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Comparing the "big box" shops

Old 07-15-13, 11:24 AM
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ganchan
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Comparing the "big box" shops

We all know that buying from a proper LBS with experienced personnel (or getting a good used bike on Craigslist, or even buying from a reputable Web-based place like Bikes Direct) is the way to go whenever possible, instead spending money on a "bike-shaped object" at a big-box discount store.

That said, however:

How do the local big-box venues compare with each other? I'm assuming Wal-Mart is the absolute bottom, quality-wise. How about Target, REI, Academy Sports, Dick's, etc? Do they all just sell the same crap? Do some have better-informed salespeople/assemblers than others?

No, I have no plans to purchase a bike-shaped object. I'm just curious.
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Old 07-15-13, 11:30 AM
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worst to best: walmart, target, then sports authority. Dick's sells bikes from the whole gamut: $200-3200. REI is the same, except they have a even pricier diamondback at $6.5k. I'm not sure about the assembly/quality of the sales staff, but in the bike market these days, what you pay is what you get, as in no bike is really better then another at a similar price point.
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Old 07-15-13, 11:35 AM
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REI is head and shoulders above the others on that list. That chain offers higher end production bikes that are selected for value at a much higher price point than the others. Bike area employees are actual riders and the mechanics are reasonably good. Your lumping them together belies your not appreciating that point...

For the others, all of which have a store within four miles of my house, they rank (from the bottom):

WalMart - consistently poor assembly and lowest price point
Target - similar quality bikes to WalMart, floor is cleaner
Dicks - marginally higher quality, higher priced, assembly and repair stand/workbench in view, mechanic on duty


I wouldn't hesitate to buy a bike from REI, if I were in the market for a retail purchase. The other three...not so much.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 07-15-13 at 11:36 AM. Reason: only one head per pair of shoulders
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Old 07-15-13, 11:41 AM
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Of these, except Academy Sports which I have no knowledge of, I would say REI would be the place to go. Target would be along the same lines of Walmart. I think they mostly sell their own brand, but think that they are actually pretty good for general use.

REI actually offers bike maintenance classes and such. I've seen a bike mechanic's station at my local Dick's, but have never seen a mechanic there.
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Old 07-15-13, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Your lumping them together belies your not appreciating that point...
I think "belies" indicates the opposite of what you're trying to communicate. In actuality, my lumping them together SHOWS my failure to appreciate the point in question.
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Old 07-15-13, 11:56 AM
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Are we talking about the bikes that are physically available in stores, or on their websites?
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Old 07-15-13, 11:58 AM
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Though if someone were to buy at REI, it would be wise to take the opportunity to become a member, if not already one. A bike would result in a pretty nice dividend.
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Old 07-15-13, 12:19 PM
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Agreed that REI shouldn't be included with Walmart, etc...in general they sell the same bikes (Cannondale, Surly, and Raleigh mostly), parts/accessories, and clothing you'd get at any other LBS. Their house brand, Novarra, also makes some good stuff for a good price, including bikes. If my wife gets a new bike (I'm thinking Cannondale Synapse), I'd be inclined to get it from REI, just for the dividend. That said, I bought my road bike at a "local" shop and buy most of my clothing/parts there, since REI doesn't sell the brands that I like (Castelli, Sugoi, Giordana).
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Old 07-15-13, 12:56 PM
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defining line is who does the assembly? do they have a bike service section ?
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Old 07-15-13, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ganchan View Post
How about Target, REI, Academy Sports, Dick's, etc? Do they all just sell the same crap? Do some have better-informed salespeople/assemblers than others?
Bizarre. REI doesn't belong in this list.
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Old 07-15-13, 03:52 PM
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Im new to the forum and to cycling but I recieved a bike shaped object from Target and I love it. Suits my needs/goals right now. It was ~$350, a Schwinn OR2 Hybrid. I love it. It works so far. Im Happy!
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Old 07-15-13, 05:00 PM
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Hi,

If you know your way around a bike and one end of a spanner from
the other, you can get what you pay for. Dirt cheap budget bikes
that do the job intended at far higher value than any bike snob
will ever admit. They are a bit heavy, they are "old fashioned".

IMO the GMC Denali from Walmart is a great bike, once
looked over by someone who knows what they are doing.

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 07-16-13 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 07-15-13, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by sreten View Post
Hi,

If you know your way around a bike and one end of a spanner from
the other, you can get what you pay for. Dirt cheap budget bikes
that do the job intended at far higher value than any bike snob
will ever admit. They are a bit heavy, they are "old fashioned".

IMO the GMC Denali from Walmart is a great bike, once
looked over by someone who knows what they are dong.


rgds, sreten.
Behold, the epic GMC Denali review thread:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...Denali-bicycle
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Old 07-15-13, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by sreten View Post
Hi,

If you know your way around a bike and one end of a spanner from
the other, you can get what you pay for. Dirt cheap budget bikes
that do the job intended at far higher value than any bike snob
will ever admit. They are a bit heavy, they are "old fashioned".

IMO the GMC Denali from Walmart is a great bike, once
looked over by someone who knows what they are dong.

rgds, sreten.
Definitely still need to be careful. I have a friend that got a Globe from an LBS. We were on a MUP with him, he gets stupid and causes both he and my wife to go down. They were not going fast, maybe 10mph. Her Trek was unscathed, he had to replace his wheel.
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Old 07-15-13, 06:57 PM
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I buy the occasional bike from Wallymart, they are bottom of the barrel. But when you need something cheap and disposable....

REI should not be on that list. They sell quality bikes and for the most part they seem to hire competent mechanics. Dicks is more of a crap shoot.

Aaron
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Old 07-15-13, 08:54 PM
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Y'all forgot a few.

IMO:

K-Mart, worst. Walmart, close second.
Meijer, not much better AT ALL.
Target & Toys R Us are tied, about a nose better than the above.
Dick's, marginally better.

As far as the K/Walmart bikes being "worth it" if you know what you're doing, that was true to a degree ONCE, a few years ago. Today, they're just crap. There are NO standards of manufacture in the China factories for these stores. I've seen HOLES in the welds around tubing joints, slag left inside seat tubes, and components that BREAK during adjustment.

Trust me or don't, I've only built/repaired somewhere above 26,000 of these turds.
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Old 07-15-13, 09:00 PM
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Bought my Diamondback from Sports Authority last year. I've put over 2000 miles on it and haven't had any problems with it at all. Can't speak for the rest of the stores on the list, but SA is okay in my book.

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Old 07-16-13, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
Y'all forgot a few.

IMO:

K-Mart, worst. Walmart, close second.
Meijer, not much better AT ALL.
Target & Toys R Us are tied, about a nose better than the above.
Dick's, marginally better.

As far as the K/Walmart bikes being "worth it" if you know what you're doing, that was true to a degree ONCE, a few years ago. Today, they're just crap. There are NO standards of manufacture in the China factories for these stores. I've seen HOLES in the welds around tubing joints, slag left inside seat tubes, and components that BREAK during adjustment.

Trust me or don't, I've only built/repaired somewhere above 26,000 of these turds.
Hi,

I agree some of the cheap bikes are awful.

My budget boxed special was made in Bangladesh, 130.

However it was near identical to another branded bike for
sale in a local bike shop for 260, and after giving that
a good once over I went ahead and bought it.

Its a bit heavy, but none of the parts are poor.

New tyres, saddle, pedals + toeclips, added framepump,
waterbottle, mudguards and chopping + flipping the
bars would have been the same for both bikes.

Incidently both bikes feature alloy look alike cranks
made if steel that weigh far too much. A set of
alloy cranks (20) was the only unexpected cost.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 07-16-13, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
~snip~

As far as the K/Walmart bikes being "worth it" if you know what you're doing, that was true to a degree ONCE, a few years ago. Today, they're just crap. There are NO standards of manufacture in the China factories for these stores. I've seen HOLES in the welds around tubing joints, slag left inside seat tubes, and components that BREAK during adjustment.

Trust me or don't, I've only built/repaired somewhere above 26,000 of these turds.
I agree, the quality has continued to spiral down. Every now and again WM will screw up and get a decent bike in the line up for a single purchase cycle, before the manufacture gets changed or goes out of business. I have a WM Huffy cruiser that looks like it was welded up by a beginning welder on the first day of class... But is served my purpose and is still holding together.

I think Target does a bit better from what I have seen. But it comes down to buyer beware.

Aaron
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Old 07-16-13, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
. But it comes down to buyer beware.

Aaron

Hi,

Indeed. You need to know bikes and be able to spot a lemon.

Still for $150 the GMC Denali is a good bike, nice size range.
But only buy if you want to learn about bikes, or you do
know someone willing who does - it needs fettling.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 07-16-13, 02:09 PM
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My trailway has been fine - target bike. The SO's, however, has some bracket issues. I think these kind of bikes are best value for someone who wants wheels now, and also intends to upgrade. Really, you're buying a frame.

M.
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Old 07-16-13, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
Really, you're buying a frame.

M.
Hi,

I disagree. The best part of a cheap bike is not the frame,
its all cheap, but good value if you've made a decent choice.

My frame is blah blah heat treated aluminium with steel
forks, but it is heavy and strong single butted tubing
used for basic aluminium mountain bikes.

I'd be the first to admit its nowhere near the frame
and forks used for the BTWIN Triban 3, which has
nicer components to go with the frame and is in the
EU accepted as the best budget "real" road bike.

Save for a good bike over upgrading a cheap one.

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 07-16-13 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 07-17-13, 12:15 AM
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No mention of K-Mart. The one I go to leave the bikes outside to the elements. Even winter!
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Old 07-17-13, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by sreten View Post
Hi,

I disagree. The best part of a cheap bike is not the frame,
its all cheap, but good value if you've made a decent choice.

My frame is blah blah heat treated aluminium with steel
forks, but it is heavy and strong single butted tubing
used for basic aluminium mountain bikes.

I'd be the first to admit its nowhere near the frame
and forks used for the BTWIN Triban 3, which has
nicer components to go with the frame and is in the
EU accepted as the best budget "real" road bike.

Save for a good bike over upgrading a cheap one.

rgds, sreten.
Eh, I'm inclined to agree. The last year has taught me to appreciate proper bikes, though I don't yet own one. I appear to have gotten lucky with my frame, though. Weight's not a big issue for me, as I don't race or anything. Looking into getting a good replacement fixed frame sometime in the next year (it'll be a secondary bike to my folder for a few reasons). In the mean time I may well take my current bike, strip it to the frame and put some decent parts on it. Mostly to have experience building a bike from parts, but also to take advantage of a not bad frame.

Just a matter of figuring out what parts are within a reasonable price point.

M.
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Old 07-17-13, 03:09 PM
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I think that in the end, what matters isn't the name on the front of the store so much as the people inside. Walmart and Target aren't likely to have any real bicycle people. REI, you've got a chance.
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