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


  1. The bike will no doubt age quickly, but I understand the appeal. Most bikes I see in the shops are pretty bland.

    Hopefully, the bike will be a gateway to better bikes in the future.

  2. You're not going to believe this, but I was planning to do the same thing to my touring bike (but with a pink chain instead of purple). What I like most about this bike is the belt, which has a slimming effect. Unfortunately this is a bike not to be ridden before Labor Day. I was planning to wear a wide brimmed hat with matching floral pattern and white pumps with my bike. But now I’ll have to re-think the whole thing. Can you imagine showing up to the same social event wearing the same bike? I would be embarrassed beyond belief.

    Great post, Jack

  3. At the end of the day a bike is a bike and the more of them on the streets the better for all of us!

  4. I wish your blog was read by people aspiring to buy a bike for the first time (or the first time since they were kids).

    I would be curious to know what cost more the bike or the set up!

    I don't imagine the person is going to ride that bike long enough to wear the red paint off, but it will look lovely in their garage.

  5. I found this a good read as I see the bike in Target all the time. It seems as if it would make a cute indoor warehouse bike. Maybe even a bikeshare to get from building to building.

  6. Working in a bike shop, I've seen so many riders spend huge money on light-weight wheelsets. I've talked gear-inches for hours with guys dead set on building their own custom drivetrain. I've sold bike shorts for $200+ and all the other fancy, super cool kit. But never let us forget we all learned to ride on bikes from Sears and Monkey Wards that out parents bought on Christmas and Birthdays. And we loved those bikes!! So cheers to whoever is getting the *Steel Rainbow* bike! Ride it in total velo-bliss!

  7. But I can see someone loving that bike. My first ride -- a Montgomery Wards Stingray knock-off -- was probably a garish piece of junk. But I loved it, anyway, and I'm still riding, almost 50 years later.

  8. Kent, I agree with you on most of your assessment of this bike, except for the tires. I've ridden on creme colored Schwalbe Delta Cruisers for two years. While they no longer look new, they don't look as dirty as you might think, either.

  9. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Our local Target gives bikes to the boys & girls club. These are returns or ones that the Target people couldn't get together. Target figures "not worth fiddling with" & donate. I work on these to get them operational (volunteer, so zero cost to the club) & it's quite an eye-opener. Some of the "problems" are simply failure to adjust brakes or the drive train. Some take a couple of hours, some only a few minutes to sort out. The experience really highlights the difference between cheap components (never intended to be worked on) and even entry level stuff. But each of these bikes has gotten some kid riding who otherwise wouldn't.

  10. Ha! I actually own this bike, it was a surprise gift from my mother. Except I didn't bother putting the front basket on to it and instead put an old rear rack on the back and I have considered putting a heat gun to it to remove the floral decal. Yeah, it's not the greatest thing out there but as a college student with a limited budget (I mean, making a single box of mac and cheese last several days because I can't afford to grocery shop) I was in desperate need of a bicycle to run errands. I had had a nicer bike that I sold so I could go back to school so when this went on sale for less than $130 it seemed like a good enough deal. If it can go from point A to B then I won't complain. Maybe some day when everything is said and done, and I land that fancy job I will finally put down the $1000 needed for a really great city bike, but c'est la vie. What is ultimately important is that it makes cycling really attractive to the everyday woman, which is something sorely needed especially when it's far too common to walk into a cycle shop only to be talked down to by ego-inflated male staff.

  11. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Framesaver that!

  12. Anonymous12:32 PM

    With all the doping in the professional ranks I'm suprised that this paint job isn't seen on carbon fiber Fred bikes.

  13. Anonymous8:13 PM

    My friend, a mechanic for the USPS team in the Armstrong era, told me that Lance sometimes demanded "that bike with the frame made from flower petals and angel farts". I'm just sayin'.....