Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why you don't buy a super store bike...

Full Squish Disc brake equip 29er

Hard Tail vbrake using std 26er
This is the story I always tell my non-cycling friends when they ask for advice on buying a bike. Once I give them a little advice and then tell them what it's going to cost they tell me they just want to pick up a cheap new one at Walmart/Target/Kmart.  I've heard all the excuses before and for the better part I understand them.  It's hard to part with money on something you might not use that much.  Comparatively looking at what you get for $200 in Walmart and then seeing what you get in a bike store for $450 is puzzling for a untrained eye.  If you just look at a bike from a distance.  Far enough away that you can't see the brand or level of components on the bike.  You'll gaze at the sparkly superstore bike and see that it has disc brakes, a big shock in the back and a hefty bump eating fork up front.  Look at the the local bike store and what you might see is a plain bike.  Still new but where's the shock in the back?  It doesn't even have disc brakes!  Why in the world is it so much more?

Please understand that when I say "good" bike I mean $450-800(at least) at your local bike store for a good name brand bike.  I also like to steer friends towards good deals on Craigslist.  Some very very good bikes can be had for almost the same price as the superstore bikes.  There not as shiny and some might have a few miles on them.  However there good solid bikes.  A bike is an investment.  Treat it as such.  On with my story....

True story - It was my second year of college in Kearney Nebraska. Myself and two friends rented are own apartment off campus. I'd had a couple of nice Mt.bikes since 1988. My father bless his soul, saw the value in a good bike and helped me buy mine. When I brought it to college that year my friends laughed at how much I'd paid for my bike. One was literally rolling on the ground laughing. After he got back up and dusted off, he said "I can get a bike just like yours for $100bucks at Kmart up on the hill. It'll do anything yours can". So I said "Fine, get one and lets go on a ride". I rode shotgun with him to Kmart where he picked out a Huffy off the rack. Some of you might remember it. It was 1991 and bright neon was all the rage. I don't think you could find a bike with out some sort of neon part on it. It was the Huffy that was mostly black with neon green bars, seat post(I think) and neon green splatter all over the frame. He grinned from ear to ear as he put it in the back of his pickup. We got back to our apt. and I grabbed my bike so we could take a quick spin. He unloaded his prized Huffy and threw a leg over it proudly. I just shook my head side to side slowly and we headed down the back alley. The first block we went pretty slow. He was shifting thru gears and making sure the brakes did actually work. We crossed the street and headed down the next alley. I stood up out of the seat and jumped on the pedals, shooting ahead of him slightly. My friend who's rather competitive, saw this as a challenge. He promptly stood up out of the seat also and romped on the Huffys pedals. I don't think the chain even held for one full turn. Once his weight was on the pedals and his left foot over the crank, the chain snapped. My friends left calf dropped straight on to the front chain ring. The chain ring being nice and shiny and new, did it's job and took a good hunk out of his calf. His foot then came in contact with the ground and threw him over the bars on to his hands. This in combination with the course gravel opened up deep gashes in both his hands. I turned around quickly and made sure he was alright. I suppressed a laugh, I didn't even chuckle. A smile had found it's way across my face, but that's it. I knew his temper and thought it better to just savor this moment quietly. He stood up bleeding nicely from all his new wounds. Picked up his bike and inspected the broken chain which was a few steps back in the dirt. He said nothing. Grabbed the chain and the bike, headed calmly back to his truck and threw..no slammed the bike into the bed of the truck. I hurried around to the passenger side and hopped in. He got in still bleeding and started the truck. Nothing was said on the way to back to Kmart. He knew he'd been beat and just wanted to get a little satisfaction from returning the bike. He walked back into Kmart some blood now starting to clot on his hands, yet still flowing freely from his calf. The customer service rep a young lady didn't even question the reason for his return. She just refunded the money. On the way back to the apt. my friend simply said "you were right". A few days later we visited the better of the two bike stores that were in Kearney Nebraska. My friend picked out a nice Trek or was it a Giant, anyhow he bought a decent bike. Our other roommate did the same.

 While this wasn't the last time we would come home bloodied and bruised it wasn't totally the fault of the bike now. It was more our bad judgement.
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