Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toy Story

Only seven comments yesterday? SEVEN? Sheesh. It looks like I'm gonna have to start downsizing here, and right around the holidays, too. Shame. And forget about having a party. Good thing I hadn't bought any supplies yet—although it looks like I'm going to lose the deposit I left with Grand Prospect Hall. (I just couldn't resist the allure of their commercials—watch it if you dare.)

It's a snowy/rainy/gloomy Tuesday, and I spent part of my afternoon in a crowded suburban Toys 'R Us. Judging from the bareness of certain shelves and racks and the fullness of many carts, it seems that the kids in america will not be suffering this holiday season. Mommy and daddy might not be able to fill up the Escalade, but Junior will be getting his Spike the Ultra Dinosaur come hell or high water. (I'll admit, I would have been stoked to get one of those when I was younger. Like, 25.)

I didn't look at the bikes in Toys 'R Us, but I probably should have just out of a sense of morbid curiosity. I've been fortunate enough in my life to never have a department store bike, and I'd hope that no one else would have to suffer through that either (although I do remember pining for a Huffy Pro Thunder when a friend down the block had one). And it's not because I hate cheap bikes—cheap bikes are fine—but it's just that department store bikes are just plain lousy. They're "designed" by marketers rather than bike people (just look at them!) and assembled by bored high-school kids who probably know even less about bikes than the designers.

To further clarify, I have no problem with the toy store bikes built for little kids. You know, the ones with training wheels and tassels. A kid's gotta start somewhere. I reserve my disdain for the ones that are supposedly just as good as a bike you'd buy from a bike shop.

Take this one, for example:
Awful. And for only $180! I think the description speaks for itself:

The 20" Mongoose Boy's Ace Bicycle is made for anyone over 7 years old who wants a legitimate trick bike. It is the perfect bike to learn freestyle riding or just to have fun with. The Aluminum 5 Spoke Mag Wheels are the ultimate in cool. This bike has all the parts to be completely legit freestyle bike - 4 axle pegs, ORYG rotor, full wrap freestyle tires, 4 piece handlebar, 3 piece crank, Promax Alloy brake levers and an alloy chainring. There are performance features usually reserved for bikes that cost twice as much. The Front Caliper and Rear Alloy U Brakes provide the braking power needed for safe dependable stopping when learning new tricks. Finally, the heavy duty padded saddle and dual density grips provide the rider with all the comfort they could ask for. Ride Mongoose and Ride Like the Pros.

Hello, blatant misinformation. First off, aluminum five-spoke mags haven't been "the ultimate in cool" since 1975 or so. And as for the "performance features usually reserved for bikes that cost twice as much," um, you can get much BETTER features on a bike that costs roughly the same amount if you buy this. (I'm pretty sure that Mongoose doesn't even have three-piece cranks?) And if you actually DO spend twice as much, you can get this, which is 37 times the bike that alleged Mongoose claims to be. Even this is much better than any department store bike, and it's only half again as much. This isn't twice as much, either. With the money you save, you can get a front brake.

My favorite Toys 'R Us bike HAS to be this one, though:

A carbon bike? At Toys R' Us? For $280? It's pretty obvious where they saved money—like those monstrous forged three-piece cranks. Some sort of hollow one-piece may have been cheaper AND lighter. Not to mention you'd be infinitely better off getting your kid something like this (and even save money in the process). Sure the DK isn't carbon, but let's face it—the carbon fiber in that Huffy isn't much like the carbon fiber in this.

Although hey, if things are gonna be like this, maybe I should look a little closer at those department store bikes. The way things are going, I might wind up riding one.


How I posted about woodgrain yesterday and missed this, I don't know:

Yes, that's a new SE OM Flyer that's virtually all woodgrain. Leave it to the Wildman.



Plagiarist said...

Do you really care about how many comment you get?

Please tell me it isn't so or I'm going to be forced hunt you down, Drill some holes in your frame, cut off the top of your seattube and jam a wedge post in their instead.

Plagiarist said...

Note to self, ensure that you use correct grammar when threatening Russ in future.


Anonymous said...

That Intense frame is aluminum, the fork is carbon. And a scary fork at that!

t.f.a. said...

you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

DBZ said...

I'm going to be showing this post to a lot of cheapskate parents at the shop in the next week. It's going to save me breath that I'm going to need for smoking furiously before the ban here in Oregton bars, and I've got about two dozen Kinks and Fits to move.

Basically, I owe you a couple drinks once you're back in the PDX.

dayday said...

Most parents dont know about Dans Comp, Albes, Empire, FBM, or even GT for that matter. They will go to WalMart or Target and pick up a bike while they get thier socks, detergent, rake and shampoo. To be honest, when I bought my son a bike recently, I factored in how much he actually rides and his skill level and couldnt find myself spending $300+ bucks on a bike. I opted for $200 Kink from Dans (it was the only 20inch frame, for a decent price i could find). As for the SE, I have the older model, the White and Baby Blue 26incher...thinking about selling it and getting the wood grain one, that is pretty dope.

DBZ said...

Oregton? Fuck.


Russ said...

I don't really care about how many comments there are, but seven?

Getting a beginner a beginner-level bike is fine. There's NO excuse, however, to buy someone who might someday be serious about riding a pile of complete shit like that Mongoose. In fact, Mongoose should be embarassed to put their name on shit like that, although they've made it abundantly clear in recent years that they'll put their name on anything.

Anonymous said...

mongoose will do anything to sell to a market that doesn't know there's better things out there for there kids.

the anonymous prophet said...

see what rider was in the sponsorsip news today after last week's badgering????

Slick Rick Vick Trick Pick Lick MURPHY said...

I never have, and never will understand the appeal of wood grain bicycle products.Who are they trying to fool? Should you wash your bike with pledge?

Stephen said...

I wanted to comment on the previous blog, but it would have been something negative about Taj and I didn't want to wind up doing that because I want to still like him.

.michael.philip.okiver.mcneill. said...

except steve mccann and simon tabron apparently

Russ said...

K.C. Badgering?

brien said...

kriz bennett

SkidMarkPDX said...

I was in Joe's Sporting Goods looking at their BMX offerings and thinking the same thing. They had a GT with tubular CrMo cranks, a smallish sprocket, ORYG, etc. for about $270. Goods BMX has the FBM Executioner for $335. Probably worth the extra 65 bucks just to have an actual bike mechanic assemble it.

ryan said...

"Why don't you stop complaining on the internet and actually do something about it?"


Smitty said...

Two thoughts on this.

1) I think that Mongoose and Huffy actually ARE staffed by bike people. There was a long thread on the carbon fiber bike on VintageBMX last year, and the Huffy guy behind the bike is a regular on that site, and a regular racer. The problem is, they have to put together bikes that the BUYERS at Toys R Us want to buy. And that means a blingin Carbon Fiber frame. Without that gimmick frame material, they wanted nothing to do with a race bike.

2) I went into a local discount chain and looked at the collection of bikes on display, as I am wont to do. The assembly of these bikes was criminally negligent. I mean, stems misaligned by 15 degrees, stems not tightened, brake levers angled up 90 degrees, brake cables unhooked, front axlenuts untightened. It was as if someone had gone thru the inventory to sabotage it. But you know that was not the case - it just spoke to the ineptitude and lack of care taken by the assembler. I know that none of this surprises anyone here, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

nate said...

Dude, Russ, I was "this" close to posting yesterday . . . all about the probability of splined joint failure versus the probability of welded joint failure. . .and then I realized I don't know exactly what I'm talking about. So I opted to not look like a total idiot. Please don't hold out on us, though. We're sorry. We'll post more. We promise!

As far as the whole dept. store bike thing goes, I'm going to risk saying that America at large isn't ready to embrace the idea of buying a decent bike. As long as Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Target and the rest continue to operate on their current business principles all they are going to care about is moving product. Not necessarily on which products they move, or the inherent quality of that product. Just so long as there's product to move and dumb consumers to buy it they're happy. . . But that's another rant for another day.

As far as the Wildman's style goes, I remember the day when Todd was riding the hell out of a Huffy. Proof that they can make a decent frame if they want to. . . And I'd pretty much trade my left nut to get the gig that he has now. He's making some crazy stuff and, in my opinion, striking a really perfect balance among price, quality, and style. The SE line gets better and better every year. Again, my opinion, not necessarily shared by all.

Can't wait until the Friday quiz!

steve said...

to smitty:
I worked in a smaller bike shop and we were contraced by larger 'box' stores to build their bikes and do their warranty. The welds were garbage, the parts were laughable. But i built them all day, with passion. Because I'd rather have the people who live in my local area riding shitty bikes put together well, with working brakes, than riding the crap some companies sell.

Anonymous said...

Let's put all our shit-talking about Taj in this thread. He's not reading about Huffys.

He just steals seatposts off 'em.

'Hind yo back, grampa!

James said...

I'm with Nate. Yeah. Yesterdays thread... I thought I'd leave it alone.

I know sweet fuck all about spline engineering... but I do enjoy reading about it.

And I didn't wanna rip on Taj. I dunno. He's a good guy.

Next time I like one of your posts but am too dumb to reply with something constructive I'll write 'good post'.


Don't go russ, we love you!

ronan said...

Here's a comment for ya.
Happy Christmas.

gsport george said...

"I have no problem with the toy store bikes built for little kids. You know, the ones with training wheels and tassels. A kid's gotta start somewhere."

I do. As with ANY level of cycling, the dept store stuff is generally crap. Surely when you are learning to ride a bike it is even MORE important to have something solid and well put together to ride? Those kids bikes put all the emphasis on tassles and paying Disney to put Pochafuckinghontas on the frame pads, so the headset, BB and wheel bearings end up as shitty plastic bushes that give the effect of everything being loose from day one.
Tassles are for nipples.
The way for a kid to learn to ride a bike is on one of these:-

Proper headset and wheel bearings no Tassles training wheels or Disney shit... I know what my kids are getting.

Anonymous said...

george.. is that the new ukbikeco frame?

Anonymous said...

My daughter's 12" Go Diego Go bike is ill. I put white tires, a white velo seat, and tassles on it to make it girly. But she knew, through some kind of bmx hippocampus-region vestigal memory, to put the numberplate that came with it on the bars and put the Fly Bikes stickers I gave her on there. She's stoked, so I am too.

Anonymous said...

Russ, do you know if Grand Prospect Hall has a director's cut of that promo?

Perhaps with that old couple wearing crowns and capes, while holding gleaming scepters, and selling mattresses.

Oh yeah, excellent post.

toby said...

Ha, Pochafuckinghontas.
Fucking loved it!

Anonymous said...

Song, from Chase Hawk in "Fitlife" lovely...

Si said...

As a cheap bike, I rate the GT Performer. I've got the 07 and have been riding it for nearly 2 years I snapped the cranks and the bars after 4 months (both done on landing to flat) and over time replaced parts so the only original stuff is the frame and forks. I'm not the smoothest rider either and the GT's put up with a lot of abuse. It's been an affordable way to build a decent bike over time.