Part 1: Big Box Store Bikes
I am always amazed that Walmart can sell adult bikes at ridiculously low prices.
This is an 18-speed Schwinn Pathway sold at Walmart for $150. This bike will allow a casual cyclist to ride at 9 mph, which happens to be the average pace for non-professional cylists.
There are a few downsides to big box store bike: (1) medium is the only size (2) without proper maintenance, exposed metal parts will rust (3) very heavy, and (4) designed for stability so these bikes are not very responsive. (Depending on your experience level - stability could be a plus!)
Part 2: Measuring Cycling Purchases in Terms of Walmart Bike
I find it interesting to measure the price of any cycling purchase in how many $150 Walmart bikes I could buy for money I spent.
For Example, I bough a helmet that will call my girlfriend's cell phone if I crash and knock myself unconscious. I ride alone. I ride fast. And I have knocked myself out cold more than once.
This helmet is light, strong and extremely comfortable. The price for the Specialized Evade helmet is $275.
$275 would buy 1.8 Walmart bikes.
I plan to replace the wheels on my Specialized Roubaix Comp. The carbon fiber wheels are super cheap at $1,200 - which is equivalent to 8 Walmart bikes.
Why am I buying these wheels? It is complicated. The heavier $800 aluminum wheels that came on the bike are not holding-up to the extreme punishment of Colorado mountain passes.
I ride on roads that are slightly dangerous. If my wheels fail apart on this road, I may be seriously killed!
Do you have to pay a lot of money to fun bike? No! Do you have to pay a lot of money if you are going to ride in extreme conditions where an equipment failure could be fatal? Yes!
I ride on these extreme roads because the scenery is amazingly beautiful.
Sometimes I think of my favorite cycling quote: “Beyond pain there is a whole universe of more pain” Jens Voigt, former pro rider who holds the World Hour Record