Biking is a sport that suits practically everyone, regardless of whether you are a casual weekend rider or a hardcore mountain biker. Unfortunately, even brands that were once firm favorites have been bought out by big corporations where corners are getting cut. Thus, we’re looking at which wheels you should steer clear.
When buying a bike, avoid brands that:
- Permanently fix parts that on most bikes can be replaced and swapped out
- Poor welds
- Solid frames made of poor metal
- Lack of gears
- Lack of disk brakes
- Lack of warranty
- Are sold at big box stores
- Outrageously expensive with features you don’t want or need
People have different biking needs, and the best bike for one person is an expensive waste for another. However, nobody needs a bike that breaks quickly and can’t be repaired. Also, some brands are not necessarily that bad, but if you are going to pay that kind of money, you should be getting more bang for your buck. Thus, our list takes a look at both these fails.
6 Worst Bike Brands
We’ve put together a list of bicycle brands that you might want to hesitate before handing over your cash. This list doesn’t just contain the bike brands but the sellers. Because who is selling you the bike might be the biggest red flag of them all.
When looking for a new bike, start by visiting the specialty shops. These places can give you some fantastic advice and can also point you in the direction of when deals might be coming up. They can also help you understand what components and features are worth it and which ones you won’t need for your type of riding.
These specialty shops are still worth talking to and trying out bikes if you are on a tight budget. Because once you have an idea of what suits your needs, you can start looking out for gently used second-hand deals. Many people buy great bikes and then realize that no, actually, mountain biking or commuting on a bicycle is not for them. Their loss is your gain.
1. Big Box Store Bikes
The absolute worst bikes are being sold to the public are through big box stores such as Walmart, Target, K-Mart, and budget online retailers. This isn’t biking snobbery, but an epidemic of selling the public bicycles built to fail. The problem has become so bad that bicycle mechanics have started a petition and taken the matter to the press.
It isn’t only the fact that these bikes go bust in a matter of months, but the way they fail is often dangerous. Common problems according to the mechanics are:
- Bent and damaged frames
- Bent axles,
- Broken forks
- Busted welds
- Snapped cranks
There have even been incidents where somebody was riding along, and the handlebars just came off.
These issues are not from hard riding or neglect. These bikes come at low prices and are built to bust with little use. They ensure these bikes are worthless by permanently installing parts that could be replaced or upgraded in any other half-decent bike. In short, these bikes are designed to be unfixable.
The bottom line: if you can’t afford anything but a box store bike, better to wait and save up. If you buy now all, you’ll be back to walking in a few months anyway, but with a lighter bank account.
Huffy used to be a decent inexpensive brand for people that like to bicycle from time to time, but it wasn’t a major passion. They also put out some solid bikes for children that stood up to their abuse. But since being bought out by a large corporation, the brand quality has started to slide.
There are still some models that are okay. They are also not an awful choice if you are looking for nothing more than a commuter bike. But if you are looking for a mountain bike, they are not what you need thanks to:
- Poor suspension
- Poor disk brakes
- Terrible forks
Infinity bikes are made specifically for a big box store. The problem is, it is a box store that sometimes sells decent bikes at an affordable price. Thus, people give this box store a pass when their in-store brand is a money pit.
Infinity is repairable, unlike many box shop brands, and you can buy upgrades. In fact, this is precisely where Infinity makes its money. It lures you in by being “affordable,” but to make it decent, you will need to plunge a lot of cash into it. In the end, you could have bought a more expensive brand and saved yourself a ton of hassle.
It breaks our hearts to add this brand to the list. Schwinn has been in the game for over 100 years. In fact, if you can find an older model in good nick, nab it. Friends of ours still have all their Schwinns from the early 80s. Their smallest one is the bike all four of their children learned to ride on, and it is now on its sixth grandchild.
Sadly, Schwinn was bought out like Huffy, and prices were raised as quality dropped. It isn’t that Schwinn is a lousy brand. It’s that the price you are paying should be giving you more than the reality. The suspension on their mountain bike ranges is cheap and performs poorly. Their gears are low quality, a feature you can’t ignore if you live or ride anywhere with hills.
Yes, you can upgrade components and fix them up. But for the money you are putting down, you shouldn’t have to do this.
Mongoose is actually a fantastic brand if you are in the high-end market. These Mongoose bikes will be found in specialty bike shops and get brilliant ratings. So we are not advising avoiding Mongoose entirely.
But their entry-level range that is sold in the box stores has low-quality suspension and poor tires. One easy way to know if you are looking at a higher-end Mongoose or not is checking if it has disk brakes. If it doesn’t have the disk brakes, you are looking at one of their inferior offerings.
Diamondback is another brand that has some excellent bikes in their higher-end range. Thus, if you can find one of their thousand-dollar-plus models at a discount, do check it out.
However, their big box store ranges don’t hold up to tough terrain. They’ll need expensive upgrades and repairs to get the performance you need, which makes buying a cheaper bike pointless. It’s better to hold on to that money and put it towards a more expensive ride.
All bike brands have their pros and cons. But the biggest no is avoiding the big-box offerings. What you save in the initial purchase will be lost in a matter of weeks. Better to find what you love and then keep an eye out for sales and gently used offerings.