By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano
We were in need of transportation for the gang and we had a very limited budget. We went to Walmart and Canadian Tire and purchased a couple bargain priced bicycles. I also got one from a friend in good working order and another derelict. I’m reviewing them all together because they are all essentially the same bike. There are minor differences in the frames but wheels, shifters, brakes, handlebars, seats etc are identical. Not surprising they perform identically as well: Same strengths and same weaknesses.
The number one reason to buy on of these bikes is the price. Walmart sells them for $98 and Canadian Tire sells them for $99 (all prices quoted are in Canadian dollars). I’m sure there are several other stores that sell the same thing for a similar price. Most bike shops will tell you they are garbage. I agree and disagree. If you just want to have a cheap bike to ride once in a rare while, this is the bike for you.
If you buy one, make sure that you get a real professional to adjust it for you unless you can do it yourself. Make sure it has been assembled properly. The places that sell these don’t always have someone who knows what they are doing.
Most of the parts on these bikes will serve you well. The brakes and shifters stayed adjusted and never failed even under hard use. I expected a lot less out of them. They do not function as smoothly or as efficiently as higher end parts but they were functional.
One of the bikes evaluated had a problem with the crank assembly but I won’t fault the bikes on this because it only happened to one bike. We pulled the crank from the derelict I was given and didn’t have any further problems.
The big failing of these bikes was the rear wheel, specifically the hub. If not for that part, I would give these bikes a passing grade. It has two problems that I will point out.
The first problem will eventually happen to all the bikes but only mine failed so far. Under hard use in about a month I stripped the innards out of the rear gear cluster. I know they buy these parts cheap by the shipping container full but that kind of failure in my view is unacceptable. That problem was solved for about twenty dollars by replacing it with a shimano gear cluster. I hoped my rear wheel problems were over. Guess again.
I noticed the second issue while checking the bikes right when I got them. The rear hub is cast slightly out of true. If you give the rear wheel a spin and watch the rear gear cluster, you will notice that it will wobble slightly. That is a long-term problem that I’ve grown to understand and detest. What happens is that, no matter how well you adjust the rear cones they will always slowly loosen up. That will cause premature wear of the cones and bearings. Constantly checking the adjustment, repacking the bearings, or replacing worn bearings and cones is a pain in the gluteus maximus. It is more than annoying. The sad thing is, that if the manufacturer put a better hub on these bikes even a rider like myself would get a lot of life out of them. I weigh too much and put way to many miles on to be happy with this kind of bike. All of the bikes purchased experienced this issue and coincidentally that was one of the problems with the derelict as well.
This is my final analysis. If you can cheaply replace the rear wheel with something that works properly, this bike is a bargain. If you can’t do that, avoid these bikes like the plague.