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So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:47 pm
by ldrcycles
Well my first bike was a Repco 'dual suspension' MTB that cost $120, and it was junk. Gears that never worked properly, brakes that never worked properly, suspension that never worked properly, bearings made of cheese etc.

But walking through Big W the other day i saw a Repco single speed flat bar road bike, and absolutely loved the look of it.
http://www.bigw.com.au/sports-leisure/b ... 000299802/
Now the way a bike looks is one thing, but the way it rides is something else entirely. Life is too short not to know!! So with it costing only $98 (and with a little encouragement from the forum :) ) i pulled the trigger today.

Unfortunately i can't post pics just now but i can at least describe the first few operations.
First impressions, the frame is WAY better than what you would expect. It's a lovely glossy black (although the downtube stickers look to be a bit too far underneath the tube, at least they're there) and i was very surprised to find the welds are actually quite reasonable. I've seen plenty of Huffys, Dunlops etc with disgraceful welds that look like they are barely holding things together, now you would never confuse this for a handmade frame but it's not too bad.

Remembering what i had read about several people buying these kind of bikes and finding them completely ungreased, i decided the first job would be to strip things down and have a look. Started with the front wheel (as it was loose in the box), reasonably true but the bearings were pretty tight and notchy. On opening it up, there was a reasonable but not exactly generous amount of grease. I whacked in some more and adjusted it up so it actually spins fairly smoothly. Was a very quick and easy job too.

On to the rear wheel, it was so tight i could barely move the axle by hand at all. Same story as the front, very quick and easy to regrease and adjust to quite smooth. Very little grease in it though, and the freewheel feels very light and tinny.

The BB was done up extremely tightly, and was very stiff to turn. That's where the story ends for now, as i can't find my BB spanner and need to sleep :) .

But to start off with, things aren't too bad, i'm getting the impression that the assembly on these bikes is more of an issue than the quality of the parts.
Photos and more tomorrow.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:31 am
by AUbicycles
Look forward to your updates. For a laugh, and to see what happens, would you be able to take the bike back to Big W and enquire about your first bike service.... and if they can get a mechanic to check eg. A loose pedal.

The other thing is asking for a (non-standard) replacement part. I am interested in the reactions, and what solution is suggested. Apart from the quality, the service and support is the other major criticism of Supermarket bikes and why I don't recommend them..... But things can change.

In the name of science, would you mind posting the specs and also sharing what features were highlighted on the bike (in store or in the ad) if applicable.

Cheers
Christopher

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:59 am
by sblack
I was in Big W last night, wandered past the bike section, saw the same bike and must admit had similar thoughts. Just how bad could it be for that price? If it wasn't for the fact that I don't live in a particularly single speed friendly area I probably would have bought one just to see.

Incidentally I had a Repco Sport24 10 speed as a kid that seamed just fine. It was my first road bike and after I outgrew it it just sat outside my parents place until one day last year I noticed it and it's now fixed up and is my daughter's first road bike. Works just fine but it is fairly heavy.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:37 am
by rkelsen
I can think of worse ways to blow $100.

In all honesty, I believe that if you grease and adjust the bearings properly and true the wheels it'll last you ages.

At 19 kegs, it'll be built like a brick outhouse.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:52 am
by AndrewBurns
Surely 19kg is gross weight, I can't imagine the net weight would be more than 15 or 16kg.

My Aldi bike is still going strong though not getting much action these days, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it so as long as I kept maintaining it I could probably expect a few thousand km out of it (current odo is about 800km I think). It was great for teaching me bike maintenance :P

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:11 am
by silentbutdeadly
It'll be 19kgs without air in the tyres...ask your dad/grandad how heravy his bike was. I'd wager that if you took this bike back 50 years they'd think it was a lightweight...

Well done to LDR for putting his money where his mad ideas were. Look forward to the improvements...especially since Cell make big things of selling fixies for mid $400's

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:26 am
by AndrewBurns
silentbutdeadly wrote:It'll be 19kgs without air in the tyres...ask your dad/grandad how heravy his bike was. I'd wager that if you took this bike back 50 years they'd think it was a lightweight...

Well done to LDR for putting his money where his mad ideas were. Look forward to the improvements...especially since Cell make big things of selling fixies for mid $400's


I doubt that a bike 50 years ago would have weighed more than 19kg either. The aldi bike is very large, all of the tubes are the size you'd expect from an aluminium bike but they're steel. Not good steel either, something you'd make drain pipes out of and none of them are butted, it has front suspension and a steel suspension seatpost which all add weight. Even then it only weighs a bit over 16kg base weight (18 after I added mudguards and rack), the fixie even though it's made of similar drain pipe steel will be lighter even just because it hasn't got the weight of extra gears and no heavy suspension forks.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:41 am
by rkelsen
You can walk into any LBS and easily find a brand new bike which weighs >20kg.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:49 am
by AndrewBurns
rkelsen wrote:You can walk into any LBS and easily find a brand new bike which weighs >20kg.


True but we're not talking some specialty bike or a dutch style bike or e-bike here, it's just a plain fixie. Not much there that can really push the weight up that high unless they made it out of solid instead of tube.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:59 am
by rkelsen
Steel cranks can be quite heavy. It can add up pretty quickly if the seatpost, chainring, stem, hubs, handlebars, brakes and brake levers are also steel.

For 98 bucks, I don't think there'd be much alloy on that bike. The rims might be steel too.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:08 am
by longshanks
As others have posted, its weight was the first thing i saw! Anyway, for $98 you may have a reasonable frame (maybe) if the rest turns out to be rubbish.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:44 am
by janus77
$98, that's crazy.. nice effort buying one. I'd bet more than half the people reading this thread are tempted to go out and do just the same!

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:59 pm
by yarravalleyplodder
well you can get a mtb from goldcross for $99
http://www.goldcross.com.au/online-stor ... escription

probably a bit better after sales service from them than BigW

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:09 pm
by MattyK
Looks like they took our advice: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=48301#p734989
MattyK wrote:It amazes me that K-Mart etc don't get into fixies. Surely it would be possible to produce a good value single-speed at low cost? It would be simple enough that parts could be upgraded if they break, which they probably would. But it would be reasonably pleasant to ride with efficient drivetrain and skinny tyres.

silentbutdeadly wrote:Except it would probably be based on a frame made from downgrade steel fence railings and therefore weigh as much as a 10 foot Waratah farm gate.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:19 pm
by brisrouleur
Okay, so I know someone else who bought one of these the day they were advertised in the BigW catalogue. In fact, I'm looking at the bike from within the office now...

The funny thing is about this purchase, is he's already got a list of parts ready to order from Wiggle/Chain Reaction to the order of $300. To be fair to the bike though, despite some of it's low points on quality of parts which affect the pleasure of riding it, in all reality it would probably keep rolling for quite some time.

The main comment from his experience with the bike would be the brakes have been near useless. Probably a combination of painted rims and bad pads, but they have made some improvement over the last few weeks. Also the way the seat is bolted to the post, the bolt/nut catches his knicks and has caused a little bit of wear in them.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:26 pm
by brisrouleur
Oh, and if you like new bike smell. This one also comes with a bonus pungent smell that is fresh from the chinese factory :lol: (lasts for weeks too)

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:19 pm
by Nobody
You guys might start a trend. I'll be interested to see what happens with this thread. I might go from cheaper bikes to cheap bikes for general low-Km commuting/utility purposes.

I spent more than double the asking price just on bits & pieces from CRC this week.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:29 pm
by ldrcycles
WOW i can't believe the amount of interest in this! I can understand it but all the same, quite a shock :) .

So, I found my BB spanner this morning and continued my work. The BB could barely move it was so tight, and there was next to no grease in there. I greased and adjusted it the same way as i had the hubs, but i couldn't get the BB smooth. Even when it was loose enough that it wasn't properly secured, it was still notchy, so i just got it good enough and moved on. The cranks incidentally are steel, and weigh an absolute tonne, a huge amount of weight could be dropped there for very little outlay.

Next job was the headset. Can you guess how that had been adjusted? That's right, tight as a drum. Grease and adjust, and got it moving reasonably but not great. The stem popped in fine, handlebars needed to be tightened and then it was brakes.

Quite interesting to see the comment above about poor brakes, as my experience so far is not great. The callipers look alright, much better than the stamped steel junk you usually see on cheap bikes. However with the 700x35 tyres they could either be set up to allow wheel removal, or to provide some braking, but not both. On the subject of tyres, the rear had less than 1mm clearance from the brake bridge/calliper bolt, too close for my liking. I had a pair of 28c Michelin Citys spare so i threw them on, interesting to note it had reasonable sort of rim tape on there. While the feel of the brakes is ok (though i haven't really set them up yet) the left lever won't go all the way back. The levers have a small grub screw to adjust the reach but even with that removed entirely it won't return all the way home. I'll investigate a bit further before deciding if i need to try and get it replaced by big w.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:30 pm
by ldrcycles
Then it was just popping in the seatpost (very interesting, 28.6mm, i had expected it to be 25.4, though the seat tube is significantly larger than the down tube), that went in fine although the seat tube had a very pronounced seam running down it (obviously i was not expecting seamless tubing :lol: ), and the pedals.
The pedals are ordinary plastic BMX sort of things, but again, bearings done up ridiculously tight. By this stage i needed to get myself off to work so i didn't bother adjusting them and just threw them on.

I had just enough time to pop up and down the street, maybe 200 metres, and everything felt pretty reasonable. The handlebars came loose as i was going up my driveway, but after retightening and checking them they stayed put.

When i got to work i got it out of the car, popped it together and sat it near the back door where my coworkers would see it. So far the only negative comment was "looks a bit cheap" but even that was prefaced with "that looks pretty cool although". The majority opinion is that it looks nice, and especially so for $98.
Tomorrow morning if all goes according to plan i'll pop the SPD SLs on it and ride it on my 26k short commute.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:32 pm
by ldrcycles
PS, i found when i got the bike out of my car at work this morning that the tight bearings had resulted in the drive side pedal partially unscrewing even on my very short test ride.

Here are some pics.

Image

Image

Image

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:16 pm
by Nobody
Nice looking bike for $98. I'm surprised.

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:18 pm
by CommuRider
janus77 wrote:$98, that's crazy.. nice effort buying one. I'd bet more than half the people reading this thread are tempted to go out and do just the same!


Perhaps but the link also showed BigW was selling 2 x $20 Itunes card for $30 :D

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:27 pm
by brisrouleur
One other thing I've just noticed now after looking at said bike in the office again - the price one spends on components seems to match how much they spent on the bike!

Don't you love this ghetto styling...do you think this trend might take off lol!!
Image

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:59 pm
by dfc.
Would make a cool track bike. All it needs is some thinner wheels, fixed hub and curved bars. If I had the $98 (I wish I did) I would be down to BigW as soon as possible. :mrgreen:

It would benefit from a respray to

Whats that:

-$98 Bike
-$30 Paint
-$200 Wheels
-$50 Tyres
-$40 Handle Bars
-$___ for Fixed Hub

= $418 excluding fixed hub

Cheap way to go racing, but maybe to heavy

Re: So how bad is a Big W bike, really?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:59 pm
by Comedian
So if you were going to spend all that money on parts wouldn't you be better off just buying a decent bike? :o