A $150 Internal Hub Bike – Worthy Fashion Accessory?

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I was at Target recently and as I walked by the women’s clothing section I spotted these bikes in the middle of the clothes racks.  Turns out the bike is an Alice & Olivia “designer” bike that was part of a collaboration between Target & Neiman Marcus.  Back in December my friend The Budget Babe  tipped off the folks at Huffington Post that the entire collection was discounted 50% about 3 weeks after it appeared in stores.  Earlier this week  The Budget Babe posted that the collection is now discounted 70% (!!) bringing the cost of this bike down to about $150.

This bike is cute, and $150 for a steel-frame, 3-speed internal hub bike isn’t a bad price. But the information provided about the bike by the retailer only underscores why I have never been a fan of buying a bike from a big-box store, especially your first or primary bike. I understand that not everyone can afford to spend $500-$1000 on a bike, but even for less than that, you are better off going to your local bike shop for a used or low-end bike because your local bike shop, unlike Target or other big-box retailers, understand bikes. Why?

  • Target can’t even get the specs on this bike correct (derailleur vs internal hub) – you’ve got to check it carefully yourself to know what you’re getting
  • Because this store doesn’t know what it’s selling how can you be sure it was assembled correctly, with all the parts?
  • Big-box retailers do not have bike mechanics on staff, do not generally offer the first year of maintenance for free, nor are available for quick questions about the bike and it’s upkeep, like your local bike shop usually is.

The tag on these bikes states that they have a Shimano 3-speed internal hub. And while I didn’t take a photo of the bike from the other side while I was in the store to prove it, it didn’t look like it had a derailleur, nor did I notice one in other photos I’ve since seen of the bike. However, if you go to Target’s online site, they describe the bike in terms of it’s derailleur (which they can’t specify) and do not mention the internal hub.target_bike_tag_specs

On both the Target site and the Neiman Marcus site, as well as in-store, they refer to the bike as a “28-inch” bike.  Actually, the bike has 28-inch wheels, and has approximately a 19-inch frame.  The bikes have a lovely lime-green double kick-stand which is so much more useful than a single-sided kickstand, sprung saddle, and flat pedals. Note that those pedals are actually purple to match the bike – somehow my iPhone made them blue.

target_bikes_on_sale_pedal_closeup

Having said all that, this  is a cute bike, and while not tall enough for me, it’s now at such a low price that I think it’s almost worth considering as a second ‘fun’ bike for someone who likes the flowery design and lime green accents.  At $499 it was definitely not a worthwhile purchase, but at $150, perhaps.  What do you think?

target_bikes_on_sale_side_view

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  • http://twitter.com/kentsbike Kent Peterson

    I got to put one of those together and I wrote about it here:

    http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2013/01/wow-thats-really-something.html

    It’s certainly colorful!

  • http://twitter.com/ambrosia18 Proverbs 4

    Totally saw those!!! My huge mistake was buying from Walmart. It was my first bike I’ve brought fir myself while at university and I really wanted something cute and that is where I was blind-sided. The frame was rather heavy, it was a del mar cruiser. I random person came up to me, an older gentleman, and recommended I get the pedals checked out and what do you know, they were about to fall off….T_T. Other problems was the lack of gears and handle brakes….I clearly didn’t do my research. Anyway, I just recently brought my new bike, it’s a Raleigh detour 2.5 and just what I needed. I brought from a local shop and the guys there are awesome and provided great service and helped me with making sure I was making the right purchase and even tested the bikes out to see which one worked well with me. As soon as I purchased it, they ran tests and make sure everything was up-to-date and even gave me a free screwdriver to get my bike lights off my other bike. It was a great experience all in all. Totally recommend shops verses big stores that rarely have experienced cyclists.

  • adventure!

    A weird juxtaposition of componentry there: a double-legged kickstand, which is rare and not usually cheap, with a one-piece crank/bottom bracket, which is now only found on the cheapest of the cheap bikes.

    I’d like to think that bikes like these in stores like Target mean more ordinary folk will take up good ol’ utility cycling, but fear that bikes like these will be looked at as “cool fashion piece” than anything else. (And that’s not even getting into the quality of the bike itself.)

    • http://dingdingletsride.com/ Samantha

      Agreed, very odd components that suggest quality/longevity, but still make it a throw-away bike. I hope no one bought one of these bikes at the full retain price.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

    It still suffers the proprietary, single use parts problem that all Martbikes have. It uses a bottom bracket that cannot be replaced.

    Alex Wilson told me, as a way to discourage Mart shoppers from buying Martbikes, “The bike was assembled by the same person who put the grills together”.

    For $150, though, “Why not?” Heh

  • http://twitter.com/BobbinNSprocket Bobbin and Sprocket

    Well, for that price you could have it for spare parts if it didn’t work out as a rideable bike! ;)