We bought a Fat-bike from Walmart and took it for a test ride

Huffing and puffing he came, dragging a 5-foot-long box up the sidewalk. My FedEx delivery man is no weakling, but he struggled with the 60+ pound package holding the Mongoose Beast, a bottom-of-the-line fat bike Walmart started selling last month.

You may have seen our preview article, “Fat Bike trend Dead? Walmart sells ‘Beast’ bike for $199.” Well, we could not resist at this price tag, and thus for less than the cost of a race saddle we held noses and put cash toward the Beast.

Mongoose Beast, available only at Walmart

The name is apt, though we’re also going to start calling this rig the “JunkBike.” The single-speed, coaster-brake-equipped Beast is based on a simple cruiser bicycle design, though it was designed to accommodate giant knobby tires.

First take? Mongoose made the Beast indeed as a department-store build with all the cheapest parts available. A large kick-stand and decals that are already peeling off — not to mention a solid quill stem, cheap saddle, and bubbly welds — left a lot to be desired.

And the weight… truly a beast, this bike crushes scales at nearly 50 pounds.

Really, though, we knew what to expect. At $200, nothing here is going to scream quality. And who cares? Let’s get this thing buttoned up and go ride!

Beastly fat tires

A freak April 11th snowstorm blanketed Minneapolis with 3 inches of wet snow the night before our Beast arrived. Assembled and ready, I rolled out the front door and down a small flight of steps like they weren’t even there. So far so good.

Out on the street, a few labored pedal strokes got me to cruising speed in a jiffy. A smile formed and lasted for several blocks, wet snow building on my cheeks.

But as the miles ticked on and the trail begin to slant up just a bit, I noticed I was beginning to get winded. This thing sucks the power from its host’s legs like a 50+ pound leech, and this was on pavement!

Test riding the JunkBike

I turned off the paved path and into a wooded lot that harbors a secret set of dirt jumps. This would be the first off-road test for our Mongoose. My speed slowed to a barely manageable crawl and soon I had to take a break. I’m no racehorse, but I’m not a slouch in the saddle either — this bike is quite difficult to power down a snow-covered trail.

The bike’s gearing (36-front/18-rear) is far too tall for offroad riding and honestly isn’t really ideal for on-road riding either. I’ll be swapping that rear cog for a large, easier-to-pedal option soon for sure.

I suspect the whole GearJunkie crew will soon be itching to swap different parts on this bike. The Beast is going to stick around for a while. As noted, we’ve already dubbed it the “JunkBike” and we have plans for this thing.

Heavy, cheap, weird, and, have to admit, a bit fun (for the price at least) are my first impressions of the Beast. We’ll get more into detail on a future review.

Should you run out and buy one? For the novelty factor, maybe. For a serious rider. . . definitely not. If you’re going to use the Beast in true fat-bike scenarios — in snow, beaches and sand, or for rolling over big things in your way on dirt — the Walmart bike is gonna disappoint.

But stay tuned while we try this bike in unrealistic scenarios, attempt to make it less of a piece of junk with some different parts, and generally see how much fun we can squeeze from the mass-produced Mongoose ride.

T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.

Name says it all