Cheap Vs Expensive

topic posted Sat, August 26, 2006 - 5:41 AM by  Jake
We all know there are some VERY Cheaply made Bicycles out there. Huffy,Magna and Roadmaster to name a few. Commonly known as "Department Store Specials".
These Bikes actually fill a Niche in the Bike World by providing a working Bicycle for the "Masses" but they do have their limitations. Most of these Bikes last about 2 years tops before major mechanical failure and deterioration of the Bike takes place. Cheap Components wear out quickly and lose their mechanical efficiency as well as their luster.
I remember having the discussion with my sister about buying multi-speed bikes for her two boys aged 9 and 11.
I told her that the Pacific Bikes she had her mind set on buying the boys from Toy's R Us wouldnt last beyond two years,and that there were better Bikes made by industry brand names designed for tough use by kids. I suggested TREK's or Giant's youth designed multi-speed Bikes,but she insisted on the Pacific Brand to save a few bucks.
As I suspected,these bikes lasted just about 2 seasons and then she wanted ME to "fix them",I told her that Bikes like those were designed as "Throwaway Bicycles" and that they were already beyond reasonable repair.
What are your thoughts on Children's Bikes? Should a parent buy his kid a department store special,or invest more in a name-brand Bike that will last?
posted by:
  • Unsu...

    Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

    Sat, August 26, 2006 - 7:06 AM
    Jake I can see your point about cheap bikes to some extent...but most kids have those pesky things that happen rather unexpectedly called growth spurts...I have a nephew (now in his tweties) that went from 5' to over 6' in the span of a grow and what fits one year seldom fit the following year....a cheap bike is better than an expensive one under those conditions. I quess an expensive bike can be resold yes but that often is an emotional hassle as we all think our things are worth more than there really are and we think everyone ought to agree with us on our things worth. Believe me that's true I buy childrens items for resale on a daily basis and that is one of the biggest problems in this business to deal with. As I have said in other threads I have a Department Store Special and it has and is still working fine and giving me very good service, it now has well over 2000 miles on it many of those having been put on during long distance rides and still handles 25 to 30 mile trips as a matter of routine.
    • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

      Sat, August 26, 2006 - 8:37 AM
      I think some of us get a little snobby over names. I don't think kids are gonna appreciate the finer points of a Trek over a Huffy besides most kids treat their bikes rather poorly anyway...
      • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

        Sat, August 26, 2006 - 9:24 AM
        Oh, not to say that *you* are a snob, Jake...;o)

        People who buy expensive, good quality bikes are doing it more for themselves than their kids...I think. Of course, as children get older there might be a real that case a "good" bike would be necessary...(and appreciated)
        • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

          Sat, August 26, 2006 - 10:48 AM
          if they wanna buy a huffy or pacific (and the pacific is generally a degree or 2 better in quality than a huffy- PAcific reserves the that brand for the 'upper end' of their department store bikes. Roadmaster is usu the bottom of the barrel opening pricepoint- OPP level), I say let em- it's better than riding no bike. It sounds like they thrashed the bikes- GREAT- they rode them! Being aroud them while the kids are fixing those bikes are a prime opportunity to teach the kids about qualitative vs quantitative things- think of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mechanics. At the very least they will gain an understanding of what makes a good bike, what it means to take better care of it, etc.
          I'm a total bike snob, but the one thing I do is never discourage someone from riding that they have by slagging their ride. They are riding it. that's the important thing, no matter how low end and beat down it is.
          If your sister has obscene amounts of money, and the extra 100-200 for a bike shop bike won't kill her, I think she just discovered that the money she saved on the dept store toys just paid for itself in what a shop would charge to fix them up.
          • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

            Sat, August 26, 2006 - 12:07 PM
            Good points TomCat
            My only concern was that she had the money to buy better bikes,and I was trying to save her money in the long run. I Myself,have experienced those low-end Bikes in the past and they really dont hold up well. The better Bikes,on the other hand DO hold up to a kids thrashing of them,I agree a kid's bike is to BE Thrashed! the more fun a 10 yr old has on his new bike,then the more he will appreciate better ones in his future and become a lifelong Cyclist like I did.
            As it turned out, I was able to fix(most) of what blew apart on their Pacific Bikes,and they learned a LOT about Bicycle mechanics and repairs. Now both boys are looking to buy their first CARS and the old beater Pacific's are collecting dust!
    • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

      Sat, August 26, 2006 - 12:13 PM
      its true that kids do outgrow bikes fast Jim good point there for sure!
      We can "get lucky" ocassionally with a department store special.
      A bud of mine bought a Royce Union hardtail Mt Bike(against my advice!) from a Benny's Department Store. That tank actually lasted for 6 years...after I replaced the blown out cheap cartridge bottom bracket 3 months after he bought that bike.
      • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

        Sat, August 26, 2006 - 12:40 PM
        Yeah in my experience my daughter outgrew her bikes long before she wore them out or they needed major repair...and for the price of bike shop work you can go out and buy a cute brand NEW shiny cheap bike.

        She didn't get an REI Novara bike until she was about 14 and finished with most of her growth.

        Heck I had a Murray beach cruiser I rode (well not daily of course) for about 10 years with no major repairs.

        But if you want to be an indulgent Uncle and buy the boys a couple of really good bikes...go for it! ;o)

        I'm a tightwad by nature, anyway.
        • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

          Sat, August 26, 2006 - 12:52 PM
          Or should I say cars...;o) How fast they grow up...

're talkin' about a couple of boys here that probably really ride those bikes hard...

          I guess it depends on the kids and the budget...
          • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

            Sun, August 27, 2006 - 1:00 AM
            Craig's List Seattle has an excellent listing of really GOOD quality used Bicycles for sale in it's "Bicycles for Sale" section.
            Personally..I'd rather go there and purchase a used Specialised Rockhopper Mt Bike(for example) for 100:00 rather than spend 90:00 on a Huffy Mt Bike purchased at Wal Mart.
            • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

              Sun, August 27, 2006 - 2:35 AM
              I just go to thrift stores and look. I am getting married in Dec. and my fiancee has two kids. Now that they are in my life, of course they are interested in cycling. Becouse of the situation and logistics, it doesn't make sense to tote bicycles back and forth from the ex's(butthead!) house. I found a Diamond Back mountain bike for the 9yr old boy. It has decent low end Shimano w/ grip shift. The boy only had single gears up until now. He loves it! Only $25.00. The only thing I swapped out was the ratty seat and a few minor tune ups and he was on his way. The girl is only 5, so a cheapy kids bike for her size was about $8.00. Spent $15.00 for training wheels. One thing i do instill in these kids is to wear their helmets!
              • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

                Sun, August 27, 2006 - 1:24 PM
                I see SO MANY kids bettween the ages of 5 and 15 NOT wearing helmets in my neighborhood it Scares Me!
                having been in two Bicycle crashes I KNOW the value of a Helmet!
                You are ceartainly doing the RIGHT thing in promoting and assuring that your little loved one's heads are protected when they ride!
                I wish more parents could have seen all the little kids come into my ER with damaged heads (and a few "dead" kids too!)from not wearing Bike Helmets!
                I had forgotten to mention the numerous Pawn Shops and Thrift Shops with great deals on Bikes,thanks for bringing that option up.
                • P
                  offline 56

                  Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

                  Sun, August 27, 2006 - 8:53 PM
                  Nothing looks worse than a kid with a brain injury. Ouch!

                  I have gotten 2 kick ass deals on Diamond Back ($50-) with a lock and Gary Fisher ($100-) bikes on Craigslist.
                  You gotta just have the cash ready and check it daily, so when you see the Kona with flat tires hanging in someones garage for $85 bucks you call and rush right over. Pump up the tires, do some minor tinkering and your stoked....
  • Unsu...

    Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

    Sat, August 26, 2006 - 11:59 AM
    I was fortunate in that I grew up with Schwinns - *good* bikes back then - (my own and left overs from older siblings) and the really kewl part was that most of the parts were interchangeable ~ its how I learned bike mechanics (something to do in the winter when I couldn't ride).

    Needless to say my kids never had *junk* bikes ~ but then again when they were growing up I could afford to buy them *good* bikes. I taught them how to work on them as well and my daughter still rides as her preferred method of transportation.

    But I don't think its so much the bike as it is the rider and the mechanic - I've worked on the neighborhood kid's *cheapos*, they don't come back for the same problem twice and they are still riding.

    What was the old saying about poor craftsmen blaming their tools?

  • Re: Cheap Vs Expensive

    Sun, August 27, 2006 - 9:05 PM
    I've always bought my daughter bikes at garage sales, or have been given bikes for her, because she won't take care of them. (Living back and forth between her mom and I is one of the factors in that, and her mom doesn't take care of things.)

    I could buy my daughter a nice bike, but then when she leaves it in the rain, or at a neighbor's house, then I'm out the money. I told her that when she learns to treat the beater bikes nicely, then I'll invest some money in a good bike. Otherwise, it's $5 garage sale specials, which are usually *mart bikes. She doesn't ride it much anyway, just a few quick trips around the block, then off to a friend's house to do something else.

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