At the risk of being considered a snob or a lackey of local bike retailers, and their encouragement of sturdy new bicycles, I'd like to point out the truth of this Guardian article: people are riding around crappy Canadian Tire bikes with broken brakes not so much because they are lazy or cheap but because these bikes are basically irreparable and are meant to be throw-aways. The bikes are not meant to survive more than unwrapping them at Christmas time and tooling around in a park once or twice a year. Do not attempt to do any serious commuting on a bike purchased at Canadian Tire, Wal-mart, Sears or similar establishments.
The intrepid mechanic of the Guardian article notes, after having sheared off a bolt while trying to tighten it:
The real problem, of course, was not the lack of a full set of bike-specific spanners, but having a bike with such cheap and ill-manufactured parts that it defied efforts to maintain it. There is a reason you see people on crummy bikes riding around with gears and brakes that don't work, and it's not indigence, slothfulness or incompetence on their part. These are bikes you cannot mend yourself; take them into a shop and any self-respecting mechanic will most likely refuse to fix them too. So you might as well ride your semi-functional piece of scrap around until it fails completely or - better luck - some misguided or desperate person steals it and relieves you of the aggravation.
I can understand the opposite argument as well, that many families will never use bikes more than a couple times a year thus making the purchase of a more sturdy, expensive bike a waste of money. But who is to say that some of those people wouldn't be turned on by the whole bike commuting thing if just put on a half-decent bicycle?
I think we are starting to see a middle market as well, of sturdy, commuter bikes that won't cost a pretty penny - to fit the growing market of people who don't fit in the CCM crowd or the carbon fibre crowd. People like me. People like my housemate who just bought a commuter bike for under $500. It might not be peanuts, but it's comparable to an ipod and gets used on very regular basis going to the grocery store, restaurants, theatres and so on.
Supercycle Medallist Road BikeSun, 12/16/2007 - 16:10
Here is a great example: http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id...
I have seen a few of these on the road and felt very sorry for the person riding it. I think one of the reviews on canadiantire.ca sums it up perfectly: "the bike basically has mountain bike parts on a road bike frame. The grip shifts are a sure sign of that. Honestly, grip shifts on a road bike? I mean, installing them onto the handle bar was a feat itself, they had to cut the bar in half, stick them on then weld it..."
People don't realise they can get a real steel framed road bike from Kona or the like for less than twice the cost of that piece of tinsel, and will last about ten times as long.
Trombonestar (not verified)
BSO can help beginners to decide if they enjoy bikingMon, 12/17/2007 - 21:44
Haha, I actually commute on the Supecycle Medallist Bicycle Shaped Object(BSO).
Got it for $200 at Canadian Tire in the summer.
So far, the BSO has traveled over 2000km without failure.
That should be an anomaly for a cheap BSO, right?
Why do people buy BSOs instead of bicycles?
Because they are inexpensive.
1) won't cry if stolen
2) can spend less on locks
3) worry less about maintenance
Sure, a BSO won't last as long as a good quality bicycle.(That can be disputed as well)
But most people would have found out if they enjoy cycling before their BSO breaks down.
If they do enjoy cycling, then they would probably learned how much a good bicycle is worth and be willing to pay that price.
If not, then they won't lament about the spent $$$.
Some may argue that buying a good used bicycle can be just as inexpensive as a cheap BSO. But for beginners, buying a used bicycle is just as intimidating as buying a used car.
That was one of the reasons I chose the BSO over searching on ebay and craigslist.
I think I have ridden enough to know that I enjoy cycling, and gained enough experience to know what parts/brands are good and how to care of a bicycle.
I would be willing to spend a bit more on a real bicycle if my BSO breaks down(or gets stolen). But if the budget is tight, I may buy the same BSO again(assuming millage is good).
Hey, if you do see me riding on the road and feel very sorry for me, how about a little donation towards buying a real bicycle?
Tone (not verified)
The Fashion FactorMon, 12/17/2007 - 12:05
Trouble is, new buyers buy what they know -- something that looks like what Lance won Tour de France on or what the kids use to "shred" on the trail.
Neither is particularly a good choice for a lot of entry-level cyclists.
Frankly, a steel bike with slack geometry, strong rims and an internally-geared (or single speed hub) would be cheap and pretty easy to maintain.
I had Urbane build me up a fixed gear commuter from an old Raliegh frame I pulled out of the trash -- likely a late 70's department store bike with "20-40 high carbon steel" (e.g. heavy and cheap). The resulting bike is about 26 lbs, is a blast to ride and has wheels that never seem to go out of true. Two new allow rims, a fixed hub and labour was about $300; I added a longer seatpost and a modern bottom bracket. Over nearly two years of riding, all I've done to to is clean and lube the chain and replace the chain. I love it!
Sheik_e (not verified)
Re: Medallist BSO I tooMon, 07/21/2008 - 18:56
Re: Medallist BSO
I too bought the aforementioned Crappy Tire bike...for $100 this spring. I knew I wouldn't get much for that price but I was spending $80 renting from Enduro Sports to use in Triathlons so I figured after a couple Tris I'd be ahead. Well...the spokes keep protuding through the rim and puncturing the tube...4X so far and I've only riden it MAYBE 12X. I have also already replaced the crank bearing, and the free wheel is baffed. The gent from Gears, Gears, Gears who did an emergency tube repair at Gravenhurst this past weekend said he'd seen about 60 of these all with similar problems and actually refused to repair them anymore because they are so bad.
I figured I'd take it to Can Tire for a refund but they don't refund bikes and won't repair tires or rims. I can understand this to a point but when the sport dept. manager equated it to a car that you can't get a refund for if it breaks down I pointed out the lemon law...to no avail.
I can't spend $10 bucks fixing the tube every 2X I ride it (I tried repairing it myself but that didn't work) so I am forced to through it out :-( Seeing as I have spent more than I paid for it fixing it (I replaced the seat and the pedals (with $20 clipless ones), I don't think I am ahead after all.
$1500-2000 is a lot for a bike for me but considering how unsatisfying the experience has been with my Can Tire BSO I will sleep well knowing I won't break down half way into a long ride.
Having said that, I have a $170 Can Tire MBSO that is HEAVY but (after replacing the crank bearing) has taken a real beating and still rides fine...go figure...but stay away from the Medallist Road Bike!