Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Friend

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Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Friend

Postby adrian_d » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:51 pm

Hey all,
I went to Big W as I was keen on checking out that $98 Fixie bike and ended up buying a $98 Mountain bike for my girl friend.

She was super keen to get started and didn't want to spend much. I contacted a "certain" bike store and asked what their cheapest bike was and why I was buying one. The cheapest they offered was $300. I called another store in this franchise and was told that their cheapest was $149.

The thing that really bugged me (and its happened before) is that the first place told me "there was bikes under $300 but they aren't worth it" and I emphasised that my girl friend may end up riding the bike once or twice and just wanted to try it out. I understand they may have been trying to help but i was clear with my intentions. What bugs me is that they sell these "cheap" bikes but end up bagging the crap out of them. If it was a corporate decision to stock the cheap bikes, and someone wanted to buy one then they should help the customer. I told him I knew they were cheap bikes but I still wanted one.

I ended up getting a Big W Repco Haven for my Girl Friend to enjoy getting into cycling, if she ends up liking it we can upgrade later down the track.

My main issues with the bike have been in relation to the shifters on it. They feel pretty horrendous. It uses those mountain bike twist shifters and they are very tight. I was going to change them to the click up/down shifters.

Has anyone else had experience with this end of the market? Apart from overall product quality (the rear deraileur looks pretty aweful lol), are there build quality issues that I should be weary of? She won't be taking it off any jumps or anything like that. I have that feeling the forks will break or the frame will crack.

The bike did have certain quality standard authority's sign off on it and the bikes were locally made in Adelaide.

Here it is:
http://www.bigw.com.au/sports-leisure/b ... ntain-bike
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by BNA » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:03 pm

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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby rkelsen » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:03 pm

:shock: There's an "Adelaide" in China? Or maybe you aren't sure how to spell Shenzhen?

I'm pretty sure it ain't made here Adrian.

No big deal. It was probably made in the same factory as most of the bikes you'll find on the floor of any LBS.

Personally, I'd leave the shifters until she is sure that she wants to ride it more often (the bike man, stay with me... :lol: ).

Either way, with you looking after it, I'm sure it'll be fine.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby adrian_d » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:07 pm

rkelsen wrote::shock: There's an "Adelaide" in China? Or maybe you aren't sure how to spell Shenzhen?

I'm pretty sure it ain't made here Adrian.

No big deal. It was probably made in the same factory as most of the bikes you'll find on the floor of any LBS.

Personally, I'd leave the shifters until she is sure that she wants to ride it more often (the bike man, stay with me... :lol: ).

Either way, with you looking after it, I'm sure it'll be fine.


Thanks for the heads up. Yeah that makes me wonder too hahaha. The deraileur isn't as pictured though. In real life it looks completely different. There isn't a visible eyelet if I was to change the rear deraileur for her, the rear deraileur is actually riveted onto a plate which is then held in place by the rear axle itself.

Shes been totally positive about getting out on the bike, I would just hate myself if the bike came apart due to low frame rigidity and she hurt herself.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby ldrcycles » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:27 pm

adrian_d wrote:

My main issues with the bike have been in relation to the shifters on it. They feel pretty horrendous. It uses those mountain bike twist shifters and they are very tight. I was going to change them to the click up/down shifters.

Has anyone else had experience with this end of the market? Apart from overall product quality (the rear deraileur looks pretty aweful lol), are there build quality issues that I should be weary of? She won't be taking it off any jumps or anything like that. I have that feeling the forks will break or the frame will crack.

The bike did have certain quality standard authority's sign off on it and the bikes were locally made in Adelaide.


Experience with that end of the market hey? :D .

Firstly, the bike will have been made in china, not a snowball's chance in hell they were made in adelaide.

Those rear derailleurs pretty much never work, the best thing is to replace it with something like this http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/5-6-7-SPEED- ... 564cc64301 . Or you could strip one off a Huffy at the tip, either way TY18s work alright.

As for the shifters, those entry level twist shifters are hopeless, thumb shifters are the way to go. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/BICYCLE-PAIR ... 3a77fd5d86 or http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Bicycle-Sunr ... 1e6b72b34c (although the indexed sunrace ones are 7 speed and your Repco is 5 or 6, but you get the idea).

Unless she goes off road you needn't worry about the frame breaking, the wheels will let go first IME. The forks do have a distinctly limited life, moisture or off road use will kill them in very short order, but all that usually happens is they lock up.
The brakes can be a real headache to set up, but if you're lucky they might be alright.
But don't let that put you off, as you say, your girlfriend might only ride it a couple of times, riding may just not be her thing, if so, you haven't blown a heap of dough.
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Postby Philipthelam » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:12 pm

Hi, I currently ride a $98 BigW mountain bike (Repco Skirmish as seen here http://www.bigw.com.au/sports-leisure/b ... ntain-bike ). Its a mens bike but I can probably compare it to that bike since it costs the same. I bought it with my own money. It was the best that I could afford (i'm a kid in highschool) and while it isn't the best bike, it has gotten me into cycling which is the most important thing. I ride it pretty frequently, every weekend and sometimes after school, so i believe it was $98 well spent.

So as a starter bike to get your girlfriend into cycling I think it would be great. If, after riding this bike, she finds that she enjoys cycling then that's great and she will probably be looking for a new bike soon (I am saving up for a road bike now :) probably the Avanti giro 1). If not, well it was only $98.
My bike did have a few problems but if she likes fixing things then I think it should be ok.
Some things to look out for:
Brakes- The brakes, while simply to adjust, can be very very annoying. You will have to align them (easy to do) and centre them (easy but very annoying). I found that randomly 1 brake pad will stick to the side of the rim and I would have to tighten/loosen the screws to adjust the spring tension. This adjustment would take a while because when trying to centre the brakes nothing would happen and then I would find that instead, the brake pad on the other side was sticking to the rim. Anyway the brakes are all good now. I would also recommend changing the brake pads to better quality ones. The ones that were on the bike wore out super fast and after a single downhill you could actually feel that a lot of the brake pad had worn out since you had to pull the brake (lever?) a lot more to brake.

Wheels- the wheels are,of course, low quality but as long as the bike is ridden on paved surfaces and nothing crazy is done then it should be ok. A slight knock to the side will mean that it will go very out of true and mean a trip to the bike shop (unless you have a spoke key and know how to true wheels). This happened to me (during a safe commuting course actually) when I was going down a hill on a road and braked to hard. The back wheel lifted and hit the ground at an angle the the wheel was bent so much I had to release the back brakes to keep riding. luckily Doug from Bike North fixed the wheel for me (thanks doug!).

Gears/shifting- My bike also has twist shifters which I find to be ok. The rear deraileur worked fine since i got the bike but I had to adjust the front derailleur as it wasn't working. This was easy, I just had to tighten the cable by pulling more cable through and then using the barrel adjuster.

So I think that while the bike may have a few problems as long as you take good care of it and are happy to adjust the brakes, gears etc. then it will be a great bike, definitely for someone just starting out who wants to try cycling!
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby vince » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:35 pm

it was only a couple of weeks ago when i was down at the beach and noticed the high number of bikes in the bike rack outside the takeaway shop, stopped for a closer look and the majority of them were the big w / kmart type things, pffft you might think, these bikes were the most neglected , rusty, squeaky things i have seen. THEN,,,, i noticed tyre wear, bald and through to canvas were some of them mmmm a few km on these i'd say, then this had me intrigued and i looked at other wear factors, you know brake rubbers, crankset wear etc and there was a lot of excess wear.
my point... (finally, you say) these cheapo bikes when neglected and abused, seem to last
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby ldrcycles » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:25 am

My first bike was a $120 Repco dual susension thing, chain snapped after 12kms, the shifters never indexed, brakes never worked properly etc but it got me started. I ended up getting about 500k out of it, by the end it was a farm bike running as a single speed after the rear wheel ate the derailleur.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby Crittski » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:59 am

I find it amusing the OP bags a bike shop for warning that a sub $300 bike is showtime, and then when he buys one, he complains about all the things that are showtime about it!

Good on you though for getting your GF into riding though!
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby adrian_d » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:03 am

Crittski wrote:I find it amusing the OP bags a bike shop for warning that a sub $300 bike is showtime, and then when he buys one, he complains about all the things that are showtime about it!

Good on you though for getting your GF into riding though!


Your very right there, overall I am amazed that a bike can be sold for $98, there as to be costs cut somewhere for sure.

I think the difference in this situation between me and the LBS I spoke to, was that I definitely see potential in it, and considering the money that my girl friend wanted to allocate, without buying this particular bike for $98 she would still be without a bike while the LBS would have wanted the $300.

I've bought a few sub $200 bikes from LBS in the past and have had great success with them, I think this one will be great. The only difference from this is that if I buy a cheap bike and it ends up failing on me (and I survive the fall) then its just on me. But since my girl friend is riding it I was more concerned than I would normally (I am second guessing everything).

Thanks for all your help
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby AndrewBurns » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:36 am

I got a hybrid from Aldi for $130 when I started riding and put about 800km on it before upgrading to a road bike. Other than having to re-true the wheels after I fell off (literally crashed at about 10kph and both rims bent horribly) and tighten the bottom bracket a lot (which is oldschool cup and cone square taper) it performed its job fine. They're on sale again soon for $120 I think which is IMO a fantastic price if you want something to learn to ride or lock up at the train station.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby bychosis » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:58 pm

I get the feeling that these dept store bikes (Bike Shaped Objects) aren't very good, but if you're handy with a spanner and know how to use it on bikes then they aren't really that bad, provided you have alloy rims. I put together a new BSO a while ago to on-sell (purchased at $20, sold at $60 FTW) and was shocked how bad the brakes were on its steel rims. I'm used to good v-brakes or discs. Still other than being heavy it went OK, changed gears etc.

For a new yet-to-be-converted rider with limited budget and access to a bike mechanic what have you got to lose? Having said that I convinced my mates to spend the extra and get a basic LBS bike because they don't know how to fix bikes, even though I'm more than happy to help when I'm available (always tuning up all the kids bikes when camping etc).
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:03 pm

I'm no fan of most W bikes but looking at them some of the problems seem to stem from the fact that the maker saves lots in labour by not actually setting anything up. Bits are just thrown onto the frame and left for the buyer to make sure they're all fitted and adjusted right. Hence the print on the box that says something like: "We recommend that this bike be assembled by the LBS."
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby adrian_d » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:35 am

Mulger bill wrote:I'm no fan of most W bikes but looking at them some of the problems seem to stem from the fact that the maker saves lots in labour by not actually setting anything up. Bits are just thrown onto the frame and left for the buyer to make sure they're all fitted and adjusted right. Hence the print on the box that says something like: "We recommend that this bike be assembled by the LBS."


Your not wrong there, it seems like the frame seems strong enough but I had to make adjustments throughout the bike. They offered to build it up for an extra $16 but they would have to be making a loss with this because it did take a good 30 minutes.

With a bit of fine adjustment, new pads (the old ones were very squeeky) and a good check over it rides really well.

Its amazing how big of a difference a mountain bike is compared to a road bike, the rolling resistance is substantially more on the MTB.

I'm sure a lightweight MTB would be better.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby bychosis » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:49 am

adrian_d wrote:I'm sure a lightweight MTB would be better.


Maybe not as much as you would think. It's all about aero, rolling resistance and knobbly tyres.
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Re: Making the Most out of a Repco BigW Bike for my Girl Fri

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:51 pm

adrian_d wrote:Your not wrong there, it seems like the frame seems strong enough but I had to make adjustments throughout the bike. They offered to build it up for an extra $16 but they would have to be making a loss with this because it did take a good 30 minutes.


I can't say for sure but i'm pretty sure they would spend 10 minutes tops, and just do what the manual has instructions for i.e., put the front wheel and handlebars on.
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