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Cheap Bikes vs. Expensive Bikes

Here’s my rant on the plus’s and minus’s of cheap bikes. 

Are they all bad?  Yes and no.  I suggest you have to take a few things into account.

You Can’t Beat the Price:

You adults…..If you have no intention of seriously taking up cycling and are buying a bike just for summer vacation time at the Cape or riding with your child as they learn to ride, then go right ahead and buy one.

The bikes are heavy, with cheap components that may shift and pedal and brake well when you first start putting on the miles, but as the miles start adding up things will wear out much faster on a cheap bike than an expensive bike.  It’s no fun slogging along on a heavy bike with a crappy saddle.  The biggest complaints from people just starting out on a new cheap bike is…”My butt hurts, my arms hurt, my legs hurt”.

Poorly designed saddles, improperly fitted and heavy bikes leave a bad taste in the mouth of a novice and generally discourages the newbie from enjoying the sport.

If you have any interest in seriously pursuing cycling then spend the bucks.


Should you buy a cheap bike for a kid?  Sure.  They will usually outgrow it before they beat it into the ground.

Please don’t buy the bikes with fancy suspensions.  They don’t work well and will usually break before they out grow it.  Same with gears.  A bike with anything more than 5 speeds is wasted on a youngster.  Hand brakes are bad on most cheap bikes.  They require constant attention to stay in tune.  Cables stretch and kids don’t have clue as to how to adjust them.


Once you reach fifteen your growth is peaking.  Most kids won’t grow much more.  At this age quality should be a consideration because you shouldn’t out grow a bike past this age. 

A good bike would start at $500.00.  You can get a damn good bike for $1500. Anything over $1500 doesn’t gain you much in weight savings that would make a difference on an amateur level.

Get a well fitted size, not to big.  It’s better to have a frame that is a bit too small than one that is too big. 

When you start with a good frame you can always upgrade your components as you grow.  You can buy longer seat posts and handlebar stems to fit a growing body.

Good Components:

A high quality component will last much longer and be more precise when braking and shifting gears.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to spend your money upgrading your rotating parts such as wheels, tires, gears and cranks.  Believe it or not but a well built light aluminum wheel is stronger than a heavy cheap steel wheel.  The lighter these are the less work you will be doing to move along.  The harder you work to move a bike the less fun it is.


Whether you have a cheap bike or an expensive one you need to keep it well tuned.  Oil the chain regularly.  Clean off the dirt and sand that  can wear moving parts down.  Keep your cables in good shape by lubing them and adjusting to keep your derailleurs and brakes working properly.