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WalMart: stop building 'built to fail' bikes!

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WalMart: stop building 'built to fail' bikes!

Old 01-13-22, 04:32 PM
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WalMart: stop building 'built to fail' bikes!

This is so very badly needed in the bicycle marketplace. Kudos to Mac Liman for spearheading this crusade.

"Mechanics Ask Walmart, Major Bike Manufacturers to Stop Making and Selling ‘Built-to-Fail’ Bikes"

“The problem with budget bikes is everything. They’re literally built to fail.”

by Aaron Gordon
January 13, 2022, 6:59am

"Mac Liman has been a bike mechanic for 18 years, and she’s seen her fair share of crappy bikes. As the program director for Bikes Together in Denver, a nonprofit that provides bicycles, repairs, and education courses to members of the community, Liman isn’t adopting the snooty tone of a high-end bicycle shop sneering at your 14-speed Trek with mechanical brakes. She’s talking about the kind of bikes, hastily wrenched together out of flat-packed boxes by people with minimal training, that mechanics have long called bike-shaped objects: bikes with misaligned wheels, forks on backwards, and faulty handlebars, bikes that break after just a few dozen hours of use and that cannot be repaired."

https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxdg...-to-fail-bikes

If an auto manufacturer did this, they'd be sued out of existence! "It's only a Toyota Corolla, so it's acceptable that the brakes don't work in the rain!" This is basically what the big box retailer is saying when selling their low-cost bike models. And then there's the durability issue. You think people would accept a car that only lasts about three months with daily use?

It would be nice to see some change.

That said, the consumer has to admit to some culpability here too. How many times has the LBS employee heard, "Wow, $300 for a bike?!!!! My FIRST bike was only... blah, blah, blah!" The consumer has come to believe that if it's sold by a nationwide chain, then it must be "good." Or at least acceptable. So the consumer has come to believe that you CAN get a "good" bike for ten cents on the dollar. Sorry, that's baloney! "There's no such thing as a free lunch." and "When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is!" In other words, the consumer should stop the self-deception. When your Toyota costs $30,000, how can you expect a bicycle to cost $79.94 and be good? You can't! When your house costs $800,000 (and more, MUCH more!), how can you complain about a $600 bike? You shouldn't!

So let's not totally let the consumer off the hook here. They simply have to understand that quality costs money. Durability has a price. You can't expect an $80 bike to "last." Pay up or shut up!

Sign the Petition here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...5L1EA/viewform

PS I was at a college LBS when Firenze POS's were all the rage. Thanks to Matthew's "Top of the Hilll, Daly City" stereo stores, we poor unsuspecting bike mechanics were hit with a barrage of these piles of junk. Many a Bay Area LBS had several of these abandoned heaps taking up storage space. Many a service writer was fired for not refusing to service a Firenze!!!

PPS Oh and one last note... Remember the bike sharing boom? Remember the Lime bikes everywhere? And Ofo? And all the rest? Occupying the bottom of a landfill now. Millions of those bikes - thousands of which were FULLY FUNCTIONAL - went into the trash. Wow, how does a "green, environmental" idea turn into such an offensive environmental catastrophe? We shouldn't have let it happen then. We shouldn't tolerate the continuing carbon footprint waste and unnecessary filling of our landfills.

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Old 01-13-22, 04:45 PM
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Walmart doesn't build bikes. Unless you are just talking about the underexperienced guy putting the wheels and handlebars on when it's taken out of the box.

Most of your post looked like cut and paste from other stuff so I didn't read it. Sorry....

I will admit that they sell some cheaply built bikes. But if it weren't for those cheaply built bikes my sons would not have had a bike to ride while they were growing up. I certainly didn't make the money then to afford a "real" bike.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Walmart doesn't build bikes. Unless you are just talking about the underexperienced guy putting the wheels and handlebars on when it's taken out of the box.

Most of your post looked like cut and paste from other stuff so I didn't read it. Sorry....

I will admit that they sell some cheaply built bikes. But if it weren't for those cheaply built bikes my sons would not have had a bike to ride while they were growing up. I certainly didn't make the money then to afford a "real" bike.
I utilized quotation marks where I was citing another source - the article in question. Everything else is my work. Why would you assume otherwise? Not cut & paste job. Maybe next time, simply ask? If you're interested, then go read the article. It makes many good points. But please don't make unsubstantiated accusations about my post because you're wrong.

And yes, WalMart does "build" bikes. By "build" I mean assemble them from boxes,* as shipped by the manufacturer. This is common terminology at the LBS level. But not all WalMarts actually "build" the bikes. Many of their regions hire outside contractors to assemble them. But this doesn't relieve WalMart or any other big box of responsibility. They're retailing the product and are thus responsible. This applies to all the big box stores: some do the work in-house, others contract out. But that's beside the point: the bikes are on THEIR sales floor being sold by THEM.

Everyone benefits from this campaign, cyclists, bike mechanics, bike shops, big box stores and all consumers.

I agree, there will probably be a negative outcome of this campaign: higher prices. But when brakes don't work on a bike, low price cannot be justified. When we're trashing the planet with heaps of junk bikes, it's not justifiable. If you think low-income people should be able to afford bikes, then attack it from a different angle. But selling them marginal junk is not the solution. Especially in today's climate change world.

*And "assembling from boxes" does not simply mean throwing on the front wheel and tightening the handlebars. It involves far more than that. And with today's full suspension bikes with disc brakes, assembly involves a lot. Electric bikes, even more. But your flippant response almost PERFECTLY explains the problem with bikes on the big box sales floor! Taking this approach (which many store managers and regional managers do) is the crux of the problem! When you assume and treat bicycles like "toys," then you aren't taking them seriously. You are relegating them to trivial importance. And as a result, you provide low-quality and dangerous product! Yes, a bicycle for a five year old may be seen by adults as a "toy," but it's still a bicycle. It's still a form of transportation capable of riding many miles. Capable of attaining high speeds. And capable of causing serious injury or death if improperly used and/or assembled. In other words, EVERY bike is a serious endeavor and should be taken seriously.

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Old 01-13-22, 05:21 PM
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I signed the petition. My son was injured when the front wheel came off a big box budget bike a few days after we bought it. I know, I should have checked everything but was not a bike person in those days. So yeah, I'd say WalMart "builds" bikes, or perhaps assembles bikes that are manufactured elsewhere.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Inusuit View Post
I signed the petition. My son was injured when the front wheel came off a big box budget bike a few days after we bought it. I know, I should have checked everything but was not a bike person in those days. So yeah, I'd say WalMart "builds" bikes, or perhaps assembles bikes that are manufactured elsewhere.
And you're the EXACT PERFECT example of the problem. I'm sorry to hear this happened. But again, why should you feel obligated to "check everything" on your purchase? Sure, it would be prudent as a bike person, but not in any way expected. Say you had checked the handlebars and front wheel and pedals, but failed to check the rear wheel and your son crashed? Would you blame yourself then? Or if the rear derailleur shifted into the spokes and you failed to check THAT? Of course not!

You shouldn't have felt bad then. No consumer should feel compelled to "check everything" on a product before using it. Did you check your stereo's power amplifier before turning it on? No. Does the car buyer check all the wheels before driving off the lot? Of course not!

(And no, I am NOT relieving the consumer of common sense, all responsibility, or the need to be familiar with the product their using and to be able to judge if they can use it safely. Nor am I relieving them of responsibility of having their stuff checked after a crash or mishap or other misadventure. But when a product is presented to the consumer, it should be safe to use as intended, that's all.)

So this is why this campaign makes so much sense.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:55 PM
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Well at any rate you are posting in the wrong sub-forum. You really should take your soap box and go to the

Politics & Religion

or

Trollheim

When you can come up with the statistics that show significantly higher percentage of people are actually being harmed than those buying bikes from a real bike shop then maybe I'll consider that you are on to something. My son bought a bike from a bike shop and his front wheel tacoed on him 3 months after he got it. Was that the bike shops fault? Should we investigate that too and have some periodic inspection mandates?
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Old 01-13-22, 06:37 PM
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Wally Mart sucks we know that, what are you brining to the conversation on bicycle mechanics. As Iride01 suggested there are other sub-forums for this unless there is something here for us to do something with in Bicycle Mechanics.
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Old 01-13-22, 06:52 PM
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Thread moved from Mechanics to General Cycling Discussion.
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Old 01-13-22, 07:20 PM
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I walked by the sporting goods section the other day.

They are getting better.

1) Quite a few bikes no longer had fake suspension. If it’s only going to be springs in grease that adds weight and complication, better to do without.

2) The bikes that had the phony forks at least finally had 1 1/8 headsets, so the future user could upgrade or replace the fork if the need arises.

So at least a couple steps in the right direction.

The best bet at a big box store is probably a beach cruiser without shifting or phony suspension.
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Old 01-13-22, 07:40 PM
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Whew!

I saw the linked article and thought maybe Vice wasn’t doing real journalism anymore.

But alas, they still have worthwhile reporting.

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Old 01-13-22, 09:36 PM
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They just need to be sued out of the bike business, if every time someone was hurt on these because the equipment wasn't designed to work, which is easy to find with many of the failures, it could solve the problem.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:52 PM
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If we aren't capable of doing a basic safety check on a bicycle from Walmart before using it then it's our problem not Walmart. We they are not high quality bikes but you get what you pay for.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:02 PM
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As long as people keep buying them, Wal-Mart will keep selling them. It's called 'capitalism.'
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Old 01-13-22, 10:52 PM
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This article popped up on my google feed, and I was like, yeah, it's about time.

The s*** Walmart bikes in question today are not like the Sears Free Spirits of yesterday. Back then, we could ride those $100 bikes for a dozen years without any issues other than a flat tire.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:01 PM
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This is all snobbish bullpoop. Sounds like some shallow, stoopid, self empowering pigmy idea for saving the world. You need to see the people in this world who’s mother and father work their asses off and struggle to provide shelter, food and schooling for their kids. Do you think they would scrape up a couple of grand to buy their kid a real” bike or maybe if they did you could fault them for not providing better clothing, music lessons and or a huge college fund. Must have been nice to grow up a silver spooner.Real people are struggling out there and this BS doesnt help.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by frogman View Post
If we aren't capable of doing a basic safety check on a bicycle from Walmart before using it then it's our problem not Walmart. We they are not high quality bikes but you get what you pay for.
As someone who sees these kinds of bikes often at my local co-op (where Mac Liman) works, I can tell you that not all of the issues are something that shows up in a simple “safety check”. For example, the crank spindle below isn’t the only one I’ve seen in that kind of condition. I’ve seen one that was actually twisted inside the bottom bracket like some wrought iron finial.






That is a single spindle that is cracked on both sides of the spindle.

I’ve also seen bottom brackets where the bearings were ground down to hemispheres and had bottom bracket cups pull apart inside the frame making them to nearly difficult to remove. I’ve seen “steel” cranks have eroded the square taper to a round hole and pedal threads that are complete gone to the point where a slight tug will pull them out of the crank.

The problem isn’t with the assembly but with the materials of construction. Walmart has pushed the price point down so much that the manufacturers are cutting more than just corners.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by N2deep View Post
This is all snobbish bullpoop. Sounds like some shallow, stoopid, self empowering pigmy idea for saving the world. You need to see the people in this world who’s mother and father work their asses off and struggle to provide shelter, food and schooling for their kids. Do you think they would scrape up a couple of grand to buy their kid a real” bike or maybe if they did you could fault them for not providing better clothing, music lessons and or a huge college fund. Must have been nice to grow up a silver spooner.Real people are struggling out there and this BS doesnt help.
I know Mac Liman and she isn’t not a “ shallow, stoopid, self empower[ed]” person. She has spent her life working at nonprofits serving marginalized communities. The co-op she works at is as bare bones as you can get. We…as I am a long term volunteer there…fix and give away hundreds of bikes per year to people in need. The bikes are refurbished by volunteers and given to adults and children free of charge. We do have a retail side where the higher end donations are refurbished and sold to keep the doors open but even those bikes are generally underpriced for what they are.

We do get hundreds of bikes in donations per year and we have to throw out (recycle, actually), hundreds because they just aren’t safe to fix. The only way to make a modern Big Box store bike safe is to replace everything including the frame. We won’t give away a bike that is a danger to the rider and there is simply no way to make these kinds of bikes safe.

Finally, we also run an open shop where we help people keep their bikes running. We do not exclude anyone, provide used parts at reasonable prices (or for free if people can’t afford them), and will work on anything that rolls through the door. I’ve spent lots of hours working on these horrible bikes because that’s all the person has. I try to make them better and more durable than they came into the shop.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:51 PM
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Share bikes seem like a scam to me, the whole point being some multi year contract for servicing them. I could be wrong, but I'd be curious what kind of money gets thrown at a bike share program for a decent sized city or town.

They do actually get used a fair amount around here because of the student population. Not so much in the winter, as they remove them along with the charging docks in some places. Probably to keep them from getting totally destroyed.
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Old 01-14-22, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I know Mac Liman and she isn’t not a “ shallow, stoopid, self empower[ed]” person. She has spent her life working at nonprofits serving marginalized communities. The co-op she works at is as bare bones as you can get. We…as I am a long term volunteer there…fix and give away hundreds of bikes per year to people in need. The bikes are refurbished by volunteers and given to adults and children free of charge. We do have a retail side where the higher end donations are refurbished and sold to keep the doors open but even those bikes are generally underpriced for what they are.

We do get hundreds of bikes in donations per year and we have to throw out (recycle, actually), hundreds because they just aren’t safe to fix. The only way to make a modern Big Box store bike safe is to replace everything including the frame. We won’t give away a bike that is a danger to the rider and there is simply no way to make these kinds of bikes safe.

Finally, we also run an open shop where we help people keep their bikes running. We do not exclude anyone, provide used parts at reasonable prices (or for free if people can’t afford them), and will work on anything that rolls through the door. I’ve spent lots of hours working on these horrible bikes because that’s all the person has. I try to make them better and more durable than they came into the shop.


Nice smokescreen over N2deep. You didn't address his concerns at all. Instead a rant about how great your co-op efforts are. I agree with N2deep. We raise our kids and can't always afford the higher priced bikes and have to settle for a cheap model maybe even from Walmart (gasp!)

We get cheaper bikes from other stores besides Walmart all the time in our shop with problems/failures worse than the ones you are touting. It isn't fair to point the finger at just Walmart............. (We also get bikes in from co-op repairs that have to be re-done.)

We use a constructive approach when getting in the cheap bikes needing work. Often we are able to upgrade the owner to a new bike with much better reliability. Results in a sale and a satisfied repeat customer. A win win situation.

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Old 01-14-22, 01:48 AM
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Talk about gate keeping. Sheesh.

WalMart sells a pantload of bikes. It’s the only way many poor people ever get a chance to cycle. I’m guessing there’s some that graduate to a bike more to your liking. But I’m sure millions more people have enjoyed their POS WalMart bike.

Enjoy the Crusade worthy White Knight (and bravo for your defense of thee fair Maiden!).
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Old 01-14-22, 01:59 AM
  #21  
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Most Walmart bikes won’t be ridden long enough to fail. They are used even less than the home of exercise equipment many people buy to keep their New Year fitness resolutions, most pairs of shoes see lots more miles than a Walmart bike.
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Old 01-14-22, 02:00 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
And you're the EXACT PERFECT example of the problem. I'm sorry to hear this happened. But again, why should you feel obligated to "check everything" on your purchase? Sure, it would be prudent as a bike person, but not in any way expected. Say you had checked the handlebars and front wheel and pedals, but failed to check the rear wheel and your son crashed? Would you blame yourself then? Or if the rear derailleur shifted into the spokes and you failed to check THAT? Of course not!

You shouldn't have felt bad then. No consumer should feel compelled to "check everything" on a product before using it. Did you check your stereo's power amplifier before turning it on? No. Does the car buyer check all the wheels before driving off the lot? Of course not!

(And no, I am NOT relieving the consumer of common sense, all responsibility, or the need to be familiar with the product their using and to be able to judge if they can use it safely. Nor am I relieving them of responsibility of having their stuff checked after a crash or mishap or other misadventure. But when a product is presented to the consumer, it should be safe to use as intended, that's all.)

So this is why this campaign makes so much sense.
Nope.
A person buying a cheap car should take a test drive and should do a safety check.
A person buying a bicycle for their child should also do a few minutes of research. Anyone that does so will quickly find out that Walmart/big box bicycles need to be safety checked.
Google ‘are Walmart bicycles safe’ and you will get your answer.
Why expect todays parents to be responsible enough to do this though when they aren’t responsible enough to pay off their student loans

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Old 01-14-22, 02:09 AM
  #23  
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Wallmart bikes are good for the community. Not everyone has $600 to spend on a bike (the number in OPs post.) When I delivered food, the manager bought a Walmart bike for us to use if our bikes got stollen or broken. I ended up losing it somewhere but the bike was serviceable, pretty terrible but it beat walking by a long shot. Was worth the cash. The only bikes under 250$ from the bike shop were single speeds and some people want gears
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Old 01-14-22, 02:14 AM
  #24  
LarrySellerz
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
This article popped up on my google feed, and I was like, yeah, it's about time.

The s*** Walmart bikes in question today are not like the Sears Free Spirits of yesterday. Back then, we could ride those $100 bikes for a dozen years without any issues other than a flat tire.

Lol I rode one of those bikes from the 70s in 2016 and it rode decently
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Old 01-14-22, 03:22 AM
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You need to send your complaint to the Chinese Communist Party.
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