Walmart Bikes—Deal or No Deal?

$159 Walmart "fitness" bike is only its latest specialized offering

When I say Walmart you think…cheap.

But does cheap mean poor quality?

Mongoose recently unveiled its new 29" Mongoose Hex Men's Fitness Bike at Walmart to mixed reviews.

Potential buyers shouldn’t look to buy this $159 single-speed directly from Mongoose, however, because the mid-level bike manufacturer doesn't sell its big-box models—which it builds for Walmart, Toys “R” Us, Target and other retail giants—on its website. Whether that's a no-confidence vote or the result of elaborate retail agreements, we're not sure, but we do know that die-hard cyclists aren't too confident in it (or in Walmart bikes in general).

Brian from Des Moines was shopping for a mountain bike, but was stunned by the high prices he saw. He then made the fatal mistake of asking for an opinion of Walmart bikes on cycling forums. Veteran cyclists replied with contempt, lashing out at both Brian and Walmart. One commenter scoffed that a Walmart employee, whose average salary is $15,500 a year, had no business selling bikes. Brian was admittedly no pro. All he wanted was an affordable bike he could use to commute to work.

Just for devoting online ink to Walmart’s latest release, Gear Junkie was told it had tarnished its considerable credibility in a comment by the aptly named user “Disappointed" (though, to be fair, it was the fourth Walmart bike they wrote up). That gets to an interesting point. Walmart has been rolling out more dirt-cheap specialized bikes of late—a fat bike for winter riding, a city-friendly fixie, a 29er mountain bike—hopping on cycling trends with relish. And now this. But what is this single-speed, suspension-less mystery "fitness" bike with a mountain bike frame? Is it supposed to be a single-speed mountain bike? A fat-tired cruiser? And, more importantly, opinions of the cycling gods aside, could this matte blue penny pincher get the job done? 

HankTheTank1587 sums up the essence of the Hex on Walmart's review section.

“For $160 this is exactly what I expected. A basic mountain bike that gets me around, but definitely don't anticipate it lasting a lifetime.”

So is this the latest example of an evil empire trying to undercut local bike shops (not to mention bike manufacturers), or is it a good thing simply because it gets more people on bikes?

While the consensus is still out, the best advice we can give here at The Active Times is you definitely get what you pay for.