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Making walmart bikes tougher!

Old 11-17-14, 03:37 PM
  #1  
kachowkeith
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Making walmart bikes tougher!

Wasn't really sure on where the topic of big box bikes would go but i have seen a few other topics about them here. The title says it all.

I have a set of walmart bikes that I take to events to let all my friends that I'm camping with use. As expected, everytime I bring them home there are always a few that have a few mechanical problems as expected with Walmart bikes. I don't have the money to buy namebrand bikes but i do have access to plenty of spare parts. But rather than using more walmart spare wheels and such, what can I do to make them tougher while being economical? Is there a way to take of the derailleurs and extra gears to make them single speed? any ideas would be great! I wish I had the money to just buy some jamis 7 speed cruisers.
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Old 11-17-14, 03:52 PM
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Other than wheels what are you looking to change out?

people are always pumping money to upgrade parts on their bike, check out the auction sites. Check out the component groups sections, can find complete drive trains for $50 or less. Go to CL or second hand stores for wheels. As wheels are expensive to ship. Casual riding will not likely damage the Walmart frame.
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Old 11-17-14, 04:05 PM
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How far are you planning to fling them ?
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Old 11-17-14, 04:14 PM
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Upgrade the rims................

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Old 11-17-14, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
Other than wheels what are you looking to change out?

people are always pumping money to upgrade parts on their bike, check out the auction sites. Check out the component groups sections, can find complete drive trains for $50 or less. Go to CL or second hand stores for wheels. As wheels are expensive to ship. Casual riding will not likely damage the Walmart frame.
yeah i dont believe the frame is a problem. most of the things broken are the hubs and of course derailleurs getting unaligned. My main focus was making the drive train a single speed since i have plenty of spare wheels. was going to research more into this Sette Single Speed Conversion Kit | Sette
other than that, i think handlebars, seat, bb, headset just need some regular checking to make sure they are tight
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Old 11-17-14, 05:08 PM
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They already make a single speed/fixie. Thruster 700C Men's Fixie Bike - Walmart.com @ $100

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-17-14 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 11-17-14, 05:20 PM
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I would start by swinging by your local bike co-op to see if you can upgrade your stable. This may be much cheaper than trying to keep up with the Walmart bikes -- especially this time of the year when some co-ops (like mine) are overwhelmed by donations made during fall.

Past this:

Before you go any further, I would disassemble every moving part, and properly lube and adjust. I would say 90% of the box store bikes I work on were never greased or adjusted correctly.

Wheels on these things are pretty much worthless from the beginning as far as I've seen. I would start by replacing those.

There is no reason you can't upgrade the rest of the parts as desired (most of the ones they come with are very poorly made and require a lot of attention). I would temper this by asking how much you want to polish that turd though.

All this being said.. there are people who have toured quite long distances on Walmart-type bikes, you just have to have plenty of time, patience, and creative mechanical aptitude to keep them rolling.
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Old 11-17-14, 05:24 PM
  #8  
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Replace the shifters with $15 friction shifters. Then ride it until it can't shift no more. At that time, tighten up the cable slack and ride some more until something breaks.

https://www.amazon.com/Sunrace-SLM10-.../dp/B007QMJH86

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Old 11-17-14, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
They already make a single speed/fixie. Thruster 700C Men's Fixie Bike - Walmart.com @ $100
ride one of those down one of Florida's sandy roads and lmk how that goes for ya


Originally Posted by jwarner View Post
I would start by swinging by your local bike co-op to see if you can upgrade your stable. This may be much cheaper than trying to keep up with the Walmart bikes -- especially this time of the year when some co-ops (like mine) are overwhelmed by donations made during fall.
Central Florida doesn't really have a bike co-op. We were named one of the top 3 dangerous cities in the US for cyclist. You know it is bad when a cop get's away with a hit n run. OPD officer won't face charges for clipping dentist on bicycle - Orlando Sentinel

Originally Posted by jwarner View Post
Past this:

Before you go any further, I would disassemble every moving part, and properly lube and adjust. I would say 90% of the box store bikes I work on were never greased or adjusted correctly.

Wheels on these things are pretty much worthless from the beginning as far as I've seen. I would start by replacing those.

There is no reason you can't upgrade the rest of the parts as desired (most of the ones they come with are very poorly made and require a lot of attention). I would temper this by asking how much you want to polish that turd though.

All this being said.. there are people who have toured quite long distances on Walmart-type bikes, you just have to have plenty of time, patience, and creative mechanical aptitude to keep them rolling.

very well said. im not looking to put more than $30 or so into each bike to upgrade it so maybe i will just continue what im doing except take tk's idea of using friction shifters.
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Old 11-17-14, 05:50 PM
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My take on big box bikes is that extremely poor assembly followed by lack of maintenance is the cause of much of the premature wear. If I could only afford a big box bike I would invest some time tensioning the wheels and re packing the hubs. The headset and bottom bracket (unless it's a cartridge) should also be repacked. These items are under lubricated and over tightened from the factory in my experience.

I like the Sun Race friction thumbie idea, but only after the original shifters broke. The brakes on these bikes are terrible also, I've had fits trying to get them to stay in adjustment on the neighborhood kid's bikes. The cheapest Shimano Canti or V brakes would be a huge upgrade.

If you are going to stick with these bikes, they will require more maintenance than a better quality bike will. If you are up to the task fine, but I wouldn't pay a shop. Another thing you could do would be to look for inexpensive rigid mountain bikes from the 80's or 90's that were expensive when new. Lots of times you can pick them up for $50 in my area.
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Old 11-17-14, 07:02 PM
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I will agree with the old bikes idea. I have a 1982 Peugeot that I got for $30. I had to straighten the fork and replace the bar tape because of a previous wreck but it is still cheaper than a new Walmart bike and now it gives me no trouble. I am currently trying to adjust the brakes on a friend's walmart bike and I'm about to give up and call it "good enough" for casual riding, as long as I don't have to ride it. The used market can be pretty sweet if you have patience.
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Old 11-17-14, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by kachowkeith View Post
Wasn't really sure on where the topic of big box bikes would go but i have seen a few other topics about them here. The title says it all.

I have a set of walmart bikes that I take to events to let all my friends that I'm camping with use. As expected, everytime I bring them home there are always a few that have a few mechanical problems as expected with Walmart bikes. I don't have the money to buy namebrand bikes but i do have access to plenty of spare parts. But rather than using more walmart spare wheels and such, what can I do to make them tougher while being economical? Is there a way to take of the derailleurs and extra gears to make them single speed? any ideas would be great! I wish I had the money to just buy some jamis 7 speed cruisers.
I suspect the cheapest option would be to find your desired gear combo and then disconnect the shift cable(s).

At least that was a method suggested to me when I was thinking about doing a conversion and trying to figure out a good combo myself.
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Old 11-17-14, 07:38 PM
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Wife has a walgoose it has plastic brake levers, kinda scary but for as much as she rides that's about the only thing I really would change for her. Every bike I've seen at wmart has plastic levers.

My 10yo daughter rides lots more, with me or to school on a wmart bmx and is probably too small for a 700c hybrid so I've been thinking of getting her a good s or xs ladies 26er but now money is tight due to expensive house car, truck things failing and shes lost interest somewhat in riding for fun, just to school or friend's houses, so I'm thinking maybe christmas, a wmart 26er hardtail like schwinn sidewinder and swap the brake levers for metal and get her some trigger shifters.

Also if I bought her the $500 bike I wanted there's no way she'd take the bmx to school any more and I don't like the idea a bike like that being on the rack out there.
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Old 11-17-14, 08:36 PM
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If these "riders" are bending derailleurs/hangars, they'll do that just as well on a name brand bike as on a BSO. Any frame with semi-horizontal dropouts can be converted to SS. New wheels with the right cog will do that.

Another idea is to find old 3 speed bikes. Still have gears but less external parts to bang up. Just tell them to stop pedaling for a sec while shifting...
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Old 11-18-14, 08:10 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
Another thing you could do would be to look for inexpensive rigid mountain bikes from the 80's or 90's that were expensive when new. Lots of times you can pick them up for $50 in my area.
I have been doing that, checking goodwill, as well as looking for jamis boss cruisers.

Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
I suspect the cheapest option would be to find your desired gear combo and then disconnect the shift cable(s).

At least that was a method suggested to me when I was thinking about doing a conversion and trying to figure out a good combo myself.

My only question with that is, wouldn't the chain want to jump? how can i prevent the chain from jumping once the derailleurs are removed?
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Old 11-18-14, 08:15 AM
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Following the principle of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", drive a truck over them.

Just having a little light fun.
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Old 11-18-14, 09:48 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
They already make a single speed/fixie. Thruster 700C Men's Fixie Bike - Walmart.com @ $100
Walmart and other big box stores also offer inexpensive single speed cruisers which seem to be just the ticket to lend to friends for camping in flat Florida. Relatively sturdy, coaster brake, balloon tires, not much to go wrong, built for comfort, not speed. Built for casual carefree use, not for impressing bike club/LBS aficionados.
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Old 11-18-14, 09:58 AM
  #18  
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the Damnable Francise is still not blighting the county, yet...
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