I now own a bike

This is my new bike

Inspired by two of my co-workers’ recent bike purchases from Walmart, I decided to join the club and save money and live better buy buying a bike from Walmart. For the past 6 months my girlfriend Mary and I have discussed purchasing bikes, but we’ve never followed through (which is my fault.)

Unlike my colleagues, who had to commute to the Commonwealth of Virginia to have access to the awesomeness that is Walmart, I live relatively close to one. However, since I drive a small Honda Civic, getting a bike back home seemed a bit difficult, so I took the Richmond Highway Express bus (for $1) one stop to Walmart and went a searching for a new bike.

The problem is that Walmart doesn’t carry all of the same bikes in its stores. For 98 cents, you can have them delivered, but one would expect the true shipping price is built into the online price and why they don’t advertise all bike prices online — they vary from store to store. That makes sense. So, I did some advance research and used my Walmart app appropriately.

I did a little searching before I left and saw that the Walmart NEXT bikes actually got high ratings from consumers. I was kind of interested in this fixie, but the colors and the hills around my house ultimately put the kibosh on that. If I lived downtown that might have made a little more sense. Similarly, since I’m not Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers, a true “cruiser” was out the question. You can see downtown Washington from the hill behind my house, and it’s steep as hell. I need gears, but I don’t need a mountain bike.

With seven speeds, the NEXT Avalon seemed like a good hybrid, and nearly 90% of buyers on Walmart agreed. And it was made in China.

So, for roughly $140 — I bought a 1 year insurance plan, a lock and an air pump — I got a decent, light aluminum bike. When I was lacking a car for a few weeks in St. Louis I got a mountain bike at the Sports Authority in Brentwood. I was in much better shape then, and the ride to the Chase Park Plaza was much easier. Sadly, after a popped tire, I let the bike fall into a state of disrepair and eventually trashed it after I moved to D.C. (It didn’t help that I could only store it outside in Old Town Alexandria.)

As I left the store, I realized the tires needed some air, so the pump was a good purchase. As I biked up out of Walmart’s parking lot, I realized I am horribly out of shape. My legs burned. I guess that’s a good thing.

Aside from the tires, the brakes will need some tuning. Riding down Route 1 from Walmart is pretty much a big hill. I hit close to 35 miles per hour on the way down, and with inefficient brakes, that was a nightmare.

Adding to the frustration, Route 1 doesn’t have continuous sidewalks from Walmart to the intersection of Route 1 and Huntington Ave, so I had to cross the street a few times and ride through grass. So, avid bicyclists, I sort of feel your pain.

I only say sort of, because I still hate most bicyclists in D.C. — I bought the bike for convenience and exercise, and the occasional beer and grocery run. Even though I was plowing down sidewalk and grass on Route 1, I still managed to observe all traffic laws, which govern bicyclists and cars nearly in the same way in Virginia and the District. I stopped at all stop signs, stop lights that were red, and crossed only when I got the go ahead from the sign. And until bicyclists start paying for roads like car drivers do, I don’t think transportation policy should treat bicycles and cars as equals.

That said, I understand the mentality of bicyclists that traffic law shouldn’t apply to them. I mean, who wants to stop at traffic lights or stop signs? If I could be exempt from the laws in my car, I’d love it. It would make my commute and my errands that much quicker. However, cyclists are bound to traffic laws for the same reason cars are. Namely, mayhem on the road would be in nobody’s interest.

And to you critics of buying bicycles at stores like Walmart, I see no problem with it. I got an excellent bike for the price I paid and for the purpose I wanted it for. I see no reason to pay more for another bike at a local cycle shop because a.) I can tune it myself (because I am not an idiot), and b.) I don’t need an expensive bike.

If you are racing in the Tour de France, a professional cyclist, or an uber commuter, I get why you’d buy a performance bike elsewhere. I’m none of those things, so a Walmart bike is fine for me.

Similarly, many people decry the fact that Huffy bikes are no longer made in places like Ohio. Frankly, I could care less where the bike is made. Most people only subscribe to this idea nowadays because modern bikes don’t live up to the nostalgia of their more simplistic (and still likely foreign made) childhood BMX one speed bicycle. If trade can bring me a similar bike for a lower price, I’m happy to pay it.

Also, frequent cyclists might also be interested in Walmart’s good selection of bike related goods, too. 

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