$59 Walmart Bike vs $6500 Mountain Bike
Mountain bikes aren't getting any cheaper. This is due to a number of factors like the rising costs of materials, increased time being put into research and design, and newer, more expensive technology that is constantly being developed. These factors have lead to innovations like dropper posts, über light carbon frames, and chain rings that you could serve a turkey dinner on. All of these innovations are developed to make your time on the bike more enjoyable... but do they? Does spending thousands of dollars on a bike guarantee your happiness once you go ride it? We went to Walmart to find out.
Meet the Big Flyer. It doesn't have all the fancy bells and whistles that a high end mountain bike does but it'll only set you back $59.95 at Walmart. Most of the parts on this bike are made from high-density plastic which is lightweight and provides a bit of compliance while out on the trail. This helps make up for the lack of suspension. For the cockpit they went with a steel bar, probably to prioritize strength instead of weight along with a non-functioning speedometer. Although the speedometer was set to a modest 200MPH which is fairly accurate for most riding.
The geometry is a mixture of new and old. While the Big Flyer certainly pushes the limits when it comes to head angles (50 degrees!) the bike has an incredibly short reach. Most mountain bikes are constantly getting longer but the Big Flyer goes the other way. Normally you'd also want to compare chainstay lengths but that measurement is null and void here as the Big Flyer doesn't have a chainstay to speak of.
I tested the Big Flyer back to back with my Trek Remedy and focused on three main categories. Climbing, descending, and durability. Did the $59 plastic bike stack up? Read on and find out.
I chose Fromme to be the testing grounds for these two bikes. The climb up is a mellow fire road with an easy grade. On the Trek Remedy this climb is a breeze. The modern geometry and suspension provides an efficient platform to get to the top quickly without using excessive energy.
Unfortunately the story wasn't the same aboard the Big Flyer. With the cramped seating position and heavy gear I wasn't even able to make it out of the parking lot. I ended up walking the bike up the mountain which was actually quite enjoyable as the bike was light enough to be easily carried up the road.
Bobsled was the trail of choice for the descent. As a blue trail filled with corners, rollers, and the odd drop it served as the perfect run to test the capabilities of the Big Flyer. On my bike this trail is a blast. With big meaty tires, powerful brakes, and oodles of suspension I could jump, huck, and smash through the trail with confidence.
I'm going to be honest. I was prepared to be very disappointed with the Big Flyer. But to my surprise the bike was actually... fun. Once I got going I was locked in and the Big Flyer smashed through the trail with relative ease. At least until the trail levelled out which resulted in me having to scoot the bike along with my feet. As long as I was pointed downhill the Big Flyer offered up big smiles. However, there were some negative takeaways here. The pedals spun so quickly that it was impossible for me to keep my feet on. Additionally the plastic tires weren't exactly confidence inspiring.
After finishing my ride on the Trek it was unsurprisingly no worse for wear. Other than some dirty tires the bike looked identical to when I started.
Sadly, the Big Flyer didn't fair so well. While riding one of the rear wheels cracked which rendered it useless. Additionally through the abuse of smashing through the trail the headtube ovalized which caused the entire front end to move around. Although this gave the Big Flyer adjustable geometry so we'll call that a win. Finally, and I know I'm nitpicking here, but the flag holder did a terrible job of holding the flag in. I had to stop multiple times on the trail to put it back in.
So, what's the better buy here? An inexpensive bike that you will have to walk to the trailhead and hope it doesn't explode while going down? Or a mountain bike designed to get you to the top and be a blast to ride while going down? Watch the video above to see our verdict.
Read more reviews from other Big Flyer shredders here.