Buying, building and riding Britain's cheapest bike

by Dave Atkinson   July 30, 2009  

Asda £70 bike - building

Mark Brown from the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) has been in touch to share his experiences on buying and riding Asda's £70 British Eagle Tulsa, Britain's cheapest adult bicycle. Or, at least, Britain's cheapest BSO: Bicycle Shaped Object. Perhaps not surprisingly, it ain't all good news.

There's been much guffawing about the Asda advert for the bike which showed the bike assembled with the forks the wrong way round, but as you can see from the video below it's hardly surprising given that that's how the bike arrives in its box and there's no specific instruction to rotate them.

And the forks are the least of your worries really if you're Mr or Mrs Not A Mechanic trying to put the Tulsa together in your living room. The supplied spanner, Mark reports, is "made of cheese", meaning that there's no way you can use it to effectively tighten the wheel nuts. The mechanic in the video falls back on a torque wrench (that costs more than the bike) but if you were doing it at home you'd probably just assume the nuts were tight enough, with potentially disastrous consquences.

There was rust on the headset and the tyres weren't inflated properly, and the 'Large' bike which purports to fit riders with an inside leg measurement up to 35", was too small for Mark, even though he's not especially tall.

It took the mechanics about an hour to assemble the bike to their satisfaction, a service that would cost about £35 - half the cost of the bike - and which few, if any of the bikes will ever see.

Taking the bike out on the road highlighted even more problems. The grips weren't wide enough to stop hands resting on the shifters, resulting in ghost shifts, especially when climbing. One of the pedal threads was at a bit of an angle for comedy pedalling. The wheels weren't true, and the brakes charged with stopping them had very poor plastic levers. And the heart of the bike – a hi tensile steel frame – had the ride properties of, well, a hi-tensile steel frame. And that's not a good thing.

If all this sounds like snobbery and cheap shots, it's not: the practical upshot of anyone buying a bike like this is that they'll get a very inferior experience of cycling, one that might put them off for life. We're all for people getting value for money but a substandard product isn't value for money, it's just cheap. And we all know how the old adage goes: buy it cheap, buy it twice.

You can follow Mark's experiences with the BSO at http://bicycleshapedobject.wordpress.com/

 

9 user comments

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bit like cheap cars then - go 2nd hand every day....

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
30th July 2009 - 17:10

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Don't buy this twice though, right? That would be double bad.

BananaDrama's picture

posted by BananaDrama [42 posts]
30th July 2009 - 17:12

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feck me it weighs 40lb

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
30th July 2009 - 17:23

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Errrmmmm it's not the cheapest adult bike ( full price ), that dubious honour goes to Tesco at £40..

There is nothing on their www for it, so found this:
http://www.bargainspy.co.uk/node/56033

I acquired one of these beasts recently:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/VzcauRjc8Ydnks6hMwULng?authkey=Gv1s...

The owner ( or thief ) had given up trying to haul around the almost new BSO and chucked it over the fence into one of my paddocks, where not even the horses would go near it... Just how they managed to chuck it over the fence without the course of steroids is beyond me.

I informed our local bobby, who said that if it wasn't claimed in 28 days we could keep it. Oh, Deep Joy!
When it is 'mine', I'll throw a leg over it and let you all know how good/bad it is.

DaveP's picture

posted by DaveP [467 posts]
31st July 2009 - 9:02

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good vids though, proves the point. Spend a bit more and get ten times the fun, enjoyment and value.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
31st July 2009 - 9:06

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can't wait for your review, dave. when's the 28 days up?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
31st July 2009 - 9:34

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dave_atkinson wrote:
..when's the 28 days up?

Just been back through my Twitter posts:

Bicycle-Shaped-Object: Found a dumped BSO in our field (£45 Tesco jobby), don't know if it's been nicked or the owner got embarrassed.. Sad
8:57 AM Jun 30th from web

Thus, we get to keep it! Big Grin

Damn.

DaveP's picture

posted by DaveP [467 posts]
31st July 2009 - 10:16

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nice. i'll expect a full review soon then. maybe you could attempt a 24hr race, or a merida marathon or something. you know, worst case scenario...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
31st July 2009 - 10:19

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24hr? To the shops and back IS worst case. Sick

DaveP's picture

posted by DaveP [467 posts]
31st July 2009 - 11:02

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