The recent media fanfare over the “Cheapest Bike in Britain”, ASDA £70, was quickly followed by the advertisements getting pulled for showing the gents version with its forks on backwards. Most bike aficionados scoffed at the low spec and called them Bicycle Shaped Objects ( BSO ), none thought that these cheap Supermarket bikes could encourage people to take up cycling ..
Having recently spent close on £200 for my daughters first 24inch wheel cycle, I was interested in see just what you did get for your money.
One Sunday morning we found that a Tesco £45 bicycle had been thrown over (through) the hedge from the path that boarders my property. Upon inspection it had been hardly used: the chain rings and cassette weren’t scuffed but the tires were flat. I dutifully called my local Bobby and gave him the BSO details and placed it the shed with my ‘normal’ bikes.
Twenty eight days later no one had claimed the bike lost or stolen so it became my property. Its made of Hi-Ten steel with a spec very similar to that of the ASDA BSO: no suspension, twist-grip shifting of 18 gears, ‘V’ type brakes and a quill stem. One friend’s recommendation was to re-spray it and plumb it as a towel warmer in my bathroom…
What to do with a ‘Mountain’ Bike that costs less than a decent pair of tires…? My usual riding consists of the two or three work commutes in the week, on a Single Speed roadbike and blast’s around the countryside on a high-end mountain bike… Not wishing to appear a coward for my first ride I chose to take the “Ascent” for a gentle ride around local tow-paths and bridleways.
To my great surprise the wheels rotated without any buckles and the brakes ( after 5min of effort ) work, eventually bring the BSO to a stop. The angles of the bike are very laidback and the chainstays on the long side, making it a very stable platform, perfect for the first time user. Alas, the same could not be said for the saddle that would not stay in the necessary place despite my best efforts to get the ‘old’ style rotating-clamping-sliding-thing as tight as possible.
The other loose items on the BSO are around the drivetrain. Whilst it does have the rear mech attached to the wheels axle, as was criticised on the ASDA BSO, there was never a hint of ghost shifting. But, the cranks and pedals are as wobbly as a jelly in an earthquake. The pedals are nasty plastic bushed units that found it hard to rotate on their axles and would quickly become useless ( I’ve swapped them for an old pair of ‘80s Shimano XT platforms) but at least the BottomBracket could be stripped down and re-built with new ball bearings and grease – if I could be bothered.
All in all I’d not be happy riding it to work on a regular basis – too heavy and much too costly in worn out parts – and I like the comfort and safety of suspension, disc brakes, etc, etc, for off road use. But, as an introduction to cycling ( and if it was backed by proper LBS support ) it would be a great introduction to cycling as a recreational activity and MUCH better than vegetating in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon.