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Bikexchange.com logo, link to Home Bits 'n Bolts from the Winter 2003 Ask the Mechanic Bikexchange.com logo, link to Home 

By Andy "The Mechanic" Wallen

We borrow two noteworthy Q&A's from our resident handyman/advisor's most recent Ask the Mechanic column. Andy advises: 1) Put as much stock into selecting a dealer as you would a brand of bike; and 2) Do not put much stock in department store bikes.  

1)  Dealer Reliability More Important Than Brand Reliability?

Andy,

Thanks for the input. I was doing some looking on the Net and I think the bike for me is really a cross-comfort type of bike. I'm planning on riding mostly to and from work. And, in the industrial park I'll ride through, the roads are rough and there are lots of railroad tracks to cross. I really won't be doing mountain biking per say and I don't want to take my road bike there, I'd bend too many wheels. Looks like Raleigh makes some nice bikes.

Your thoughts?
Pete

Pete,

Raleigh is an acceptable choice in bicycles. I recommend buying the brand that the shop or shops in your area sell, because when you get right down to it, Giant, China Bike, Ace Trike, KHS, and Ideal make all of the price point bikes, so there's not much to separate one from another, except for the dealer, which is probably more important than who actually made the thing. We sell Gary Fisher and Fuji, and I prefer Fisher because, as part of the biggest bicycle company in the US, we have very good, no hassle warranty service, and Fisher actually manufactures about 40% of their bikes in the US.

Andy

Buyers Beware BMX Bikes, Especially Pacific Brands, Under $200 & From Department Stores

Andy,

I am going to purchase a 20-inch bmx type bicycle for my 8-year-old son. He is a hard rider and uses his bike a lot. I am looking at a Schwinn and a Mongoose. Would you give me your opinion on these brands?

Thanks,
Tyger

Tyger,

First thing: don't buy anything from a department store. If you must have a Mongoose, buy one from a bike shop. Second thing: don't buy anything "made" by Pacific, which now owns both brands in question. Pacific is now huge, but has never had acceptable customer service. The warranty department is out to lunch, and there is nobody in the company with much technical savvy. All they can do is buy incredible amounts of bikes from China, and distribute them through channels that other companies have so far avoided. I don't know why they haven't put Schwinn and GT in Wal-Mart yet, but it'll happen any day now.

Haro has outstanding product and customer support. They are one of the few companies in the business that I have yet to have a beef with. I don't like Diamond Back, but I'd rather see you buy db over either Schwinn or Mongoose. 

Buying a Pacific product is harmful to everyone except Pacific. You are led to buy a department store brand under the guise of a shop brand, and you add fuel to the bigger is better mentality. Any decent BMX/freestyle/DJ bike is going to cost a minimum of $200. If it is less, be suspicious.

Andy

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