Walmart's $149 Fixie

Walmart made news in the bicycle world at the end of March when the company announced it was selling a $149 fixed-gear bike. The story of the Mongoose Cachet Fixed-Speed Bike was picked up by mainstream publications liked Wired.com (“Hipsters Grieve: The $150 Walmart Fixie”) as well as bike-specific websites like Bike Snob NYC and Prolly is not Probably.

But there was some confusion: The bike — billed as a “fixed-speed” not a “fixed-gear” — made it unclear if this was a single-speed, fixie, or if it had a hub that allowed both options.

mongoose.jpg

Mongoose Cachet Fixed-Speed Bike

Now, more than a month later, the “fixed speed” question has been clarified (it has a flip-flop hub with a freewheel option). You can ride it fixed, but you have to buy an additional cog for that, an add-on part. It seems like the public’s response has been good. The bike is out of stock online and available “in limited stores,” according to the Walmart website. (My quick search on the company’s site yielded that you can’t pick one up at any store within 50 miles of Los Angeles.)

The reviews are mixed. Blogger BikeSnobNYC was “happy to learn about the Cachet” but quickly sobered when it showed up a few days later to test. He wrote that the headset cups had been pressed in at a decidedly jaunty angle and “the headset was so tight that I could barely move the fork.”

That’s not all: After applying a headset wrench to a locknut, it was so tight that the locknut rounded off instead of budging. BikeSnob discovered the fork dropouts were crooked, the front end was out of alignment, and the front brake had issues.

Finally hitting the road, Snob wrote “Sure, $150 was cheap, and sure the bicycle worked, but the mangled headset and front brake in particular were troublesome to me, and it seemed that even $300 could buy you a much better bicycle from a different vendor. . . the fact is that in many ways I’m perhaps too far removed from the Mongoose Cachet demographic to judge it properly, and maybe the fact that it rolls is enough.”

Brad Quartuccio, editor at Urban Velo, had a different experience. He wrote “this bike ends up looking better than some other color-matched bikes out there costing 10 times as much. . . . The parts are far nicer than I at first pictured, and arguably nicer than some of the $250 level bike shop singlespeeds that exist.”

His conclusion? “The bike is what it is — the absolute entry level single speed road bike you can get.”

More importantly, both BikeSnob and Quartuccio had a similar question about the Cachet — is a price point bike like this the way to get more people, especially younger folks, on bikes? My take? I think so. Like many skateboard booms, popularity will drive mass marketers to try to get a piece of the action. And like a department store skateboard, the Cachet will likely give young riders a taste of the fun. Those who get the bug will find a way to upgrade to a different rig or milk more miles out of a $150 bike.

What do you think — if someone buys one of these bikes and has fun, could it help turn them on to cycling for life or, conversely, will a bad experience turn them off to a two-wheeled lifestyle?

—Stephen Krcmar

Posted by Alex - 04/29/2010 08:18 AM

I guess if it gets more people riding that’s a good thing, but the Cachet sounds like a piece of crap to me. And then there’s the whole Walmart issue and my vow to disown anyone I know who shops there.

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 04/29/2010 09:00 AM

Alex, thanks for your comment. Although the the Cachet is far from a good spec, according to Urban Velo, it’s not a terrible. Far from it, actually. And although I think a lot people will agree that there’s the “whole Walmart issue,” I think young teens and pre-teens care less about that.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 04/29/2010 09:11 AM

I would rather see a tentative / newbie biker buy this rig than an mtb “crunker” of same price range with crap shocks and shifters, etc. A single-speed makes a lot of sense for the everyday, no-fuss bike rider.

Posted by Bikeryak - 04/29/2010 10:45 AM

I’ve seen folks try to get into riding by buying cheap bikes many times and end up hating it because of the bad experiences related to the lack of performance by the bike – typically shifting/braking mechanisms that fail in the first few rides. A fixie might not face some of these problems but from the sounds of some of the reviews these things are not put together any better than the other hunks of junk Walmart carries. I would advise against it for this reason alone but also because I advise anyone who wants to get into cycling (whether for commuting or enjoyment) to go to their local bike shop and support their business. They will be treated fairly, sized correctly and be able to get continued service.

Stay clear of the ugly beast that is Walmart!

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 04/29/2010 02:58 PM

Bikeryak, I hear you. I’ve seen the same from my days working in bike shops. Oddly, I’ve also seen people fall in love with their department store bikes. One customer even upgraded his department store bike component by component until he had a full XTR rig connected to a $50 boat anchor of a “full suspension” frame. He was fond of saying, “I just love the frame.” That said, I’m guessing there are parts of this country and some families who will only buy bikes at department stores. And to echo Stephen, the Cachet is probably better than anything else in the same price range. It would be great if everyone supported the LBS, but sometimes that’s not possible due to economics or the fact that there isn’t a local bike shop for miles.

Posted by Tom - 04/30/2010 12:28 AM

The only situation I see this bike makes sense is if you live in a high bike theft area and want something you can replace cheaply. Otherwise it does’nt make sense. You won’t be able to sell it used, and if something goes wrong, it will cost more to fix it than the purchase price. A better deal for this type of bike would be something with real quality like an Urbis for $550. It won’t break, and if you decide after one year you simply just don’t like to ride bikes, you can probably sell it for $400. You will be out the same $150, but you will have gotten to ride a real bike, and saved some room in the landfill.

Posted by Marty - 04/30/2010 09:06 AM

I think it is a good thing. Speaking from experiance, a Huffy got me into cycling and now I have 2 bikes and my wife has one of significant quality.

Posted by jessie - 04/30/2010 09:17 AM

I think its great idea. now I’ll have enough money left over to buy a courier bag, man-pris pants, cycling cap, a faux vintage t-shirt, pair of chuck taylors and 6er of PBR. I’ll have all my “gear” before my moustach even grows out!

Posted by GenghisKhan - 04/30/2010 09:41 AM

If it helps get people a taste of a great sport/pasttime/leisure activity, then I’m all for it!

Posted by bagni - 04/30/2010 11:05 AM

fixed speed. not a fixed gear or a single speed. meaning bike can’t go over a certain speed? this bike will sell but all those hipsters must be freaking out in their man’pri pants…..8-))

Posted by Ray Keener - 04/30/2010 11:06 AM

Walmart bikes are price- and audience-appropriate. They are WAY better than your childhood Huffy. The idea that people are turned off to cycling by cheap bikes is silly. They don’t pay much, they don’t get much, they don’t expect much. They don’t ride much! Assembly issues are a serious concern. I’m just SO glad this isn’t an actual fixed-gear bike and it’s not that easy to make it into one!

Posted by Rick Vosper - 04/30/2010 02:24 PM

For my part, I’d rather see entry-level consumers on a $150 “fixed-speed” bike than a $199 faux mountain bike with worthless suspension and transmission. It’s a better buy that will breed less resentment, meaning that more of the riders will be interested in upgrading once they’ve had a taste of cycling.

As for hipsters using the bike as a lifestyle accessory, oh well…there are certainly worse things.

Posted by Alan Parker - 10/28/2010 04:03 PM

Best bike ever (for the money!).
I just bought this about 2 mo again and have been riding it almost daily for casual commute and excercise. With the stickers off, it is better looking than some fixie bikes i’ve researched and seen..that cost more then 6 times.

The build is solid and weight isn’t bad either..prob around 22lbs. The wheels are true. Only recommendation is upgrading the seat and maybe the handle bar (if u’re not into leaning over much). But overall, for $150…best deal in U.S. for fixie.

Pros-
looks more expensive than it is
good paint scheme (black / white)
700cc wheels and true
flip-flop hub
Price

Cons-
Need better brakes (but easily replaceable)
Weight can be little lighter
pedals is abit weak
Crank isn’t the best (but acceptable)

Posted by Mike - 08/22/2011 04:40 PM

I can’t belive the poor pre assembly of the bike is even an issue for anyone. Who buys a bike and rides it as is? Who even buys a bike pre built anyways? Maybe I’m too deep in bmx or something but if you buy a new bike, you definitly want to take it apart and put it back together properly before riding it. Or maybe all these fixie hipsters writing about these bikes don’t own tools and don’t want to get greasy.

Posted by jimi - 04/20/2012 07:05 PM

I dont see the issue with getting one of these and throwing a set of deep V’s on it…or getting an old roadbike of whatever brand and building one from ground up..your basically starting out with a random frame.only difference is you need to purchase an insane amount of tools for the old roadbike thus pushing the cost up 4 fold.

Posted by Ralph Benitez - 08/04/2012 07:53 PM

It is what it is! I own a Cannondale CADD9 and a Seven Cycle’s Titanium custom road bike. I went and bought a Mongoose Sinsure which is a slightly different version of this Cachet. It’s beige! with red tires and a funky handlebar I’ve never seen. I bought it to train on a heavy bike and one with no clip pedals that I can ride with my kids. They tend to ride thru stop signs. I fell in love with it. I put on a bigger chain ring and all the red anodized parts I could find and I still have not hit the $300 mark thanks to Ebay. It looks awesome and is a lot of fun and liberating. It’s nice to ride away from the pretentious Lance Armstrong underoo wearing roadies once in a while. The Mongoose Fixed gear bike line are great for those that want a good riding, fun, low maintenance, cool, cheap bike that could be even better with slight upgrades. Hope this helps someone.

Posted by Strucil C - 11/05/2012 05:30 PM

OK FOLKS… Lets be real. Forget all you flakes and hipster wannabees. I was at walmart with my wife buying fishing stuff and I saw the Mongoose Fixie (tan with red tires and funky bar) for $149 and I said “WOW I cant believe ShitMart carries a bike like this” I then proceeded to pull it off the rack and flew down the isles until I was told to get off of it. I own a FAT City Cycle and a specialized and the Mongoose @ Shitmart was pretty cool with 1 speed and freewheel for $149. I may pick it up next week and adjust it as my only street bike. Well worth the $149, and those that gripe about the Walmart build, its like a Fender Strat, you always do a setup if you’re a real player, even if it’s a $1700 American made vintage reissue strat. Anybody thats a real player or rider knows exactly what I mean.

Posted by Cachetforlife - 12/12/2012 03:45 PM

I’ve had this bike for over a year now, its fantastic. no assembly problems at all (and i’m no mechanic). Take off the front break, kickstand, chainguard and stickers and its a great looking bike at a price that can’t be beat. Simple, fun to use, low investment/maintenance cost. Anyone can be happy with that.

Posted by bob - 12/31/2012 08:43 PM

i would love for you to take a (catchets) remove all the stickers and any other id marks the bike might have and then give it to a beginner , then to fairly serious rider , and finally to a snob ..and get there take on it then,not knowing it came from walmart .. then do the same with a $500 bike and see what kinda feedback we get then

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