Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Department Store Bikes and The Meaning of Life

Have you ever been wandering through Wal-Mart looking for a scented candle or some meaning in your life? Lord knows I have, and while a scented candle is a relatively easy thing to round up, life meaning can be elusive. There you are, wandering the wide hallways cleared between hedgerows of commerce, comparing the products your eye falls upon with the images of “life meaning” and “some semblance of happiness” in your head. All of a sudden, you find yourself looking at a bicycle. Two wheels, a handlebar, and some pedals, and for less money than you’ve spent on a single night of dinner and drinking. Even though as a cyclist, you know that there’s no way a department store bike can hold up in the real world, you have to wonder… could you get your money’s worth?

This is nearly the question that a gentleman from Great Britain posed to himself some time ago, but he’s gone one step farther than blathering about it on the Intertweeds. He’s actually put the things to the test.

Simon Hartwell, the article’s author, wrote:

My plan was to purchase a sub-£100 mountain bike. It had te [sic] be full suspension, brand new and from a legitimate source. I could change nothing on it except the pedals; everything else was to be as supplied.

Side Note: £100 is the same amount of money as about $1500, so these bikes might actually be kind of nice.

The question this challenge seeks to answer, I think, is “What am I getting for my extra thousands of dollars when I buy a top of the line bike?” You might be surprised how well the cheap bikes fared under the harshest punishment, but I think the answer is that you’re getting a different experience. Such as, for instance, brakes that actually do something.

If the price point indicates how great one’s experience will be, then at $1200, this bike surely delivers “experience” in truckloads:

GT Track Bike Dura Ace components – $1200

GT track bike frame (58cm), with Chris King headset, Dura Ace track chain rings (47 and 48) and another track chain ring (48), two Dura Ace cogs (15 and 16), bullhorn bars, Pista 3T track bars, Mavic Open Pro 28 spoke gray wheels, Dura Ace track hubs (rear hub is flip flop hub), Continental Grand Prix 3000 tires, Sugino 75 cranks, Shimano 105 brakes.

I bought the frame and fork and cranks used, everything else is new and has been rarely used. The bike is currently set up as fixed with bullhorn bars and brake for riding around the city, remove the brake and swap the bars to race at the velodrome. Brooks saddle is not included. Everything else is for sale.

email with any questions or offers. pics attached

If you’re in the market for a bargain frame with top of the line components, excepting the saddle of course, then I think you have found the right bike for you. I’m interested in it purely for the Chris King headset. I’ve always wanted to know what makes those things so highly prized. I mean, how awesome can the act of turning the handlebars actually be? I may never know.

Alas, my pockets lack the necessary depth, but I invite you to purchase “GT Track Bike” as soon as possible. I look forward to your report on the experience!

2 thoughts on “Department Store Bikes and The Meaning of Life”

  1. Janice in GA

    I think you have an error there somewhere. 100 pounds = about $155 US, not $1500. Alas.

  2. jim

    Impossible, Janice. I do not make mistakezs.