Mongoose Switchback "department store bike" quality - 3 year reality check time

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Grl, Apr 27, 2003.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Grl

    Grl Guest

    On June 14, 2000 I posted the following message in this new group using my
    [email protected] address:

    "Dick's Sporting Goods has the Mongoose Switchback "comfort" bike on sale for $225 this week. This
    is an old (1998) model, but it has an aluminum frame and seems to have better equipment than current
    models in the ~$300 range, so it caught my eye. I'm looking for a commute to work bike/pleasure ride
    on streets bike.

    It looks like a good deal and I was wondering if someone might have one of these and has formed a
    good/bad opinion of it that they might care to share."

    I got a few replies, none encouraging, and some saying Mongoose quality had gone to hell and dealers
    were dropping the line because of that and because it was being sold in department stores (that they
    did not wish to compete with).

    The price was attractive, the bike looked good, and I wanted to start a daily exercise program
    riding for about an hour each day on city streets and on a paved bike path, so I bought it.

    The summer and fall of 2000 I rode it, on average, five days a week about 45 minutes each ride
    except summer when it goes up to 1:15 h a day. I ride about 15 mph and weigh 245 lb. I stored it
    through the mid-Michigan winter. The next year (2001), I started riding once the streets cleared in
    the spring, through the summer and right up until late fall. Same rate of use. Again, no winter
    riding. In 2002, the pattern was again the same, but that summer I started having tire blow-out
    problems. At first I thought it was a "bad" inner tube, and replaced with heavy duty (thick) inner
    tubes which also blew. Looked like they were opening at the weld, but in reality it was the tire
    that was "bad" at the bead and was tearing the inner tube. Very weird. Bike shop guys could not
    figure it out. Replaced the original tires with bike-shop recommended street tires which were MUCH
    nicer. About $40 total for two tires. Continued to ride through to the fall. I decided to replace
    the saddle, not because the original one was worn out, it looks almost new, but because I wanted to
    see if I could get one that would prevent the "male pattern family jewels tingle" I was sometimes
    getting. Replacement from a bike shop cost $25. Better than the original. No tingle. Then decided
    I'd ride through the Michigan winter whenever weather allowed which ended up meaning whenever the
    streets were cleared of snow and it was over 15 F. I bought a brace of lights because it also meant
    riding in the dark. This was a relatively dry and not too cold winter, so I rode about 1/2 the
    winter days.

    We're approaching the end of year three. How has this department store Mongoose Switchback
    bike held up?

    Well the riding though the last winter was not kind to the bike. It had looked like new before the
    winter. The rear deraileur locked up from salt and crud and I spent a couple of hours cleaning it up
    (along with the entire bike) today. Works fine now. Front derailure, shifters, and brakes all work
    fine. The frame looks almost new. No rust (steel frame) and the paint has held up great. Some signs
    of light salt pitting on some of the aluminum components. Not bad. Nothing has worn out or broken
    (other than one tire). The bike rides fine, shifts well, and brakes well. Creaks a little now and
    again (I think it's the spring in the seat post), but is still very smooth. It's a pretty heavy
    beast (especially with those "thorn-proof" tires I don't really need), given the big steel frame,
    but that is not really a bad thing if what you are after is exercise.

    Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near daily use (weather permitting) on
    rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks good and rides good and I
    see no reason to expect a significant problem any time soon. Never been to a bike shop to service
    it, either.

    Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike line
    were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to Mongoose
    changing their distribution channel.

    I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one to a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very
    well indeed.

    - GRL

    "It's good to want things."

    Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
     
    Tags:


  2. > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike line
    > were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to Mongoose
    > changing their distribution channel.
    >
    > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    > Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one
    to
    > a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very well indeed.

    Unfortunately, this is one of those your-mileage-may-vary things. You got lucky and ended up with a
    bike that was assembled by somebody who knew what he was doing. That can make all the difference in
    the world! Trouble is, that's not a universal experience at general sporting goods stores; they
    don't put a whole lot of emphasis on the quality end of their bike business. That's not to say that
    all local bike shops are created equal though... Dick's (or any other department store) doesn't have
    an exclusive right to improperly assemble a bike. However, your chances remain better that a local
    bike shop (or independent bicycle retailer or whatever you want to call my type of retailer) is
    going to be more concerned about the long-term implications of building quality into (or not!) a
    bike than a general sporting goods store or mass market seller (K-Mart, Wal-Mart etc).

    To be perfectly frank, I've seen bikes from the likes of places like Dick's (and even, once in a
    while, from K-Mart) that came in our front door in pieces, but really weren't all that bad once we
    fixed them up. It's often all in the hands of the assembler.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  3. Bernie

    Bernie Guest

    GRL wrote:Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near daily use

    > (weather permitting) on rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks
    > good and rides good and I see no reason to expect a significant problem any time soon. Never been
    > to a bike shop to service it, either.
    >
    > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike line
    > were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to Mongoose
    > changing their distribution channel.
    >
    > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    > Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one to a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very
    > well indeed.
    >
    > - GRL
    >
    > "It's good to want things."
    >
    > Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)

    That was good reading! I put lots of miles on too, and my bikes have not stood up nearly that well.
    I'm not going to mention brand names, but that is impressive reliability. Do you do much "rough"
    riding? Like curb jumping, etc?

    Bernie
     
  4. "GRL" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    >
    > Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near daily use (weather permitting) on
    > rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks good and rides good and I
    > see no reason to expect
    a
    > significant problem any time soon. Never been to a bike shop to service
    it,
    > either.
    >
    > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike line
    > were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to Mongoose
    > changing their distribution channel.
    >

    Bikes are one of the greatest instruments ever developed. Glad to see you're having such a good time
    with yours.

    While there is a lot of unrealistic snobbery in the bike world, there is a substantial difference in
    the feeling quality of a well designed bike with a certain level of componantry. A dept store bike
    may be functionally enough for one to experience the joy of cycling it is not in the same league as
    modern "bike shop" bikes.
     
  5. Grl

    Grl Guest

    No. Just steady riding at a moderate clip on your normal rust-belt city streets, plus a nicer "rail
    trail" in the summer.

    --

    - GRL

    "It's good to want things."

    Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
    "Bernie" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    >
    > GRL wrote:Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near
    daily
    > use
    >
    > > (weather permitting) on rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks
    > > good and rides good and I see no reason to
    expect a
    > > significant problem any time soon. Never been to a bike shop to service
    it,
    > > either.
    > >
    > > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike
    > > line were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to
    > > Mongoose changing their distribution channel.
    > >
    > > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    > > Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one
    to
    > > a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very well indeed.
    > >
    > > - GRL
    > >
    > > "It's good to want things."
    > >
    > > Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
    >
    > That was good reading! I put lots of miles on too, and my bikes have not
    stood
    > up nearly that well. I'm not going to mention brand names, but that is impressive reliability. Do
    > you do much "rough" riding? Like curb
    jumping, etc?
    >
    > Bernie
     
  6. Grl

    Grl Guest

    Before I bought my bike, I did all the research I could on the components it was made with. They
    were name brand and "lower middle-class" grade or a little better in the line-up. The frame is
    aluminum (6061?) with steel forks and handlebar. I'm sure that I could find a lighter bike for 2X
    the money, but when the objective is just a reliable and pretty smooth ride on city streets (I get
    that with the steel forks) for purposes of exercise and mental decompression, I don't see the
    benefit to be gained. I'm sure that "pride of ownership" would be greater with, say, a $400 Trek,
    but I strongly doubt it would serve me any better than the Mongoose has and I ride for exercise and
    pleasure, not for pride of ownership. I understand that that is an important factor for others, and
    that's fine. Not my bag, that's all.

    I cruised through Dick's recently and noticed they are selling a newer 7005 Al framed version of the
    Switchback with what appears to be similar-level componentry and a shock fork for...$185! That's
    less than the $225 I paid years ago. Bloody amazing! My boss wants to take up cycling for exercise
    and is probably going to get one. I think it's a smart buy. Should serve him well.

    - GRL

    "It's good to want things."

    Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
    "one of the six billion" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "GRL" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >
    > >
    > > Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near daily use (weather permitting) on
    > > rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks good and rides good and I
    > > see no reason to
    expect
    > a
    > > significant problem any time soon. Never been to a bike shop to service
    > it,
    > > either.
    > >
    > > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike
    > > line were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to
    > > Mongoose changing their distribution channel.
    > >
    >
    > Bikes are one of the greatest instruments ever developed. Glad to see you're having such a good
    > time with yours.
    >
    > While there is a lot of unrealistic snobbery in the bike world, there is a substantial difference
    > in the feeling quality of a well designed bike with a certain level of componantry. A dept store
    > bike may be functionally enough for one to experience the joy of cycling it is not in the same
    > league as modern "bike shop" bikes.
    >
    >
     
  7. Grl

    Grl Guest

    I'm old enough to date back to when every kid who had a bike was his own mechanic and I was no
    different, so setting up a bike and servicing it holds no challenge or fear for me. What I don't
    know. I find out from the internet or books in the library.

    Beyond that, the local Dick's sets up bikes so that they are at least 90% ready to go. The last 10%
    you do yourself or you bring it back to Dick's for the 30-day re-adjustment if you don't want to do
    the final tweak yourself. They have a couple of guys on staff in their bike department who seem to
    know their stuff as well as many of the bike shop guys I've met. They are not going to spend the
    time with you that a bike shop guy can, but then you are paying 1/2 or less than the bike shop guy
    would charge. It's a trade-off, I know.

    I would not go down the ladder to the level of a K-Mart or Wal-Mart, but sporting goods stores like
    Dick's or Dunhams are reasonable places to buy a good bike at a very good price and you can expect
    the bike to last. That's the point of my post.

    --

    - GRL

    "It's good to want things."

    Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
    "Mike Jacoubowsky" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike
    > > line were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to
    > > Mongoose changing their distribution channel.
    > >
    > > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    > > Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one
    > to
    > > a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very well indeed.
    >
    > Unfortunately, this is one of those your-mileage-may-vary things. You got lucky and ended up with
    > a bike that was assembled by somebody who knew
    what
    > he was doing. That can make all the difference in the world! Trouble is, that's not a universal
    > experience at general sporting goods stores; they don't put a whole lot of emphasis on the quality
    > end of their bike
    business.
    > That's not to say that all local bike shops are created equal though... Dick's (or any other
    > department store) doesn't have an exclusive right to improperly assemble a bike. However, your
    > chances remain better that a local bike shop (or independent bicycle retailer or whatever you want
    > to call my type of retailer) is going to be more concerned about the
    long-term
    > implications of building quality into (or not!) a bike than a general sporting goods store or mass
    > market seller (K-Mart, Wal-Mart etc).
    >
    > To be perfectly frank, I've seen bikes from the likes of places like
    Dick's
    > (and even, once in a while, from K-Mart) that came in our front door in pieces, but really weren't
    > all that bad once we fixed them up. It's often all in the hands of the assembler.
    >
    > --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  8. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "GRL" <[email protected]> wrote

    >
    > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store like
    > Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one
    to
    > a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very well indeed.
    >
    >

    When I went from a Motiv (similar quality to the sporting goods store 'geese) to a $350 Specialized
    Hardrock, the difference was eyeopening.

    Note that the Motiv never 'broke' either. The difference in ride quality, however, was impressive.

    Pete
     
  9. Bernie

    Bernie Guest

    GRL wrote:

    > No. Just steady riding at a moderate clip on your normal rust-belt city streets, plus a nicer
    > "rail trail" in the summer.
    >
    > --
    >
    > - GRL
    >
    > "It's good to want things."
    >
    > Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
    > "Bernie" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > >
    > >
    > > GRL wrote:Overall, after (very conservative estimate) >4,000 miles near
    > daily
    > > use
    > >
    > > > (weather permitting) on rough city streets in all kinds (literally) of weather, it still looks
    > > > good and rides good and I see no reason to
    > expect a
    > > > significant problem any time soon. Never been to a bike shop to service
    > it,
    > > > either.
    > > >
    > > > Those bike shop types warning about falling Mongoose quality in their "department store" bike
    > > > line were utterly clueless and, I think, just spouting self-serving nonsense in reaction to
    > > > Mongoose changing their distribution channel.
    > > >
    > > > I would not for a second hesitate to buy another $200 Mongoose bike from Dick's or a store
    > > > like Dick's for commuter/exercise use or recommend one
    > to
    > > > a friend I wished to keep. They hold up very well indeed.
    > > >
    > > > - GRL
    > > >
    > > > "It's good to want things."
    > > >
    > > > Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic
    > > > programmer)
    > >
    > > That was good reading! I put lots of miles on too, and my bikes have not
    > stood
    > > up nearly that well. I'm not going to mention brand names, but that is impressive reliability.
    > > Do you do much "rough" riding? Like curb
    > jumping, etc?
    > >
    > > Bernie
    > >

    I spect I am a bit harder on my rides, but still grind them town n country, winter n summer, and
    your performance story is very good. If my old rigid mountain bike quits afore I do, you post will
    be part of my decision making process! Best regards, Bernie
     
  10. "GRL" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    <snip>

    > I would not go down the ladder to the level of a K-Mart or Wal-Mart, but sporting goods stores
    > like Dick's or Dunhams are reasonable places to buy a good bike at a very good price and you can
    > expect the bike to last. That's the point of my post.

    There seems to be a tier of bicycles emerging between department store Huffy's and bike shop bikes,
    i.e. Mongoose, and Motiv. But you really need to know how to properly assemble and adjust the bike
    yourself. Like you, I've been doing that for a long time, probably 40 years now, but I wouldn't
    advise most people I know to go to Costco or SportMart for a bike as they'd be clueless as to how to
    finish the assembly.

    Even Specialized has a whole range of bikes that are about equivalent to Mongoose, sold by bike
    shops, for not much more than you paid. I.e. the Specialized Expedition sells for about $225-250,
    and is probably similar in quality to the Mongoose Switchback. Costco's Motiv bikes are also of
    similar quality and compentry, but the assembly quality is dreadful (but they sell for about $150).
    A bike shop would probably charge at least $75 to properly re-assemble and adjust it.

    Steve (who rode his vintage 1984 Specialized Expedition to work today)
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Loading...