Schwinn Bikes, owned by Dorel Industries has been upping their game for the past two or three years concerning their department store bikes. I enjoy speaking about these bicycles because well… I am based in West Virginia and not every person who wants to ride a bike wants to own a fifteen pound (thousands of dollars) road bike, or the latest mountain bike shown on bikeradar. There has to be a middle ground between the trash sold at Wal-Mart, and the Independent Bike Dealer products. Dorel is finally learning that mountain bikes with fifty doohickey springs, and other trash is not going to last, and if they put out a quality product, people will notice. I’m not a fan of Dorel, but sometimes you have to acknowledge a good product.
Check out the specs:
- Frame: Aluminum
- Fork: SR Suntour Threadless
- Shimano 7spd Trigger Shifters
- Generic Brakes and Levers
- SR Suntour Crank
- FENDERS AND RACK
- Shimano Front/Rear Derailleur, and Freewheel Cassette.
- Somewhat-Generic 700 C Wheels
As you can see, the false flashy aspects are there for the disposable items, while the wheels are somewhat disappointing. I am so proud to see that they are 700c, to get away from sizing bicycles by wheel size, but the availability of tires and tubes at department/big-box stores are still somewhat scarce. The Fenders and Rear Rack are somewhat there for decoration, but I am sure they have a functional role too. Just don’t expect much out of them. The aluminum frame and SR Suntour fork is the most impressive part. Trek, Cannondale, and several other of the large bike companies probably had their frames and forks made in the same factories as these. No Lie. Trek’s 2008 Navigator 2.0 was very, very similarly specced in 2008 but started out at $300-400. While you are not getting a wonderful warranty and lifetime service on the bike when you buy it from a big box or department store, the $50-150 in savings may be worth the ignorance.
More than likely, you will have to do the walk of shame to a bike shop to get the wheels trued, and derailleur hangers/derailleurs correctly aligned/adjusted. They will give you a look that will burn into your inner consciousness and make you wonder why you got the Schwinn Solitaire instead of a LBS bike, but then you forgot that you’ll probably end up only riding it once or twice a week at max… and that is perfectly fine.
Now think about it… This bike is more expensive than say…. a NEXT MTN X-BIKE whatever with so much useless and outdated technology that isn’t worth the metal it was stamped out of. While a Tourney derailleur is not the best that Shimano makes, it is most definitely more reliable than some $0.85 stamped metal derailleur you can find on alibaba.com.
Once again, how can you go wrong (if you have your LBS build the bike, not Wal-Mart) with a bike this versatile and well priced when trying to start riding a bike? If you have to buy a bike from Wal-Mart, use your common sense and choose something with quality, not just wacky shapes and flash. If you see this bike at your local Wal-Mart, at least take a look at it and see that there is always an exception to the rules; Wal-Mart can and may sell some quality bikes in-store…
I give this bike One and a Half Thumbs Up.