2. These companies are not in the bicycle business. The big box has no interest, need, or requirement to produce a functioning bicycle. Every part down to the cable ends is the lowest cost possible, at the highest cost to you. $100 for a new bicycle may seem like a good deal, but you are actually getting LESS VALUE.
3. Investment value is non-existent. They don't sell well when it's time to get rid of them. (Especially 'full' suspension cheap bikes) You can't give it away, and most shops won't even take these bikes when free. However, if you spend a few hundred more and buy a properly tuned bicycle, the resale value goes up significantly. The more you invest in a bike, the more it is worth. Not only is it now going to be fun to ride, easy to load and unload, and stays in tune much much longer - it is a vehicle/an asset; not involving "Planned Obsolescence" and "Disposability in Design" as this is they way that the low-end market functions.
4. You do not get expert service in any way from them. The bikes are assembled by unskilled employees. Bicycle mechanics do not work for Wal-Mart or Dicks. And even if one did, he/she would have to lower their standards in order to do their job, which is to assemble the most bicycles in the shortest time. The result?
5. These bikes frequently come NEW with PROBLEMS already. Hubs too tight. Spokes tensioned wrong. Missing rim strips. Brake pads loosen easily. Cranks start coming off. Little or no assembly grease. The list goes on. I keep seeing these bikes come into the shop - NEW AND BROKEN. Paying a real mechanic to fix a new, poorly assembled bike increases your expense! When you buy a NEW bike, you want it to WORK. You simply don't get that at Wal Mart. It is not in their interest to provide you with that, because, again. THEY ARE NOT IN THE BICYCLE BUSINESS. Bicycles are a tiny percentage of their sales.
6. The Ball bearings on cheap bikes are TEN TIMES less accurate than regular ball bearings - and the good ones don't cost much at all. To save about .50c per wheel, they use .00250" tolerance bearings. That's up to 2 thousandths of an inch off. Good bearings, which are $1.00 per wheel, are .00025 and only allowed to be off by 2 tenths of a thousandth. The low quality bearings roll roughly and rob your energy, in addition to never being set properly.
7. Department stores rarely repair a bicycle. They are in the business of selling you disposable, low value products that break, that they cannot or will not repair, so you can throw it away and buy a new one. They don't need your bicycle business, your local bike shop does. If the department store carries parts, there is no quality range, only the cheapest quality/highest price possible parts or accessories that break/don't work at all.
8. THEY ARE UNSAFE! Low end bicycles are not even made for real riding! There is a warning label there to indemnify them from responsibility - so if your cheap fork snaps off when riding anything but most gently, it's not their fault - it's yours! (The words "mountain" or "trail" may be on the frame, along with the warning sticker saying: *Don't take it off-road*) Government safety standards designate mass produced bicycles as TOYS, considerably less oversight than in the Automobile Business, while higher quality bicycle manufacturers set their own standards above what would be required.
9. THEY ARE A MISERY TO RIDE. Nothing in the automotive world quality range is as low as what comes on the low end bike. Even when perfectly tuned, they don't stay tuned. They are heavy, often fit poorly, and the parts wear out very fast. When a child has to ride a low quality bike, the child may grow up not liking bicycles! Anyone deserves better, especially your child.
10. All low end bikes are a nightmare to work on, hard to get adjusted right, and often don't stay right for very long. Single wall rims poorly built simply get wobbly on the first big bump. When a significant bump that normal wheels would stay intact happens, it becomes a wheel replacement. Removing the rear wheel on Wal Mart's $100 fancy orange coaster brake cruiser is a torture because the chain guard is in the way and must be entirely removed. The idiotic Schwinn 'fancy looking' road wheel spoke design has the same number of spokes as a normal wheel, the same heavy weight as a crappy wheel, but the spokes are clustered together in fours so that a mechanic cannot get a spoke wrench in! All of this is by design, to increase the disposability factor of the components!
In 1963, A new Shwinn Stingray, a kid's bike of basic quality, cost the consumer $170. How is it that, in 2016, a "bicycle" under $200 is feasible for the seller? The quality level must keep diminishing while the price stays stagnant over decades. A good adult bike, in 2015, should and does cost $700 or more. An OK children's bike, one step up from the lowest quality, is around $270. A decent children's bike is $400+. Somehow $300 for a child's bike is seen as not 'affordable'. But people in the 1960s didn't mind the price of $170, today's equivalent of well over $800, on a kid's dream bicycle. THAT IS FIFTY YEARS AGO!! One excuse heard is: "My kid is going to outgrow it." Even so, the math is on your side when considering a higher priced bicycle. The low end bikes have higher service costs and have almost no resale value. A mid priced bicycle, while easily ridden heavily while your child has not yet outgrown it, is something your child will not only enjoy more and be safer on, but when it comes time to sell it, you get a smaller loss than with 'cheap' bicycle!