Cheapest non-"Walmart" bike?



keydates

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Mar 9, 2004
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I have a friend who is looking for a cheap but reliable/well built bike. He's not likely to do much more than bike to and from class/work (a couple miles max per day), and it'll probably be spending the rest of its time locked up outside, exposed to the elements. I'm thinking some sort of mountain bike, but what would be the best bikes in the $300-400 price range?
 

Hewerrr

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Mar 30, 2007
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keydates said:
I have a friend who is looking for a cheap but reliable/well built bike. He's not likely to do much more than bike to and from class/work (a couple miles max per day), and it'll probably be spending the rest of its time locked up outside, exposed to the elements. I'm thinking some sort of mountain bike, but what would be the best bikes in the $300-400 price range?
I'd say for what your friend wants, a department store bike would be perfectly suitable. For what they are, Walmart or Kmart or Shopko bikes are perfectly fine. They're not built for performance by any means, but from your description of the needs of your friend, they'll fit the bill just fine.
Once purchased, I would highly recommend taking the bike into a reputable bike shop and have them go over it. Department stores generally have some disinterested underpaid employee with zero machanical ability assemble their bikes- so have it gone over by a professional. Then with proper maintainence the bike should last trouble free for as long as you'd want under the conditions you listed above. Of course, being exposed to the elements isn't good for any bike, but I'll tell you, a $5000 boutique bike won't last any longer than a $150 Walmart bike if it's not properly maintained.

The only reason for your friend to go to a real bike shop is to support your LBS, which is certainly a good thing. If you do want to support your LBS, I'd suggest just letting them take care of you. The'll know what's best and have all the prices at hand.
 

Scotty_Dog

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Jul 30, 2004
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Because the bike is "spending the rest of its time locked up outside, exposed to the elements", I would search the local classifieds or craigslist for a cheap used bike for less than $50. At that price point it's expendable if stolen, damaged, or in need of a costly repair.
 
Jun 6, 2006
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Hewerrr said:
The only reason for your friend to go to a real bike shop is to support your LBS, which is certainly a good thing. If you do want to support your LBS, I'd suggest just letting them take care of you. The'll know what's best and have all the prices at hand.
Another reason is that stuff gets loose on those things. I had a headset and bb loosen up on a cruiser I bought for rain and winter. The nut is just a bit bigger than your average crescent wrench. That said, if the guy is reasonably handy, a department store bike would be fine though I would get a cruiser over a cheap mtb for the fenders, chainguard, and simplicity.
 

Hewerrr

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Mar 30, 2007
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garage sale GT said:
Another reason is that stuff gets loose on those things. I had a headset and bb loosen up on a cruiser I bought for rain and winter. The nut is just a bit bigger than your average crescent wrench. That said, if the guy is reasonably handy, a department store bike would be fine though I would get a cruiser over a cheap mtb for the fenders, chainguard, and simplicity.
You're right, of course. What I meant was the only reason for the friend to go to an LBS to buy a bike is to support them.
Without the tools and/or knowledge to do it yourself, taking your bike into a bike shop is an important part of maintainence. Which is supporting your LBS also.
 
Jun 6, 2006
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Or he could pick up a used bike like that unbelievable 3 speed Murray on ebay right now. I got a 3 speed free spirit at a garage sale for $5 and it was a great bike.
 

gemship

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Sep 19, 2006
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anywhere from free to 200 dollars on craigslist or any yardsale, fleamarket will buy a nice quality bike here in the Boston area. That includes bikes the lbs may of sold years ago in the 3-4 hundred price range

btw- if your friend has to leave the bike outside then try to find one with as much aluminum parts as possible because aluminum will hold up better to moisture than steel.
 

keydates

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Mar 9, 2004
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Thank you for the advice. He got a Raleigh Mojave 2.0 and at least says that he will keep the bike inside over the winter, so at the very least it won't be sitting in 30 feet of snow for several months (maybe).
 
Jun 6, 2006
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gemship said:
...if your friend has to leave the bike outside then try to find one with as much aluminum parts as possible because aluminum will hold up better to moisture than steel.
Moisture, yes. Salt, no.
 

gemship

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Sep 19, 2006
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garage sale GT said:
Moisture, yes. Salt, no.


agreed salt is pretty bad when it comes in to contact with any metal. I was thinking that if he goes the walmart route for a bike it would be one of those all steel bikes right down to the rims that wieghts a ton and rusts like a old frieghter in salt water :p
 

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