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WalMart: stop building 'built to fail' bikes!

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WalMart: stop building 'built to fail' bikes!

Old 01-14-22, 09:07 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
You need to send your complaint to the Chinese Communist Party.
Why would a complaint go there? Manufacturers in China build to the level they are contracted to build to. Pay more for higher end design/materials/finish and get a higher end design/materials/finish.

Cheap bikes that can't be repaired isn't the fault of an entire country that houses many large manufacturers. It's not a fault at all, really. It's simply the result of a large % of consumers deciding how much they are willing to pay for bikes is under $300. And it's the result of brands speccing bikes to meet that sweet spot of demand.
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Old 01-15-22, 05:04 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Are you sure it’s not a private equity firm headed by them that owns a majority stake in Rapha?

BTW…I love my Rapha Core jersey and my Rapha wool base layer.

Majority stake = 90% and RZC Investments is a three person firm. Here's the CEO acknowledging whose money it really is: https://road.cc/content/news/255322-rapha-founder-and-ceo-says-owners-walton-brothers-are-long-haul

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/rzc-investments/people
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Old 01-15-22, 07:22 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO
Maybe I should start a petitionÖ ďBuilt to ObsoleteĒ since manufacturers do not support even high end bikes over time.

Something as simple a early STI hoods renders the shifters pretty useless or at least pretty ugly work arounds.

John
+1. How many threads do you see here looking for proprietary seat post, stem, etc items on not so old high end bikes.
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Old 01-15-22, 08:07 AM
  #79  
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Sure, expensive bikes that also cant be repaired is a nuisance too. Maybe the holier than thou bike shops stop selling electronic drive trains and proprietary bike parts, or is it only box-mart that needs to stop?
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Old 01-16-22, 07:42 PM
  #80  
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I got rather dumped on for my own version of this sort of argument last spring: The Need for Basic Bikes

What's been interesting though is that most every time I'm in Walmart, I make a point to go look at the bike offerings in search of "unrepairable" features like crimped dropouts... and I'm just not seeing them.

I wouldn't recommend buying their $100 class models, but they don't actually look that terrible.

Family wise we've had good luck with buying the $250-300 tier big box bikes for a song on the used market and doing some basic lubrication and tune up.

My current primary two-wheel utility ride cost me $50 plus $10 to get rid of the bouncy castle seatpost; granted it had started life as an extreme low end sports chain model rather than a true BSO.

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Old 01-17-22, 07:24 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by UniChris
What's been interesting though is that most every time I'm in Walmart, I make a point to go look at the bike offerings in search of "unrepairable" features like crimped dropouts... and I'm just not seeing them...they don't actually look that terrible.
Back to my comment in post no. 58: there's metallurgy and industry standard dimensionality. If you have secrets for analyzing for that in the store, please share.
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Old 01-17-22, 07:40 AM
  #82  
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IMO, quality matters & caveat emptor. Two prime aspects of products that shouldn't ever be forgotten.

Sure, a bike is transportation, and there's some risk in a vehicle failing at an inopportune time. But then, that's really little different than any other tool failing at a bad time due to poor quality and attention to detail during assembly. Cheap-o tool kits that fail by the third time you use them on nuts/bolts, for example. A poor-quality bike that's assembled by low-wage inattentive staff is a recipe for failure, really. Nobody should be surprised, when a company pursues modest margins and products that can be priced dirt-cheap when those goals reap "rewards" at time of sale.

Don't have much sympathy, myself, for the concept of barking at Wal-Mart as though their business model should be different. They're filling the need they think exists. It's an issue the market forces will address, in time, so long as their quality continues to attract a number of people. At some point, there'll be far fewer gulled into the false economy that is "cheap Chinese crap" (for lack of a better term), when it comes to a great range of consumer products. They're a useful source vendor for a variety of products. Moderate-quality mechanical items, though, aren't one of them.

They are what they are (as a vendor). It is what it is (as a problem). People who don't mind will continue frequenting them. People who know better, or should, will decide their sourcing accordingly.

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Old 01-17-22, 09:12 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by tcs
Back to my comment in post no. 58: there's metallurgy and industry standard dimensionality. If you have secrets for analyzing for that in the store, please share.
There are indeed more subtle things that can go wrong, too (I personally prefer to buy big box bikes used, at which point some of those have maybe had time to become apparent)

I was referring to this list of telltale signs that a bike coop developed as a pre-screening for offered donations that they would immediately reject without further examination.
  • Frame crimped to dropouts
  • Riveted chain rings
  • Rusty and cheap components
Naturally they're not going to be rusted in the store yet, though sure they're cheap (I got savaged for arguing they should make solid 1x drivetrains instead of flimsy 21-speed...).

Okay, you got me: mostly what I've been keeping an eye out for and am yet to see are the crimped dropout joints. But next time I'm going to have to look more closely at the chainrings.

Except, oops, I just found the riveted chain rings - on my own utility ride! They're cleverly disguised - the rivets have a shallow hex depression in the head! I'm not actually sure I care though... at $50 I got a great deal, the person who originally paid $400 or so at a sports store, maybe not so much
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Old 01-17-22, 09:22 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by UniChris
There are indeed more subtle things that can go wrong, too (I personally prefer to buy big box bikes used, at which point some of those have maybe had time to become apparent)

I was referring to this list of telltale signs that a bike coop developed as a pre-screening for offered donations that they would immediately reject without further examination.
  • Frame crimped to dropouts
  • Riveted chain rings
  • Rusty and cheap components
Naturally they're not going to be rusted in the store yet, though sure they're cheap (I got savaged for arguing they should make solid 1x drivetrains instead of flimsy 21-speed...).

Okay, you got me: mostly what I've been keeping an eye out for and am yet to see are the crimped dropout joints. But next time I'm going to have to look more closely at the chainrings.

Except, oops, I just found the riveted chain rings - on my own utility ride! They're cleverly disguised - the rivets have a shallow hex depression in the head! I'm not actually sure I care though... at $50 I got a great deal, the person who originally paid $400 or so at a sports store, maybe not so much
entry level and riveted chain rings certainly are not big box store exclusive.
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Old 01-17-22, 11:56 AM
  #85  
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The closest thing we had to a big box bicycle shop was Performance bike. That was the model to cater to those looking for a less expensive bike and still get some semblance of quality. Unfortunately they are gone.

Some people hated them, but they filled that niche for people who did not feel comfortable in the LBS environment. Kind of like Guitar Center. Wander around and buy that $150 Squire electric guitar starter kit and walk out.

John
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Old 01-17-22, 04:42 PM
  #86  
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One supporter, Mac Liman of Denver’s Bikes Together shop, said bikes have gotten less and less repairable in recent years. Liman has been a mechanic for nearly 19 years, including 14 at Bikes Together. “If I get a Huffy from the 90s, chances are I can actually make repairs to it. It will still be heavy, but the steel will hold together,” Liman said.

Interesting. FWIW, that 90s Huffy was manufactured in country by the company whose name appeared on the decal.

In the historical version according to the industry folks writing in to BRAIN (Bicycle Retailer and Industry News), Chinese cycle companies began to offer big box retailers super low priced machines in the 1990s. US mass market bike manufacturers (Huffy, Murry, Roadmaster) complained to the Commerce Department that the Chinese companies were 'dumping' (selling for less than total cost to drive competitors out of business). Their version of the history said the US complainers were told in so many words, "Yeah? So what. We gotta give 'em something if we want them to become capitalists. Bicycles are 100 year-old technology. The US can afford to loose that industry."
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Old 01-17-22, 05:36 PM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO
The closest thing we had to a big box bicycle shop was Performance bike. That was the model to cater to those looking for a less expensive bike and still get some semblance of quality. Unfortunately they are gone.
I think that Performance (and Nashbar) had a pretty good thing at the time; The brick&mortar expansion of a (nationwide) mail-order catalogue. They had enough market spread to get a 'house brand' bike made (by Merida, or one of the other 2nd tier Taiwan mfgs) A little more 'generic' design, but you could get a bike for $100, $200 less than a similarly spec'ed TREK or Spesh at the LBS, but definitely nicer than a bike you could get at Dick's or Sports Authority.

I always liked those stores, especially the house brand clothes / gear; good, enthusiast-quality stuff at decent prices.
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Old 01-17-22, 08:49 PM
  #88  
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This is an honest question, by not being able to repair, does that mean not being able to replace parts?

John
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Old 01-17-22, 10:28 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by UniChris
I wouldn't recommend buying their $100 class models, but they don't actually look that terrible.
Funny enough, there's a thread over in C&V about the 1991 Murray BAJA / SC that was really the nadir of the $100 'Bicycle Shaped Object' I not only had one of these, one just came up on my local CL, so I could get a good look at a real one again. It is unbelievably primative in design, and spec, and really poorly finished.
By contrast, the $130 Roadmaster Granite Peak, and Huffy Rock Creek are far more modern and better finished, despite costing only a few actual dollars more (and far less in adjusted $$)
Functionally similar (3x5 non SIS), they have V-brakes, Aluminum rims and 3-piece cranks instead of flimsy calipers, steel rims and Ashtabulas, and better paint and welding (not great, but not horrible, either) than that old Murray
They're super basic, but they deliver pretty much what you'd ask of a $130 bike; Not Much. They go, stop, and shift (when they're new) but most people just find a gear they like, and leave it there forever.

Originally Posted by 70sSanO
This is an honest question, by not being able to repair, does that mean not being able to replace parts?

John
It's not that they can't be repaired, but at those very bottom rungs, it's often cheaper to replace the whole bike:

It's all well and good, until something breaks, and then that bike's biggest 'feature' becomes its biggest weakness: the low purchase cost.
cyccommute likes to trot out that chinesium BB spindle, and it's a good example. The super-cheap "built to cost" parts on those bikes often fail at a higher rate, and with less use than the ones on a more expensive bike.** As most of us who've built, fixed or modified our own bikes; retail cost of parts, even cheap ones, is more than the Mfgrs pay for them.
Say that BB snaps, or wallows out the crank: A Shimano UN26 BB is about $15, and a generic Sunrace crank is $25 OK, you say, $40-50 isn't too bad, if you have the tools and knowhow to do this repair. Most of the people who buy $130 bikes don't, so they take it to a bike shop, who would quote ~$100 for that job (correct me if i'm wrong) let alone whatever other repairs that bike might need, and then you've exceeded the original purchase cost of the bike.

In many of the anecdotal cases, the owners simply walk away from the bike, leaving the shop out whatever time they've already spent on it, and with an unrepaired, unsellable Big-Box bike taking up space in the corner of the shop, until they can declare it 'abandoned' and throw it away. That's why shops often won't even work on them.



** They're not 'non standard' because that would cost more money for Roadmaster to develop, say a unique BB for that bike, they just tell the component vendor that they want 200,000 68mm BBs at $2.87 each. The vendor then does whatever they need to do to make that $2.87 BB, and turn a profit on it. Metallurgy, QC, and fine finishing work take time, which costs money, so they use the bare minimum to make a functional part.

Last edited by Ironfish653; 01-17-22 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 01-17-22, 11:27 PM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653
It's not that they can't be repaired, but at those very bottom rungs, it's often cheaper to replace the whole bike:

It's all well and good, until something breaks, and then that bike's biggest 'feature' becomes its biggest weakness: the low purchase cost.
cyccommute likes to trot out that chinesium BB spindle, and it's a good example. The super-cheap "built to cost" parts on those bikes often fail at a higher rate, and with less use than the ones on a more expensive bike.** As most of us who've built, fixed or modified our own bikes; retail cost of parts, even cheap ones, is more than the Mfgrs pay for them.
Say that BB snaps, or wallows out the crank: A Shimano UN26 BB is about $15, and a generic Sunrace crank is $25 OK, you say, $40-50 isn't too bad, if you have the tools and knowhow to do this repair. Most of the people who buy $130 bikes don't, so they take it to a bike shop, who would quote ~$100 for that job (correct me if i'm wrong) let alone whatever other repairs that bike might need, and then you've exceeded the original purchase cost of the bike.

In many of the anecdotal cases, the owners simply walk away from the bike, leaving the shop out whatever time they've already spent on it, and with an unrepaired, unsellable Big-Box bike taking up space in the corner of the shop, until they can declare it 'abandoned' and throw it away. That's why shops often won't even work on them.



** They're not 'non standard' because that would cost more money for Roadmaster to develop, say a unique BB for that bike, they just tell the component vendor that they want 200,000 68mm BBs at $2.87 each. The vendor then does whatever they need to do to make that $2.87 BB, and turn a profit on it. Metallurgy, QC, and fine finishing work take time, which costs money, so they use the bare minimum to make a functional part.
Good response.

Iím guessing the lowest priced decent multi-gear bike from an LBS is around $500. If that is the price point for a bike that meets the 500 hours criteria, will that mean people will not have a bike at all?

The obvious solution is to sell only single speed bikes with a bit more quality for a bit higher price, but if people donít want it.

Itís like IKEA, although some of their stuff has improved. A family starting out with young kids will buy their cheap pressed wood furniture. Whatever you do donít move it. Regardless, in a year or two it is falling apart and it is also unrepairable even with Titebond and angle brackets. Been there, done that.

John
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Old 01-18-22, 08:45 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653
The super-cheap "built to cost" parts on those bikes often fail at a higher rate, and with less use than the ones on a more expensive bike.** As most of us who've built, fixed or modified our own bikes; retail cost of parts, even cheap ones, is more than the Mfgrs pay for them.
Understood, but the original petition came out of the bike co-op world. Replacement parts are often take-offs from other bikes, labor is DIY or minimal.

They're not 'non standard' because that would cost more money for Roadmaster to develop, say a unique BB for that bike...


I get what you're saying, but will point out developing unique BBs is pretty much SOP in modern cycling! (Was it a GNC video that claimed there are currently 27 different BB standards?) Besides, they wouldn't have to develop anything new, just fire up the old machine tools from Flying Pigeon days and make Thompsons.


________________________


Ancient history, but there was a time when non-bike shops sold modest but durable bicycles in America. Bikes like Western Autos and Sear's Ted Williams lasted and were repairable; the store had their name on the frame and if the bike didn't give good service, their reputation suffered.
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Old 01-18-22, 08:54 AM
  #92  
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I presume most of the bikes that Walmart sells are sourced from China?
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Old 01-18-22, 09:30 AM
  #93  
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Most every bike sold in the US is sourced from China, at least component wise.

There were a couple of threads on a completely US/North American made bikes.

I believe the result was that it could be possible if you individually sourced boutique components.

But even that $10k production bike ain’t made in the US.

John
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Old 01-18-22, 09:44 AM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO
This is an honest question, by not being able to repair, does that mean not being able to replace parts?

John

Basically, yes. The big box retailers get the price so low by using the cheapest parts they can find that are often not replaceable (stuff welded or riveted instead of bolts, obscure sizes, etc). So you buy the $99 bike, something inevitably breaks and you can't change it. You take it to a bike mechanic who points out it'll cost $150 to bodge a fix onto the $99 bike and then it gets scrapped.

So the proposal in the OP is to make bikes that will actually last a reasonable use, and can be repaired when they fail rather than getting maybe 20 hours of riding out of them before they are scrap.

And for the budget I think they can be, but they tend to go for flashy looking but terrible parts to make them more appealing - making them 21 speeds instead of 6, giving them awful suspension forks instead of rigid, disc brakes instead of V's and so on.


Originally Posted by frogman
If we aren't capable of doing a basic safety check on a bicycle from Walmart before using it then it's our problem not Walmart. We they are not high quality bikes but you get what you pay for.
The average consumer doesn't have time to learn how to test and rebuild anything they buy from a shop. Walmart is selling them so should safely be assumed to be selling something that's fit for purpose.

Here's a good example from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eurobike-wh...dp/B07QW62XLG/

To an experienced cyclist likely to be on this forum it's obviously a crap bike. But to a random mom looking for a birthday present? "They wouldn't sell it if it was dangerous, right?".
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Old 01-18-22, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Herzlos
The average consumer doesn't have time to learn how to test and rebuild anything they buy from a shop. Walmart is selling them so should safely be assumed to be selling something that's fit for purpose.

Here's a good example from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eurobike-wh...dp/B07QW62XLG/

To an experienced cyclist likely to be on this forum it's obviously a crap bike. But to a random mom looking for a birthday present? "They wouldn't sell it if it was dangerous, right?".
There should be a petition for this issue right here. the " average consumer" What the heck everyone did their own brakes, oil changes, and minor repairs on cars not that long ago. now people are so stupid they cant do a quick check on a bike. maybe the average consumer should remove their head from their but and learn how to fix stuff. this would also lead them to look at crap at WM and know that it is crap.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:53 AM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by car5car
I deleted my post, but it is in yours as quoted. You can deleted, not me.

I can delete what?
Just kidding, I deleted it.

Still glad you're enjoying your Roadmaster, btw.
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Old 01-18-22, 10:11 AM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Herzlos
So the proposal in the OP is to make bikes that will actually last a reasonable use, and can be repaired when they fail rather than getting maybe 20 hours of riding out of them before they are scrap.

And for the budget I think they can be, but they tend to go for flashy looking but terrible parts to make them more appealing - making them 21 speeds instead of 6, giving them awful suspension forks instead of rigid, disc brakes instead of V's and so on.
Except for the disc brakes, I agree. But it is not up to Walmart, or Target, or any other big box to do this.

If it is a profitable model, it would be pretty easy, “after the supply chain returns,” for a startup to offer 1x bikes at a bit higher price than Walmart but more reasonable price than an LBS.

Actually if any of the major bike mfg’s really cared about making low cost more utilitarian bikes, they would offer a separate line and partner with Dick’s, or Home Depot, Pep Boys, etc. and offer them. Bring back the old hardware store bikes and put Walmart out of, at least the adult, bike business.

I think a lot of kid’s would want to get a bike where Dad buys power tools than the family buys toilet paper.

John
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Old 01-18-22, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM
And you're the EXACT PERFECT example of the problem. I'm sorry to hear this happened. But again, why should you feel obligated to "check everything" on your purchase? Sure, it would be prudent as a bike person, but not in any way expected. Say you had checked the handlebars and front wheel and pedals, but failed to check the rear wheel and your son crashed? Would you blame yourself then? Or if the rear derailleur shifted into the spokes and you failed to check THAT? Of course not!

You shouldn't have felt bad then. No consumer should feel compelled to "check everything" on a product before using it. Did you check your stereo's power amplifier before turning it on? No. Does the car buyer check all the wheels before driving off the lot? Of course not!

(And no, I am NOT relieving the consumer of common sense, all responsibility, or the need to be familiar with the product their using and to be able to judge if they can use it safely. Nor am I relieving them of responsibility of having their stuff checked after a crash or mishap or other misadventure. But when a product is presented to the consumer, it should be safe to use as intended, that's all.)

So this is why this campaign makes so much sense.
I definitely wouldn't ride a bike from a shop without going over it either. Say what you want, at most shops there is a wide variety of expertise, and you never know who will work on your bike. I've sworn off bike shops after my last experience.

I haven't seen anything "unrepairable" from shops - as others have said, the problem is twofold
  1. People don't know how to fix their own stuff (and it's expensive to get someone else to do it)
  2. Retail (and even wholesale) on replacement parts is way above what the bike OEMs pay - so it ends up being expensive just for parts relative to cost of the bike. It isn't actually any more expensive to fix than a more expensive bike.

Shimano coming down on Chain Reaction and similar stores that were re-selling with markup from the bike OEM price has made this even worse. That kind of differential pricing is the biggest core of the problem. I don't know what we can do about people looking at someone who can repair a simple machine like a bicycle as a wizard.
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Old 01-18-22, 10:43 AM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by Herzlos
Basically, yes. The big box retailers get the price so low by using the cheapest parts they can find that are often not replaceable (stuff welded or riveted instead of bolts, obscure sizes, etc). So you buy the $99 bike, something inevitably breaks and you can't change it. You take it to a bike mechanic who points out it'll cost $150 to bodge a fix onto the $99 bike and then it gets scrapped.

So the proposal in the OP is to make bikes that will actually last a reasonable use, and can be repaired when they fail rather than getting maybe 20 hours of riding out of them before they are scrap.

And for the budget I think they can be, but they tend to go for flashy looking but terrible parts to make them more appealing - making them 21 speeds instead of 6, giving them awful suspension forks instead of rigid, disc brakes instead of V's and so on.




The average consumer doesn't have time to learn how to test and rebuild anything they buy from a shop. Walmart is selling them so should safely be assumed to be selling something that's fit for purpose.

Here's a good example from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eurobike-wh...dp/B07QW62XLG/

To an experienced cyclist likely to be on this forum it's obviously a crap bike. But to a random mom looking for a birthday present? "They wouldn't sell it if it was dangerous, right?".

Not sure the Eurobike is "dangerous", but whatever.

I think this whole thing loses the plot when it's looked at from the consumer's angle. It may be perfectly rational for someone to buy a bike that lasts a year if it costs only $99 rather than saving up $400 or so for a bike that would last a lot longer, especially if they're buying it for a growing child. Having to defer the purchase to raise the money is time lost enjoying the bike just as much as down-time due to disrepair. But I'm also unclear on whether the complaint is that if it takes a $150 repair to keep going and that's more than the cost of a new bike, whether that's legitimately a complaint about the quality of the bike or the cost of repairs or neither.

Honestly, I don't want to sign the petition because I have no idea what that arbitrary 500 hours line would do to the cost of a bike, nor do I know what it means by "breaking down" since the "it makes sense to fix" is so dependent on the replacement price.
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Old 01-18-22, 11:03 AM
  #100  
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The petition is there to make people feel good about themselves that they are doing something.

There is a point at which the petition would carry some weight, but I’m guessing it will fall 100 million signatures short of that point.

Sign it or don’t sign it, nothing will change until a viable alternative is available that challenges the failing bikes. And an LBS is not the alternative.

John
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