"Don't buy a box-store bike ..."

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by jmhenfp, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. jmhenfp

    jmhenfp New Member

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    So, my 12-year-old daughter (5'1", 30" inseam) has been riding a Schwinn mountain bike with 24" tires, but it's down to only gears 5-7 and it doesn't brake very well. So I want to get her another bike.

    And I looked at Walmart and figured I'd buy her something for $150 that should work, given that she pretty much just bikes around the neighborhood, rarely more than a mile or two at a time.

    But then I started talking to my biking friends and acquaintances. You know, the professional road racer, and the close-to-Olympic-level triathlete, and the couple who like to take 700-mile bike trips on their vacations. And they all tell me that I cannot, CANNOT, buy a piece of crap from a big box store. They're never put together right. The components are cheap, and they break easily. Then again, I doubt that any single component on their bikes costs less than what I am willing and able to spend on her whole bike.

    So I go to my local bike shop, great people, and if my daughter were fully grown and still interested in biking, I'd be happy to buy a bike from them. But she isn't, and I'm not. They say she needs a small frame and 26" tires now, but her dad is 6'3" and I am 5'9". I figure she still has quite a bit of growing to do.

    Now, I'm looking on Craigslist. Trek, Jamis, Cannondale, Specialized. They told me what brands to look for. I have a guy at a bike shop who will do a tune-up and repairs for me. But heck, I only ride my bike a mile or two at a time, too. I have no idea what to look for. How am I supposed to know what I'm buying? A Jamis XC road bike for $150? Peugeot Montreal Express for $50? Early 80s Fuji Mountain bike. in Good Shape. Araya Wheels, Shimano Shifting, Skin Wall tires. ALL Original!!!!! for $150? A Trek 850 Limited Edition Volkswagen Jetta bike with Aluminum frame, Shimano gears and brakes for $60?

    I am so tempted to just buy whatever bike at Walmart has the best rating. Help me out!
     
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  2. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Get the bike that will work best for the kind of riding she expects to do.

    For most teenagers who are riding around town and to school, an inexpensive mountain bike or general purpose hybrid works. Look for Trek 820s, 3500s, 3700s, 3900s. Look for Specialized Hardrocks, Rockhoppers, and hardtail Mykas (ladies' bikes). Look for Scott Aspects. These are the brands I'm most familiar with, but the other name brands are good, too. I've worked on a lot of Schwinn Mesas and Moabs that just keep going with a little maintenance.

    Avoid mountain bikes older than 1990. Any bike that old is likely to need work, the controls weren't that great, and finding parts will be a hassle. Surely someones going to contradict me with his perfect example of a vintage first-generation Rockhopper, but you aren't likely to find this bike on Craigslist anyway. And don't pay more than $100 for any bike that can't be ridden home--it should have tires that hold air, two working brakes, all the gears should be accessible, it should roll and pedal quietly, the wheels should roll straight and quietly, and there should be no loose parts. If it can't meet this standart, expect to spend up to $150 to get it that way.
     
  3. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    I bought my 5-footer old a used Schwinn ranger for $60. It is not the lightest bike, but works just fine for runs to the friend's house or rides with me into town and she loves it. Her previous bike was a Specalized hotrock 20" with 6 speeds.

    Your current bike probably just needs a little tlc. Lube the chain and adjust the derailleurs and brakes. If you don't have the time to wrench on it, some neighborhood kid, friendly neighbor or garage mechanic could probably get it rolling well enough for cheap.

    If you do want something new, a small 26" wheel women's mountain bike should fit. I almost went that route with my daughter. I had her fitted to a base model Trek at the local shop, but then I saw the ranger on the side of the road.
     
  4. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    I'm going to deviate from the crowd and say head on down to Walmart and get the one with the best ratings or the one your daughter thinks is best looking. We're talking about a 12 year old that's going to ride circles around the neighborhood. This bike might, MIGHT see 1 mile a day. When I was a kid my parents always bought me bikes from Toys R Us. I never had one that broke in any significant, function-inhibiting way before I outgrew it the very next summer and I rode/abused my bikes sun up to sun down every second I wasn't in school. The biggest issue with department store bikes is that a typical kid's bike weighs more than a Toyota Corolla - not a huge deal unless your daughter is planning on cleaning house at the neighborhood kiddie crit.

    Spending over $400 on a Trek 3500 that will last a single season before your daughter outgrows it is insanity unless you're one of those people with a money tree or you have three follow up kids that will also use the bike. Go get her a disposable department store bike and call it a day.

    Also, I have to agree with you on used bike prices on Craigslist. People must be on some really good drugs. A couple months ago I was looking for a bike for my girlfriend who wanted to give riding a try. Oh here's one for $500, that's affordable... oh wait, it's a rusted 1960 Motobecane that's missing the crank. Honestly there was nothing for under a grand that wasn't older than I am. Some of these people must have been selling these bikes for more than they paid for them in 1975. Any bike that wasn't a 30+ year old shit pile was about a 5-10% discount from its brand new MSRP 10 years ago. The used bike market is an absolute joke.
     
  5. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Hear, hear. By the way, I was suggesting used bikes to look for, that have usually aged well.

    I do think that good deals can be had on craigslist, if you're clear about what you think the bike is worth and if you're patient. Make your offer, and if the ad's still around two weeks later, restate it.
     
  6. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    I tried to by a used bike, oh how I tried. I figured that the 1/2 rule would apply to bikes as well as it does to most used items. Well, it didn't work out. I bought a new bike because it was less expensive than buying a used one.
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Walmart bikes are getting worse not better, there was a time when I bought my then 9 year old daughter a Walmart bike and the thing held up for till she started driving a car, not so today, I have friends who buy their kids Walmart bikes today and they're pissed because they break just after the first year, so save yourself some frustration and increase your budget by $100 to $150 which will save you some money in the long run. Having said that I would never buy a kid an expensive LBS bike if all they do is go around the block, toss it on the ground, crash, let it get rained on, etc, so I would consider Dicks Sporting store first. At Dicks you will get a bike that is a grade between Walmart and an LBS bike, meaning it should last at least 5 years, and right now their advertising closeout sales on some models.

    Due to her inseam you should be looking at bikes with 26" wheels with a frame between 17 to 19 inch frame size, or 700c wheels with frames between 52 and 54cm frame size.

    I hope you find something that will work within your budget and will last.
     
  8. Mr645

    Mr645 New Member

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    If there is a Performance Bike nearby, go there. You can always bring the bike back a year or two later and exchange it for a larger or different type of bike
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    That is a very good idea, I had to go read the Performance Bike guarantee and it indeed says you can do just that; see: http://www.performancebike.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Content_10052_10551_-1_Returns

    Again though you'll have to up the price you were willing to pay to about $400 but in the long run it will be worth it, if she decides later to upgrade then she has the credit of that bike, or if she decides never to ride a bike again you can use the credit instead for your own cycling needs, so really you won't be out much except for any inflationary effects of course.
     
  10. bikeman1962ca

    bikeman1962ca New Member

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    I absolutely agree with ayeyo. Shopping for a used bike is a gamble, even if you find something you think is nice, usually ends up costing you in repairs. People don't sell good bikes on craigslist, they sell the crap they want to get rid of. Pass it off to someone else, and make a few bucks too. A lot of people are buying online these days. Cheap affordable bikes sent right to your home. Then you can afford to bring it to the LBS and have it tuned up for you. You could try out my site http://urbicycle.com
     
  11. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Normally I would agree too, for a kid under 12 heck yeah, problem is, like I mentioned in an earlier post, that in the last 5 years Walmart bikes have gotten really bad. I had no problems buying Walmart bikes for my kids even when they were young teens because they held up but that was about 15 years ago since they've been young teens, but now I know people who have young teen kids and the Walmart bikes are constantly being taken into bike shops or returned to Walmart.

    Shopping on Craigslist is not risky at all IF you know your bikes. I've bought bikes off of CL and have had zero issues, but I know a little about bikes so the risk was never there. Granted if you don't know anything about bikes than that could be an issue, but even a simple road test will tell you if somethings not right to even a person who is a semi dunce about bikes! I bet you there are plenty of people on this forum who have purchased bikes off of CL and never had a problem. Tell you what, post a new thread as a poll and ask that!
     
  12. bikeman1962ca

    bikeman1962ca New Member

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    Well, I'm not saying that every bike on CL is bad, but you do have to do a lot of work to find that good one. Lot's of travelling time going from one place to another to look. A lot of calling and e-mailing. I bet if you add up how much the search cost, you wouldn't be saving a lot.
     
  13. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Please don't take this as argumentative, too many forums think that's happening before it even becomes argumentative! It's simply what I've experienced and nothing more. I don't even go to look at a bike unless I think it has more value than their asking, I don't have to drive 100 miles to go see it, and it fits me because I want to be able to ride it on occasion and I don't have the time to flip bikes, then I call to pick their brain if the brain picking intrigues me further I'll go see it. For me personally, remember I have mentioned that earlier, I've gone out to see 3 bikes, of those 3 I bought 2. Time to look at the CL listings takes me less than a minute, I spent quite a bit more time today just typing this response then it would take me to search CL for a week!! So I guess in reality to date I wasted a heck a lot more time on this forum then I will waste in a lifetime looking at CL!!
     
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