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Cheap Single speed

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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Cheap Single speed

Old 05-15-20, 02:51 AM
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dirtman
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Cheap Single speed

I picked up what I fully expected to be a total piece of junk for $20 off CL last weekend, a Mongoose Sinsure in a 20" frame.
Surprisingly it fits me, even though all my older bikes have been much larger frames.
At first I was just looking at the wheels, I was thinking that they'd make a good 48 spoke set of wheels for another bike but after seeing how clean the bike is, I figured I'd at least give it a chance.

The bike is heavy, and it needs a tire, but its ridable as is and it doesn't look like its seen much use.
I'd have left it where it was if I hadn't of noticed the 48 spoke wheels.
At over 350 lbs, that's the one thing that really caught my eye.

The first thing I did was take the bike apart and do a really close inspection of what was there. The frame is steel, as are the cranks. The wheels are deep profile aluminum wheels, with galvanized spokes and Quando nutted hubs. The bearings, axles, and cones look pretty standard, on par with most bikes from say the 1970's or so. The handle bars and seat post are chrome steel as well, but they're clean and serviceable.
The brakes are Tektro branded as are the levers. The BB is nothing special but it didn't set off any alarms either.
The lack or grease during assembly did. I relubed the whole bike to my standards using good bike grease.
The wheels were true and the spokes all tight. The front tire is badly dry rotted so ordered a new front tire. (It already had a brand new rear tire so I hunted down a match).
I read all over the web that these were really junk. What I found wasn't so much as junk as sloppy assembly. Its lighter than most 70's steel frame bikes, (Its a good 15 pounds lighter than my 1974 Varsity in the garage and likely 20 lbs lighter than my Raleigh Sports.
Its not a racing bike, I didn't expect it to be. The weak points are obviously the cheap steel crankset and front sprocket, and the cheap looking bars and seat post.
Its got a 28.6mm seat post, and I was going to swap it out for a nice SR Laprade I had here but the steel post was lighter and in good shape so I greased it up and put it back. The cheap solid saddle isn't that bad, its somehow more comfortable to me than the sprung mattress saddle on my old Raleigh Super Grand Prix.

The bike feels heavy to carry but it don't feel heavy when riding it, besides, I'm 6ft 3in tall and over 350 lbs, I would never notice a 10 lbs difference in bike weight, nor would it matter.
Riding it, I really wanted to see if the cranks would hold my weight, (I've broken a lot of cranks over the years), and to my surprise, they held fast under my weight. The cheesy plastic dust caps don't look like much but I suppose the cranks on this thing are at least as strong as an old set of cottered cranks on an all steel bike from 40 years ago.
If the bike holds together for any length of time, I'll likely hunt down a good set of BMX style single sprocket cranks for it and maybe a set of alloy bars and a matching stem. I may even have some of the parts lying around here somewhere.
The frame seems pretty rigid, far more so than most of my older bikes, which I figure is due to the larger diameter tubing, not so much that its made from plain steel. The bare frame actually wasn't all that heavy, its the cranks, handle bars, and 96 straight gauge spokes that add the majority of the weight. I didn't weight the frame but it didn't feel alarmingly heavy. I was glad to see it wasn't aluminum or any sort of composite material.

Its a far cry from a few of the Target and Walmart bikes a few buddies have brought me to fix over the years, some of the mountain bikes I've seen have been pretty scary and almost unrideable but this don't seem all that bad. Its at least as good as say a 1970's Columbia or Ross. I put over 10,000 miles on an old Columbia three speed back in the day between riding to school and delivering newspapers.
I don't expect it to be a Trek or any other shop brand bike but its not as bad as some of the comments I've read on these made them out to be. Especially for $20. (The new front tire will cost me more than I paid for the bike at about $30 shipped). I'd have just bought two tires but I figured that buying one to match the rear tire was cheaper than buying two new lesser tires for the same price).
The plan is to ride it around the neighborhood and see if it holds up. Even before doing any cleaning or the relube the bike felt good riding it, it rolls easy and pedaled smoothly, and the brakes worked excelent with no caliper drag even though their side pull brakes.
The gearing is 48 - 18 with a single freewheel.


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Old 05-15-20, 06:20 AM
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In the end, the only thing that matters is that you like it. Well, the main thing is that you ride it. Ride it until it won't ride no more. Not worthy of any upgrades in my opinion. But again, that is for you to decide. You mention going with lighter components, stem, bars, etc. I wouldn't bother personally. What are you going to accomplish? If you are doing it for weight reduction, as you already said, at 350 lbs. what's the point? If for enhancing the attractiveness or general appeal of the bike, why bother?

Just accept her for what she is and ride the rubber off of her. That's my opinion.
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Old 05-15-20, 06:41 AM
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Old 05-15-20, 07:49 AM
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Looks like it was spec'd to carry heavy people, so I'd say that bike was waiting for you to find it. Looks great too, especially for a $20. Ride it until you wear it out, dirtman.
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Old 05-15-20, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
Looks like it was spec'd to carry heavy people, so I'd say that bike was waiting for you to find it. Looks great too, especially for a $20. Ride it until you wear it out, dirtman.
I always thought that steel bicycles never wear out, only parts wear out. I've got steel frames from the 30's that are still just fine.
Tires, bearings, cables, brakes, etc wear and get replaced. If the thing doesn't rust away or get run over, its likely going to be around for a long time.

I was actually going to do something similar to an old Palm Cycles frame I picked up. Its a Japanese frame from the early 70's or so but with 27" wheels.
I found a super wide set of 27" Araya steel wheels and a set of extra wide tires. I was thinking of just lacing up a set of road hubs and running a single freewheel much like this Mongoose. The end result though would likely be heavier overall as the old steel wheels and big tires, plus the larger lugged steel frame, would likely surpase the 30 or so pounds this bike weights.

I realized this morning that the front tire, (which I knew needs to be replaced), actually doesn't hold air for long, yet I rode it for about three miles. I didn't even realize it was flat till I came back and decided to check the tire pressure with a gauge. The rear had about 100 psi, the front had zero. I had pumped them both up the other day, I gave them both a quick squeeze check and they felt good to go so I took it for a ride.
The front red tire is basically petrified, hard as a stone. Even without any air it holds my weight. Its slick as glass though and it leaves a red chalk line everywhere it goes. The sidewalls are so dry rotted that I can't make out any brand or size, or any writing at all for that matter. It crunches when it rolls. Sort of an unintentional 'run flat' tire?
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Old 05-15-20, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post
The front red tire is basically petrified, hard as a stone. Even without any air it holds my weight. Its slick as glass though and it leaves a red chalk line everywhere it goes. The sidewalls are so dry rotted that I can't make out any brand or size, or any writing at all for that matter. It crunches when it rolls. Sort of an unintentional 'run flat' tire?
Lol.
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Old 05-15-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtman View Post

I was actually going to do something similar to an old Palm Cycles frame I picked up. Its a Japanese frame from the early 70's or so but with 27" wheels.
I found a super wide set of 27" Araya steel wheels and a set of extra wide tires. I was thinking of just lacing up a set of road hubs and running a single freewheel much like this Mongoose. The end result though would likely be heavier overall as the old steel wheels and big tires, plus the larger lugged steel frame, would likely surpase the 30 or so pounds this bike weights.
The widest 27" tires I've seen lately are 1-3/8". What width are the extra wide 27" tires.

I'm asking as there's a mid '70s steel Panasonic not too far from me for sale that has caught my eye, except the limitations of having 27" tires in the 21st century are one reason I'm looking past this particular bike at this time.

Edit: Bike got sold today to someone else.

Last edited by FiftySix; 05-15-20 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 05-15-20, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
The widest 27" tires I've seen lately are 1-3/8". What width are the extra wide 27" tires.

I'm asking as there's a mid '70s steel Panasonic not too far from me for sale that has caught my eye, except the limitations of having 27" tires in the 21st century are one reason I'm looking past this particular bike at this time.

Edit: Bike got sold today to someone else.
Yes, unfortunately wide 27" tires are not in demand so there are few options. Most max out at 1-1/4 or 1-3/8. Varies by brand.
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Old 05-15-20, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
The widest 27" tires I've seen lately are 1-3/8". What width are the extra wide 27" tires.

I'm asking as there's a mid '70s steel Panasonic not too far from me for sale that has caught my eye, except the limitations of having 27" tires in the 21st century are one reason I'm looking past this particular bike at this time.

Edit: Bike got sold today to someone else.

The wide tires have a similar tread to the old Michelin World Tour tires but they're wider with black sidewalls. They measure about 1.39" wide.
I think they're marked 27 x 1 3/8". They're a heavy tire, thick all around. On these wider steel rims they look huge. They almost look like a comfort bike. They're a bit hard to mount on the steel rims but are fine on regular aluminum rims for some reason. Its hard to get the bead evenly seated all around on the steel rims. A buddy brought them here from somewhere in South America a couple of years ago but they appear to be from somewhere in Asia, not sure where.They have a creosote type smell to them until they air out a bit.

I really can't imagine 27" tires ever going away completely, they just made too many bikes with that size over the years. There isn't the huge array of tires and treads available anymore but basic 27" tires aren't that hard to find.
What I can't believe is how much they want for some bike tires. I never thought I'd see the day where a bicycle tire costs more than the tires for my truck. One of the cheapest 700x23 tires that Specialized lists cost me nearly $30 shipped. Since the only bike shop here doesn't stock tires, I don't have much choice. The closest shop wants more than internet prices for cheap tires and Walmart rarely has two of the same anything on the shelf.
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Old 05-16-20, 07:07 AM
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Thatís a great story, I love it! Another rescue bike brought back to life. Looks like a good fit in your life. As said previously, ride the rubber off it!
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Old 05-16-20, 10:47 AM
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Please don't take this as a put-down - $20 is hard to beat - but it as a point of interest, it was at best a $150 Walmart/Amazon bike that was closed out later for way less. Enjoy it, but do your best to spend as little as possible on it


https://coolofferslist.com/ip/700c-M...-Bike/19582536
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Old 05-16-20, 02:29 PM
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I'm fully aware that this is a cheap bike, but my point is that for what ever reason, they built this thing like a tank.
Between the 48 spoke wheels, oversized steel frame, and tall stance its no doubt the perfect bike for a big guy.
Even if the wheels aren't of the best materials the 48 spokes and deep profile have to make up for a lot of material deficiencies.
The same with the frame, although its likely pretty thin plain steel, the larger diameter tubes and odd shapes make it very rigid.
I care very little about what it weighs, I care that it doesn't wobble under my weight.
In my younger days, I was 100 lbs lighter, but still big for most road bikes, I broke cranks, separated frame joints, broke stems, and had countless broken spokes, pulled spokes and holes pulled out of hubs on a lot of much more expensive bikes. My biggest issue was usually right crank arms for some reason. I could never figure out why I broke or bent the right crank arm, vs. bending a pedal axle.
I tend to use my weight to power the bike, I put my weight the leading pedal. With a size 17 shoe, toe clips were never an option, nor could I stand using anything like that.
In my 20's, I went back to riding an old Schwinn Caliente I had bought used years before. I had put 9,000 miles on that bike years prior, then moved to a slew of better bikes, all of which had failed at some point. I bought a Huret Cyclometer for the Caliente and started to ride it to stay in shape back then. The cyclometer died at 22,000 miles. That bike went through two sets of rear spokes, three sets of front spokes and one front rim, two sets of cables, four sets of jockey wheels, a pair of handlebars, (cracked), and countless cheap gumwall tires. Near its end, the left rear dropout cracked at the rear, I welded the piece back on and gave the bike to some kid at work to use as transportation. The frame was its strong point. Over the years I had a Raleigh Pro frame separate where the downtube meets the bottom bracket, I had two Nishiki International frames crack left rear seat stays, I had a 1977 Schwinn Traveler crack where the chain stays meet the BB, I had a Paramount frame with a cracked bb shell, I had a Puch frame come apart where the DT meets the head tube, and I had an early Gitane TDF that cracked the seat tube in a spiral break just above the front derailleur clamp. Quick release axles were also a problem, I started buying them by the dozen years ago. I've bent solid axles but only had a few break.
At my lightest as an adult I was around 265 lbs and probably the most in shape I've ever been in my mid 20's. In my mid 30's or so I went up to 290, and in my 50's I went up to 325 and by 60 I hit 350. I was my heaviest over the last year or so just over 425 lbs. I lost about 90 lbs over the last few months, mostly by skipping meals. Now that I'm no longer working, I eat when I'm hungry not when its 'lunchtime' or 'dinner time'. If I'm not hungry I don't eat. I figure I'll be back down to 300 lbs or so by the end of summer. For a guy 6ft 3in tall its likely as light as I can get down too.

For the $20 invested and the cost of a tire, this bike is well suited for me right now. If it falls apart, I'll fix or replace as needed I guess. So long as the frame don't break in half, I won't be disappointed. I don't see much sense in a lighter or higher end bike, losing a few pounds off a bike when your 350 lbs is worthless, and from experience, lighter often means less strength. What I need is a bike built like a tank, and from what I've seen lately, this fits the bill.

I do sort of wonder what they had in mind when they built these with 48 spoke wheels. I don't see many big box store bikes built this stout, not even the beach cruisers.

A few years ago someone gave me a cheap mountain bike, I think the brand was Magna, I figured it couldn't be all that bad so I went through the whole bike, cleaned everything up, and tried my best to get all the gears to shift, which turned out to be a wast of time. The rear derailleur, shifters, and hubs were all such total junk they weren't even fully functional. The bearings were so poor quality the bike was hard to pedal and the frame flexed like a rag under my weight. The rear wheel lost 6 spokes on the first ride, the front wheel bent under the pressure of the front caliper and it wiped out the bottom headset bearing in about two miles. I saved the tires and threw it in the scrap pile. This bike isn't built like that thing was, the bearings look at least on par with most 70's era mid range bikes, the headset is at least as good as a common Wald headset that was used on almost all bikes in the 60's and 70's, and all the bearings are smooth and have no play. They at least took the time to make things fit and function from the start. Its also not a new bike, someone else has ridden this to some extent, and it still functions.
It doesn't give the feeling that its a super cheap bike, at least not yet.
Appearance wise, a nicer looking front chainwheel and loosing the smoke plastic chainguard would help but for now I'm just changing one tire. I hope to have the new tire for it sometime next week. (tracking has it being delivered next Friday). Until then it'll just sit. I won't chance another around the block ride knowing that the front tire doesn't have any air in it.

Does anyone know a good source for tubes for one of these? The local bike shop says he can't get them. It takes an extra long stem schrader valve tube for a 700 x 23 tire.
I can get 700x28 to 35 tubes but they look pretty big for such a narrow tire.
(I am really liking the fact that its got schrader type tubes, I could never stand Presta valves. I can't count how many of those I bent or broke off trying to pump up a tire.
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Old 05-16-20, 06:04 PM
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Considering all the bikes you've broken, dirtman, I'm looking forward to seeing how long this Mongoose lasts you.
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Old 05-17-20, 08:08 PM
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Although I'm still waiting for the matching new tire for the front, I mounted up a used Michelin 700x25 to see if it would fit, and it clears just fine.
I took it for a couple mile ride early this morning with the mismatched tires. The roads around here are all asphalt, with a few oil and stone and gravel roads.
I stuck to only the side roads with regular asphalt. When I got back, I noticed that sand and small bits of rock were sticking in the tire and working their way through the tire. The used tire is a well worn Michelin Dynamic but its not beyond use. The tire is marked 100psi, which is what I put in it, and the rear tire. Both are wire bead tires.
I am seeing that this may be a problem on this bike. If I were to continue to ride on a tire that's filling up with sand and bit of rock, its only a matter of time before it chews through to tire into the tube. A few bits I picked up today, which were nothing more than larger grains of sand, went so far as to leave a mark on the inner tube and a hole in the tire just off center a bit.
Years ago they used to make something called a tire scraper, guys would use them on tubular tires to rub off dirt and bits of debris that would stick to a tire. I wonder if they still make something like that? Either than or I'm thinking of making some sort of flap of rubber or something that could drag the tire brushing off the dirt and sand.
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Old 05-18-20, 11:38 AM
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Tire scrapers are still being made. I've seen them mentioned on Bike Forums with links to sellers. Probably available at the usual places like Amzn and eBy.
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Old 05-18-20, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
Tire scrapers are still being made. I've seen them mentioned on Bike Forums with links to sellers. Probably available at the usual places like Amzn and eBy.
I just did a quick search for tire savers and it looks like a pair of them will cost more than this bike did. I'm seeing $25 to $38 shipped for a pair.
I'm thinking I'll be making a pair with some tubing and wire.
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Old 05-19-20, 11:50 PM
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I just dug around and found a pack of those I bought as a spare set probably 40 years ago, its got a $2.49 price tag on it from a local bike shop.

They sort of went out of favor when tubular tires faded away. It became more popular to buy kevlar lined tires or to add a protective strip to the inside of the tire to protect the tube.
This all added weight though and wasn't common among more serious riders.
Back in the day, I rode with guys who used all sorts of tricks, including one guy who if not just extremely frugal, was inventive.
He would save old cans from Tomato paste, cut the rim out of the can carefully sanded it just right, then he soldered that to a couple of pieces of an old spoke, and took the rest of the spoke and formed the bracket to attach to the caliper bolt. He connected the bracket to the 'scraper' portion with two tiny bits of clear tubing or wire insulation stripped from some cable. He must have made 20 sets of them before perfecting his personal design that would ride just barely touching the tire but not making any noise or resistance.
He said that most of the factory designs used plain round wire and that wouldn't 'catch' small bits of stone or glass as well as a cupped scraper.
The rubber or connector was required to prevent damage in the event the scraper got bent or the bike was pushed backwards and the thing caught the tire wrong. Two spare sets were always in his tool kit, along with a patch kit, tire tools, and assorted tools. His tool kit was kept in a second water bottle holder in a custom made aluminum screw top can made to fit in place of a water bottle.

Many guys back in the day only ran tire savers on the rear tire since it carried more weight, but myself, I always seem to get front tire flats.
My rear tire rarely picked up anything. (Maybe because it was already stuck in the front tire?)

Personally, tire scrapers only really were effective on a very smooth tire, if there was any tread or pattern they either made noise or bounced, or missed the debris altogether.
Buy a set of good tires, maybe a set of liners or thorn resistant tubes. On a heavy bike with a heavy rider, the difference won't be that noticeable.
For what they want for the tire savers these days, I think your money would be better spent towards better tires with some puncture resistance.
Rubber these days has also come a long way, good tires seem to hold up a lot better than those we had 40 and 50 years ago.
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Old 05-23-20, 05:03 AM
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I got the new tire to match the rear yesterday. I also added a pair of rim strips inside the tire cut from an old inner tube. I figure that should give it a bit more protection, combined with these tires supposedly having a protective band in the tread already. It didn't seem to affect the way the tires roll any. I did lightly coat the strips with rubber cement to keep them from moving around.

I also adjusted everything to suit me, the calipers were set super loose, it took more than half the travel of the levers for the pads to hit the rims, I like my brakes effective and a bit touchy.
The existing rear tire was mounted backwards, (the tread is directional), so I flipped that around and added a homemade rim strip as well. While each wheel was off, I took the time to put each wheel on the stand to both true and tighten the spokes to my liking. Both wheels now are within a few thousandths of an inch of perfect. I was going to relube the wheel bearings but found they're sealed cartridge bearings not adjustable cones.
The spokes were on the loose side to my liking, I probably gave each spoke a half turn or so. A few were really loose on the front wheel. The rims have a pronounced inner hook that catches the tire too. They hold the tires well but it takes a bit of prying at the sidewall here and there to seat them before fully inflating them.
I also tilted the saddle forward a couple clicks and raised the bars to level. No clue why they were set the way they were.
This is a rather small frame by measurement, but it sits as tall a 24" frame old school bike. I haven't figured out why that's the case yet. It pedals easy and rolls super easy, and two good tires made a huge difference in the rolling resistance over the used tire and the original tire.
The original tire that was on the front was super thick, super heavy, more than twice the weight of the new tire. The whole tire was thick, sidewalls and tread were the same thickness. The old tire weighed just over a pound where as the new tire is only 340 grams. Not that I'm worrying about weight, but the difference and how heavy that red tire weighed really surprised me.
I'd have taken it out for a ride this morning but its been pouring rain for several hours and is supposed to rain all day. Maybe if it had fenders, but I don't see any easy way to mount a pair, especially with the horizontal dropouts. There is enough meat there though to add a threaded hole on each side though but unless I come across a super thin pair for free, I'm not likely to bother. With 700x23 tires its not leaving the pavement much either.

I was also thinking about losing the chainguard and just mounting a round chain guard but the frame has a tab sticking out that would likely have to be removed so it don't catch pant legs.
I think the chainguard would bother me less if it were painted to match and not plastic.

I did notice that the brand on the rear freewheel is DNB Epoch, I've heard of DNB years ago but on derailleurs from Japan, (Dai Nippon Bicycle). It don't look like bad quality but looks don't mean much I suppose.
I really don't recognize any of the new brands out there these days, I think the last single speed freewheel I had to deal with was made by Atom in France about 40 or so years ago.




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Old 05-25-20, 02:35 AM
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barnfind
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I just got done fixing one of those for a neighbor of mine, he's over 400 lbs and bought the bike about four years ago on sale cheap against all warnings.
The bike itself isn't bad but its got a few weak points. The latest with my neighbor's bike was the front axle, he said he it gave way while jumping the driveway curb into a McDonald's last Friday.
The rear hub looked good, and the week wasn't damaged other wise. The bearings and axle could have been easily replaced with a common Wald axle kit but knowing how he treats the bike, I figured something heavier was in order. I dug around and found a good 10mm axle, then I knocked out the front cups, found two bearings to fit with a 10mm ID and appropriate width. I measured and cut a center spacer and two outer spacers and found two washers. It now has a sealed front hub with a 10mm axle vs. the 5/16" axle it came with.
He also had to upgrade the handle bars, both bent under his weight, but he was likely riding off curbs or such. His original tires are long gone, they didn't last him but a few months.
I mount his tires using cotton rim tape, tire puncture proof strips, and thorn resistant tubes filled with Slime. The tires are what ever cheap 700x28 tires he finds. He went up in tire size because they fit and they were cheaper. (Weight isn't a concern for a guy over 400 lbs. He broke two freewheels, the first one rusted seized, the second one was an eBay special that he stripped out in a month. Its now got an old school BMX freewheel from the 70's on it. The original pedals also died early, but he found a set of bright purple BMX pedals for his that solved that issue.
The new handle bar is a straight aluminum mountain bike bar.
The rims themselves have been fine, he lost a few spokes on it here and there but mostly from branches and his big feet. He bought a huge old Cloud 9 saddle at a yard sale, the original seat was fine but he couldn't ride on it.
The BB, cranks, and rear hub have all been fine. Most of the issues, like I said were from abuse or his size. It is built pretty heavy, the welds look decent and the tubing is huge so I doubt the frame will die of anything other than eventual rust from his keeping it behind his bushes in the yard and not in a garage or out of the rain.
Its lasted him by far longer than anything else he's come up with over the past few years, but he's the type of guy who could break a crowbar in a sandbox if you know what I mean.

One good example of how he rides is that he don't use the brakes, he'd rather use his boots, he jams his boot behind the front wheel to stop, he says its faster than pulling the levers and that way he can keep his phone or beer in hand while he rides.

I do agree, these bikes are perfect for bigger guys, they built the frame like a tank and the 48 spokes make it pretty tough to kill the wheels. If ridden like a normal bike should be ridden, you likely won't have any issues with it.
I find a lot of the issues with the box store bikes is set up, they leave the assembly to some 18 year old kid who don't know a bike from a beach ball and turn out the bike good or bad to the buyer. Most buyers of that kind of bike are the worst person to own one because many or most have no ability to correct minor issues before they become major ones. The bike to them is either good or bad, good means it rides fine, bad means something fell off or doesn't fit right because it was assembled with a monkey wrench and hammer.
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