Are off the peg bikes really any good?

I brought a bike a few months ago on the Ride to Work Scheme, a Fuji Cross 3.0 in black and green. A new bike, as exiting now as it was when I woke up on my birthday to find a glossy white five speed racer at the end of my bed. Happy days.

Buying an assembled bike is convenient, you pay your money and ride away from the shop with a dirty great big grin on your face. Everything you need to get cycling is included, and quite often this is the problem with off the peg bikes.

Essentially what you’re paying for a is a nice paint job and a load of branded components, everything else on the bike is going to be an exercise in the manufacturer saving money, which is to be expected given their buying power to get hold all the unnoticed bits on the cheap. Cynical maybe, but it’s only the same as anything else we’d buy.

The alternative is to build a bike yourself with your own choice of components right down to spokes and inner tubes. This is what I did when I was younger when needing something more technical than my off the peg Raleigh Record Sprint that I’d spent years modding and upgrading into something unrecognisable.

I remember taking great delight in choosing all the components for my hand built that I’d spent weeks gazing at in the back of Cycling Weekly or in Buckley Saxon Cycles. It was a black and red 531c Raleigh USA frame, Shimano Ultegra groupset, Mavic MA40 rims, stainless steel spokes, 3ttt bars-stem and a Miche seat pin. Due to the flow of teenage funds it took months to build, my brother didn’t like it but it was my pride and joy, moreover every part had been researched and was of branded quality.

So there I am 20 odd years later with my new off the peg bike and everything is fine until someone walks out in front of me. So that’s a new front wheel because the stock one was was of the trendy ‘Straight out’ spoked variety that bent like plasticine. Then the tyres needed replacing because those shipped wheren’t up to the rigours of the daily commute. After it rained once I had to upgrade the brake blocks so that I could stop, the chain had to be replaced and now the bottom bracket is on the way out.

There’s a reocurring theme here and I haven’t even finished paying for the thing yet.