Back in the U.S. we were a bicycle-savvy family. All of us had a bicycle (and sometimes we had one to spare). Marathon and I knew how to adjust brakes, patch tires, etc.

We always laughed at Wal-Mart bikes. "Cheap junker bikes" we said. We always bought from other higher-quality sources.

We hadn't been to Chile back then. In the U.S. the typical Wal-Mart bike costs about a hundred bucks. Here in Chile the bikes sold at Wal-Mart also average about a hundred bucks. The only difference is that the bikes here make U.S. Wal-Mart bikes look like the kind of bikes you'd want to ride across Siberia.

Have you ever heard of the wheel hubs coming loose? Or the crank arm that holds the pedal coming off? What about the little screw that holds the seat post in place stripping it's threads out? These things happened within four months of light use to the bikes we bought shortly after we came here. Guess what... they weren't Wal-Mart bikes. I haven't seen bikes of their quality in Wal-Mart.

We bought two of them, and they costed us just over $150 each. We bought them at a dedicated bike shop. Today, one of them is serving as spare parts for all the stuff that breaks on the other one. We have had to go out and buy multiple higher-quality components.

Whenever I walk though a Wal-Mart here, I drop by the bike section and observe the horrors. I've seen a pedal crank that fell off the bike in the store, a handlebar that had slipped out of the neck, a plastic shifter arm that had snapped off, etc.

These three brands are the most commonly found in Wal-Mart and other similar stores: Opaltech, Sporttech, and Rave. I doubt that you have ever heard of these brands. If you ever see one, don't buy it. The quality level is absolutely atrocious. These bikes are literally a swindle. The ones we bought came with a one-year warranty. After three months, we turned one of them in with a loose hub. The vendor happily put another $1 hub on the bike. Three months later.....