Ode to the Walmart Bike

Ah, the humble box store bicycle. Somewhat shoddily assembled, somewhat dinky, extremely affordable, and perfectly adequate for millions of riders. Might I add, infinitely tuneable, and pleasantly easy to maintain with a bit of care and nuance. Whether you're broke, or just need a simple, reliable bike that can get it done, the box store bicycle is what you need. I must say, I wasn't always an advocate of the box store bike.

When circumstances forced me to live in the city for a few years, I'd purchased a fancier model for $700. It certainly rode smooth, came adjusted from the bike store, and was just an absolute pleasure to ride. Until it got stolen, a few months later.

A few more months passed, and I'd decided to buy the cheapest bicycle they had - a Canadian Tire special for $148.99; the derailleur was unadjusted The wonderrful thing about bicycles is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work on one. Bicycles are quite possibly one of the most elegant mechanisms that exist to date - simple, reliable, efficient, elegant, and fun - and they keep you in tip-top shape. People pay for a gym membership and buy a book on fancy diets, . Heck, a car isn't so hard to fix if you are methodical about it, never mind a bicycle.

That bike is my workhorse - at first in the city, and after I'd moved to the middle of the woods here in beautiful Kawartha Lakes, it's used for hauling everything from tools, to getting me to the local shops (a 10km ride) when my car's broken down.

This is only a semi-article - it's also a how-to guide, so you can turn YOUR box store bike into a very capable utility machine.

Must have upgrades:

  1. Hybrid (dual-purpose) tyres of good quality - for tackling unpaved gravel roads, the grass, pavement, asphalt, country highways, urban concrete walkways, and forest floor.
  2. A Good Quality Cushioned Seat
  3. After these two upgrades, I was able to ride twice as far as before. The high rolling resistance, knobby, off-road mountain bike tires were awful for longer range rides, and the very uncomfortable seat made riding the bike a chore.

  4. Sturdy rack for a milk crate or panniers.
  5. A highly useful addition, having a rear cargo rack enabled me to attach a cargo box (or, in my case, a wooden milk crate) with zip-ties. Excellent for carrying drinks, bags, tools, and other tidbits.