Saturday, April 22, 2023

Cycling Public Service Announcement: Don't buy cheap bikes from the internet!

Buying a bike from the internet may save you money in the near term but it's going to cost you in the long run.

Someone I knew from High School, who recently moved to my town, reached to me about assembling some bikes for her and her daughter that she bought off the internet. We have some great greenway trails in the area and she wanted to ride them with her daughter. She purchased two bikes from an online retailer that I will not mention the name but you can probably figured it out for yourself.

It was a good thing I brought my bike stand because assembling this bike without it would have been a nightmare without it.  The cables on the handlebar were wrapped around the frame so badly that I almost had to take the fork off to get them situated. I was surprised to see a bike with a quill stem, too.

The front wheel was indeed a nightmare. It was so out of true that the front brake was almost impossible to tighten enough to use it effectively.  I got it to work with a minimal amount of rub. The rear was better but the shifting was off and I needed to tune it up, too.

The daughter's bike was little better but it was quirky. It had a 1 1/8 headset and a normal stem, with a cable disc brake up front and a V-Brake in the rear. The bottom bracket was tight and the cranks didn't spin without resistence.

Cables weren't as wrapped up as the first bike and assembly was much quicker.

Both wheels on this bike were a little out of true but since it was a disc brake it was better, however, I still had to readjust the front disc caliper because it was too far to one side. I did have to also tune the rear derailleur because it wasn't shifting smoothly, either.

Overall the daughter's bike took a lot less time to assemble and looked pretty cool. Both bikes will be good for rail trails and cautioned my friend that while these bikes look like mountain bikes they won't have the durability you would expect from one made for explicitly for mountain biking. Still, I recommended she contact the retailer and ask for her money back. The retailer probably wouldn't event ask for the bikes back.

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