Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Department Store Bikes

I'm NOT a bike snob. I think that any bike that any person has is a good bike. I've seen many, many, many inexpensive bikes with decades of service, miles and miles of history, and with the right rider, used more proficiently than any boutique bike.

That being said, department store bikes are crap, and it's an insult to any consumer that bike companies even try to market these bike-like contraptions. Forget the fact that most bikes in department stores are assembled in a manner to make them--at best--a bitch to ride--and at worst--considerably dangerous to ride.

One of the first things I'll do if I'm in a department store is cruise by the bikes... I've seen everything from forks installed backwards, to brakes installed poorly, to seat and handlebar positions that no one would ever find comfortable. 

I'm sure the bike companies can claim that they are putting out decent products and that the ball is dropped when assembled at the stores, but if any of these companies actually cared about the consumers (from a safety standpoint or from a "future long-term cyclist" standpoint), something would be done in regards to quality control. I've been checking these department store abominations out for about 20 years, and nothing has changed. 

The bike pictured above, the bike that started this rant for me, should never have left the factory, never mind the store where ever it was purchased.

A friend of mine inherited the bike and couldn't make use of it, so he asked if I knew of anyone that would want or need it. I know there was some talk of one of my nephews getting a BMX bike (something I encourage 100%), so I picked up... picking it up was my first sign of trouble. 

Now, again, I'm NOT a bike snob, and I'm not a weight-weenie obsessing over every gram on every component on my bike. I don't know what ANY of my bikes weigh, and I don't care. This thing, is a tank. It's just a hair under 40lbs... think about that... this bike... a "kid's bike" is just under 40lbs. According to this, an average 10yr old boy is about 70lbs, so this bike would weigh more than 50% of the weight of its potential rider. A 12yr old boy is about 90lbs. That would be like me riding a bike weighing somewhere around 100lbs. Seriously? Who, at Mongoose, thinks this is okay? Who thinks, "oh yeah, kids will ride this bike, think riding is fun, and become life-long cyclists." In an era when childhood obesity is a serious national health crisis, bikes like this are almost guaranteed to sit in the garage, unused. 

I know... the consumer isn't completely innocent, and you get what you deserve if you don't think about what you are buying. Hell, people buy Lunchables, which are a chemical shit-storm, and a "food-like" substance, like this Mongoose is a "bike-like" monstrosity. But I don't think most parents know enough about bikes to make a good buying decision. These department store junk-piles are designed to LOOK like high-quality bikes, and that's one of the biggest problems.

A SIMPLE bike, with a coaster brake, and single speed, is hard to mess up (although, I've seen it), and could probably be sold at a department store, but bikes with pegs, brake detangler devices, U-brakes, or, in the case of mountain bikes, disc brakes and multiple gears, are almost guaranteed to be assembled poorly. 

I've been working on BMX bikes for 30yrs, and there is nothing I can do for this bike. Forget the fact that's it's too heavy to ride, my decades of experience in working on U-brakes and Gyro's can't get the brakes to work. When I first picked this thing up, I knew it probably wouldn't work for my nephew, so my plan was to get it working and then find someplace to donate it... a working bike would be good for someone, right? Alas, it's too heavy to EVER be fun to ride, and it's not even worth trying to fix. So, there you go, Mongoose Product Designer... this bike it too heavy to ride and not worth fixing... if this is the product they put out for the "entry level" market, I would never use any of their higher end stuff, regardless of whether the higher end products were good or not, because clearly, this company (and many others--the brands found in the department stores) does not care about the riders.

Find a local bike shop and you won't go wrong. You might pay a little bit more, but you get what you pay for... a bike that works and will be fun to ride. Isn't that what's intended?

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