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(Thanks to JimC for the link)

An excellent article at ConsumerReports.org titled "Cheap bikes are not bargains"



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Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us sell plenty of bikes from brands such as Huffy, Mongoose, Roadmaster, and Schwinn for $100 to $200. They seem like good deals, so why would we advise you to spend $300 or more for a bike in the Ratings (available to subscribers)?

Because you get what you pay for. Mass-market bikes have cheaper construction than higher-priced bikes and can weigh 7 or 8 pounds more. They come in only one size, so you're not likely to get a great fit. And mass merchants can't match bike shops for quality of assembly, expert advice, and service.

In the long run, performance matters most, so we tried out two full-suspension bikes and one front-suspension model from the big-box stores, priced at $120 to $230. Shifting of the full-suspension bikes' 21 speeds wasn't nearly as smooth as on bike-shop models. Shock absorption and handling were fair to decent on pavement and on smooth dirt paths, but these so-called mountain bikes couldn't handle rough off-road terrain. On steep paved roads, the extra weight, poor gearing, and mushy suspensions made pedaling uphill very hard.

The front-suspension model, also with 21 speeds, did much better on pavement and on fairly smooth dirt trails--but only after we adjusted the sloppy setup to make it roadworthy. Plus it comes in only one size, so fit will be hit or miss.

Consider cheaper bikes from a department store only for the most casual adult use, and stick with a front-suspension model, which is likely to be better than a cheap full-suspension bike. You may want a mass-market bike for kids who will outgrow a bike quickly or toss it about.

Still, if your budget allows, we'd recommend that you buy one of the $300 comfort bikes in the Ratings (available to subscribers). You'll get a lot more bike for the buck.
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"El Whatever"
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Totally Agreed....

I had no much options when it got the moment to buy a bike by and for myself. So I had to stick to a Dept. Store bike which I enjoyed a lot and rode it and mantained it until it was stolen....

But the sanest advice to a beginner should be to get a low price hardtail from a major brand at a LBS. Next step (IMHO) should be a low end Full Suspension from reputated brands (like Specialized, Giant, Trek and why not? Mongoose or Diamond Back).

Next, the sky (and the wallet) is the limit. But I consider this described above as a logical progression and I would have have all the options you have now and would have liked to get this advice when I started.

Happy Trails (from Mexico)!!
 

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Totally agree. I bought my first mountain bike at a dept store. Was a pretty good bike after i readjusted everything. After riding it about a year components started going south.
I finally reached the point where it was more frustrating than enjoyable to ride (always being concerned about breaking something). So i got farther in debt and bought a Cannondale f400.. Even though this is also a entry level bike, the differance is just amazing.. I find myself doing things on this bike that i would never attempt on my old bike,,, Granted, its probably all mental, but thats my story and im sticking to it!!!!!
 

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Derailleurless
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I've always considered Consumer Reports is a very trustworthy resource, but their reviews & articles at times leave something to be desired. I think sometimes they rely on their respected ratings matrix to make up for less-than thorough write-ups.

A good site to supplement the CR link is "Bikes R Not Toys" at...

www.BikesRNotToys.com
 

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Granted I am very new to the sport of true mountain biking and only started riding on trails a couple weeks ago. Though I have been hiking in the woods for more than a year so I am not new to them. But I have one statement, I own a toy r' Us Rhino and I love it. Yeah, its probably not a really good bike but it gets the job done. I could not afford anything else. It was $90 and I assembled it myself. It was my only choice. If I didnt get that I would not have gotten anything so I took it and it has been great. But wouldnt you rather have a department store bike than nothing at all? If I didnt get it I probably never would have gotten into mountain biking. :D
 

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not so super...
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My $.02...

bstguitarist said:
Granted I am very new to the sport of true mountain biking and only started riding on trails a couple weeks ago. Though I have been hiking in the woods for more than a year so I am not new to them. But I have one statement, I own a toy r' Us Rhino and I love it. Yeah, its probably not a really good bike but it gets the job done. I could not afford anything else. It was $90 and I assembled it myself. It was my only choice. If I didnt get that I would not have gotten anything so I took it and it has been great. But wouldnt you rather have a department store bike than nothing at all? If I didnt get it I probably never would have gotten into mountain biking. :D
Good point. IF a $90 bike is all you can swing then yes it is better than nothing. Also a good place to learn how to do your own wrenching. Just remember that a $90 bike is a desposable product not really meant for long term or hard core use. Case in point...While at the LBS checking out new "stuff" a few weeks ago a lady came in with her daughter and her 3 month old department store bike that was having shifting issues. The repair charge estimate was over $100 dollars (Bent derailleur and frame, new cables, true the wheels, full tune-up to add gease where it should be and remove it from others etc...) It would have been cheaper to buy from the LBS to begin with and get the 1-2 years of free service.

Just like many other major purchases you have to consider the TCO - total cost of ownership.
 

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how bout it

i have always gottin a lbs bike but i was at a dicks sporting goods store and i saw this mongoose and i didnt think it was a bad bike,tell me what you think its 330 bucks.i wanna be able to do little drops and some jumping.i think it had decent parts

please tell me what you thin

the link
 

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OldTeen
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A bike ill-suited to you & your riding habits is no bargain.
After much shopping, I got a GREAT deal on my current hardtail MTB as a close-out on a 2003 model (I paid under half-price at a LBS). Close-outs can save $$$ IF you can find a brand name bike that fits you well.

Another option for getting the best value is looking for a well-maintained used bike. Many LBS's have used bikes, web-sites with used bikes, or even low-tech BB's with used bikes for sale. Classified ads in the local paper are another source. I even found a wonderful road bike at a garage sale. Of course- check out any used bike carefully before buying. Know what fits you, and test ride thoroughly. Good books on bike repair (e.g. Zinn's) may help you focus on what major issues can arise with worn/abused bikes.

Keep in mind that some 'brand-name' companies sell low-end bikes through department stores. Many of these bikes are NOT the same as those sold through reputable LBS's (or even higher-end sporting goods stores). Cheap parts that require constant adjustments, or (God forbid) a fork or frame that cracks under stress are no bargains at any price. I agree with Warp that for most the best choice is an entry-level HT from a major manufacturer. It's generally cheaper in the long run to find one from a good LBS, because you can get a decent fitting and some period of free adjustments.
 

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I picked up a $160 Schwinn @ walmart for my g/f.
It is an aluminum frame, kinda light actually, well built, "cute" according to her :rolleyes:
anyway, For some riders, like g/f's...that $300 Gary Fisher or Trek are not that
much better. They both have RST forks like the Walmart Schwinns, a bit better
Shimano parts hopefully but c'mon...the big-store brands do serve a purpose
and you can come out w/ a trail worthy bike if you stay away from those BS full suspension jokes.
The build on these tings is the worst part. How many 115lb girlz you know
snappin frames and thrashin parts? COnsumer reports is less than thourough.
People treat these bikes like the plague sometimes...
At least I have someone to dish my old parts off to now.
 

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flat out a dept store bike won't last more than a year, even if riding on roads. If you are at all heavy (over 180) and ride 4-5 times a week, spend at least 300 dollars. Its worth it in the long run. Best beginner bike out there in my opion would be a specialized hardrock (300ish). Heavier but strong too and the frames geometry is pretty nice (it resemebles my P2 fairly closely). My girlfriend has one and i've ridden it around alittle and it hops great and is forgiving on the trail (poor hill climber though). if you want more of X-C bike there are some low end fishers like the marlin that is fairly decent. I'd stay away from dept store bikes all togather (also you cannot usually get service like a bike shop).

PS do not get a low end dual suspension waste of time and money (you havta spend 1000 plus for a decent one), and stay away from mongoose and schwinn (schwinn's older bmx's are alright though)
 

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My beef with department store bicycles:

The stores normally pay the assemblers by the bike, not by the hour. So it's in their best interest to assemble more bikes quickly, than to take their time and make sure it's in proper working order. "Assembly" for most of these guys therefore means putting on pedals, putting on handlebars, and the front wheel... and run it out the door. Air the tires if the customer asks.

The problem with that is that they don't check adjustments. They don't always make sure everything is running as it should. I bought a Huffy years ago because I was dirt-poor, and it would get me to work. Out the door, I had to adjust EVERYTHING. Brakes were too loose, shifting was inaccurate... So I bought a 6 inch adjustable wrench and a screwdriver at the same time, and fixed it on the way home.

Old style shifters it didn't matter... pull the lever until it settles into the desired gear. But newer indexed shifters, you have to at least make minimal adjustment to make sure it's working properly.

The seat may or may not be safe. That huffy had 1/8" of foam rubber over a metal plate. No kidding. I didn't figure it out for a while until after a long ride, and wondered why the hell my butt hurt so bad. And THEN I had to ride it home. It took 2 weeks to be able to sit properly again.

And yet... someone stole that damned huffy. Go figure. But I have no doubt that seat exacted my revenge for me.

I bought a Pacific a few years later, for the same reason... I was poor. It was a little bit better... the seat was ridable (I replaced it anyway with a real seat... some things you just develop pet peeves over) It had a "shock absorber" on the front. It was in fact a spring loaded tube, so when it bottomed out (which it often did) it hurt like hell.


And an LBS will normally offer to make 1-month checkups. That first month can see some major changes after all the ferrules on cable housings settle in... brakes will be looser, shifting will be different... Some people refer to it as "cables stretching"... call it what you will. After break-in period, bikes will probably want a bit of touching up.

It's true, dept store bikes have slowly been getting better. But the service given to them has not. And my guess is, it will not in the foreseeable future. A crappy bike that's been given some attention can be made to work fairly well. It'll still be a heavy clanking thing that isn't entirely safe for a serious rider, but it'll work *fairly* well. But lacking that attention, it won't even do that. It'll be a heavy, clanking, almost properly funcitoning piece of junk.

For a similar price, you can usually get a good used bike from a bike shop, which will have had that proper attention given, and it'll be a name brand bike with components that will work a little bit better. It'll shift reliably, and it'll stop when you need it to, so you won't have to figure in that extra 20 feet to come to a complete stop. Maybe I'm snobby that way, but I really do think that brakes should stop you, and shifters should actually shift. Ironically enough, these bikes will only work their best after you take them to an LBS for a tune up... at which point you'll start to approach what you would have paid for the LBS bike in the first place.
 

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X-Ray Guy
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well k im in canada, and its not much different up here, but as the guy above said its starting to get better. I got my iron horse from SportChek....they have sole rights to iron horse in canada or ontario or something. There was one specific bike guy, u could tell cuz somebody ask him about a golf club and he just say i build and ride bikes, ask that guy. Sportchek also has "dirt shops" which carry higher end bikes and have full mechanic sites and all....i even got 1 year service with my bike havent really used it but its there if i get desperate. Overall i had a good intro experience goin from a major sports store....goin from liek a walmart i kno it be like "this bike comes in blue too" kinda deal. Things are gettin better slowly cuz this sport is growing larger and larger i think. but my next bike will for sure be from an LBS cuz ill be dropping like $1500-2000 in a few years on a nice hardtail.
 

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I find that eventhough my bike is frekin heavy (Dept. store) and that is really is that great of quality it gets me by. It better to have a bike than nop bike at all. As long as I keep it maintained its been working pretty good. I took the old 7-bracket bearings out and replaced them with free bearings and relubes all that and jsut keep it clean and all lubed up and everything on it tight. Dong this will hopefully make it last quite a bit longer. :D
 

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openujs said:
i like ur expression..never heard that expression b4. i think that is true for most southern states/cities except Charlotte NC and southern florida.
A few of us in Canada use it too. But then it might be from reading the American 4x4 magazines :p
 

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I like others at one time purchased a Dept store bike and was so very sorry that I did. It became more time and work to keep everything functioning correctly than it was time to ride. I recently looked for a beginners bike for my wife and browsed through the dept store bikes and the more I looked the worse I felt for even considering putting her on one of those bikes. The components were mostly the lowest line of Shimano, Sram, and Suntour. Like the article above states there were very limited in size, and extremely heavy. So I bucked up my wallet and went shopping at real bike stores. After about a month of careful comparison I'm happy to say she is getting a Specialized Hardrock Sport, a very good beginners bike and I'm sure she would thank me if she test rode the dept store bikes before she tested the HardRock. SO I Would Recommend That You Stay Away From Dept Store Bikes.
 

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ks_medic said:
How do you guys feel about a GT Avalanche 3.0? Its my first bike, paid about $220 at a sporting good store. Is it a good bike? I'm wanting to do some upgrades to it. What should i buy for it?
I looked at the same bike for my wife. You got a pretty good deal on it. Around here it goes for $299. The things that I did not really like about it were as follows:
(1)It has Suntour XCC-100 crank and riveted chainrings "cant change when one wears out"
(2)Low grade rear Derailleur Shimano Acera " this is what Shimano lists as a casual riding and around town component.
(3)A even lower grade front Derailleur Shimano TY-32 this will probably be the first to go.
(4)Only has a 7 Speed rear cassette.
The other components are ok not great, but ok. That frame is a beast though, all the reviews I read on that bike said the components were not so hot, the rear Derailleur skips in no time and needs adjustment, but the frame is indestructible, you can beat it hard.

I think if its your first bike its not a bad choice it is comparable to all entry level bikes in that price range --> Under $300. Most have around the same types of components. I think it will serve you well until the components are hashed and by then you will be a better rider and can look for a higher end bike or a full new component set and other upgrades.
Good Luck with that GT, my cousin has been riding them since around 1982 and wont ride anything else.
 
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