Buying A Better Bike From Wal-Mart
What is the problem with Wal-Mart bikes?
You are probable considering buying a bike from Wal-Mart, or one of the other big box stores, and found this article. You have probably come across many sites that tell you not buy a bike from Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart sells a lot of bike, and for good reason: A lot of people want bikes that are cheap and that can stand up to hard use and they can buy them at Wal-Mart.
There is ready nothing wrong with the bikes Wal-Mart sells, if you buy them for the right reasons. Wal-Mart sells bikes with names such as Mongoose, Next, Roadmaster, Polaris, and Schwinn. The bikes probably came from the same factories that also make the more expensive brand name bikes such as Trek, Giant, Specialized, and higher end Schwinn, albeit with cheaper frame material and components. Keep in mind, also, that the components on these low-end bikes are usually not interchangeable with many other bikes and the parts may be difficult to replace if they break.
If you are new to biking and want to try the sport without buying an expensive bike to do it, a $100 bicycle from Wal-Mart might just fit the bill; if you only want a bike to ride around the neighborhood after dinner or on weekends, or if you are a college student looking for a bike to get around the campus or to a part time job, a cheap and reliable bike from Wal-Mart will be perfectly fine. However, if you are looking for a lightweight, high performance bike for hardcore mountain biking, expect to pay a lot more money and get you bike at a real bike shop.
However, the real problem with the bikes sold at Wal-Mart is not the bikes themselves but the way the bikes are put together. You have to keep in mind that when the bikes are shipped from the factories in China, the bikes are shipped partially dissembled and when they get to the stores the bikes are put together by untrained and unqualified employees who have no business working on the bikes.
Getting the most of a Wal-Mart bike!
If your bike budget is limited and you want a cheap bike that’s also reliable, there are ways to get the best bike within your limited budget. If you are buying a bike from Wal-Mart, check out the simplest one at your price point that seems to meet your needs. Skip the bikes with the worthless duel suspension or even ones with only front suspension and all the bells and whistle that you won’t need. This way you don’t pay for parts that are put on the bike for looks more than for function and more of the money will go toward what is important on the bike, and you will also get a lighter bike. Don’t pay for fanny shifters and gears if you are planning to use your bike mostly for flat terrain, where you don’t need to change gear too much.
Once you pay for the bike, don’t ride the bike until you give it a thorough inspection at home. If you are not familiar with working with bikes, take your new bike to a local bike shop and pay the bike mechanic there to give the bike a once over and fix anything that was not installed correctly by the Wal-Mart employee.
With proper routine maintenance and not expecting the bike to do thing that it was not designed to do, your Wal-Mart bike should last you many miles without any problems. The cheapest way to maintain your bike is to do it yourself. It would pay for you to learn some basic bike maintenance, either through a class offered by a local cycling club or bike shop. Or you can learn the basics on the Internet as there are many website with video tutorials on simple routine up keeps to tearing down a complete bike and putting it back together.
If you are on a tight budget or just want an inexpensive bike to tool away town with, by all means, buy a bike from Wal-Mart and enjoy riding it.
If you are more the adventurous type, you may want to look into buying a good used bike that is cheap with brand names such as a Trek or a Specialized. The cheapest Trek bike will be far better than the new Wal-Mart bike for the same price.