’s very heavy for a hard tail and it only comes in one size and it’s a very big bicycle. Built for 6 foot people. Suspension fork is not good but I do like the + tires. Also this bike was not packaged as good as other Big box bikes I have messed with. Cables were routed wrong and stem was not connected to the headset (possible returned bike?)

other than that it’s ok but I’d rather tool around on a well built up old school 26er or I’d rather build up the Hyper Hydroform Walmart bike.

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