A green bike

New bike
(Is it green? Yes, very.)

Six years ago, I bought a $360 entry-level "hybrid" bike from a local bike shop. This weekend, I decided to step up to the next level... by buying a $200 big-box bike from Target. Wait, what?

When I bought my last bike, I knew almost nothing about bikes, went into a shop armed with only a little research, and walked out with something. It was a decent quality bike, but there were lots of things I ultimately didn't like about it. It was billed as a "hybrid" bike, but it would be hard to explain how it was different from a mountain bike. The handlebars were way too high and I didn't like the curve of them. (The stem was adjustable, and I eventually did lower it down, but that brought it very far forward.) It was quite heavy. The tires were very wide and very knobby. I didn't like the front fork suspension. It was very high up and the seatpost had its own suspension which took up a lot of space, and as a result the lowest possible position of the saddle was the bare minimum acceptable for me. And while it had a partial chain guard, I never used the front high or low gear.

None of these downsides by themselves were terrible, and I told myself I wouldn't use them as an excuse to not ride, and I wouldn't address them until I had been riding more. Well, I didn't ride much until about the last year, and in particular I've been riding at least three times per week throughout the spring, so recently I decided to look around.

I ruled out new bikes as I didn't want to spend more than about $400. Last weekend was Earth Day, and I biked to the celebration downtown, where the local Kiwanis bike group had brought their inventory. Some of the bikes looked good, but didn't satisfy everything I wanted. I was planning on continuing looking for used bikes (I had not yet visited the Reno Bike Project), but this weekend somehow ended up on Target's site. There they had a Schwinn Median bike which looked good on paper:

  • Lighter and lower
  • 700c wheels
  • Tires are wider than a road bike, but narrower than a mountain bike (700x38), and are semi-slick (or at least not as knobby as a mountain bike)
  • 7-speed, no front derailleur, and the front chainwheel is recessed into a nice chain guard area
  • Mostly flat handlebars
  • $200

I found a review of the Schwinn Median which says, "Never has bike had a more appropriate name. It occupies the exact space of crossover between mountain bike, road bike and cruiser." Given the specs, that is quite accurate, and is almost exactly what I was looking for.

The one at the store was decently assembled, so I bought it. I spent some time adjusting the derailleur and brakes, but the rest of the components were decently aligned and tight. I transfered over the lights, rack and saddle from the old bike, and have been enjoying it.

I still have the old bike, but it's been downgraded to "Burning Man bike" status.

(N.B.: San Francisco's Bike to Work Day is this Thursday.)

Now, I'm sure I just spat in Bike Church. I bought a big-box bike as an upgrade, and I'm happy about it? Heresy! To which I reply, meh. There was one bike which happened to satisfy my personal checklist, and it happened to have the name "Schwinn" on it, and was likely assembled by a teenager. The frame is fine. The components are good. The gear system is acceptable. It feels comfortable. And it was priced decently.

I should point out that's not guaranteed to always be the case. I'd consider myself firmly a bicycle semi-amateur these days, so I at least knew what to look for. Interestingly, while the Schwinn Median has probably sold about a million bikes, there's not much mention of it online. One of the top results is a blog post by a family showing it off, where the pictures clearly show the front fork was attached backwards.

(N.B.: There is actually a forum dedicated to discussing bikes from big-box stores.)

3 thoughts on “A green bike”

  1. Thanks for the post. Thinking about getting this same bike from a craigslist ad. This private-seller has it brand new (make me wonder how he got it?) Anyway, I like the idea of this bike, single chain-ring, 700c , lightweight frame ect. I was wondering what type of rack you have on the back? If I get this bike, i'll be doing long Rails-to-Trails rides and will want to have a rack and panniers- gotta have water and Cliff Bars. I zoomed in on your pic and it seems like there are attachment holes in the dropouts but no braze ons on the chainstays. Looks like you have the top of the rack attached to the seatpost? If you could tell me the name/type of rack I would be greatly appreciative.


    1. Wow!!! What are the odds of that? I stumbled across this page after viewing a Craigslist ad in Sacramento. Someone has a Schwinn "Medina" (misspelled) for sale for the reasonable price of $100.
      For some reason, it wasn't easy to find. Listed 9 hours ago, but i didn't find it until I typed in my 3rd search phrase. But wait... That's not all- this seller ALSO has theirs listed as "new with tags"! Crazy right?

  2. I recently bought this green machine off of craigslist in brand new condition for only 40 bucks. Been riding it 6 miles everyday since, i love just about every quality of this bike. The guy was 6'3 too tall im 5 eleven and its a perfect fit, this thing is fast and really grips the road. Hopefully nobody mistakes it for a high dollar bike and cuts my lock. Anyway cant wait for morning ride.

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