Remembering Our Favorite Stories From 20 Years Ago
HOW GOOD ARE DEPARTMENT-STORE BIKES?
The experiment was designed in response to letters our editors received from people who claimed their $200 department-store bikes were every bit as good as the $1500 ones we were testing in the magazine at the time. We wrote that we would frequently hear: “Why spend $1500 for a mountain bike when I can get one on sale for $150 at the take-over-the-world, mega-conglomerate store that can do the same thing? And, even better, you can get everything from fertilizer to fertility medication while you’re there.” This is how the experiment panned out.
Aesthetics: “Hot.” Huffy went with an ovalized downtube to look racy.
Setup: “Poor.” The brakes were adjusted wrong, and the gel-filled seat was difficult to work with.
Climbing: “Very bad.” Even if the thing didn’t weigh a ton, the gearing was all wrong.
Braking: “Hey, something smells like it’s burning.” The brakes worked, but only if you were on flat ground and moving slowly.
Descending: “Not too bad.” When a bike weighs this much and has little to no braking power, it’s bound to go downhill fast, as long as nothing gets in its way.
Overall conclusion: The Huffy proved to be a fire-road-worthy bike as long as the terrain was relatively flat and not at all technical. We ultimately deemed it was not a mountain bike because “it’s too heavy to get up a mountain and doesn’t have strong enough brakes to get back down. It only looks like a mountain bike.”
Setup: “Not embarrassing.” The Pacific came with Shimano Altus C90 components and an SR Suntour fork. It looked more expensive than it actually was. It did still come with a kickstand that we ragged on.
Climbing: “A little shaky and heavy but manageable.” The real Shimano Altus components were okay. The Pacific had a usable gear range.
Maneuvering: “Mushy.” The Pacific was “lethargic” in technical sections, but the Suntour fork was an added bonus we liked.
Air time: “Not sure. Bikes in this price range simply should not be jumped,” we said. Test riders were reluctant to get more than a few inches off the ground for fear that something would go wrong with the wheels, frame, axle or other cost-cutting components.
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.