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Is The Walmart Fatbike Really That Bad?

Editor’s Note: After seeing the truly insane hubbub the Walmart fatbike (henceforth referred to as the WalGoose) generated on MTBR, Test Pilot Cale had to have one. So an order was placed and $215 later a green Walgoose was on it’s way to his doorstep. What follows are some initial impressions and a Challenge.

The Walgoose

I got my Walgoose on Friday in an impressively large box (how can Walmart ship this for free and make any money??) It just so happened, that I had a crew of dudes and ladies over at my house who were pretty keen on taking this guy out for a spin so we ripped it out of the box and got to assembling. Ideally that means putting the front wheel on and attaching the handlebars, seat post and pedals, what it really meant was, get out the grease! Everything was bone dry. Wheels, stem headset, BB everything has at best a light oil on it. So after duly greasing everything up and re-assembling she was ready to roll.

No Grease here!

No Grease here!

A few numbers and weights to clear up profound internet confusion.

Frame/Fork/ Headset Weight – 12lb 6oz  – AKA ridiculously heavy – Don’t think you can ever get this thing to be light

Frame Geo and Specs

  • 14″ ST C-T-C
  • 22″ TT C-T-C
  • 71 degree ST angle
  • 72 degree HT angle
  • 28.6 seatpost (with like a mm of slop)
  • 110MM BB shell – good luck replacing that thing without modding the frame.
  • Tires weigh an astounding 6lbs each!
  • Tubes are equally heavy at 1lb 8oz each
  • The wheels are not terrible at 5lb 13oz for the rear and 3lb 10oz for the front
  • The rest of the parts are garbage and not worth weighing.
  • The whole bike does indeed come in at 47lbs and it feels like it!

Testimonials

Once we got it out to the street I had 6 people lined up to ride it 3 ladies and 3 guys (I swear it just worked out that way) Everyone in the group rides bikes and with the exception of one of the ladies everyone is a serious cyclist. Here are a few Selected quotes

“It feels like riding an asthmatic child”

 

“I thought I was a strong rider but this made me feel weak”

 

“No wonder everyone who buys a Walmart bike thinks riding is hard”

 

“The front end must be broken”

 

“I feel like it wants me to crash every time I turn a corner”

 

Yep, its bad. In its out of the box form, it feels like you think a Pugsley would feel just by looking at it – Heavy and slow, like it would be a lot of work to ride. Obviously anyone who has a Fatbike knows this is not true, they are surprisingly light and agile. This thing is the opposite of that, it feels like you are riding something that wants to roll to a stop whenever you stop pedaling. Turning it is downright scary, the steep HT angle and lack of rake on the fork combined with the incredibly heavy wheel setup make it feel like the wheel wants to fold under you anytime you take a turn with a radius tighter than the circumference of the earth. The gearing is 36×18 which is far, far too hard for a bike of this weight. any sort of incline is a massive challenge and actual mountain biking at least on the hills we have here in SoCal would be nigh on impossible.

So was it a waste of $200? That’s probably what you are saying, huh? Not so fast……with Parts Bin Technology.

We can rebuild it!

P1000672

 The Challenge

Its time for a challenge and the timing is perfect. It’s the San Diego Veloswap next weekend. How much better can I make this bike for how cheap? I’ve got a few parts already, a 22t Cog for the rear and some surly tubes that I had been meaning to patch for ages save over a pound over the stock setup already.

P1000680

P1000678

 Stay tuned for part 2 after I scour the parts bins of San Diego and see what I come up with.

 

 

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25 Responses to Is The Walmart Fatbike Really That Bad?

  1. Jerry Smith April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    If you ride it for awhile, I am sure the fork will rake out itself out. haha

  2. Chuck April 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Wait. You cyclists assembled it?
    Just think, without this contamination to your experiment, this bike would have been even worse.
    Next time, have an average Walmart e-shopper (or Walmart employee) put it together for you. Then see how it rides.

  3. Mitch April 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Why would it be so hard to replace the BB? There are plenty of 110mm options available. Maybe I’m missing something…

    • b April 3, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      110mm shell, not spindle length.

  4. Russ April 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Its not time for a rebuild, its time for a trip to the recycling center.

  5. steve o April 3, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Once again you get what you pay for in the cycling world. This p.o.s. is the price of a good tire.

  6. JR Z April 3, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    So is the Rear Hub 135mm centered, something >135, or offset (not likely looking at the lacing)?

  7. Amy A April 3, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    belly hurts from laughing!

  8. Pants and Jacket April 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    $200 for a fat-bike shaped object.

    Wonderful.

  9. Tommy April 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Trying to be as objective as I can here…but I hate this bike and everything about it. Glad to see you guys aren’t praising it. I was worried someone may try to use the whole “it gets people who wouldn’t usually ride fatbikes on fatbikes” argument. This, and more or less all other department store bikes, should all but be outlawed or force to be called something different than “Bicycle.” These stores are flat out scamming people into thinking their crap is what riding a bike feels like.

  10. John Castellari April 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Great review – can’t wait for the rebuild

  11. Mark Peterson April 4, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    It has done one thing for sure. People are talking….

  12. Bob December 16, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    I love seeing disassembled parts on nice light colored carpet. Maybe this just shows how little grease comes on those parts!

  13. KT December 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    The chain guard alone would probably take off 1 lb.
    Now you’re cooking with fire!

  14. Jaso December 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    All I see is that the spokes look like the thinnest dental floss…

  15. Matt November 29, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I’m a human powered mechanical machine enthusiast and I nearly bought one of these Walmart Fat bikes in hopes that I would enjoy pulling my children on their GT snow racer,as we traveled to our favorite winter sledding hill about 5 blocks from our house. I like a riding challenge but not repair bills… think I’ll save up for the real thing.

    Thanks for your honest review!

  16. andy March 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    I remove the tires and put on light weight pugsly tires, I got a mongoose from mc sports. Tubes were very light. I was going to drill 2inch holes in the rims but also very light. I had a salsa mukaluk last year so I knew immediately I had to cut weight. It worked 15lbs lighter.

  17. Caelan July 28, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    I do not want to be the only guy that does, but I like the bike. Everyone notices; and asks me about it. Already plan to put a 48cc motor on it, apehangers, and a few bags. Great bike.

  18. CaptCrunch August 4, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    I tried something similar to what you did .Purchased a Mongoose Hitch bike from Sam’s Club. Nice as it was ,steel 7 speed bike ,but i found the lowest gear would get you in trouble on a steep hill.. Ordered a FSA Comet fat bike crank , 22/36 , Shimano 2 speed Deraileur and 2 speed shifter . Well ,i had a few problems ,bb shell on Mongoose was 110 mm , crankset was 100 mm ,so I had to leave internal tube [grease ?] out and one spacer off ,Chain is fairly close to tire , but works . Deraileur was wrong for this frame , not enough offset to get out over gears , not enough movement in it , so I used an old 3 speed deraileur i had laying around . It has to set at a bit of an angle ,but it also works . Will contact parts seller & get the correct deraileur ,i just got this all together last night . $225 for bike at Sams , $204 for parts [not including deraileur ] Alloy frame 14 speeds go for $2300 around here ..

    • flybywire99 November 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      What area do you live in? For $2300 I can put you on a full carbon frame/fork aero racing bicycle with Shimano 105 components with double chainring and 10 speed gear cluster racing bicycle. for the Fat bike, for $800 I could put you on a 1×9 alloy frame/fork with SRAM x4 shifters and 32 lbs. Much lighter and actually works a lot better than a cobbled together Mongoose hitch. Plus it’s assembled by a skilled builder – who spends 1-2 hours making sure everything is properly assembled and working properly. You also get sizes other than medium and a warranty – free checkups and a knowledgeable person to set the sizing up for you. $2300 for a Fat bike can get you a full carbon bike with Shimano Deore parts.

      • frank February 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

        you dont get it,maybe you can afford 2300 for a bike,most working stiffs cant. I realize too cheap a bike can be a waste of money however there are those of us who actually have used bikes as an affordable means of transport.. laugh@ me if you want but 2300 bucks is just half of what I paid for my car. I the mid 60s we would cobble together bikes from parts from the town dump. If I wanted to go to town I had to walk or ride my bike the 8 miles. I think the new materials and tech are great and I do appreciate the effort people like you put into the sport, thats how advancments come about. Please when you see me riding my sears/walmart/kmart contraption remember at least Im on a bike.

        • Sven Haamer February 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

          I hear you brother! Keep your eyes peeled for a Mongoose Dolomite story coming up.

  19. Steven August 31, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Im trying to find replacement axles and that is proving to be a challenge in itself.

  20. Jose Montoya December 21, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    First of all I been riding for over 20 years and have gone thru many many bikes. I currently have a full carbon full Sram red race machine so I know bikes. I bought the Dolo to train in the winter months on a budget. I upgraded everything but the frame fork and wheels from all the spare parts I have and can honestly say this bike has made it thru heavy snow, thick mud and technical trails almost as good as the guys riding much more expensive bikes. Yes it will wear you down on a long ride and I’m sure I cannot keep up with a super light carbon fatbike just due to the weight of this thing but if your looking just to train and still get into any environment and have tons of fun this is the bike for you. I knew I only needed this thing to get me thru about 2 months of rough weather where I can’t get out in the road which is where my cycling soul is at anyway. Left me with more money to buy more cycling stuff for the other 10 months of the year.

  21. Chip May 12, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    I bought a Hitch to use in a kinetic sculpture project. I am more a former bicyclist than a present rider, and I rode the Hitch regularly for about a month trying to build strength. The Hitch is a mass market, big box store bike. It’s heavy. My wheels with tires mounted weigh about ten pounds, and if you are a cyclist you know that weight at the perimeter of the wheels has a huge influence on ease/difficulty of riding. The whole bike weighed about 42 lbs. I found it big work to pedal the Hitch, but still, a lot of fun. The disk brakes had to be adjusted but worked admirably (I’d never ridden a bike with disk brakes, so I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the breaks worked) I dismantled the head tube while welding to it, and contrary to what others wrote, I found grease on the bearings. Regarding frame geometry, again, I’m not expert, but chalked up the steering characteristics to the ten pound wheels–that’s a lot of centrifugal force that does not want to change it’s plane. I had no problems with the steering, just need to lean the bike. As fitted out for the kinetic sculpture event, the Hitch weighed 125 lbs. Mine has a 7-sprocket freewheel, with gearing adequate to pedal up hills that many entries had to walk, so, IMO, the gearing is adequate. The derailleur/grip shifter are typical of what you find on inexpensive bikes, and if you have ever ridden good bikes, you will hate the inability to shift smoothly through each gear. Especially irksome was the tendency for the bike to upshift if I barely touched the twist shifter. I had to teach myself to ride with a finger beyond the end of the handlebar to avoid inadvertent, momentum draining, upshifts. So, is the Hitch a POS? For the money, it’s okay and about what I expected. It’s not a high-end bike. What did you expect?