When a friend of mine popped around with his girlfriend’s bike which needed some TLC, I ought to have been wary when I saw the labels ‘Professional’ and ‘Cycle King’ on the same machine. Is this someone’s pride and joy? Am I being a bike snob? Read on and please tell me!
As you can see this is another Bike Shaped Object (BSO) with full suspension, lots of gears and good for weight lifting. The issue was the front derailleur was out of adjustment. Fixing this was fairly straightforward through turning the adjusting screws. I looked over the bike while it was hanging up in my garage and it was apparent the bicycle was almost new, although the newness had worn off through sitting around unloved for a little while.
Like all other BSOs they are made to a low price so they can be shipped half way around the world, allow the importers to made a little money on each, the retailers some money and of course 20% of the retail price goes to the Treasury as VAT. One of the cost saving measures is to avoid Shimano gears and instead use some cheaper imitation components. In this case it was Sunrun. No, I hadn’t came across these either but you could see how they were modelled on the cheaper utilitarian Shimano equipment (which although cheap, isn’t too bad in my view).
BSOs – blessing or a curse?
I sometimes wonder about the effect of these BSOs and whether they are helpful to the cause of cycling in the 21st century.
These BSOs are typically sold in the UK for £99 to perhaps £150. To put this in perspective, £99 will buy you a couple of decent road bike tyres and inner tubes, not a whole bike. They are often bought by would-be recreational cyclists who want a bicycle to enjoy riding on sunny days, keep fit and have some fun.
I can’t help wondering how many people are disappointed by these bikes? They never seems to work very well. Gears are often out of alignment and the cheap, anonymous V brakes are generally difficult to balance correctly. Riding them is often hard work. Ergonomically they are inefficient and often not really the right size for the cyclist who will be unable to stretch out their leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke. No wonder many of these BSOs are seldom used and ofter sit collecting rust and dust.
Or alternatively, the BSO could be a cheap way of someone getting into cycling, to be bitten by the bug and then go onto greater things.
Perhaps I’m being snobbish. Perhaps this bicycle is someone’s pride and joy? Perhaps they’ve saved up and treated themselves? Perhaps examples of cheap mountain bikes are being cycled vast distances and all around the world at this very moment? Perhaps bicycles like these have completely saved the modern day bicycle industry around the world. Please tell me!