Urban Velo

Mongoose Cachet Review – $150 Walmart Bike

Those decrying the Mongoose Cachet, a $150 complete bike available through Walmart, as the end times for the fixed gear and urban scene are missing the point besides not being very mindful of recent history. Case in point—the first bike to get me in the woods was a Huffy White Heat back in the early 90’s when I was about 12 years old and when mountain bikes were really first entering the public consciousness, ushering in a late 90’s-00’s boom that has yet to bust. Hardly marking the end of an era, this could mark the real beginning. Countless kids now have a bike within reach that looks cool to them and may just hook them for life.

Back to that point, by not trying to be anything it isn’t this bike ends up looking better than some other color-matched bikes out there costing 10x as much. The black and white is simple and not overwhelming, with the stickers applied over the paint and just aching to be peeled off.

The parts are far nicer than I at first pictured, and arguably nicer than some of the $250 level bike shop singlespeeds that exist. The aluminum frame and steel fork seem good enough, and feature a 1″ threaded headset as expected. The stem and bars are aluminum, with particularly cheap single pivot caliper brakes and steel three-piece cranks. The wheels are the real showcase part, with a deep section rim with machined sidewalls and a wear indicator, and 48-hole Quando branded flip/flop hubs. Yes, that’s a real-deal fixed hub featuring a reverse thread lockring. No cog—you’ll have to visit a bike shop if you want to go fixed. The 44×18 single speed gearing even makes sense for most city riding, and the metal caged pedals and plastic clips are a nice touch. It even has new-school looking BMX grips and a chain tensioner on the drive side. Whoever spec’d this bike was doing their homework, and aside from the brake calipers leaves little to be desired considering the price.

One size fits most, if you’re looking at the Cachet you’d best hope the solidly “medium” sized frame fits. The top tube is about 55cm long, with a 51cm c-t seat tube and a 32.5″ standover height in the center of the top tube. It may not be an ideal fit, but people from roughly 5’5″ to 6’0 can likely ride the bike reasonably comfortably as long as they can safely stand over the bike. The bike has middle of the road geometry—long 440mm chainstays handle comfortably while a 290mm high bottom bracket prevents pedal strikes. I’m unsure of the exact head and seat angles, but it honestly doesn’t matter at this price level as long as the bike rides as it should. There is nothing extraordinarily good or bad to report about the ride—it goes where you point it, the wheel doesn’t feel like it wants to flop over, at no point does the bike feel unpredictable. Convinced the end is nigh? Further evidence—remove the brakes and the Mongoose Cachet has clearance for barspins.

Much is being made about the quality of the bike out of the box, and in fact our bike shipped with the incorrect size seatpost. While this bike is certainly of about the lowest quality anyone should consider riding, the condition of the bike out of the box speaks more of the big-box model of selling disassembled bikes than anything else. Shop quality bikes routinely arrive with incorrect parts, items broken in shipping and components completely out of adjustment. Part of the premium shop price is paying for the knowledge to spot and fix these problems before the consumer has a chance to realize they exist. The Cachet needed some fine tuning and routine brake adjustments like anything else, but I’d question the ability of someone with limited bike knowledge to get the Cachet working to its potential.

The bike is what it is—the absolute entry level single speed road bike you can get. In my opinion the fact that it looks “cool” and reflects the past 5 years worth of trends in city riding is more a statement on the growth and staying power of urban cycling than anything else. Getting new people hooked on bikes is a good thing, and the Cachet may be the first ticket for a lot of them. For too long bikes in this price range have been clunky mountain-bike-like bikes that were so full of bells and whistles that no matter how much you worked on them they were barely tolerable to ride. By keeping it simple the Cachet overcomes that problem and actually has the potential to encourage people to ride more rather than less. If you’re looking at the bike from the perspective of someone with $300 carbon shoes prepare to be full of criticisms. Don’t get me wrong—it is cheap, parts will break if you ride it hard or for lots of miles, no matter how well it is adjusted it will never ride as well as higher quality bikes. But keeping in mind that it is $150 for the entire bike and the potential to deliver a good time on two wheels to more people I must say I’m impressed.

89 Comments

  1. ChdotApril 14, 2010 at 8:11 am

    It will be interesting to see what people think. In the UK there is concern about “bikes in boxes” being sold by non bike shops to people who don’t know who to set them up – forks on backwards etc!

    “In defence of cheap bikes”

    http://citycyclingedinburgh.info/bbpress/topic.php?id=660

  2. gwadzillaApril 14, 2010 at 8:11 am

    nice review…

    an honest perspective

    personally I have felt that the low end market box store bike had been misleading their consumers for years with FAUX SHOCKS on entire bikes that cost far less than your average bike shop bike’s front shock alone

    this bike could be the break through for this market

    simple and clean

    function over FAUX

    nice review
    you were honest and true

    150 Bucks?
    what do you want for nothing? A RUBBER BISCUIT?

  3. ChdotApril 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

    sorry – who = how!

  4. Ghost RiderApril 14, 2010 at 8:38 am

    You raise some good points and your review is honest. Bravo!

    Plenty of people will scoff at such a bike, of course…but screw them. If a bike like this gets more people hooked on cycling, I’m cool with that.

  5. josieApril 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I wonder how long it will take me to snap the head tube off. However I am glad it exists. Just goes to show road cycling is growing in the U.S.

  6. Cyclin' MissyApril 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I agree with you. If the bike works, ride it. And I actually think the look is nice.

    Jot a jab at you at all, but I had to chuckle slightly at the 5th photo down. The front wheel is turned backwards!

    Thanks for a more positive perspective on the Cachet!

  7. Joe PeraltaApril 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I wish ‘em luck, and at $150 it might be just the bait to show people one of the excellent internal-geared commuter bikes is worth $400. That’s what I’d like to see at Wal-Mart, with a good rack and Slimed tubes.

    FYI, MTBs were getting the public’s attention away back in the ’70s, with feature articles on the klunker scene in Marin County appearing in magazines like Outside and Mariah. They went mass-market as least as early as ’84, with models from Schwinn and Bridgestone. My Bad Road Betsy’s an ’84 Schwinn High Sierra, still taking incredible knocks.

  8. Fatty McBastardApril 14, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Brad, I’ve agreed with you since this bike hit the web. This is the bast thing that could have happened for the walmart bike shopper. It gives people another option instead of the non-functioning full squish mtb or the baloon tire beach cruiser. This is efficient transportation. Who knows the simplicity of it may even encourage people to try to fix or adjust their own bike instead of throwing it away and getting another one. At the very least, this is a much better invitiation to people to get out and ride a bike on the streets than a knobby tired 50lb full suspension boat anchor.

  9. JohnApril 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Great review!

    thanks,however I would like to point out that walmart and other box stores have been selling single speeds forever. Just not in the “new urban chic style”.

    The single speed was invented before the multi speed. Old people like me only had single speeds as our first bikes, In fact mine was a belt driven single speed. This is not intended as a slam…just trying to add perspective.

  10. Tony BullardApril 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    @Cyclin’ Missy : “but I had to chuckle slightly at the 5th photo down. The front wheel is turned backwards!”

    It’s to show that it has clearance for bar spins. Completely intentional. Notice the paragraph right next to the picture.

  11. erokApril 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

    i’m amused at the radial lacing of the front wheel. how much did you have to straighten the wheels before putting them on?

  12. John CalettiApril 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

    It would be interesting to see what you could find like this at a real bike shop. As you point out, the quality and functionality is related to the quality of the complete bike assembly, and a bike shop assembly would add a lot of value. Do real bike shops sell this model as well as Wally World?

  13. ZEROApril 14, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Well that is fine but don’t be surprised if on your way downhill the bike splits in two, or the fork decides to go the wrong way and you end up in the ER.
    Everyone wants dirt cheap stuff. Yes Toyota cars are very cheap, but when is the last time you heard BMW recall any of their product? Cheap food, cheap cars and cheap bikes are great but they are not for the health conscious.

  14. Urban Velo reviews the $150 Mongoose Cachet from Walmart | Doobybrain.comApril 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    [...] you were wondering how this bike performs and comes out of the box, Urban Velo has your answer. They managed to get their hands on one of the budget-priced bikes for review and for the most part they say that this could be the bike that gets people hooked on [...]

  15. ClockcycleApril 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    +1 Couldn’t agree more. Affordable alternative to the clunker MTB. More riders actually riding, yes!

    @erok According to other reviews, the wheels come true.

  16. I was 12 once...April 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I have great memories of getting a Fuji S10S many decades ago. It’s nice to hope there will be lots of kids fondly remembering their Mongoose Cachet come 2050.

  17. FacemanApril 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    In my experience with working on big box store bikes this one looks better than others. I volunteer at a community bike shop and there are a lot of wal-targ-k-mart mountain bikes that come through. All needing a lot of work because of their super cheap parts. This just simplifies everything, less cheap components to break/bend/mangle. If it gets more people on bikes, I am all for it. Especially if the bikes don’t make the trip to my community shop; other than for minor repairs.

  18. Ghost RiderApril 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    @ZERO,

    you want BMW recalls? Here you go: http://www.automotive.com/new-cars/recalls/01/bmw/index.html

    Many companies issue recalls — they just don’t make the news like Toyota’s unfortunate missteps.

    All that being said, these Mongooses are cheap, yes — but many other bikes on the market are made of much the same stuff and they’re wildly more expensive…remember that you’re paying a (steep) premium for a name in a lot of cases.

  19. JustinApril 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Ha, I had a Huffy White Heat too!

    Nice review. A good (read: smart) part spec is key to any low-end bike and it does seem like they made some sound choices.

  20. samApril 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I’m considering getting one of these for when I know I’ll have to park for a long time and not just for enjoying the ride. having a $150 bike stolen isn’t so bad as having a $1500 bike stolen.

    talking about first bikes, I remember my first bike, it was a western auto 10 speed! inexpensive bike, but that thing was tough and took all the abuse I could throw at it. quite a few laps around the neighborhood, jumping off of curbs and the like. if this thing is as solid as that old bike was, well, it’ll be a winner, and while it won’t gain respect from bike snobs, it’ll do the job of moving people around very well.

  21. billyApril 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    A friend of mine bought a Wal-Mart Mongoose bike (I don’t think it was this one) for about $150 a few months back. After having issues with the wheel, tire, and then when a pedal snapped off on him mid-ride, he returned it.

    I have no problem with getting a cheap bike on the market and I don’t much care about what’s “cool”, but you need to make damn sure these things are built well enough to be safe to ride or you’re doing more harm than good. Personally I’m not sure they are.

  22. BrianApril 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Surprised that no one is mentioning CHEAP-ASS POLO BIKE WITH 48-SPOKE WHEELS!!! You can’t even buy a separate set of 48-spoke wheels for the price of that whole bike!

  23. RaiynApril 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I remain unconvinced.
    To tell the truth, I feel my 39 year old POS (looking) Schwinn Varsity beater is far better than Wally World’s attempt to co-opt the hipsters and I’ve spent right around the same amount for it and some replacement parts. To me this isn’t about “getting asses in the saddle” as much as it is Wally World “selling the emos some crap”. Back in the day, big box stores used to sell decent quality bikes that would put this BSO to shame. Sears had a pretty good line and I even had a hand-me-down Schwinn knock-off ten speed from Coast to Coast (long defunct hardware store chain) that lasted through many years of use and abuse.

    No sir, I don’t like it, nor will I say anything good about it.

    @ Sam
    Funny you should mention Bike Snob(s) I found his review much more telling than Brad’s “try to say something nice” approach. Calling this a good bike is like calling Sarah Palin intelligent, I just don’t buy it.

  24. GaryApril 14, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    My frist mountain bike was a huffy white heat also. it was white with cool black paint splaters, and a neon yellow fork. it also had awesome brake lever sheilds like a dirt bike. i cant believe anyone else had one.

  25. FixedApril 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Honestly, with my stature, I’d worried about the quality of the welds…

  26. DevinApril 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    POLO LOANER! No derailleur to trash, no crappy falcon 7 speed freewheel, double wall rims, and an equiv rear hub would run you $50+ at nashbar. The entire wheelset would run close to this just for the cheapest 48h hubs, aluminum v rims, and 96 spokes you cold find.

    Wish this had canti mounts, many BSOs have J brakes that work and stop very well, that would make this an even better polo ride.

    In my experience at the local community bike shop cheap 1 speed freewheels are way more durable than the multispeeds. Falcon 5 and 7 speeds are notoriously crappy, but the BMX style tend to be solid.

  27. CrisApril 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Ha ha…I honestly found out about this from my hipster friends who were freaking out that this would be the end of the world as they know it! I don’t ride a fixed gear, I ride a 1980′s Univega, but my friends were blogging about this new addition to Wal-Mart from the second they heard about it. I am not a fan of Wal-Mart, but I will admit that my first bike was not from a bike shop. I think it was from Target. People, calm down.

  28. TerryApril 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    A ridable, low cost bike? Seems like a good idea to me.

  29. CarlosApril 14, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Simple is definitely better. For years I have shook my head in utter disgust at the overdressed heaps that dangle from the racks in Walmart, K Mart or Costco. Is it a bike I’d own? No. Is it an improvement over what the public has been force fed by the discount retailers? Absolutely.

  30. KiloApril 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Looks like a new polo bike to me!

  31. MikeyApril 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I agree with some other on here.. the welds look suspect and I fully expect it to fall apart after a month or two of moderate riding. Bike Snobs review was much more telling of the possible future dangers and failures that await with this bike.

    BUT… anyone who has tried to sell a “fixie” or fixed gear parts on craigslist or something similar knows that all these emo kids have is a few buck saved up and they fully expect to buy you’re quality used parts for pennies.. now when one emails me saying.. “can I have the whole bike for like.. $130?? I’m only 16 and that’s all I have. ” instead of telling them to go F#$* themselves I can now tell them to go to Walmart. (and Walmart will do the F#$^ing)

    While make times you are paying for a label… after a certain point, you’re going to get what you pay for.

  32. ChdotApril 15, 2010 at 1:37 am

    In the UK we have always been led to believe that US consumer and safety regulations are quite stringent.

    If mass produced bikes are sold with defective parts/welds why isn’t more done? Or is that riding such bikes ‘normally’ – over kerbs etc. – is considered to be abuse?

    Falcon 5 speeds were rubbish 30 years ago. I’m (a bit) surprised they haven’t got any better!

  33. MikeyApril 15, 2010 at 1:42 am

    @Chdot. you are correct in the assumption that riding over curbs and potholes and doing wheelies and barspins would absolutely be considered abuse in terms of these stores.

    Many of their “Mountain bikes” actually have stickers on them saying that they are not meant for “offroad riding”. Then what are the knobbies and shocks on there for?? Your guess is as good as mine.

  34. JohnApril 15, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Walmart probably locks up their “associates” in the back room to assemble these bikes so they don’t have to pay overtime.

  35. timmyleesixxApril 15, 2010 at 7:41 am

    very good objective review.
    based on all of the comments people are certainly talking about it.
    a bike like this won’t break your heart when it gets stolen or hit by a car like something much more expensive. the wheelset alone might be worth a buck fifty.
    thanks for the review and comments.

  36. timmyleesixxApril 15, 2010 at 7:46 am

    just checked available quantity on walmart.com… sold out.

  37. PaulApril 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

    haters will hate, but my first mountain bike was some crazy contraption from walmart, it broke in half the second i went offroad on it, but i was hooked and bought my first real bike a week later.

    the same will certainly hold true for others, and if walmart’s peddling a ridable bike for $150, then all i have to say is finally.

  38. FixedApril 15, 2010 at 10:52 am

    ^Paul plus many others do have a point…

    Mongoose Cachet, the gateway bike…

  39. A Good Review of the Mongoose Cachet | Fixed Gear Bicycles For SaleApril 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    [...] find that sort of thing with everything though, this is nothing new.  Anyways, the guys at urban velo gave a pretty in depth and honest review of the Cachet.  I know people will out there will [...]

  40. igoApril 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the review. I was really hoping to see a review of this bike once I heard the news. Lets see:

    Flip Flop Hub – check
    Removible Stickers – check
    Barspinable – check

    This is so much better then a $150 40pound wal-mart dual suspension mountain bike.

  41. Greg2wheelsApril 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    You guys are funny worrying about the frame! If there is one thing you don’t worry much about on department store bikes it is the frame; When weight is not the consideration, the tubes are thick and straight gauge, when is the last time anyone broke a head tube off a fixie that was not asking to break the headtube off a fixie? What are you going to do, back flip on it? I would look at it this way: You just bought a pair of wheels and got a bunch of free stuff with it. Did no one notice the SEALED beaings?? You don’t get that on a $150.00 pair of wheels anywhere. So buy the wheels, keep the parts, or better yet, put a better crank on it, and off you go.

  42. bucklesApril 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I cant imagine this getting anyone into cycling. If anything it is likely to turn people away from bicycles all together. So you get a crappy mongoose that was never set up right, that is going to fall apart after a handful of rides and will cost more to fix than it is worth. That is only going to reinforce the idea that bikes are just pre-driver license disposable toys. Nowadays there are loads of bike shops that specialize in quality used bikes….bikes that will actually last many seasons and can be repaired for the same price or very close. This is probably the worst thing since track bikes with riser bars….

  43. JameswApril 17, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Brad,
    Where do you get the idea that shop bikes come with mis-sized parts and missing pieces? I think you are doing a disservice to the IDB by claiming that the bikes they get are things that they have to piece together due to production oversights and shipping issues. None of us sell these inexpensive bikes. They do give some people access to a “bikw that looks cool to them” but in reality the best options for them are bikes they think are too expensive. The bike is interesting but lauding it as a portend of the future…maybe not.

  44. bradApril 17, 2010 at 12:49 amAuthor

    I know that there is a high rate of out of box warranty parts on bike shop quality bikes from first hand experience building bikes at a major brand concept store. I do not make things up.

    I was honestly surprised at the number of warranty problems on relatively high dollar bikes out of the box. I’d estimate that 1 in 20, or 5%, needed replacement parts of some sort before being ready for the showroom floor.

  45. Brian G.April 17, 2010 at 9:10 am

    We got our first one in the shop the other day. Dude clearly wasn’t a “cyclist” and was curious about a $150 bike. He said why not and pulled the trigger online (we don’t have Wally World here in NYC).

    Case in point about getting more people in the saddle. Dude was stoked to be riding and I could easily see that this bike could be the gateway drug for him.

    Except he DIDN’T get to ride it.

    The nondrive cup was cross threaded into the frame and was sticking out about 1.5 centimeters beyond the BB shell because of it. His freewheel was also incorrectly installed. It was not properly aligned to the hub and was threaded on at an angle. So much so that the bottom of the freewheel was rubbing on the drop out.

    Bike was dead out of the box.

    His solution was to drive to NJ, return it, buy another one, and get the free assembly offered by all WallMart stores.

    I shuddered. To have a bike assembled by someone who also sells dish towels is a god awful scenario.

    It seems like a whole lot to go through for something that clearly wasn’t going to last more than six months, even if it was properly assembled. He is going to go through this huge hassle for a bike that he would eventually fall out of love with. Trip after trip to the bike shop. Trip after trip to the ATM. Eventually, he will give up on it. He’d be stuck with that experience in his mind. Possibly so frustrated with the whole ordeal that he would throw his hands up with the whole scene.

    My opinion: thumbs down. The bike supports a big box store and not a LBS. It supports a throw away mentality and not a renew reuse recycle mind set. Convenience, unfortunately, trumps quality.

    He could have walked out of my shop with a schweet Schwinn for $200. Made in America. Steel. Shop warranty. Boom Boom and Boom.

    It gets people in the saddle, yeah, but are bikes really that inaccessible that it takes WallMart to give them to the masses? Should they be given that responsibility?

  46. MikeyApril 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Absolutely, after a certain point inexpensive turns to cheap (read crap). There are a few options out there around $200-$250 at a lbs that are A LOT better than this and worth every penny. Saving an extra $50 is not worth it in cases like this. Think about it.. if the wheelset is worth (AT MOST) $150, how much is the rest of the bike worth..? BTW.. I’m sure really cheap sealed bearings (probably not meant for bikes) are a lot cheaper than having someone (or even a machine) assemble ball bering hubs in this case.

    Either way, these kids don’t have a lot of money and price is the number one deciding factor. I just hope that it is a gateway to a better bike and not a gateway “never buying another bike”. Too bad people can’t be a little more patient and just save up a few more bucks for a bike they can use longer, possibly even sell when they move on to a new one.

  47. Beginner CyclingApril 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    This is a fairly new product to Wal-Mart, and it will be interesting to watch the reviews on their website over the next 6 months. I’m a cheapskate and research about any item over $100 that I buy (and many under $100), and in the process of shopping for bikes for me and my young son I read a lot of Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, etc. reviews. After reading them, I opted to buy from my LBS.

    Its amazing how many reviews mention defects in these cheap bikes, either on-arrival or within the first few rides (sometimes causing injuries). Many mention significant bike-shop repairs to get them to work right. Time will tell if the same is true for the Cachet.

    Getting more people on bicycles is great, but I’m betting most people would be better off spending a little bit more (or buying used). After all, your safety, time and aggravation are worth something.

  48. SteveApril 18, 2010 at 6:53 am

    For people that call this bike dangerous, which it may very well be, can you suggest some other choinces say for $200 to $250? I guess we can always go used.

    Getting back into riding after doing freestyle many years before XGames existed, I and everyone one I knew rode single speed. Obviously, my generation grew up and didn’t want to deal with gears. Nothing chic about it. I’m actually open to gears and or jet power to get me up a hill these days.

  49. Joe PeraltaApril 18, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Shopping at Wal-Mart in NYC is like going Italian at the Olive Garden, but the guy isn’t giving up, so he probably has what it takes to see it through.

    Learning to get around on a bike is like learning to sail after a life in push-button power boats. The simpler and less intimidating the experience is, the better, so this single-speed has a chance to do some good.

    Wal-Mart serves a lot of places and people, and they’re murder on their suppliers to do decent quality cheap – unlike some of their competition. If the supplier screws up, they’ll sort it out.

    But it’s always 10% bike and 90% how you ride it. I’ve seen maybe 12 people riding around my little patch of Arizona the last 6 months, but 3 in the news, 2 fatal. Cheap bikes and new blood?

  50. Beginner CyclingApril 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    @Steve: It depends on how you are wanting to ride, but since you say you’re open to gears (or jets) I’ll assume you’re looking more for function than fashion.

    As far as local bike store (LBS) prices your choices may be limited — I’ve had good experiences with Giant bikes and think you might find a Giant Sedona ST or a Giant Cypress ST close to the high end of your range at a LBS. You might be able to find a Specialized Carmel around that price.

    Along the same comfort/hybrid theme, you might consider a Diamondback Wildwood from Amazon, Sports Authority or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

    If you are looking for a mountain bike, you’d probably be o.k. with a Fuji in that range from Performance Bike. (Performance Bike also has a sale on an SE Racing fixed speed right now.) You might also consider some of the Diamondback mountain/path bikes like the Sorrento or Outlook. If you could go a little higher, perhaps a Trek 820 or a Giant Boulder from your LBS.

    Hope this helps!
    Rob

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