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Inoplanetyanin 04-21-03 09:22 PM

What is wrong with Wal Mart bikes?
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Ok, I am looking for a bicyle.
Of course Wal Mart offers the cheapest one.
There is a Schwinn, for $126 that has good linear pull breaks, good seat, very comfortable to me, shimano gearing, the rims seem to be strong. They are 26'' in diametr but the tires are too thick. It's a mountain bike, while I need one for a long touring. However there are great looking thin road tires next shell for only 10 dollars. The bicycle feels great, looks decent and costs reasonable. A little heavier than those in bike stores, but the price is different too.

Talking from experience, who had problems with quality of Wal Mart Schwinn bikes?

The ones for $59 obviously are unsatisfactory quality.
So, what reasons can you people point at for not buying this bike?

here is the info on the bike

Joe Gardner 04-21-03 09:31 PM

This is taken from

The Truth About Toy Store Bicycles

Bike Shops
  • Train their people to match your kind of riding to all your different bicycle choices.
  • Carefully, proportionally fit your bike to you. This is vital to your safety, comfort, and fun. Quality bikes are built in many sizes to fit you OR a growing rider more safely and longer.
  • Provide you honest information, have more types of bikes for different types of riding, and let you to test ride your choices.
  • Quality bicycles ARE repairable, worth repairing, and are built with better, more durable parts less prone to malfunction or need for repair.
  • Bike shops have expert, trained technicians to build AND repair bicycles..
  • Correct, safe bicycle assembly by a bike shop takes an average of an hour or more per bicycle and is FREE!
  • ALL NEW BIKES need re-adjustment of gears, brakes, spokes, bearings, etc. after an initial 15 to 30 hours of use to operate properly and last. Bike shop warranties cover free adjustments, parts, and labor if problems occur.
  • Properly assembled and maintained bikes last and last and last…
  • Bike shops teach correct operation, safe use, and care, and adjust your bike to you. ONE bicycle that fits, lasts longer and "holds-up" through many riders' use (and STILL has a re-sale value!) costs less!
  • You BI-cycle for years on bike shop bikes.

Toy Stores
  • Their clerks are trained to stock shelves!
  • Bikes are “one size fits all!” NO frame size selection or choice. (That’s like Nike™ making ONLY size 6 shoes to fit everybody’s feet.) Ridiculous!!!
  • Have few bike-type choices, no test rides, but MIGHT offer a choice of colors!
  • "Toy store” bikes often use un-fixable, off-brand, “odd-ball” parts, and ARE OFTEN NOT WORTH REPAIRING!
  • Toy stores have none!
  • Toy stores “throw together” 6 to 10 bikes an hour, and most charge extra for assembly! (A bike shop would charge up to $50 to re-build such a bike.)
  • Expect bike adjustments to cost an EXTRA $25 to $60...and toy stores DON'T do them! DON'T overlook this "hidden expense! And, they can ONLY give you another bike-in-a-box when they sell you a "lemon!"
  • "Toy store” bikes often malfunction, need costly repairs, and DON’T LAST!
  • Clerks spend little or no time with you, and you get what you pay for! Their bikes fall apart, are sometimes NOT-fixable, are often disposable, and their frequent repair or replacement COSTS YOU MORE!!!
  • You RE-cycle “toy store” bikes!

Schwinn was once a quality manufacture, recently, Pacific Cycles, has purchased Schwinn and GT. The name means nothing now, and is not worth mentioning when purchasing the bike... It’s just like the Pacific's at that price range. You may actualy even be paying more for the name, its not worth the extra cost.

Shimano's situation is a bit different; they make very high quality, and very low quality components. When it comes to bikes, "You get what you pay for" is really true.

For your $150 budget, you can find some great used hard tails that will last a life time, check with your local bike shop. Tell them you are on a budget, and you want to buy used, chances are they have the contacts to get you what you want.

You can purchase brand name 1" slicks (26" rim size) from most shops for ~$10 each. These will be much more efficient when riding on the road, and well worth the cost.

Inoplanetyanin 04-21-03 09:37 PM

I have a reply for you, Joe Gardner, but I want to see what other people have to say first...
Thank you for complete response.

DrGonzo 04-21-03 09:38 PM

It'll be a decent bike for just running around town, but not much else. You could probably get a better bike for $150 from your LBS. Also that bike won't do well off trails, cheap components, cheap build quality, cheap all around, but you get what you pay for and there IS WORSE!

forgot about this window and other people got in excellent posts, listen to them!

Dannihilator 04-21-03 09:41 PM

I have to agree with Joe on this one.

WorldIRC 04-21-03 09:47 PM

I agree with Joe too.. Especially on the One size fits all comment.

Joe Gardner 04-21-03 09:50 PM

I wanted to add one more comment before I get off work tonight.

When on a touring bike, you need to know how to fix every little thing, and trust your life to your bike & skills. I would hate to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere because you skimped a few bucks on your wheels, or tires, or over all bike. I don’t think I would trust a $125 x-mart bike to get me from town to town, day after day.

Is your safety and life worth more then that? I would think so.

iamlucky13 04-21-03 09:52 PM

I second everything Joe said, but would like to add a little.
One of my little brothers (age 13) just got the aluminum version of that bike. I recommended it because it was the most he could afford and seems like a decent starting point for him. It is a little large right now, but I think he'll grow into before he wears it out. I don't believe the frame will fail, because he probably won't do heavy off-roading but he'll probably wear it out over time. I've been helping him with adjustments, of which there were quite a few when he brought it home. The fork has very little travel and (interestingly) even less when it is cold. The derailuers are among cheapest Shimano makes (but not quite at the bottom) and the grip shifters are uncomfortable and hard to use. The brakes have a reasonable amount of power, but could have a lot more with better levers and pads. Pretty liberal use of plastic and lower quality metal alloys (6061 vs. 7075 aluminum, plus the quick release and other fasteners seem a little softer than on my bike).
Some positives about this bike:
Shimano Altus rear derailuer- very basic, but goes on some bottom line LBS bikes
Comfort-inspite of the narrow handle bar, geometry could be a lot worse
Somewhat upgradeable-The aluminum version (not the steel version you posted a pic of) even has a threadless headset.
Novelty- This may be the BEST bike Walmart will EVER sell :D
Bottom line-chose carefully lest you regret it in the middle of a long ride. If you do get it, definitely look into getting new rims and tires for it at an LBS

davehorne 04-22-03 12:55 AM

I certainly can not add much more to this. If you're paying $126 and the store still has to make a profit, that doesn't leave much left for the actual cost of the components.

My last bike cost €900 (about $850). There's probably a 40% mark up which means the dealer paid € 540 and the bike manufacturer still has to show a profit. $126 for bike, it can't have quality components.

Go to your LBS, talk to the guys and be prepared to buy much more, but you'll have something of quality. If money is a problem, buy second hand from your LBS.

zman92atl 04-22-03 06:44 AM

I was asking questions about that bike in my first post in Mountain Bikes about 3 weeks ago. I completely agree with what everyone has told you here although I followed another path. Everyone has their different reasons for the way they will purchase a bike. Again, if at all possible follow what others have suggested here as this is the best route to take if you can. For my own personal reasons I bought two Roadmaster (Pacific) mountain bikes for my girlfriend and I. I have mountain biked in the past borrowing friends Trek's, Cannondales and so forth so I know how nice a real bike is. I don't really have the money up front and didn't want to wait until I saved up for one as Spring is here. So we bought these and after I spent a few days adjusting, *****ing, moaning and reading this wonderful forum along with the Barnett's and Park Tools manuals I have learned quite a bit about bikes. This past weekend the bikes handled quite well for what they are. These bikes are for mostly weekend joy riding on a long paved trail here in Georgia, minus the days when I go by myself to get a little more exercise than what my girl wants. I have decided to upgrade the bike a little to what I want, even though it is usually not suggested here. In the past few days I have ordered through the various on-line dealers ,Nashbar, Supergo and Jenson, a set of Avid single digit 5's which perfom so much better, along with the straight jacket cables. This week, probably Thursday I should receive my new wheels, Sun Ryno Lite rims with Shimano Deore hubs. Yes they are cheap but a hell of alot better than the no name brand wheels that came with the bikes. Also the ones on the bikes have an angle on the rim where the brake shoes contact. It's been a royal pain for me to adjust the toe in and perfect angle. The new rims have a flat surface so this should help eliminate my problem. The next thing I should receive is a set of Kenda Kwest 26X1.5 which will replace the Kenda knobbys that came stock. I will keep the cheap rims and knobbys for if I ever go trail riding. Other than these upgrades the only other thing I have done is buy multitools, waterbottles, gloves, a mini pump, Yakima car rack (Costs more than one bike,ha,ha) and saddle bags. From here on out the only thing I will replace will be whatever breaks or if I just happen to have some extra cash a new component. I already have the components I want picked out. For the riding we do everything should be ok for awhile and eventually my plan is to buy a new frame. This way I know I'm on the path to a better bike, although I may spend a little more, it also gives me the fun and excitement of upgrading myself. I have taken everyone's advise and picked out a local bikeshop, at least near where I work. I have only been there once and bought a couple of things but they seem very highend and I hope to do more business with them. It was a very clean and organized shop. Actually if anyone here from ATL area uses them what are your thoughts?? It is Cycleworks on Holcomb Bridge Road. I know most of you probably don't agree with how I'm going about this but it suits me better for my needs and wants and of course the best thing is I get to ride. Thanks guy's and gal's for a wonderful forum, I have learned a great deal and hope to meet some of you one day.

deliriou5 04-22-03 06:45 AM

if you're on that low of a budget... DEFINITELY go used. also the walmart type bikes tend to skimp on important stuff like frame and components in favor of frivolous and unnecessary stuff like suspension forks or dual suspension.

Raiyn 04-22-03 06:54 AM

Save yourself the trouble of having to change EVERYTHING go to a real bike shop and see waht they have to offer. You could find a quality new bike for around $200 now admittedly it won't be anything spectacular BUT for all the reasons listed above by Joe you will be getting a better deal.

Pat 04-22-03 07:37 AM

Well here is another thought. The single most important thing about a bike is having it fit you properly. I doubt that Walmart employees even know how to do this. A good bicycle shop earns a large part of their profit by insuring a decent fit.

Inkwolf 04-22-03 07:39 AM

Ummmm, it wasn't a Schwinn, but while camping I met someone riding a Walmart Mongoose. He was very vocal about what a good bike it was, how much fun it was to ride, and how he'd been riding it on the rough little campsite trails all day.

Then he went looking for the reflector that had fallen off the pedal somewhere, and tried to replace the rubber seal which had worked its way out of the headset.

In short, department store bikes are fine for people who aren't going to spend too much time on them or do anything strenuous. Some of my happiest times were on my old Huffies and no-name bikes I had as a kid. But if you're planning a more intense relationship with your bike, better look at the bike shop or for a good used bike.

FOG 04-22-03 08:04 AM

I have seen lots of junk at the LBS too, and some ill-informed staff. The worst thing about ill-informed LBS staff is they can make you commit to a very large purchase without really understanding it. If LBS staff were so brilliant then bike cranks might also come in meaningfully different sizes, not just frames. Most LBS staff stilll just asks you to straddle the bike to size it. Give me a break. As to the lower line shimano stuff, it may actually have more steel relative to aluminum, and therefore be less subject to failure. Wrt the frames, if you cannot tell if a frame is heavy or not by picking it up, then it is time to see doctor, or compete in the world's strongest man competition. I don't thin frame flex is an issue in the lower lines. you might get really crummy wheels, but I have had really nice wheels come right out of true on the first ride too.

I don't think the bikes you get by bottom feeding either at Walmart or the LBS will satisfy the real hard core among bikers. but then those hard core cyclists probably spend a lot less on their skis and boots than I do. I am also willing to bet that the LBS is a lot like the local ski shop- not much talent. If you really want a top notch product then you don't go either to the LBS or Wal-Mart, you go to a top notch store. In skiing I would only get my boots worked on at Green Mountain bootfitters in stratton vermont or ski center in DC. I know a ouple of other guys, but I would bet it is like that with bikes, too. If you are going to pay full retail, then don't go to the LBS where a community college wannabe will have you straddle a frame. go to a real shop.

In the meantime, if you are just riding the local rail-to-trail with a 15 mph speed limit or chaining your bike to outside racks for hours on end and hoping it will still be there when you come back, your $150 special will serve your needs better than a $20,000 custom made unobtanium frame on 700x20c tires.

closetbiker 04-22-03 08:17 AM

I only had that much to spend as well. I went to my shop, learned what to look for and spent what my neighbour did new at his local Wal-Mart for his bike but I bought mine used at a police auction.

My bike lasted 11 years and 53,000 kms before I replaced it, he had his bike 3 years and put 300 kms before he had to replace it.

Dahon.Steve 04-22-03 10:20 AM

Last month I visited a ToysRUS in Midtown Manhattan and noticed the brand new Schwins on display. Contrary to popular opinion, here's what I discovered.

1. These are NOT junk bikes. The $179.00 plus tax Schwinns sold at Kmart and ToysRUS are the SAME low end models sold at your local bike shop. YUP. It's true. Cycling magainze actually compared the Schwinns sold at Kmart and those at your LBS and found the specs to be almost exactly alike. Furthermore, you can upgrade the Kmart Schwinn just as you would a bike at the LBS. These are not throwaways.

2. One thing is certain. The bikes were poorly assembled. The breaks were touching the rims, tires underinflated, gears out of wack. If you don't know a thing about bicycles, you're better off heading to the LBS because there's about 3 to 8 hours work ahead of you.

If you want to learn on how to build and repair bikes, this would certainly be a good training machine to do it on. I like the paint job and the quality surprised me. The Roadmaster and Huffy models are another story. These two are the "JUNK BIKE" class and should be avoided.

Having said that. Next month, I'm considering buying a brand new ROADMASTER! Yes.. It's true... A ROADMASTER. Zoom Zoom. These bikes are selling for $60.00 at ToysRUS and with the Transit subway going up to $2.00 USD for a single ride, I'm going to need a bike to take me cross town or about 15 blocks. I figure, the bike will pay itself off within 15 days if it lasts that long. I'm sure it will. First I'm going to have to tape and scratch it up since this bike will need to look like a wreck if it's going to last on the mean streets of New York City. I'll chain it and leave there every day by the ferry and if gets stolen, I'm not going to cry about it. My Kryptonite New York Chain will be worth more than than the bike!

Yes there is a need for junk bikes. I'll post pictures of my new junk Roadmaster if I buy one at the end of the month. I'm still looking for a used junk 3 speed but these bikes are selling for $150.00 USD! Maybe I'll simply use my folding bike but secruity at the train station is a real pain and ANY bike is seen as a threat. Thus the need for the junk bike.

Kev 04-22-03 10:27 AM

Considering you're purpose for the bike, I would suggest a better bike. For $50 you can get the giant sedona not top of the line but it is only $219.. or the Boulder SE for $249. Either one will last you ALOT longer and you can have the bike shop swap the tires right there for just the cost difference in the tires. And you will get a properly fitted bike with ALOT better components and wheels. There seems to be a big misconception of lower end bikes at a LBS, that you are going to spend $500 vs the $200 at wallmart. YOu can find a lower end bike at the LBS for around $200-300.

TandemGeek 04-22-03 11:12 AM


Originally posted by zman92atl
Actually if anyone here from ATL area uses them what are your thoughts?? It is Cycleworks on Holcomb Bridge Road. I know most of you probably don't agree with how I'm going about this but it suits me better for my needs and wants and of course the best thing is I get to ride.
On the bike shops, Cycleworks is an excellent shop. In fact, next time you're in say hello to Jan, Alan & Matt. Alan & Matt are two of the best mechanics in the Atlanta area and Jan always goes out of her way to make sure you get the right answers, right bikes, etc... I met them years ago at Free Flite in Marietta, before they moved over to Cycleworks. Really nice folks.

Other really good shops that I have been to include:
- The Bicycle Link in the Buckhead Triangle
- Roswell Bicycles behind Andretti's on Houze Way
- Free Flite in Marietta

All I'll say about department store bicycles is that they account for 90% or more of all bicycle sales in the US. They certainly serve a purpose but how many do you actually see being ridden? When you do see them, how are they used and who is riding them?

This isn't bicycle elitism, just a reality check. One of the worst things that can happen with a new cyclist is a bad experience -- one that is so bad that someone decides cycling isn't for them. We see this all the time with tandems -- which are hard to find, relatively expensive compared to what most folks are used to spending on a bicycle and do require proper instruction. Department store bicycles -- for a variety of reasons -- have a long history of providing buyers with bad first experiences. If this wasn't so a lot more people might be out riding them.

520commuter 04-22-03 11:33 AM

My friend had one of those Walmart Mongoose full-suspension bikes. I say had, because it broke in half while mountain biking! The only thing holding the frame together was the cables! That right there says a lot. The trail wasn't even that rocky. Like others have said, those bikes are cruising bikes, and fail when asked to work for a living.

DanFromDetroit 04-22-03 11:33 AM


Originally posted by Dahon.Steve
... Maybe I'll simply use my folding bike but secruity at the train station is a real pain and ANY bike is seen as a threat. Thus the need for the junk bike.

Can you explain the security aspect of this ? Why is a folding bike a security threat ?

Also the midwest landscape is literally littered with 26" "English Racers" and 3 speed Sturmey Archer hubs. Leave your name and number at a local thrift shop or get a Sunday paper and check for garage sales in your area. The going rate here is about $25.00 and that comes with a rack and fenders.


bikeCOLORADO 04-22-03 12:03 PM

Great comments everyone! I can't find anything to add!

Well - one little anectdote: A guy that used to work here was pretty excited about riding with us during lunch. He went out and bought a Walmart cheapo. We "spoke the message" about buying a quality bike. By the end of our one hour - fairly easy XC ride at a local park...he had:

Bent both rims to the point of being unusable.
Bent the handlebars down about 15 degrees.
Felt very out of control on the downhill sections because the brakes were so weak...his hands were cramped and sore by the time we returned to work.

He was soured by the experience unfortunately - returned the bike and never went again.

Dahon.Steve 04-22-03 12:37 PM

>>>>>Can you explain the security aspect of this ? Why is a folding bike a security threat ?<<<<<

I used to take my folding bike on the train into Manhattan but recent events continues to make this more difficult each week. The police and the national guard stop me and sometimes will not allow me to pass. I'm tired of of the whole situation. I guess they think my bike has bombs in its tubes or a biological weapon in disguise?? It's just a sign of the times.

>>>>Also the midwest landscape is literally littered with 26" "English Racers" and 3 speed Sturmey Archer hubs. Leave your name and number at a local thrift shop or get a Sunday paper and check for garage sales in your area. The going rate here is about $25.00 and that comes with a rack and fenders.<<<<

I'm trying my best to get hold of a three speed Stumey Archer English racer that I can park on the mean streets of Manhattan. (with Kryptonite lock ofcourse) Unfortunately, these bikes are going for $150.00+ in New York City!! Yes it's true. Beater junk bikes are NOT cheap where I live! This is the reason why I'm seriously thinking of buying a disposable Roadmaster for my commuting. It will ONLY be used for cross town (about 15 blocks in total) and thus save me $4.00 dollars per day. I can buy a new one every 4 months and save nearly $300.00 in the process!! My real bike will be parked on the other side of the river for my longer commute home.

Anyone have any ideas what I should do with the old Roadmaster once I'm done with it after four months? I'd feel guilty if I gave this bike away and someone got into a serious wreck!

Raiyn 04-22-03 12:41 PM

Check your PM's Dahon You've got an OLD one there.

Maelstrom 04-22-03 12:57 PM


Originally posted by Dahon.Steve
[BAnyone have any ideas what I should do with the old Roadmaster once I'm done with it after four months? I'd feel guilty if I gave this bike away and someone got into a serious wreck! [/B]
We have locaol charities that rebuild the bikes for poor kids etc...(some even ship them to africa) look for something similar locally.

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