I never recommend anybody buy a bicycle from a mass department store such as Wal-Mart. It is much better, safer, and even cheaper to buy a bike from a quality local bike shop. Yes, the prices are much higher but in the long run it is much cheaper because they bike is quality. The bikes at stores such as Wal-Mart are not truly bikes and will not be as fun to ride because the bike will always be breaking down.

When you buy a bike at Wal-Mart you are buying junk. Sure it may look like a cool mountain bike but a lot of them have a small sticker on the frame that says that the bike is not designed to be used off-road.

You also have to deal with the bike being assembled incorrectly, and even unsafely. Mass department stores such as Target will give their bike assembly people a daily quota and each bike needs to be assembled in a set amount of time. It varies from each store but generally the bike assemblers should average 30 minutes or less for each bike assembly. This does not allow the assembler to do everything they technically should be doing. If you insist on buying a cheap “bicycle” from a mass department store then you at least need to do the following to ensure the bike is ready to ride.

Wheel Truing

The wheels on bicycles are notoriously off-kilter. In order to ensure a smooth and safe ride the wheels need to be trued. You can do it yourself if you have the knowledge and tools; however it is often much safer to have it done by a professional at a local bicycle shop.

Grease Seatpost, Pedals, and Stems

Pull out your seat post and add some grease to it. Make sure you use grease that is designed for bicycles when you are greasing your pedals and the stem. Anybody can grease the seatpost but you may struggle to properly grease the pedals and stems. Again you can take it to your local bike shop. If you had simply bought your bicycle at a local bike shop then this would already be done for you.

Inflate Tires

Make sure the tires are inflated to the proper PSI. Bicycles from Wal-Mart seem to usually have too much air in the tires or not enough air.

Adjust Brakes

The brakes need to be adjusted and the proper angle on the pads needs to be measured and set correctly. The cables will also generally need to be tightened. If the brakes are not set-up properly then you could endanger your life.

Adjust Shifters

There are good Shimano shifters and there are awful Shimano shifters. The Shimano shifters sold on the bicycles at Wal-Mart are complete crap. With that being said, you still need to make sure the shifters are adjusted properly. You can look at YouTube videos to learn how but with the crappy shifters it makes it difficult.

Brake pad angle and brake pad travel need to be properly adjusted. Rarely do the bikes roll out of Wal-Mart and Target with the brakes properly adjusted. Why would you send your child out on a bicycle with brakes that may not work properly? Brake failures can and do cause many deaths and major injuries each year to cyclists.

Bike Shops

Most people do not know how to properly adjust and set-up a bicycle. Even if they do have the knowhow, they may not have the necessary bicycle repair and maintenance tools needed.

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If you buy a new bicycle from your local bike shop then the bike will not only be set-up, assembled, and adjusted properly, but you will also generally have at least one free tune-up where the brake cables are adjusted and the bike is checked over. After a new bike is ridden for 15-20 miles the cables naturally slack and stretch a tiny bit and need to be retightened. This is all free with the purchase of a quality bicycle from your local bike shop.

There are “Lemon Laws” in many States that aid a consumer if they get a lemon. Most new cars work flawlessly but occasionally a “Lemon” will pop up. If you get the brand new lemon car then you will constantly have things breaking down on your car. You do not want to buy a lemon car. All bikes sold at Wal-Mart and Target are Lemons. Don’t buy a lemon and support you local bike shop where you can get a quality bike that is not a lemon.


Many guys think they have the “know how” to fix and adjust bikes. Oftentimes they do not. If you ever let someone work on your bike and they used WD40 or a similar wet lubricant to “lube the chain” the run away. You never use WD40 on a bicycle chain. If someone is using WD40 then they definitely do not have even the basic knowledge necessary to work on and maintain a bicycle.

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Finish Line 1-Step Bicycle Chain Cleaner & Lubricant 4oz Squeeze Bottle
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Huffy Walmart Bike
Credit: Flickr/birminghambikefoundry
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A regular and proper cleaning of your bicycle will help to ensure a longer lifespan. Make sure you do not spray water directly into the components or the bearings and internal parts will get rusty and ruined. A clean bike is also the best way to get your bike ready to...get it dirty again!