• 11-18-2007
    hanshananigan
    So then, which one is the Walmart bike, and which one should Citizen Bob buy?
    The Issue of Two 21-Speed, Aluminum, Hardtail “Mountain Bikes”

    OK. So there’s lots of chit-chat about big-box bikes as of late. I thought it might be fun to present one “respectable brand” bike (Trek) and one “big box brand” (Schwinn) with somewhat comparable features and leave it up to you…. from the specs below, can you differentiate between the bikes? (no cheating by looking at the Trek website!!!) Now, now, before you get all uppity here... you’ll see in the “caveats” below that websites generally gave little info about their bikes, so no, we can’t perfectly compare bikes on, say, whether one bike has better grips and stem than another.

    But I invite you to take a quick browse, and see if you can tell these 2 bikes apart based on available info. I think enough info should be available to decide which one is half the price of another.

    Perhaps more importantly, if you were a casual, fire-road-type rider with a limited budget who needed a bike now, and you felt that either bike “fits” well enough by your reckoning, which bike would you end up buying?


    THE BIKES:

     Trek 3700 for $329.99 (MSRP and going rate per internet; TREK website)
     Schwinn Aluminum Comp Mountain Bike for $159.72 (WALMART website)

    BIKE #1:
    Frame type: Aluminum with S-bend seat stays
    Frame materials: hand-built, trail-tuned 6061 aluminum frame
    Fork: SR Suntour M2000 suspension fork
    Shifters: Shimano Easy Fire 21-speed shifters
    Front Derailleur: Shimano TY-32A
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano TX-50
    Brakes: Promax alloy linear pull brakes
    Wheels/hubs: Shimano
    Cassette: Shimano 13-28 7-speed freewheel

    BIKE #2:
    Frame type: Aluminum with tube, disc compatible dropouts externally relieved head tube, bi-axial down
    Frame materials: Alpha White Aluminum
    Fork: SR Suntour M-2025, 63mm
    Shifters: Shimano EF50, 7 speed (i.e., 21-speed)
    Front Derailleur: Shimano C051
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Acera
    Brakes: Tektro V w/Shimano EF50 levers
    Cassette: Sunrace 13-34, 7 speed


    THE CAVEATS:

    1. Although Walmart.com provided better detailed specs on bikes than Target.com and Kmart.com and Dicks.com (SportsAuthority.com was spotty), there was confusion on the Wal-Mart website: they said variably that the Schwinn has *EDIT for my stoopidity* the fork listed above or a RST Omni 191 CL suspension fork.
    2. The Trek comes in various sizes, the Schwinn, apparently, does not.
    3. Concerning other components, the Trek website provides more detailed info, which is not surprising- we’re talking manufacturer's catalog vs. big box website, here. Below are parts not evenly specified across these bikes:
    3a. Walmart.com stated that the handlebar was “24" Schwinn trail tuned bar ends” and the wheels and hubs were “Shimano”.
    3b. The Trek came with “Bontrager Approved” components, whatever that means, Bontrager Connection Trail, 26x2.0" tires, Aheadset Slimstak headset, Alloy hubs, Matrix 550 rims. and SR Suntour XCC-T208 48/38/28 crank.
    4. The Schwinn frame was manufactured in China. I don’t know about the Trek. I also do not know where components were manufactured.
  • 11-18-2007
    AllKnowing
    Save your money, buy bike 1, its a no brainer
  • 11-18-2007
    AllKnowing
    Heavier bike means stronger legs
  • 11-18-2007
    ssinglesspeed
    Interesting post. The first set of spec's, "trail tuned 6061" is the Schwinn. sold by Walmart. I know because I bought one a couple years ago for my son. I got it on sale for about 60.00, built the frame up with better components for him, and used the wheelset on a on-road commuter. It's actually been a really good frame for him, lets him climb like a mountain goat.
  • 11-18-2007
    ssinglesspeed
    Interesting post. The first set of spec's, "trail tuned 6061" is the Schwinn. sold by Walmart. I know because I bought one a couple years ago for my son. I got it on sale for about 60.00, built the frame up with better components for him, and used the wheelset on a on-road commuter. It's actually been a really good frame for him, lets him climb like a mountain goat.
  • 11-18-2007
    DeeEight
    That bike #2 was the trek was a giveaway by the "alpha" aluminium. At the lower price point/component levels, LBS bikes generally only have assembly quality going for them, but is competent assembly really worth a $200 price difference?! I don't think so myself. Oddly enough, you can often find quality bikes with good components at box stores (costco especially) for prices that rival anything you'll find at an LBS. And if you're a competent mechanic yourself... not a big deal to buy the thing and double-check the assembly.

    Or do what ssinglesspeed did and buy one to get the frame and strip the crap parts off for a project build. I did that with a box store raleigh (canadian tire) and this is what resulted....

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=292146
  • 11-18-2007
    hanshananigan
    Nice bike, DeeEight!
  • 11-18-2007
    anirban
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hanshananigan
    The Issue of Two 21-Speed, Aluminum, Hardtail “Mountain Bikes”


    BIKE #2:

    Frame materials: Alpha White Aluminum
    ...
    Fork: SR Suntour M-2025, 63mm
    ...
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Acera
    ...
    Brakes: Tektro V w/Shimano EF50 levers
    ...
    Cassette: Sunrace 13-34, 7 speed


    Bike#2 is Trek.

    The biggest giveaway is the Alpha Aluminum frame- its a trademark of Trek. Also the other components that I quoted above are typical of a lowend Trek bike.


    EDIT: Just saw DeeEight's post, who hit the nail on the head!
  • 11-18-2007
    tomsmoto
    after riding a few offbrand bikes and a few name brand but cheap bikes.. ive kinda realized something. ALL cheap bikes suck. a cheap trek is going to give you tons of component issues, as is a cheap gary fisher, specialized, schwinn, etc etc.

    seems like the most common thing everyone always complains about is shifting and braking problems.. very rarely do i see anyone complaining about a frame issue, and the frame issues i do see arent isolated to cheap bikes at all.

    the name brand hardtails seem like a pretty crappy deal until you're spending 500 or more.. you're really getting little more than a walmart bike with a name brand sticker on it. maybe im missing something, but an alivio derailleur on a walmart bike tends to perform just as bad as an alivio derailleur on a specialized.

    im not so much saying you should avoid the name brand bikes and get a cheapo.. im more saying you should avoid the cheapo bikes and spend more and get the good components right off the bat. replacing junk components on a cheap bike is more costly than just buying that 5 or 6 hundred dollar bike to begin with.
  • 11-18-2007
    scottzg
    At 6'3" having a bike that comes in different sizes is worth 200$ to me. A 15" 'one size fits all' department store bike is almost unrideable. Pro set up is just a bonus.
  • 11-18-2007
    markf
    i bet there's tons of other component differences in things like cranks(schwinn is probably one piece), headsets(is the schwinn even threadless style?), hubs, bb, everything that the consumer can't easily see/ and i know from working in a shop that does too many repairs on wal-mart crap piles, the derailluers and brakes on bike 2(the trek) and miles ahead of the ones on the schwinn. and as someone else mentioned, even if everything were identical spec wise, the better assembly at the bike shop and the warranty and service of the trek are things worth paying more money for.
  • 11-18-2007
    tomsmoto
    the crank, hubs, cassette, bb, and everything you cant really see on a <300 dollar name brand bike isnt exactly stellar either.. warranty is a pretty big plus though. my girlfriends LBS bought bike has free service, forever :D im stuck fixing my internet bought bike myself
  • 11-19-2007
    taikuodo
    just find a good deal on ebay ...
  • 11-19-2007
    DSFA
    The biggest problem with the Big Box Schwinns is the "One size fits nobod...er, all" sizing.
    The second is the lack of knowledge/care with assembly.
    I've seen some big box bikes that would be ok if they fit and were assembled correctly to begin with.
    Another thing to realize is under $500, regardless of brand, you are buying a "Mountain" style bike that is meant for neighborhood cruising, bike paths and dirt roads not off-road riding in what most everyone on this forum would consider "real" mtn. biking. Can one of these bikes handle real trails? I'd say yes with a but...as in but it won't handle like, last as long as or be as safe as a true mtn. bike.