Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wow, that's really something!

Back around Christmas time Christine and I were walking through our local Target store when we saw a very colorful bike on display. At the time I made a comment along the lines of "Wow, that's really something!" and Christine said, "Don't get me that for Christmas. Really." There wasn't any danger of that happening, Christine and I favor bikes that are less, uh, eye-catching. At the time I did think that it was a shame that Target was such a cluttered visual environment because while I was in no way tempted to purchase the bike with the floral paint-job, I did think it was worth a picture or two.

One of the many things I like about my job is that I never know what is going to come in the door. Yesterday, one of the Target bikes came in the door. It was still in the packing box and the customer wanted to know if we'd put it together. While some places have policies of not working on certain brands (my favorite is Seattle's Wright Brothers who are happy to tell you that they "are not an authorized Huffy or Murray service center") our policy is to tell the customer what some particular service will cost and offer up our honest assessment as to whether a bike is worth sinking money into. The customer then decides whether or not we do the work. This customer decided it was well worth our service charge for us to assemble this bike.

The bike came in a very big box and it was very well packed, with all the colorful bits wrapped in paper and plastic to keep them from getting scratched up in shipping. All the little bolts and screws are painted to go with the color scheme of the bike. The bike features a basket, a 3-speed Shimano hub controlled by a twist shifter, V-style brakes, a wide seat, and a double-legged kick stand. The wheels needed truing and tensioning and the brakes and shifting needed adjusting, things that I doubt would have been done at the local Target store. While I'm a bike shop guy and can go on at length about why bike shop bikes are better than bikes from places like Target, I will say that if you do want to get the most from your inexpensive Target bike it is worthwhile to have it assembled and adjusted as best as possible from the outset.

Despite the fenders, this is not a bike that will be very good for wet weather. Painted rims don't have much grip in the wet and with use the brake pads are going to wear through the paint. Once the paint wears off the rims, the wet weather stopping may be better but those rims aren't going to look be so red.

The purple on the chain and the white on the chainwheel are going to wear off as the bike gets used as well.

The bike is quite comfortable for cruising around and the basket is handy and solid. The big green ribbon is going to be hard to keep clean. Also those white tires are going to show off every bit of dirt after just a few miles.

The bike is pretty much all heavy, low-grade steel and it's a very heavy bike. While the Shimano 3-speed gearing worked fine once properly adjusted, this is not a bike I'd want to be on when the terrain starts going up. It's also not a bike I'd like to carry up stairs or lift on to a bike rack.

This very flowery bike is really not my kind of thing but it was interesting to get to spend some time with the bike. The one thing I can honestly say about it is "Wow, that's really something!"

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
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