Monday, May 20, 2013

The Heart Wants What It Wants, Even When It's Stupid

My wife always gets nervous when I start a sentence with, "If we had a bigger garage and disposable income..."

The latest bike (because it's ALWAYS a bike) is a weird one. While floundering about the interwebs, I learned that Walmart sells a cheap fatbike cruiser. 

There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to start... but that's never stopped me from trying before:
  • It's from Walmart. Let's just say I'm not a fan of Sam's empire and leave it there. It hurt my heart a little just to sprinkle that tiny driblet of link juice on them. (And don't get me started on the whoring of former "real bike" brands into the big-box channels...)
  •  It's gotta be disposable-cheap. Do the math: Start at two Benjamins, subtract the Walton family's cut, and see what you have left for just a frame, fork, wheels and tires, never mind the rest of the stuff that makes a bike go. Cheap, light, strong? In this case, I'm guessing you only get to pick one.
  • It's certainly not a "real" fatbike, intended for off-roading... unless you're seriously retro and just want to downhill with a coaster brake, klunker style. Going back up that hill on a 50-pound singlespeed? Uh, good luck.

And yet, dammit, I keep casting a covetous eye at the devil's "add to cart" button. All rationality aside, the thing just looks freakin' cool. I love fat tires. I love cruisers. A cruiser with REALLY fat tires? I think I just went from Schwinn to schwing.

A couple factors are working against me (and for my marital harmony), however. One, none of the Wally-marts anywhere remotely near me has this monster in stock. If I saw one in person rather than through the series of internet tubes, all hope would be lost. Two, I don't have the aforementioned large garage or bottomless wallet, so there's no physical or fiscal space for a bike that can't earn its keep with a purpose beyond "looking really cool" (shut up, inner monologue... you cannot convince me this would be a good commuter bike).

Now, if some generous benefactor/patron of the bloggerly arts (because really, who wouldn't want the publicity from a no-name blogger with zero fatbike experience and a predisposition to dislike both the bike's brand and its seller?) wanted to send me one to review, I certainly wouldn't turn the big brown truck away. Maybe I can have a seance and get Sam Walton on the horn...


Anonymous said...

No good can possibly come from buying a BSO at W***-M***. Continue to save your pennies, and perhaps you can one day buy a real bike from a real guy (or gal) with the name "Schwinn". I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

BTW, I ran into Richard and his daughter Anna at NAHBS in 2009, and had a nice chat. If you have to throw money at a family, better this one than the Waltons.

Also, remember that wanting something is usually better than getting something. Especially a BSO.

Steve in Peoria, with two 'bents that aren't really BSO's, are they?

Unknown said...

Sam was a customer at the outdoor store I managed before he died and Helen still is. Comes to the July summer sale and sits in a folding chair in the heat like everyone else on the newsletter list who come in that Sunday for the start of the warm weather sale week. She and her kids are huge benefactors of the arts and their communities.

The HQ of the empire looks nearly as if the wheels have recently been taken off the modular units; their culture of conservation is down to the paperclip and routing envelope. I do have to say I favor an organization that tries so hard not to waste money like that.

Sam's culture also included avoidance of ostentatious displays of wealth by his employees. He was fine that they could do well for their families by the commitment of work at the company but did not wish that they would attach the image of circular Belgian block driveways around travertine fountains in front of their houses in that NW Arkansas setting. Save that for when it could be enjoyed in early retirement. Sam drove a green '74 Ford F-100 which his barber thought he should replace with a Bentley as the richest man in America. "Where would the dogs ride?" he responded.

Can't say I shop much at M*M myself, but as someone with keen interests in bicycles and other esoterica, I am largely out of their target demographic and probably should feel a bit iffy about their offerings. Ten cents saved isn't going to make me take a bus to W*M to buy my Tide.

Pittsburgh now