Wednesday Video Roundup: Walmart bikes, Campagnolo factory tour, crank length science and more

Posted by on January 20th, 2016 at 9:33 am

Welcome to this week’s video roundup!

A mountain biking youtuber, Seth, purchased a Walmart bike for $140. He immediately used his bike knowledge to tune it up (the wheels were out-of-true and undertensioned, headset was overtightened), then took it to a bike shop for the final review. The video above shows a novice riding the bike, then Seth riding it. You can see that by the third video Seth completely destroyed the bike. Certainly he subjected the bike to abuse, but it doesn’t appear a bike like this would stand up to daily use. (warning: spicy language)

You’ve seen the famous Humans of New York photo series? This is similar, showing the cyclists of New York with their bikes.

This cyclist figured out how to speed up their commute- by drafting a bus. The video says the cyclist is going about 50mph on a highway around Barcelona. Look at how close they are riding!

PathLessPedaled published a video promoting Las Cruces NM/El Paso TX. Their videos are always pretty, and it’s interesting to consider that region of the country. Also, check out the bikey earrings!

BikePortlander Spiffy suggested this video last week. It’s the second “prank bike thieves” video from this youtube channel. It’s from Los Angeles, the anti-theft system seems to work remarkably well, and it’s mean (but I like it). At least one of the thieves would benefit form a helmet. (warning: spicy language, and some generic Jackass style scenes at the end)

Podia went to the Campagnolo factory and were allowed to shoot video in the factory. I’m not surprised that their factory is so clean. The anecdote of waterproofing electronics was interesting.

It’s always time for new Brumotti. He has a lot of fun doing road-bike trials here:

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Here’s video from the 2016 “CX Nats”. The terrain looks fun (to watch), especially the off-camber section.

OneUp Components is a mountain bike parts manufacturer based in Squamish, British Colombia. This video is shot in an understated style that really shows off the gorgeous terrain.

GCN tested three lengths of cranks. One set was extra-short, one was a little bit long. I was pleased on how scientific this crank length test was. It isn’t perfect, but it’s around the Mythbusters level, which is much better than “well, it felt faster”. On the other hand, there were too many variables (RPM and torque) so even though the wattage was fixed, it’s hard to draw conclusions from the threshold test. (also, 330 watts sustained power? gasp!)

Honorable mentions: GCN’s Top 10 Most Powerful People In Cycling, Carlton Reid’s son doing the inner-tube trick on rollers
PathLessPedaled’s sling pannier review, rider Jack Bauer’s recovery after last year’s TDF, and biking through Paris (which mirrors my experience).

Inclusion criteria: If I’ve missed something, post it in the comments! I prefer videos published in the last week or so. Note if there’s a specific point in a long video that is worth highlighting. Also note if there is colorful language. I will delay videos containing pro racing spoilers.

– Ted Timmons, @tedder42

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29 Comments
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    Joe January 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

    spicy lang.. haha

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    canuck January 20, 2016 at 10:00 am

    The Barcelona video claims 70KMH in the header and shows a speedometer with 65KMH. Which is actually 40-45mph

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      Andy K January 20, 2016 at 11:12 am

      There is no difference in the speeds when you have zero visibility and you’re drafting 2 feet off the back.

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        Lester Burnham January 21, 2016 at 11:30 am

        Why bother with a helmet and do something so irresponsible?

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        37Dennis January 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

        @andy/Lester..
        Having done EXACTLY this type of AWESOME act, perhaps over one hundred times in my life, the single incident that ever truly gave cause for concern, was when my rear tubular rolled off at around 52 mph, and wrapped around the brake set. I came to a grinding halt, destroying my Nisi Laser rim, in a horrible cacophony of sounds produced by man, bike, and bus! The is sight of my predicament scared the crap out of an elderly woman out doing her yard work! While I cut the tire free, the nice lady went to get me a snack. She said she hoped I would never do that again, with the same stern voice she might have used with her own grandson. With fingers crossed behind my back, I assured her I never, ever would repeat it. Ha. Drafting trucks is awesome.

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      37Dennis January 25, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      ….the speed euro-pro sprinters reach NOT drafting.

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    q`Tzal January 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

    That drafting trick definitely works.
    TriMet buses and local trucks; longer distance trucks don’t block as much of the wind near the surface. Landscaper’s flatbed trailers with mesh ramps are the best: they block the wind AND you can see through them.

    BUT the only thing that would make this even vaguely safe is complete and intimate foreknowledge of the road: surface defects, driveways, intersections, lights, traffic control devices, everything.

    When you are traveling this close you don’t have the option to stop in time so you need to be certain that you won’t need to.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. January 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Looks like “the “prank bike thieves” video is the wrong one.

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    rh January 20, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Seems like that walmart bike would work for at least 95% of offroad users. Not bad if you ask me.

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      q`Tzal January 20, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Perfect for the sort of person that buys “exercise” equipment, uses it once then lets it collect dust.
      The Mall-Wart bike is likely to survive at least the first day of use.

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        soren January 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        There are plenty of people who ride walmart bikes as their daily commuters. And in china hundreds of millions commute on bikes with even lower build quality.

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          Beth H January 20, 2016 at 9:23 pm

          After twenty years in the bicycle industry, I was spoiled. Then, two years after changing careers, I got a month-long teaching residency that required me to commute back and forth on a borrowed bike, towing my guitar and teaching supplies in a borrowed kiddie trailer, every day. The bike was a little small for me, and the trailer was a really cheap steel model. I had brought a small tool bag with me so I could make adjustments. I swapped in a taller seatpost and decent brake pads, lubed the chain and adjusted the hubs and headset (I could do nothing for the bottom bracket but it worked alright). I trued the wheels, adjusted the brakes and gears, and it was fine. I also adjusted the hub bearings of the trailer so it would roll smoothly.

          Everything worked out fine. And the school was so happy with me AND the bicycle arrangement that they offered to pay for me to ship a bicycle in my size to live there for return trips. So I fixed up an abandoned mountain bike with a slightly bent frame — a department store Diamondback. I straightened the frame, adjusted the hubs, trued the wheels, upgraded a few things like the handlebars, shifters and saddle, and tossed some old street tires on it. That bike has now served me on three subsequent trips, and will serve me again this summer — along with the trailer, which the family’s youngest outgrew and so got left in the school storage shed “on permanent loan for Beth’s visits.”

          I will NEVER diss a department store bike again, at least not for commuting purposes. People with little means get around on them all day long and they’re fine. And my crummy little bike is allowing me to show by example how fun bicycle commuting can be, in a town where most people drive everywhere.

          Past the glitz and glamour, if you’re riding for basic transportation, a bicycle is just a bicycle. If it works and stops safely and you take care of it, it’s fine for that.

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            37Dennis January 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

            While you have the ability and know how to make the Diamondback work, others may not. I applaude your good work to bring cycling to the mindset of those who have not considered it, unfortunately this is not where the problem of the dept store bike ends. In MY years in the industry I have seen dozens if not HUNDREDS OF DEPT STORE BIKES, left in service hooks due to the fact that people of mild means can’t afford the repairs. I have also, on the flip side helped frugally minded wealthy people ween themselves off cheap bikes and on to finer ones, because they believed they weren’t really “cyclists”. All too often I’ve seen people just throwing money away.
            All us bike folk love our personal whoopty. ….That fun and unbelievable steed that somehow defies logic, and is still rideable. But when I see a human struggling along on a total POS, my heart aches for humanity.
            All cheap bikes should be thrown in the smelter ! Cheap bikes are the Bain of my belief in sustainability.
            Death to all cheap bikes!
            Just my 40cents worth.
            Peace.

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          q`Tzal January 20, 2016 at 9:42 pm

          I wonder if the much larger “mass” of Americans vs Chinese may contribute to the durability of cheaply made bicycles amongst a lighter population.

          And even Walmart customers, as a demographic, skew heavier than the American average weight.

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            37Dennis January 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

            Wow….

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      Chris I January 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      I think the long-term test would yield slightly different results…

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      davemess January 21, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Yeah, I think “totally destroyed” is a bit over the top Ted. The headset and some bolts was loose. And he did that after some pretty aggressive riding. As he points out this bike would likely be fine for a beginner. And if you stayed on the streets it would also likely be just fine.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 21, 2016 at 11:48 am

        You caught the wheel was pancaked, yes?

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          davemess January 21, 2016 at 12:22 pm

          Not in that video you posted here. He even says that it just needs some maintenance on the lug nuts for an intermediate rider.

          Are you talking about the street video that he refers to?

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            Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm

            yeah, it’s in the third of the series. It’s abuse but not THAT far out of line.

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              longgone January 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

              Actually, in my humble opinion, it isn’t really that abusive. In the 1970s we put our stingrays through just as much. The threesixty tail flip he does at the end of the street run is a manouver many people can perform. This very collection of videos shows whatzizmame euro pro doing more trials moves on a far lighter bike. The dept store bike of today may be a smidge better than average, but is still an inferior tool for more than just light casual use.

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      was carless January 22, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Make sure to watch the second video. The bike quickly falls apart and then he bends the wheel doing a 360… although the metal bits bending is somewhat worrying, not to mention bearing wear in the wheels and headset after a few days of use.

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    Champs January 20, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Pacing a dump truck from a more comfortable distance at 30mph was sketchy enough for me. Feathered the front brake, but laid at least one set of skid marks when it finally caught up to a light…

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      dan January 21, 2016 at 11:24 am

      Drafting quarry trucks while cycle touring in China was one of the stupider things I’ve done on a bicycle. They were tiny trucks (like Japanese-style kei cars), but piled high with stone chunks, any of which could have fallen out the back at any time. Even 5 feet back at only 20 mph was too exciting…but also too easy to pass up.

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    hotrodder January 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Dave was doing 60mph drafting the Cinzano truck with nothing more than a Campy cap for protection in the movie “Breaking Away”.

    Advantage: The Americans.

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    kittens January 20, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Just because a brand new bike doesn’t disintegrate after one day doesn’t mean it is a sound investment

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    Al Dimond January 20, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    I would never have thought to get into mountain biking had someone not abandoned a department-store mountain bike in my backyard (missing a seat, and with a rusted chain). In my case it was an old Magna with way-off-brand components. It had non-indexed thumb shifters… which, really, just saved me the frustration of trying to adjust them precisely. Of course, my own skill was more a limitation than the bike, both in riding and maintenance. One of the true virtues of bicycles is that they can be had cheap.

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    Dan A January 21, 2016 at 8:07 am

    The video of the cyclist behind the bus was filmed by the driver. Thumbs down.

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    Spenzor January 21, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I think I side with Al on this. It’s unfortunate that some people live their lives thinking that riding a 35 lb Walmart tank down a narrow shoulder is as good as biking gets. But when I was 6 years old my dad wasn’t going to drive 90 miles and spend $600 to get me a bike for x-mas.

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