What makes a bicycle so cheap? Where are costs saved?
"Savings are made everywhere", says Stephan Behrendt, technology expert of the German cycle association (ADFC). "They simply assemble cheaper parts. However, the price does not only include the material costs, but also services: Assembly and expert advice are also major cost factors." The bicycle expert Dirk Zedler is of the same opinion. The manufacturers would often use steel or aluminium of poor quality, a fact which is possibly hard to be identified by non-professionals. If the steel or the aluminium is not firm enough, they have to use thicker material, making the bicycle heavier. "In addition, the processing of the components is very simple and often also imprecise."
What are the typical weak points of bicycles from the supermarket or the DIY-store?
(...) For Dirk Zedler the brakes and the gear system are the major weak points. "These are the components which usually are the first to fail and which turn the bicycles rapidly into scrap material," he says. "If brakes and gear system work properly, it’s the wheels where the spokes break rapidly, making the wheel running untrue which is usually hardly reparable."
Are cheap bicycles under certain conditions recommendable after all? And if so, for whom?
The ADFC is actually of the opinion that you should invest around 500 Euro into a new bicycle. "We must, however, state that even cheaper bicycles may have a certain service life," admits technology expert Behrendt. "It depends after all on how often you ride." Bicycle expert Zedlers puts it as follows: "There are some few exceptions where bicycles from DIY stores and consumer markets are of good parts quality. Provided that you have the skills of a mechanic as well as the necessary tools, such bicycles can be brought into a reasonnable condition for safe operation."
What kind of alternatives do I have, when I don’t want to spent much money for a bicycle?
(…) Dirk Zedler has a tip for all those who still have time to let spring and summer pass them by: "Those who want to make a bargain, should do that in autumn and winter or in early spring. At this point of the year bicycles in specialist shops are sold at quite moderate prices, as the dealers want to make room for new models."
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