Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Bicycler
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Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Bicycler » 30 May 2014, 6:51pm

I've always reserved the phrase BSO for supermarket specials and anything with a daft <£100 price tag. I'd never considered my old faithful basic hybrid in this category. Yet increasingly the term seems to be being used to refer to any cheap bike. I was still surprised reading a thread in the reviews section about a local(ish) cycle shop only to find a mechanic decrying a £400 bike as a BSO viewtopic.php?f=18&t=15983&start=15#p769865

Is a term which originated as a criticism of substandard throwaway bikes now just the language of cycle snobbery? Or has the price of a proper bike now risen to the extent that £400 just buys cheap junk?

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Sooper8
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Sooper8 » 30 May 2014, 7:33pm

Bicycler wrote:I've always reserved the phrase BSO for supermarket specials and anything with a daft <£100 price tag. I'd never considered my old faithful basic hybrid in this category. Yet increasingly the term seems to be being used to refer to any cheap bike. I was still surprised reading a thread in the reviews section about a local(ish) cycle shop only to find a mechanic decrying a £400 bike as a BSO viewtopic.php?f=18&t=15983&start=15#p769865

Is a term which originated as a criticism of substandard throwaway bikes now just the language of cycle snobbery? Or has the price of a proper bike now risen to the extent that £400 just buys cheap junk?


I must point out that if I had lots of spare cash, then I might be tempted to splash out on an expensive bike, but I feel sometimes 'fortunate' that I'm not awash with spare cash, because it forces me to be more inventive in finding cheap second hand bikes and accessories and spares for it; and I don't worry too much when I lock mine up with a chain that weighs less than the bike itself.
I think if the world stopped making bikes today, then we'd find that there are plenty of great options tucked away in garages, sheds etc and the world wouldn't stop on it's axis. We'd transport ourselves around quite nicely, have fun, tour, and generally the cycling world would continue without expensive new bikes. People would spend their money on some other thing.
The point that I am making is that people neglect the used market when buying a bike and some of the older bikes would be just as suitable. And in that respect, the price is a red herring isn't it?
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Bicycler
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Bicycler » 30 May 2014, 8:11pm

I don't dispute that money goes much further second hand and anybody who could tell a good bike from bad would be better doing this than buying a cheap new bike. However, I was more interested in where we thought the line could be drawn between a BSO and a cheap basic proper bike. Is there a certain (new bike) price point or is there a certain level of equipment which distinguishes adequate from cheap and nasty? I was hoping that there might be some consensus.

As you raise the point of second hand bikes, is the BSO a recent development? How do the supermarket specials of today compare with the cheap "sports bikes" of the 70s/80s (one of which I rode for years actually)?
Last edited by Bicycler on 30 May 2014, 8:17pm, edited 2 times in total.

Vitara
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Vitara » 30 May 2014, 8:14pm

B'twin Triban 3, purchased January 2013 for £299. Has now covered 3800 miles including recent LeJog. Bike comfortable to ride and quite capable of keeping pace with other riders of equal ability, and only problem on LeJog was 1 puncture.

http://beedandhornlejog.blogspot.co.uk/

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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Vorpal » 30 May 2014, 8:40pm

I don't really like the term BSO, but to my mind, the worst ones are those built with cheap bolts and screws. They rust, break off, and round at the slightest provocation. That is especially unfortunate on a child's bike that needs adjusting as the child grows.
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iandriver
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby iandriver » 30 May 2014, 9:26pm

I believe the ctc site here recently suggested about £300 buys you a quality hyhbrid style bicycle. There are some terrible road bikes out there for £400.00 with totally inappropriate gearing and some very shoddy parts. What style of bike was it?
Edit just read the thread linked. Best forget about that thread if you ask me. Why it's going on about a 2006 spec for I don't know.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

Bicycler
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Bicycler » 30 May 2014, 9:38pm

The only reason I brought up that thread was the suggestion that a £400 bike was a BSO. I don't believe that for a second, but I am interested to know what makes a bike a BSO

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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby irc » 30 May 2014, 9:53pm

Bicycler wrote:The only reason I brought up that thread was the suggestion that a £400 bike was a BSO. I don't believe that for a second, but I am interested to know what makes a bike a BSO


The first reference I saw to BSOs was this article.

http://www.southcoastbikes.co.uk/Dont-Buy-a-Cheap-Bike

Plastic brake levers and arms (these flex, warp and go out of shape) resulting in brakes that, er, don't brake.
Grip shifters (The gear changers you twist, similar to a motor bike throttle) are the shifter of choice on BSOs, a great invention but a lot more complicated than a standard lever. A gear shifter needs to make thousands of reliable changes and must hold a consistent position if the gear shifting is to work. BSOs use cheap, poorly made versions; they seize or snap at the first sign of trouble.
Badly routed cables, wrong lengths - won't work.
Headsets, bottom brackets, hubs poorly installed, not greased, cross threaded, loose.
Thin, pressed steel derailleurs, warped and bent, unresponsive; won't hold position, let alone shift a chain.
Forks installed back to front.
Handlebars on back to front or upside down.
Loose, loose - saddles, stems, seat posts, handlebars, grips, shifters, everything.
Warped, untrued wheels.
Cheap steel hubs where the axles have collapsed in.
Rust and peeling paint spreading everywhere after just a short time exposed to the elements.


You know one when you see one. An example is bikes with over-sized frame tubing imitating quality alu MTBs but made of steel resulting in a bike that would serve as an anchor.

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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby iandriver » 30 May 2014, 9:55pm

A few years ago the supermarkets were knocking out full suspension mountain bikes for prices of around £75.00 They truely weren't usable for a couple of hundred miles in some cases. Wheels buckled, gears that didn't work properly with any amount of adjustment, tubes bursting when you put the proper pressure in the tyres due to dodgy rim tapes etc.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

Brucey
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Brucey » 30 May 2014, 10:48pm

Bicycler wrote:....Is a term which originated as a criticism of substandard throwaway bikes now just the language of cycle snobbery?


yes.

Spent wisely, £300 buys you a bike that, if set up and maintained well, will be perfectly adequate for many purposes.

However because they are often (at best) 'starter bikes' for serious cycling, they don't get either set up or maintained well, which is half the trouble with cheaper bikes.

cheers
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Mike Sales
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Mike Sales » 30 May 2014, 11:08pm

Brucey wrote:However because they are often (at best) 'starter bikes' for serious cycling, they don't get either set up or maintained well, which is half the trouble with cheaper bikes.

cheers


I have found that it takes a lot more skill and time to make a cheap bike work properly.

Plastic brake levers and arms (these flex, warp and go out of shape) resulting in brakes that, er, don't brake.
Grip shifters (The gear changers you twist, similar to a motor bike throttle) are the shifter of choice on BSOs, a great invention but a lot more complicated than a standard lever. A gear shifter needs to make thousands of reliable changes and must hold a consistent position if the gear shifting is to work. BSOs use cheap, poorly made versions; they seize or snap at the first sign of trouble.
Badly routed cables, wrong lengths - won't work.
Headsets, bottom brackets, hubs poorly installed, not greased, cross threaded, loose.
Thin, pressed steel derailleurs, warped and bent, unresponsive; won't hold position, let alone shift a chain.
Forks installed back to front.
Handlebars on back to front or upside down.
Loose, loose - saddles, stems, seat posts, handlebars, grips, shifters, everything.
Warped, untrued wheels.
Cheap steel hubs where the axles have collapsed in.
Rust and peeling paint spreading everywhere after just a short time exposed to the elements.


Some of these problems are just the product of incompetent assembly in the supermarket. Others, like poorly built wheels, need some skilled attention. Cheap hubs come apart so that the flanges detach from the barrel on the rear wheel, and that a good mechanic cannot put them right. Other problems like plastic levers, or heavy full suspension frames are of course permanently rubbish.
Some of these nasty features can be put right with time, grease and skill. Others cannot.

blackbike
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby blackbike » 30 May 2014, 11:18pm

What does BSO stand for?

beardy
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby beardy » 30 May 2014, 11:27pm

Bike Shaped Object.

I take the definition fairly literally, to me a BSO is something that can not perform the purpose of a bike for a reasonable length of time.

A cheap bike may be the sort of bike I do not much wish to ride or own but can perform the job with a reasonable amount of maintenance for a reasonable number of miles. Halfords' Apollo bikes for example.
The fact that it is heavy doesnt reduce it to a BSO in my opinion.

Some of the comments here seem to be straying from describing a BSO to describing a "bike which I do not like".
I have some still very serviceable, high mileage, 25 year old plastic Exage brake levers for example.

Brucey
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby Brucey » 30 May 2014, 11:30pm

Mike Sales wrote:
I have found that it takes a lot more skill and time to make a cheap bike work properly.

....Some of these nasty features can be put right with time, grease and skill. Others cannot.


I for one am not arguing.

cheers
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seph
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Re: Where is the line between a BSO and a cheap proper bike?

Postby seph » 30 May 2014, 11:52pm

I won a 'mountain bike' in a raffle once. It was called a rapid reactor... I rode it to work, but only once, and christened it the torpid tractor.
Months later I met a chap who had bought the same model, very cheaply and made a few inexpensive swaps (grips, saddle, tyres etc). He'd also enjoyed himself stripping, greasing and reassembling the bike and had made a really useful general purpose bike that he derived a lot of pleasure from. I almost regretted having given mine away...