My name is Paul and I am a mountain bike punter. An averagely skilled mountain biker who just so happens to live in the best place for mountain biking in the world – British Columbia, Canada. Specifically Squamish. With more than 150 bike trails on my doorstep and the best bike park in the world just up the road – I’m pretty spoilt for choice!
Not only that but I am also lucky enough to have a few mountain bikes at my disposal. With Carbon Frames, High-Quality Suspension and powerful disc brakes, I’ve never had it better when it comes to riding. But what if I took all that away? What if I tried to ride Whistler Mountain Bike Park on the Cheapest bike available to me? I thought I would give it a go and see what happens.
It all started with a trip to everyone’s favourite rental program – Walmart. Unfortunately, the North Vancouver location didn’t have what I was looking for, and while the nearby Canadian Tire did have a wide selection – with some low priced models having such “super modern” features like an a-headset and front disc brake – the returns and warranty policy didn’t really suit my needs.
Surprisingly I didn’t even need to go that far! In Squamish’s own store we found the ideal Huffy full suspension mountain bike – it even had 27.5 wheels! And well…the lady at the counter gave me the kind of reassurance you would hope for from your nearest retailer…
After checking the bike out, I didn’t think things would go to badly! Wind back the clocks 20 years and things like V-brakes, Shimano Gears, rear coil suspension, a front suspension fork and indexed shifting would have been enough to ride anything! The welds, on the other hand, didn’t really fill me with too much confidence.
Now I did decide to draw the line at the plastic pedals, if I had my favourite DMR Vaults on I figured I’d be more comfortable and slightly reduce my risk of crashing.
Look, I didn’t want to go crazy on a black diamond trail to start off with. B-line is most riders’ first trail in Whistler and is filled with berms and is pretty smooth and flowy. Well…on a bike with working suspension at least.
Crank It Up is definitely a way faster speed, but I thought I’d try a bit harder than the 1st lap and hit some of the features. With wall rides, table tops and other jumpable features – I really was surprised when nothing bad happened.
OK, so it survived crank it up. Might as well try a black rated trail now. With rock slabs and some faster speeds, Whistler Downhill is actually one of my normal warm-up trails on my downhill bike – but the Walmart Bike made it quite a different experience.
With Heart of darkness being the final trail of this lap, I almost couldn’t believe that the bike had survived yet another trip down the mountain – even ending with me catching up to some fellow punters.
Something was starting to happen that I didn’t really expect – the bike was outlasting the rider. As you have probably heard, that intense knocking sound is actually the “suspension” and it wasn’t doing very much. Combine this with the 40psi I had in my tires, it was pretty exhausting trying to hold on.
So there it was 3 full laps of whistler bike park. A dropped chain and my rear shock spring coming un-done – is that it? No bent handlebars? No taco’d wheels? Not even a puncture?! I couldn’t believe it. Sure, I hadn’t sent it down at full speed thanks to complete fear – but the Walmart bike had done better than I ever thought. 3 full laps of the world’s roughest bike park – that’s not bad.
Afterwards, there was only one thing to do, see if Walmart would take back the Huffy. With no brake pads left I probably, wouldn’t agree with the ‘Trail Rated’ slogan on the bike. But it did exceed my expectations and, unfortunately for Will’s enjoyment, I ended up in one piece at the end of the day. But still, I wouldn’t recommend you try it for yourself and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon.
Oh, and I got my full refund.