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David Fiedler

Wal-Mart Enters the High-End Bike Market

By August 29, 2007

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Bike Europe is reporting that retailing monster Wal-Mart is now selling a $1900 all carbon Italian road bike through its local stores. And sure enough, you can find it listed online as well at Walmart.com.

"Assembled by the hands of skilled Italian mechanics," as the product description claims, the bike features carbon fiber frame and fork, and mostly Shimano components with Ultegra derailleurs, crankset and bottom bracket, and 105s for the cassette, chain and brakes.

This is an interesting strategy when you consider that Wal-Mart's top-selling bike is currently an $80 Huffy. Does this threaten the local bike shop? The article frets that this may be the case, but I doubt it. This is no different that the challenge already posed by online retailers. Wal-Mart will come up short in the same areas that the Internet sellers do: they can't match the personal service and on-going maintenance that only your LBS can offer.

Read the full article here

Question: would you buy a "high-end" road bike from Wal-Mart? Even if it were assembled "by the hands of skilled Italian mechanics?" Add your comment below.

Comments

August 29, 2007 at 8:55 am
(1) Stan says:

Wouldn’t even consider purchasing a high-end bike from WalMart.

August 29, 2007 at 10:08 am
(2) JM says:

No way, Jose. Like you said, there’s nothing like personal service from the local bike shop. Heck, my favorite “LBS” is +300 miles away and I’ll still buy my next bike from them.

August 29, 2007 at 11:11 am
(3) Randy says:

Only a local bicycle shop. Walmarts’ vendors are bullied to lower quility to acheive certain price points. The bike will have a carbon frame but have Huffy parts on it. Good luck with that!!!!

August 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm
(4) jack hudson says:

lets see does this mean walmart will be hiring 2500 italian bike machanics to assemble this bikes full time. i dont think so. i will continue to buy my bikes from my local bike shop.

August 29, 2007 at 12:26 pm
(5) Gandalf says:

You can sell expensive bicycles but the critical issue is can you assemble them and set up the geometry correctly???

Experienced bicycle shops know how to do this and match rider to bikes. Wal-Mart will sell thousands of these to people who have no idea what goes into
quality set-up and customer satisfaction.

Caveat Emptor!!!

August 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm
(6) Rachel says:

Never! I wasted money on the Wal-Mart bikes before and was left with heavy bills to repair them constantly. The two bikes that I own now are from my LBS and I’ve never had a problem, but if I did, they would fix it under my warrenty.

August 29, 2007 at 4:10 pm
(7) Tom L- says:

I can not believe that anyone with $1900.00 to spend on a bike would ever consider Wal-Mart.

August 29, 2007 at 4:46 pm
(8) Brian says:

Listen, if you’ve got $1900 to spend on a bike, go to your LBS and buy one from them cuz they know what they’re doing, and you’ll end up getting a better deal.

August 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm
(9) Dave Fischer says:

Question: would you buy a “high-end” road bike from Wal-Mart? Even if it were assembled “by the hands of skilled Italian mechanics?”

“NO!” It’s just wrong.

August 29, 2007 at 9:59 pm
(10) Bob Montalbano says:

Wal-Mart doesn’t have the expertise to compete with the local bike shop, not to mention they won’t be able to give you the same service.

August 29, 2007 at 11:34 pm
(11) Ted G. says:

Here is Walmart once again trying to put ma and pa bike shop out of business with seemingly “high end” bikes. Any cyclist true to the sport will continue to buy their equipment at the local shop.

August 30, 2007 at 3:32 am
(12) biker2 says:

I try never to buy ANYTHING from Wal-Mart, let alone something as important as a bike.

August 30, 2007 at 11:22 am
(13) Vivian says:

Walmart has delusions if they think a cyclist serious enough to spend $1500 on a bike would buy it from them!

August 30, 2007 at 2:02 pm
(14) Wanda says:

Never shop at Wal-Mart, but regardless, would never by a bike there. I have a good relationship with a local shop and the provide excellent service!!

August 30, 2007 at 10:36 pm
(15) CLBlood says:

I ride every day, thousands of road miles a year, and I am hard on the equipment. What I pay to my LBS for the bike comes back to me when I walk in with something broken or out of whack and need it to ride the next day. I need service. When I see wrenches and work stands in Wal-Mart, maybe we can talk.

August 31, 2007 at 6:32 am
(16) ejlang says:

Having seen cross sectioned frames by many manufacturers, I would never ride a carbon frame offered by some unknown manufacturer or distributor. The engineering and skill required to make a safe, strong frame is too often lacking.

August 31, 2007 at 2:22 pm
(17) Tracy says:

I would never drop that much money from merchandising warehouse. I have bought two bikes from my LBS- they always need ongoing maintenance, sometimes requiring special tools. Which Wal-Mart is going to offer that service? I can’t even find an associate to ask why they stopped carrying my favorite salad dressing! Wal-Mart should stick to what they do best- mass market of cheap consumable items– not expensive bikes.

September 2, 2007 at 7:50 am
(18) Old Man ona Bike says:

A Wal-Mart Bicycle?? Having spent $1,900 and more on a bicycle, I cannot comprehend anyone trusting Wal-Mart to be able to determine fit, assemble, and most of all provide aftermarket support. A quality bicycle is an investment not to be teusted to the mass merchants.
Let me know when their vision centers start providing Lasik eye surgery….

September 5, 2007 at 3:15 pm
(19) Jake says:

I see this as a good thing for the LBS’es. Walmart helps to increase more cycling interests. Perhaps your LBS will modify their business model and serves their potential customers in a good and creative way. Many shops have taken the advantage of the internet and sell their products to customers beyond their area and add a variety of service ariented products. Personal economics is a factor in my buying decision, especially a similar high end bike is selling at Walmart for $$$$$ less than at a LBS. Buy the bike at Walmart, get the gear and service from your LBS.

September 5, 2007 at 10:01 pm
(20) juanita says:

Absolutely Not!!! They can’t answer simple questions and they think they can sell a $1900 bike. My LBS is always full of wonderful advice does a great job on my bike, Wal-mart is not capable of this.

September 6, 2007 at 3:05 am
(21) Scott says:

Well…the first step Wal-Mart would have to take before anyone who would spend real money on a bike could take them seriously is to offer their $1900 bikes in a section other than the “TOY” section (see the web site link in the article). As long as Wal-Mart shares the unfortunately dominant American mentality that a bike is a TOY, rather than a Vehicle (or at lease list “real” bikes in a category such as Sporting Goods), they could never compete with a LBS.

September 6, 2007 at 1:48 pm
(22) Jimbo says:

From a branding standpoint, “high-end”, let alone “skilled Italian mechanics”, are not attributes associated with Wal-Mart. So, no, I would not.

September 6, 2007 at 3:14 pm
(23) Cathy says:

Hmmm…are they calling Chinese children “skilled Italian mechanics” now???

I wouldn’t buy a tricycle from Wal-Mart, much lessa high-end bike! No competition to the LBS.

September 6, 2007 at 3:24 pm
(24) Felisa says:

Interesting. I’m a little surprised Wal-Mart is trying this. It seems pretty random and is completely different from their typical strategy. They tried going upscale once before and failed miserably. Why try again and why start with bikes? Whatever their reason, I wouldn’t buy a bike from them. I tell all my beginner cycling friends to go to a LBS since they’ll take the time to discuss budget, fit and the right bike for the riding that they want to do. Wal-Mart just can’t help the beginner or avid cyclist like LBS’s can. I’m sure they’ll sell the quantity that they committed to, but I’m not sure that they’ll continue with this strategy.

September 6, 2007 at 4:13 pm
(25) Sharon says:

Never, ever would I buy a bike from Wal-Mart. I love my LBS, the owner and crew that work there. And they take very good care of me!

September 6, 2007 at 4:33 pm
(26) Rabbit says:

I’m not a highly skilled bicyclist and don’t want a high end bike from Wal-Mart or anywhere else. Would be nice if the LBJ’s near me sold used bikes with the personal sales attention to select the right bike and an option for a maintenance plan.

September 6, 2007 at 7:55 pm
(27) Joan says:

I agree with #11. WM has already put enough local businesses OUT of business. I just lost my favorite local pet store to PetSmart. What local bike shop is going to give you friendly personal service if you bought your bike at WalMart???

September 6, 2007 at 8:03 pm
(28) Doowak says:

I can’t imagine that these will be big sellers at WM. I mean, if you have $1900 to spend on a bike, then WHY are you shopping at WM?? I got a $3000 Orbea road bike for $1500 because it was the previous years’ model – at the local bike shop (although it was in a different town).

September 6, 2007 at 8:58 pm
(29) Jim says:

I bought a Schwinn Varsity bike at Walmart last spring for $199 and I really like the bike. Did not know if I would get into biking much, but over the last 16 months, I have ridden 2800 miles. The bike has been great with absolutely no problems. However, if I am going to get a better bike, I will definitely go to the LBS. I would definitely not consider getting a high end bike at Walmart.

September 6, 2007 at 10:12 pm
(30) mel says:

Once again the small retailer get’s it in the pocket book by the large chain stores.I wouldn’t get a quality bike from any of these guys.Not for all the tea in China.I don’t even go to Canadian Tire for my pedals or bikes.ALL THE REASONS GIVEN SO FAR ARE RIGHT ON THE MONEY GUYS & GALS
mel

September 6, 2007 at 10:23 pm
(31) Bert says:

so who will build and set up this bike for us, the guy who builds lawn mowers? Maybe the lady who hands out the shopping carts? I think that half the fun of buying a new bike, is the people at the bike shop and the fun had there. I’d compare Wal-mart and high end bikes, like Toyotas in Nascar. They just don’t belong!
Thanks and happy ridding to all:)

September 7, 2007 at 12:36 am
(32) P;acerville Dave says:

who in their right mind would go to walmart for a highend anything, let alone a bicycle. the golden spoke is my home away from home. infact if you ask my wife it is my home. I feel sorry for the poor slob that buys one of these bikes. it will not fit and they will think that pain is part of …..too bad

September 7, 2007 at 12:43 am
(33) Mike says:

Some people buy their big-screen TV from Wal-mart because it is cheaper. They will get life-saving prescriptions from WM because it is cheaper. They sell a lot of cheap bicycles. Now people can be “real-cyclists” with a high-end bike on the cheap from Wal-Mart. Wrong decision, but people will still do it. Now, I don’t shop there, except, oh yea, when it is cheaper.

September 7, 2007 at 2:03 pm
(34) Jim says:

Let’s see, I think I will flag down that ‘older’ gentleman in the blue vest and see if he will fit me on my new “high end” machine. No true cyclist would give this a fleeting moment of consideration. Does this mean I can buy my Speed Play Zeroes here as well?

September 7, 2007 at 5:12 pm
(35) jarod says:

This is absolutely discusting. You shouldnt be able to buy a road bike at any place that also sells vegatables. Its just not right.

September 8, 2007 at 5:50 pm
(36) vitalengine says:

I walked into Wal-Mart the other day in the middle of a ride because my mini-pump was broken. I asked the guy for a pump that would work with a presta valve. He said, “What’s a presta valve?” Case closed.

September 10, 2007 at 5:00 am
(37) Dalesy says:

Didn’t know Huffy’s were made in Italy!!!

I Mean For Real the frame would snap on the first ride

September 21, 2007 at 9:08 am
(38) trav says:

I actually know a lot of D’bags that would do just this… go to Wal-Mart, see a “high-end bike,” buy it, then go home and tell all their friends that they just bought the best bike in the world. Yay Wal-Mart, you just sold a million units to people with lots of money and no sophistication.

March 18, 2009 at 5:44 pm
(39) Bill says:

I think the previous comments tell the story….

I would like to expand on a point that Doowak made….this is a story I just posted on another site:

At my local Canadian Tire, you can buy a pretty basic mountain-style bike for about 150+tax. When you ride it, it is pretty nasty for anything but the most basic usage. Even a casual rider would probably notice.

You can move up to a slightly better model, like a Raleigh or Schwinn (but these brand names do not mean what they used to mean!). These often start at about 200+tax; some of the Schwinns are 350+tax (sometimes more) – still a sketchy bike, I would think…

In January, I started sniffing around the LBSs, looking for some off-season deals. Found some – they actually had some deals that were as good, or better, than Canadian Tire prices. And the bike would almost always be “half-decent or better.”

I ended up getting a Norco with some really good mid-level components that make a NOTICABLE difference (i.e. 8 speed hub shifter, above-average rims and brakes). Price was 470+tax.

In summary:
- Canadian Tire – iffy Schwinn model, unknown assembly procedures, very little post-purchase support – 350+tax

- LBS – solid Norco model, well assembled, something that will run well for ages, free service for a year, supporting local business – 470+tax

For many people (not all, I admit) – is 120-130 bucks really that much more for something that will give you a MUCH better initial and long-term experience? Think of it this way:
- If you are a Starbucks fan – buy a kilo of good quality coffee and brew it at home. Take away about 20 Starbucks visits, and you’ve got the extra $$
- If you are furnishing a home – instead of the $1500 couch, buy one for $1300

March 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm
(40) Sue says:

What a joke! Buying a bike from a big box retailer is not the place to go. Even Schwinn that was sold in LBS, now a Pacific(?) company and a wally world bike it is not the same bike. My oldest daughter came to me with my opinion on where she should buy 3 bikes. She didn’t want to spend much, “you get what you pay for.” I asked her if she wanted a good bike or one that will need to be replaced soon. I told her to go where I went, to the local bike shop near our residences. She is happy with her purchases and is glad she took my advice. Especially when one of the bikes is for my 5 year old grandson. A bike should be a pleasure to ride.

March 22, 2009 at 3:14 am
(41) Dave says:

I live in Australia and we pay bucketloads for bikes and parts because of the beloved local bike stores.

I would rather learn to build and maintain my bike myself that rely on an LBS.

People are so defensive about this local bike store thing, but at the end of the day are you going to pay double for components etc… if you know you can get them cheaper online.

Bike building is not rocket science, since when did bicycle mechanics become such a highly respected trade.

Especially when half of the people working there are 16 yr olds messing selling you brake cable when you ask for gear cable.

You must have a pretty low opinion of yourself to think you can’t learn better then the 16 yr old apprentice.

Walmart is a business, and the reason they are so bad to their employees is America gave away their rights as workers in exchange for economic growth.

If Americans want Walmart to increase the workers pay instead of turning them into slaves, why not negotiate a different wage.

Oh sorry, unions have no power in the US cause they’re the evil tools of communists. lol.

You’re all right, no-one cares about service in big retailers, they just work there and the bike sounds overpriced.

What I don’t get is how a company deciding to sell something can make people so upset.

A company exists to provide a service to people and make money, which Walmart seems to be good at.

They rip off workers of third world countries to do it, which is how the world works at the moment and how the first world can screw around with TPS reports and mission statements.

When they catch up they’ll have their revenge, and maybe we’ll have to work a bit harder, or at least find jobs that contribute something more tangible than lots of people provide.

September 2, 2009 at 4:27 am
(42) fluffstuff says:

This is not a bad idea. The prices on the bikes will be considerably lower compared to a similar bike at a LBS. How many of us want to spend a grand on a bike from a bike shop or settle for one half the price from walmart? Bikes in this price range are from asia so I will buy from walmart and if I do not like it I can return it. Try this at your local over priced bike shop. Since were going the way of the poor house walmart is whats afforable new.

June 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(43) Luighi says:

When I recently bought my MTB I started by going to the LBS, although I really didn’t because the LBS near my house is a total rip-off super-overpriced shop (I understand that overhead is a killer but this is the type of shop that will tell you your bike is too old to fix and try to get you to buy a new one).

OK, so I went to the LBS (45 minutes away) where my wife bought her bike (which tey had to order because they didn’t carry what she wanted – they only carry the top lines Cannondale, Trek, Fisher, etc)).

I wanted a Diamondback Recoil – which they showed on their web site but didn’t carry in the store – they told me they would order it and took my CC for deposit (that was what they told me but my bill showed they charged the full price). The guy who fitted me was like 17. No great fitting genius. After I left there I did the Big Box market run. Stopped at all of them and found the same bike for hundreds less: only not in my size and no ordering.

Then a week later the LBS called me and said that my bike wouldn’t come in for at least two months – so I cancelled my order.

I went online and found a 2 year left-over much higher-end bike (currently retailing for approx: $2500.00) for under $900.00 from a LBS on the West Coast. After comparing components and finding that the left-over had basically the same components as the current model (difference was paint color and graphics)I bought it on-line. The few components that were not identical were still high-end, just not as expensive, and the difference in price between the two bikes was way lower than the difference in the cost of those components. In fact it was so low I could have bought those components and put them on my bike and still had a significant savings on cost.

The bike came pre-assembled by so-called manufacturer certified techs – they built it, broke it down to seat, handlebars and front wheel, which I easily put back together. I work in IT and to be manufactured certified usually requires that one takes a class or watches a CBT.

Besides, anyone who rides a decent bike and can’t put it together or work on it is just the same as, and no better than the guy who has cash and buys the WalMart bike so he can tell his friends he owns a high-end bike.

If WalMart is selling a name brand high end bike it will have the same components on it that the same bike will have at the LBS.

So, if you are willing to pay what probably will amount to a third more at the LBS for your bike; if you want to support the M&P’s and LBS’ out there; and if you just do not want to shop at WalMart then far be it to me to say you are wrong.

But anyone who thinks they get a better deal at the LBS is wrong.

Buy your bike where you want, but if I had to do it again and I saw the same bike at WalMart for hundreds less, I would buy it. If I wanted LBS style service I would go there first to be fitted, and after buying it at WalMart I would go to the LBS for service and repairs.

IF anyone is concerned about manufacturers warrantees, for as much as they are worth, all LBS’ charge a nominal fee for certifying bikes no matter where they are bought and setup. That fee guarantees your manufacturer’s warrantee as well.

I guess the bigger question is do you shop at WalMart – personally I tend not to, though I have found in the past two years I have bought things there. I bought my grandson’s first bike there for $19.00. It is a 12”. I expect he will grow out of it in a year and that is about all a training wheel bike for a 3 year old is worth. At the local LBS I couldn’t touch one for under a $100. I occasionally buy dog food there, but I generally do not shop there. That’s a question and situation we each have to answer and live with.

December 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm
(44) Jerry says:

My wife works for Walmart and I have a 10% discounted purchase prices, so hell yes, I would by the high end bike and receive 10% off the already lower price. Then I would visit my favorite LBS and give them all my maintenance and accessories business just as I do now. But I would not touch a low end Walmart bike with a long stick. It is not worth the troubles.

December 12, 2012 at 10:12 am
(45) Bob Montalbano says:

Can’t compare the service or bike talk from a locale bike shop.

April 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm
(46) Bradylee says:

Get over yourselves and your pretentions. Many high end bike components, including “American” brands, are made in Asia. Build your own bike and tune it yourself…otherwise go hand over your wallet to your LBS. You guys that are dedicated to your LBS make me laugh. All you need to open a business in this country is a sign on the door that says “open for business”…so why do you guys talk about them like they know any more than you do about fitting or tuning or material? I am sure this is a decent bike, why not check it out before dismissing it entirely? I know why…because you buy into the LBS lifestyle. They are the same as car salesman…and you show such devotion.

June 11, 2013 at 8:25 am
(47) Mike in Fla says:

I agree with Bradlee. If you buy into the bike lifestyle, learn to service your own bike. I also would never spend $1,900 on a bike. I have a decent TREK that cost under $1,000 that I expect to have for life. I LOVE whizzing by the $2,000+ bike snobs that are more about showing off their expensive bike at Starbucks after a ride than what most of us are trying to achieve,,,fitness and better health. Get over yourselves bike snobs and the rest posting above about LBS “service”…take some time to learn about bike and fix them yourselves slackers.

August 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm
(48) ps says:

Since when is $1900 a high end bike? I bought my high end bike at a LBS and have life time adjustments on any part needing adjustments as well as many other free perks. Go into your local wally world and ask if you can get the derailieur adjusted, lubed, flat fixed, brakes adjusted, air, fitted, tech advice all for free ….NOT

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