Author Topic: Elephant in the room Part 0 (Preface + Experiment!): Bikes from retail stores (W  (Read 6646 times)

Sri C.

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When I was in India, I used to ride a freewheeling single gear cycle. Due to the lack of steep hills and younger body parts, it used to be fun.

That bike cost me $60 brand new, was made of iron and had those cheap caliper breaks that pivot in the middle that I had to replace thrice a year and would cost 20c a pair brand new.

The chains and wheels would need to be aligned and greased once a month and I had the tools to do it.

Now that I am in the US, and that I am renting a place 5mi from work (so that I can cycle to work), I now have to buy a cycle again. It's being 10 years since I cycled daily.

I keep reading about people dissing "those cheap retail store bikes" but when I compare these bikes to the one I used to drive back in India, I can see they are of better build quality (atleast from the looks of it)

So, what about this experiment:

1. I buy a retail store bicycle
2. In the meantime, I keep my eyes peeled for used ones (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/recommend-good-bike-off-craigslist-that-i-can-get-(irvine-ca-)/) on craigslist
3. If the retail store bicycle fails in some way during 90 days (atleast that's what Walmart's return policy is, not sure about others), I return the bike to store for a refund and post my findings here, and then wait to buy a name brand used off CL

Does this sound like a good idea?

This experiment might be DOA if Walmart refuses to take the bike back, even if defective/damaged, stating that it has been used. (I am not the kind who misuses things though)

If anyone suggests a store besides Walmart for this experiment, do let me know!

grantmeaname

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What would you gain from the experiment? It seems like all downside and no upside...

BPA

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This may be a silly question, but have you checked craigslist and found nothing suitable?  I live in a city of 500,000 and there were several bikes for sale that would have been acceptable.  I wound up buying mine from a university student who was moving back home for $125.

Sri C.

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This may be a silly question, but have you checked craigslist and found nothing suitable?  I live in a city of 500,000 and there were several bikes for sale that would have been acceptable.  I wound up buying mine from a university student who was moving back home for $125.

I would LOVE to buy a used bike for $125, even $150. However, good ones that have been suggested to me sell for $300 used :-(

What was your model? How good is it?

grantmeaname

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You want something like this, or this, or this. $200 will get you surprisingly far on craigslist.

Russ

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Walmart bikes aren't dangerous because they're bad bikes, they're dangerous because of the per-bicycle commissioned assembly goons  who put them together. I've seen bikes with the forks on backward, bearings rattling, wheels with no grease, brakes rubbing, and more, and that was the condition in which these bikes were bought from ____ big box store. Even a single loose bolt can make a bicycle incredibly dangerous, and trusting Walmart employees to get it right is not something I'd risk my skin on. I also noticed in one of your other threads that you were concerned about non-standard Specialized parts. While your concern with Specialized is misplaced IMO, walmart bikes actually do use nonserviceable parts made to outdated standards. So besides not being put together right in the first place, when they do break (which is soon and often) they're harder to fix.

A fantastic bike can be bought on craigslist for barely any more than the cost of the shittiest box store bike. Walmart's cheapest bike is $100, and you'll probably have to replace parts several times a year. Craigslist bikes between $100-200 are in the sweet spot for value, and they'll actually be serviceable unlike the walmart bike. Just go with craigslist from the get-go and you should be good both money-wise and safety-wise


I would LOVE to buy a used bike for $125, even $150. However, good ones that have been suggested to me sell for $300 used :-(

Bakari's article, which I posted in your other other thread, should have given you a good foundation to evaluate any bike on Craigslist, rather than depending on us to recommend specific models. If you read through it you should be able to pick out many bikes like the ones Grant just found. These bikes will be inexpensive and serviceable, and should be able to be sold for no loss if that's a thing you're concerned about too.

BPA

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This may be a silly question, but have you checked craigslist and found nothing suitable?  I live in a city of 500,000 and there were several bikes for sale that would have been acceptable.  I wound up buying mine from a university student who was moving back home for $125.

I would LOVE to buy a used bike for $125, even $150. However, good ones that have been suggested to me sell for $300 used :-(

What was your model? How good is it?

I'm no expert but it was a very well maintained older model Schwinn commuter which I've owned for 2 years now.  My boyfriend was pretty impressed with my purchase and he knows more about bikes. 

napalminator

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Bakari's article, which I posted in your other other thread, should have given you a good foundation to evaluate any bike on Craigslist, rather than depending on us to recommend specific models. If you read through it you should be able to pick out many bikes like the ones Grant just found. These bikes will be inexpensive and serviceable, and should be able to be sold for no loss if that's a thing you're concerned about too.
  Yeah, this.  Stop worrying about getting a Trek '08 WXYZ model or whatever.  You can purchase by brand and generally be OK.  You shouldn't have any problem getting an older Trek, Specialized, Bianchi, Univega, Giant, etc on craigslist for under $200.

Be careful with Schwinn and Mongoose, they were decent bikes 20 years ago but the names got sold off and they're now slapped onto the garbage from Walmart and Target.

James

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I'm having a hard time getting past the idea of it being an experiment, why experiment? You need information, and information is widely available, you don't need to run an experiment to know what quality you will get from Walmart.


That's not to say the answer is obvious, if I lived in a place without craigslist or other used bikes, and was in a debt emergency, the Walmart bike might be just the ticket. But I'd much rather purchase used.

TheDude

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I've worked in shops since I was 15 or so. I used to work with a guy who worked for big box stores assembling bikes during the Christmas season. He said you got paid by the bike and you had air tools. He said averaged about 8min per bike. He was a good mechanic but at 8min a bike they were not building very quality bikes.

Good luck there's lots of good suggestions on here. I am sure you can find something to fill you needs.

Sri C.

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Yeah, this.  Stop worrying about getting a Trek '08 WXYZ model or whatever.  You can purchase by brand and generally be OK.  You shouldn't have any problem getting an older Trek, Specialized, Bianchi, Univega, Giant, etc on craigslist for under $200.

Be careful with Schwinn and Mongoose, they were decent bikes 20 years ago but the names got sold off and they're now slapped onto the garbage from Walmart and Target.

Frankly I am confused whether I should get those old Schwinn bikes (that were made in late 1900) - the ones that come with thin tires (are these called road bikes?)

These hover around $100 and often come up on sale, but I can't understand their build quality.

Do these have any resale value?

The Trek's however look pretty sturdy, and although they are three times as more expensive, they do seem to have very good resale value with the risk being that they might not hold the value 3 years from now.

That article is really indepth and equips me to look at a bike and evaluate it well; however, I will have to see a few bikes before I understand what's a good good deal and not - this will cost me a lot of my time.

What I am trying to do is narrow down on some brands and their models that you members already use and know are good value for money keeping in mind that I will use this for daily commute. THIS WILL not only save me time and effort but headaches down the way.

I apologize if I gave incorrect information, I was sharing what I was told, and I am thankful for  the information that all of you have provided me with :-)

Joet

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you're way overthinking this, look at some bikes that fit your needs on craiglist and go check them out. if it fits reasonably, buy it.

you really dont need to stress out over a bike. just get one.
all the major manufacturers have some kind of hybrid/commuter available [specialized, trek, cannondale, etc etc]

olivia

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I have a Giant Escape 2 and it's been great.  http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/escape.2/11500/55831/ 

$500 base, plus I had the bike store put on fenders and a rack I bought there.  If you're not finding anything on CL, just go to any bike shop in your city and look at the commuter bikes.  They tend to start around $400 and go up from there. 

grantmeaname

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That's like triple the price of a nice used bike, though.

StarswirlTheMustached

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I rode a 99$ box-store bike for a year, and was constantly fiddling with it to keep it ridable. Don't bother.
I rode a 200$ box store bike for a week, and then wised up and got something decent*. Don't bother. 


I had a cirica-1970s road bike (yes, with the skinny tires) I "recovered" in first year university-- it had been abandoned at our residence, and the lock was so corroded it took one hit with a rock to make the bike mine. It was better in every way to the brand new box store bikes, once I patched the inner tubes and lubed everything up. 


Frankly I am confused whether I should get those old Schwinn bikes (that were made in late 1900) - the ones that come with thin tires (are these called road bikes?)

These hover around $100 and often come up on sale, but I can't understand their build quality.

Do these have any resale value?
You can usually resell a bike like that at cost. If you make even minor cosmetic improvements (polish the chrome, and take a nice photo) you can easily come out ahead.


*sold at 75% of sticker price, which was a decent profit since I'd bought it for 50% off.

olivia

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That's like triple the price of a nice used bike, though.

Right, but OP said this, which led me to believe he is willing to buy a new bike: "What I am trying to do is narrow down on some brands and their models that you members already use and know are good value for money keeping in mind that I will use this for daily commute. THIS WILL not only save me time and effort but headaches down the way."

And if not, he can always look on CL for a used Giant Escape.

Bakari

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Frankly I am confused whether I should get those old Schwinn bikes (that were made in late 1900) - the ones that come with thin tires (are these called road bikes?)

These hover around $100 and often come up on sale, but I can't understand their build quality.

Do these have any resale value?
Do you really mean 1900s?  Like, 113 years ago?  Or do you mean 1990s?

In either case, no, not much resale value, but why does this matter?
You are buying it to USE it, not as an investment.  Get a bike assuming you will keep it for the rest of your life and resell value is totally meaningless.  If you were to sell it, you would just have to buy a new one, and you are rarely going to come out ahead.

Sri C.

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I ended up buying an used sliver Trek 7.3FX that came with stock items (nothing was upgraded) off craigslist. The asking price was $400 and I requested for a "cash discount" and got it down to $380. Perhaps I overpaid by $30 but I didn't want to wait for a cycle.

I did a bit of researching and it became clear to me that I had nothing to gain from the proposed experiment. In short I ended up following grantmeaname's advice:

What would you gain from the experiment? It seems like all downside and no upside...

However, from the initial shopping around I had done at Walmart, I would like to re-iterate this with emphasis added:

Walmart bikes aren't dangerous because they're bad bikes, they're dangerous because of the per-bicycle commissioned assembly goons  who put them together.

A fantastic bike can be bought on craigslist for barely any more than the cost of the shittiest box store bike. Walmart's cheapest bike is $100, and you'll probably have to replace parts several times a year.

My next challenge is getting some U-lock(s), a cable and flashing lights at a reasonable price (all of these new seems to add up to well around $100!). Sources for used items like these would be appreciated!


ScottEric

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Yep!  But if you buy decent ones they last 5-10 years or more though, so they're a good deal in the long run :)

Plus, you'll be a bike riding badass, which is priceless.


 

Sri C.

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Yep!  But if you buy decent ones they last 5-10 years or more though, so they're a good deal in the long run :)

Plus, you'll be a bike riding badass, which is priceless.

I sure do feel happy (and badass!).

Since I am cycling after 5 years my ass does hurt so badass that way too I guess :D

StarryC

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You can buy flashing lights at Target!
I found some in the "dollar spot" for $3 last week!

I wouldn't rely on the headlight for when it is actually dark, but I think for visibility the deal can't be beat!

Bakari

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with emphasis added:

Walmart bikes aren't dangerous because they're bad bikes, they're dangerous because of the per-bicycle commissioned assembly goons  who put them together.

Glad you didn't go with the Walmart bike.
Just for anyone else who reads this:

Walmart (and all other retail store) bikes ARE bad bikes.

It is also true that they are assembled by people who don't know what they are doing, but even assembled by a real bike mechanic, they are still made from the absolute cheapest garbage the manufacture can find.  They use parts that are obsolete.  They frequently have brake levers made of PLASTIC for cryin out loud.  I've had people bring them into the shop less than a week old with broken parts, and we have to tell them, "sorry, the repair for that will cost more than that bike cost new"

Anyway, congrats on getting a good one!
Now the only step left is to get out there and RIDE it!!!
:)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2013, 08:24:48 AM by Bakari »

GuitarStv

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I have a Giant Escape 2 and it's been great.  http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/escape.2/11500/55831/ 

$500 base, plus I had the bike store put on fenders and a rack I bought there.  If you're not finding anything on CL, just go to any bike shop in your city and look at the commuter bikes.  They tend to start around $400 and go up from there.

My wife has an Escape 2, and she likes it a lot.

I picked up an Escape 3 cheap on craigslist last year for winter commuting, and it is a really solid, decent bike for that purpose.