Commuting 101: Bike Shaped Objects

A Word about Bike Shaped Objects

Bike geeks like me and the other authors of CbB often snicker about the “Bike Shaped Objects” (BSO) sold at the mass retail discount stores for less than $200. They’re heavy, ugly, inefficient, poorly engineered, poorly designed, and poorly assembled by the same guy who scoops the the dead fish out of the tanks in the pet department. These types of bikes are recalled every year, and, in fact, the CPSC recently announced a recall of 34,000 Dynacraft BSOs sold at Target over the past year.

I realize, however, that millions of people rides these kinds of bikes to work — probably half of the commuting cyclists I see every day are on these BSOs. I imagine some CBB readers even ride these bikes, though they may hesitate to admit it. Two years ago, I followed the adventures of Poor Guy On a Bike who, amazingly, toured 2000 miles from South Carolina to west Texas on a Wal-Mart Schwinn. The only problems he had were with flat tires.

If you decide to go to Retail-Mart to buy these, stick with the inexpensive basic bikes and absolutely avoid the “full suspension” models. There’s much less to go wrong on the basic bikes, and the frame suspension on the more expensive models add a lot of weight and complexity for absolutely zero benefit. If you do go this route, please realize that there’s a world of difference between BSOs and good bicycles.

For more about choosing the ideal bicycle for your commute, read Commuting 101: Choosing a bike.

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