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Cheap Bikes: When to Buy and When to Pay Extra

Choosing a Bike
February 12, 2019
Cheap Bikes: When to Buy and When to Pay Extra

Cheap Bikes and Whether Or Not To Buy

The question of whether or not to buy cheap bikes is one that I get often. Everyone's always looking for a good deal. So you might wonder, what's the difference between a cheap bike and an expensive bike? This is a complicated question to answer.

Generally speaking, the biggest difference between a cheap and expensive bike is quality. When I say quality, I'm speaking in regards to how the bike is assembled. Most times you'll notice that the specs are the same for both a cheap bike and an expensive bike. For instance, both bikes may feature aluminum frames.

As a result, a consumer might think that the bikes are equal in quality since they consist of the same materials. However, that's not the case at all. In this case, the differentiation is that there are many grades of aluminum. Consequentially, that results in one being lighter and more durable than another.

The Impact of Assembly On Bike Price

Another factor to consider is the assembly process, which boils down to two categories. The first category is the location of assembly. Oftentimes more expensive bikes originate from bike shops. This is because they're including the charge of labor. This is why a road bike at one shop is more expensive than at another shop. With an expensive bike, you'll also find that the manufacturer invested more time and precision to build it.

The next element to consider is the factory from which the bike came. This is important because two factories can use the same components. But the assembly time spent on the factory floor can differ. This includes the guarantee that each part underwent the proper greasing and tightening.

Sometimes cheap bikes don't mean cheap quality. However, most times there are going to be reasons why you're paying less. A lot of times, it's because of the labor coming from the factory. From another perspective, it's also the quality of the components used.

When purchasing a bike you should consider the following:

  • How much time went into crafting each component on that bike?
  • How much design time went into crafting each component?

For instance, Apple and their iPhone is a great example. For this product, the biggest expense isn't components. Instead, it's the design time of deciding what each component would look like and how it would fit.

Cheap Bikes Vs. Expensive Bikes

The same is true for bikes. With cheap bikes, there's not much time going into the design, or the thought process of the components. It's more like, "hey, we'll use this. It's simple, put it on there." On expensive bikes, considerable engineering is necessary to make the product efficient. Also, each component on that bike needs testing to ensure it will deliver performance.

On cheaper bikes, there's not a lot of that testing occurring. Time is instead spent on figuring out how to make it for the cheapest price possible. Time is not spent identifying the type of ride the rider is going to get. Moreover, the end difference between a cheap and expensive bike is the quality of the ride.

Best Price x Highest Possible Quality

Now, at Sixthreezero, we offer the best price for the highest possible quality for our segment. Our segment is the $200 to $500 sweet spot for non-electric bikes. We're trying to find the middle ground between expensive and cheap. This means to provide a mix of the quality you expect on the expensive side.

We do this without having to charge the same prices. Additionally, a more expensive bike should last longer. And I say "should" because the price is not always associated with quality. For example, I can't tell you with 100% certainty if you spend $5,000 on a bike that it's going to last you 10 years.

Would I say generally that should be true? Yes. Cheaper bikes usually won't be able to last as long. However, I've seen lots of people that have had the same $99 bike in their garage for 10, 20 years. This is a partly a result of well-timed maintenance, and they haven't ridden it that much.

If you buy a $50 bike and you ride it once every five years, sure, it should last you 10 years. But an expensive bike is made for frequent riding. As a result, it reduces the wear and tear from the frequency of riding. Hence, it will be better than a cheaper bike.

Cheap Bikes Cost More In The Long Run

At the end of the day, it's not to say that some people shouldn't purchase cheap bikes. It's up to the user to decide what's right for their lifestyle and needs. My suggestion would be not to look for the cheapest bike. In fact, don't look for the cheapest product anywhere, because it might not be right for you.

What a cheap bike costs today might end up being expensive to you tomorrow. What I mean by that is: you might pay $99 today, but you might snap the frame in six months. Plus, cheap bikes usually aren't warrantied. This means you're faced with either buying another bike or fixing that one. And that might cost you $70 to fix the frame.

When considering price, it's important to think of the lifetime value of the product. Perhaps you spend $500 today and it lasts you 10 years and you ride it every day. But maybe you spend $100 today, you ride it every day and it lasts you one year.

That cheap bike that was the lowest price is actually going to end up costing you more money in the long run. So, it's important to think about your lifetime costs, not only one-time costs when you buy something new. All this helps to make sure that you make the right buying decision.

Cheap Bikes Ruin Brands

I will share a personal experience of owning and buying cheap bikes. I got into building this company and selling beach cruisers as a result of moving by the beach. As a newcomer, the first beach cruiser I ever bought was cheap. And as a result, I was replacing it frequently.

I found that after I started riding it, I wanted something with a better seat and ride. Eventually, I decided to make my own product, which has led me to where I am today. Moreover, I have run the gamut of riding the very cheapest beach cruiser to the most expensive.

We had bike stores before starting our Sixthreezero brand. We carried beach cruisers, hybrids, and recreational bikes. The price ranges went into the thousands of dollars range. All that testing and riding has led me back to the best blend of all these things together. Having ridden and owned the cheap bike, I realized that wasn't right for our consumers.

Hence, Sixthreezero has evolved into a company that sets our prices to the best value for the customer. In particular, we want to make sure that we stand behind our products. We inform our customers that our goal is to not be cheap. In fact, we offer certain guarantees that let people return our product if they feel it is cheap.

Lifetime Warranty & 365 Day Test Ride Policy

The first option is our 365 Day Test ride policy. If you hate the bike or feel that it's cheaper than you thought it would be, feel free to send it back to us within 365 days. This policy differentiates us from any other bike company on the market.

The other options we offer with our bikes are lifetime warranties. When something breaks it isn't always a reflection of the quality of the bike. We are producing large quantities of bikes every year. The idea that every bike will be perfect is not possible. As a result, we warranty the bike forever.

If something breaks and you thought it's cheap, no big deal. Contact us, we'll send you a new part. If that doesn't work for you, we will go ahead and reimburse you to have the bike fixed at a local bike shop. That is an extra $20 cost onto the product. This ensures a lifetime of ownership for our bikes.

That's how much we stand behind our product. The reason we started offering this is that I would see bikes come in all the time for repairs when we used to have bike stores. Keep in mind these were bikes were still fairly new. Also, I would see bikes people bought from Walmart and how things were going always wrong with them.

Recreational Riders: Don't Buy Cheap Bikes

I started to see that recreational riders don't want to deal with these kinds of issues. Especially only owning a bike for six months, or years. They go to ride their bike and all a sudden something goes wrong. And now they face spending a bunch of money. I have found when that happens, it kills the rider's motivation. As a result, they would give us their bike and say, "keep it. I don't even care."

With sixthreezero, I wanted to create a company that stands behind the product. A product that people love. That's why we endeavor to make it as simple as possible for them to keep their bike in working order. And to make sure they love it.

The 365 Day Test ride policy is there to say, "hey, we want to make sure you love your product." And then the warranty is there to say, "hey, we're also going to take care of this product forever." We want to make sure that we never get classified as a cheap bike. And we've implemented these policies to help protect us from ever having that stigma.

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