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This came up in another thread, but I don't want to hijack, so I started this one.

We have all read the "debates" about how well a department store bike would hold up to "real" trail riding versus our much pricier "quality" bikes. But has anyone ever actually done some "real world" testing? I have never seen anything in a magazine. All of the "evidence" pointing to the inability of dept. store bikes to handle the rigors of "real" trail riding I have seen is purely anecdotal, and usually secondhand information. This makes it rather suspect.

So, I thought that maybe we could do a real world test of our own. My suggestion is simple. Any one interested in doing a real world test at MTBR would be given a budget of up to $200.00 (The $$ would come from donations from MTBR members) to buy a bike at one of the big box stores. They would be responsible for posting on the condition of the bike at purchase. They would have to ride the bike on trails for at least 1 hr every week for a period of three months (a total of 12 rides of at least 8 miles in length). At regular intervals during the testing period our intrepid tester would give a report on the condition of the bike and on how well or badly it rides. At the end of the period, our tester could write a full report on the bike and then we could have a definitive answer to this ?

MTBR members could make donations to the tester to defray the cost of purchasing the dept store bike. I won't be the tester as I am 5' 6" tall and weigh less than 130lbs. I really don't think that I would make the best test subject.

Any volunteers?
 

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Your bike is incorrigible
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done already

Frozenspokes said:
This came up in another thread, but I don't want to hijack, so I started this one.

We have all read the "debates" about how well a department store bike would hold up to "real" trail riding versus our much pricier "quality" bikes. But has anyone ever actually done some "real world" testing? I have never seen anything in a magazine. All of the "evidence" pointing to the inability of dept. store bikes to handle the rigors of "real" trail riding I have seen is purely anecdotal, and usually secondhand information. This makes it rather suspect.

So, I thought that maybe we could do a real world test of our own. My suggestion is simple. Any one interested in doing a real world test at MTBR would be given a budget of up to $200.00 (The $$ would come from donations from MTBR members) to buy a bike at one of the big box stores. They would be responsible for posting on the condition of the bike at purchase. They would have to ride the bike on trails for at least 1 hr every week for a period of three months (a total of 12 rides of at least 8 miles in length). At regular intervals during the testing period our intrepid tester would give a report on the condition of the bike and on how well or badly it rides. At the end of the period, our tester could write a full report on the bike and then we could have a definitive answer to this ?

MTBR members could make donations to the tester to defray the cost of purchasing the dept store bike. I won't be the tester as I am 5' 6" tall and weigh less than 130lbs. I really don't think that I would make the best test subject.

Any volunteers?
Dirt Rag did a test of two $100 bikes from department stores last year. I forget the issue number, but you can go through the old issues at dirtragmag.com. Basically, both the bikes fell apart within a few hours. The worst thing was that one of the bikes was assembled so poorly that the wheels wouldn't spin! They had to completely disassemble and correctly reassemble the bikes before taking them out to test.
 

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Guyechka said:
Dirt Rag did a test of two $100 bikes from department stores last year. I forget the issue number, but you can go through the old issues at dirtragmag.com. Basically, both the bikes fell apart within a few hours. The worst thing was that one of the bikes was assembled so poorly that the wheels wouldn't spin! They had to completely disassemble and correctly reassemble the bikes before taking them out to test.
I am very skeptical of those results. Lasy year, more than 20 Million bikes were sold in the USA.....the overwhelming majority of them were cheap department store bikes. Does anyone honestly think they would continue to sell year after year if they simply fell apart within a week?

A side note.....Bicycling magazine did a similar "study" last year looking at these bikes, and they found them reliable for street commuting purposes, which is essentially what they are made for. Anyone who honestly believes $150 bikes are made to bomb down mountains needs to go and have their head checked......they are selling these cheap bikes as mountain bikes because that is what is "cool"

IMO, there is way to much emphasis on what people ride and not enough on why people ride. I would much rather see someone who is excited about the sport and who rides a lot than someone with a $3000 bike who is merely a poseur.

My .02
 

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MBA did one of these tests a few years ago and the bike fell apart, too.

The fact of the matter is we know these bikes are not trailworthy, so what's the point in driving that home and preaching to the choir about it? Furthermore, it's a safety issue. Why would you intentionally want to ride down tech descents on a POS that weighs 42 pounds and uses cheap vee brakes?
 

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I think the idea of (re)testing some cheap bikes is a great idea, but with a few controls put in to prevent overly-strong biases and in order to keep expectations realistic.It would be cool to have a few test subjects from various cycling and MTB backgrounds of various skill levels.Think about it: take even just an o.k. DH'er off of his/her 50lb usual rig and put em on the "toughest" of cheap bikes, and yeah, they're gonna beat it like a runaway slave and break it like a cheap toy in under half an hour.What I personally would be interested in hearing are opinions from everyday Joes at a novice/intermediate skill level and riding experience level (i.e.-# of bikes ridden) allowed to test the cheapies alongside some quality bikes.Perhaps that would yield less ego-involved attempts at justifying their $4500 bikes (hey,if I dished that much out, I'd want to reiterate my "great choice" all the time too :rolleyes: ), which is how the whole Dirt Rag test seems to me.Of course I am aware that cheapies are in fact, well, cheap, and overall, tend to suck. But I agree with Brian 100%.Be realistic, they apparently do the job for a great many people, most likely at the beginner skill level.Why not let the testing be done by an average cheapie bike customer?

p.s.-I'm not trying to discount the credibility or valuable input of actual skilled riders with years of experience.I just think that you should stay on your FOES/Intense/SC and leave this one to the Huffy folks :p ...some of 'em really don't NEED a bulletproof bike; they generally only take it off of pavement in the parks or alleys anyhow.
 

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ArroyoBomber said:
What I personally would be interested in hearing are opinions from everyday Joes at a novice/intermediate skill level and riding experience level (i.e.-# of bikes ridden) allowed to test the cheapies alongside some quality bikes.Perhaps that would yield less ego-involved attempts at justifying their $4500 bikes (hey,if I dished that much out, I'd want to reiterate my "great choice" all the time too :rolleyes: ), which is how the whole Dirt Rag test seems to me.Of course I am aware that cheapies are in fact, well, cheap, and overall, tend to suck. But I agree with Brian 100%.Be realistic, they apparently do the job for a great many people, most likely at the beginner skill level.Why not let the testing be done by an average cheapie bike customer?

p.s.-I'm not trying to discount the credibility or valuable input of actual skilled riders with years of experience.I just think that you should stay on your FOES/Intense/SC and leave this one to the Huffy folks :p ...some of 'em really don't NEED a bulletproof bike; they generally only take it off of pavement in the parks or alleys anyhow.
OK...from my experience riding my home trails on cheap (and inexpensive), intermediate, and stupid priced bikes (Raleigh Matterhorn, a Sear's Free Spirit 18 spd, and a CCM 18 speed, as well as a Marin HT, and an Ellsworth FS), i can confirm that the difference at my riding level does not justify the price, especially at the very high end. I doubt if 1% of the riders would take advantage of the qualities of a boutique bike and i'm sure they would be happy with a well built and fitted bike from a tier 1 or 2 mfg

yes, there is a difference, but is it worth the extra $3K-$4K? for the average rider?...probably not
 

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JM01 said:
OK...from my experience riding my home trails on cheap (and inexpensive), intermediate, and stupid priced bikes (Raleigh Matterhorn, a Sear's Free Spirit 18 spd, and a CCM 18 speed, as well as a Marin HT, and an Ellsworth FS), i can confirm that the difference at my riding level does not justify the price, especially at the very high end. I doubt if 1% of the riders would take advantage of the qualities of a boutique bike and i'm sure they would be happy with a well built and fitted bike from a tier 1 or 2 mfg

yes, there is a difference, but is it worth the extra $3K-$4K? for the average rider?...probably not
Well, I would dispute that because it usually takes an effort to seek out the particular boutique brand and then decide, sometimes without riding, which model is good because they tend to be more specific in their applications. Lots of research is done before the purchase, including justification for the upcharge the first time around. Go to the Turner board, for example and you'll see a fairly accurate representation of most owners there.
 

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Bike Snob.

There are millions of the disenfranchised doing this test every day on the way to their jobs.

I guarantee that there are people putting more miles on a Roadmaster every month than many posters to MTBR ride in a year.
 

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JM01 said:
OK...from my experience riding my home trails on cheap (and inexpensive), intermediate, and stupid priced bikes (Raleigh Matterhorn, a Sear's Free Spirit 18 spd, and a CCM 18 speed, as well as a Marin HT, and an Ellsworth FS), i can confirm that the difference at my riding level does not justify the price, especially at the very high end. I doubt if 1% of the riders would take advantage of the qualities of a boutique bike and i'm sure they would be happy with a well built and fitted bike from a tier 1 or 2 mfg

yes, there is a difference, but is it worth the extra $3K-$4K? for the average rider?...probably not

If someone said to you that you MUST drive a Ferrari and any other car is unridable.....you would laugh in their face. Yet this is the precise argument many here make when they argue that you can only have fun on a bike costing nearly as much as some cars.

IMO, they are forgetting that the true meaning of the sport.....to get out, get dirty and be at one with nature and the world around you.
 

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ArroyoBomber said:
Perhaps that would yield less ego-involved attempts at justifying their $4500 bikes
someone with a $3000 bike who is merely a poseur

seriously guys, i've never met these people. you keep bringing them up, and they sure draw a lot of hate on these boards...but i've never seen one! most people on the trail have average $ bikes, and those with high $ bikes are out riding, every time i've seen one.

where are the mysterious poseurs?
 

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There are $3000 Treks, Cannondales, Specialized, and Giants out there. There was even a time I remember vividly where GT's were even more epensive than boutique brands of the era.

It's true, biking is pricing many people out of it, including myself, but equipment costs money. Ridiculous or not, it costs money. A few years ago, a top-line XTR race bike was at the magic $3000 number. Now we're talking $5000. 3k doesn't seem like such a stretch anymore for a mid line bike. A poseur is someone who doesn't use their equipment, such as those that go to get coffee with a full XTR bike while wearing docksiders in NYC. A poseur is NOT anyone who uses their equipment, regardless if it's a Fisher, Trek, Turner, Ventana, of GT. From what I've seen, people who do research and spend the extra dollars are the ones looking to get the most riding out of the bike and perhaps they have a bit of a compulsion to get rides in, as is my case.
 

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Jerk_Chicken said:
There are $3000 Treks, Cannondales, Specialized, and Giants out there. There was even a time I remember vividly where GT's were even more epensive than boutique brands of the era.

It's true, biking is pricing many people out of it, including myself, but equipment costs money. Ridiculous or not, it costs money. A few years ago, a top-line XTR race bike was at the magic $3000 number. Now we're talking $5000. 3k doesn't seem like such a stretch anymore for a mid line bike. A poseur is someone who doesn't use their equipment, such as those that go to get coffee with a full XTR bike while wearing docksiders in NYC. A poseur is NOT anyone who uses their equipment, regardless if it's a Fisher, Trek, Turner, Ventana, of GT. From what I've seen, people who do research and spend the extra dollars are the ones looking to get the most riding out of the bike and perhaps they have a bit of a compulsion to get rides in, as is my case.
true...but i also see a lot of very expensive mtb's being used on paved roads, by professionals and their kids who looked at the price tag before they saw what it was attached to. Sometimes its funny to see a kid on a Banshee Scream or Orange DH rig riding down Main Street, especially if they have to climb a small hill

around our trails, its a status thing, and there is a definite penis envy syndrome with some of the people who ride the mass produced bikes
 

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ferday said:
seriously guys, i've never met these people. you keep bringing them up, and they sure draw a lot of hate on these boards...but i've never seen one! most people on the trail have average $ bikes, and those with high $ bikes are out riding, every time i've seen one.

where are the mysterious poseurs?

Look a little harder.

Seriously, there are a heck of a lot of commuters who use bikes such as Huffy's not because they want to, but because of economic necessity. These people ride everyday, rain or shine, and log more miles than most here on mtbr I would venture to guess. And at the same time, they are constantly ridiculed for riding these very same bikes they are forced to ride, again, because of economic necessity.

And you surprised that this draws people ire????.......I would worry if it did not!
 

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brianthebiker said:
I am very skeptical of those results. Lasy year, more than 20 Million bikes were sold in the USA.....the overwhelming majority of them were cheap department store bikes. Does anyone honestly think they would continue to sell year after year if they simply fell apart within a week?

A side note.....Bicycling magazine did a similar "study" last year looking at these bikes, and they found them reliable for street commuting purposes, which is essentially what they are made for. Anyone who honestly believes $150 bikes are made to bomb down mountains needs to go and have their head checked......they are selling these cheap bikes as mountain bikes because that is what is "cool"

IMO, there is way to much emphasis on what people ride and not enough on why people ride. I would much rather see someone who is excited about the sport and who rides a lot than someone with a $3000 bike who is merely a poseur.

My .02

as a former full time wrench, i can say confidently, that YES, they all fall apart within a month or so. even IF your budget is 150 dollars, there are many many used bikes that will give you literally years of faithful and enjoyable service as a commuter/recreation bike. cheap dept. store bikes are a hazard to the very sport of cycling.
 
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