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I live 7.2 miles from where I work and was rebuilding my life, so no car. I was walking to work everyday until my son took me to Wal-Mart and said I was getting a bike. I picked out a Kent 26 Bayside 7-speed cruiser. I am 5ft 9in tall, 225 lbs and generally a big stocky guy. Aside from taking a turn too fast in the middle of the night, and having to carry the bike 4 miles home, I have not had too much trouble, but the bike is no longer shifting to all the gears, and when in the highest gear, 7th, the chain slides off the front cog.

I made some adjustments, not knowing what the adjustments actually did, and the derailleur ripped off the hanger. No damage to chain or cogs, but when I replaced the derailleur, it does the same thing as the first one did. The guys at the bike shop said I am using the wrong bike because the trails I have to take to get to work are more mountain bike trails.

I guess, the heart of my question is, with proper maintainence and adjustment, can this bike carry me or do I really have to get another bike? I have no clue why the chain comes off the front cog when the bike is in the higher gears, it did not used to do that, but I do know I am hard on the thing.

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    Good work cutting the car out of your life - they're not mandatory. You're doing great - keep it up. – Criggie Jul 21 at 0:19
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    I hated everything that went with owning a car, you know? And I have to work, so I have to get to work. But I have gotten addicted. even riding on my days off just as far if not farther, lol – Loren Stevenson Jul 21 at 1:28
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Whether the cruiser style bike is suitable for the 'mountain bike trails' you are riding on really depends on exactly what those trails are like. The cruiser has pretty big tires so it should be able to handle rough surfaces just fine. If you are riding those trails and it feels OK, then it's OK.

Cheap bikes from big-box stores with Shimano 'Tourney' level components are not known for durable and reliable drive trains that will work every single day. If you want to try to make it work, learn how rear derailleurs are adjusted, it's not super complicated. Basically there are upper and lower limits that stop the derailleur pushing the chain off the sprockets, and an indexing adjustment that positions the chain correctly for each gear.

To address the issues you are having, have a bike shop check your derailleur cage alignment. The derailleur hanger can get bent which messes up how the derailleur feeds the chain onto the sprockets. This may be why you are can't shift into all gears and the chain is coming off.

Lastly, don't forget the shift cable and housing. If these get dirt inside them or damaged they can prevent proper shifting.

If you are going to get a different bike, invest in one from a proper bike shop with better components, or look for a better quality used bike.

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    The* derailleur, I went on my lunch and adjusted it, the chain does not jump off now. – Loren Stevenson Jul 20 at 20:22
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    "[derailleur adjustment is] not super complicated." Maybe not for you. I have a hard time of it. Especially as I don't have a bike stand. For a first time bike owner trying to tune up a Walmart bike, I wouldn't consider it easy. – Henry A. Kissinger Jul 20 at 20:27
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    @HenryA.Kissinger I don't disagree with your perspective. I'd say the concept is not complicated (only 3 things to adjust) but the execution can certainly be difficult. – Argenti Apparatus Jul 20 at 20:35
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    I found that a 16 minute video on Youtube explained it to me well enough I was able to go out and fix the chain issue in about 10 minutes, but that was after the answer I got from Argenti and looking up the video and I just replaced the derailleur last night because it ripped off the hanger. Did not mention in the original post because I was getting the same results with both derailleurs. – Loren Stevenson Jul 20 at 22:06
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    @LorenStevenson there is a reason why Walmart-type bikes are often called 'bike shaped objects' (or BSO). It may be suited to your needs, but if you enjoy riding and find yourself doing it many times a week including your off days, Argenti's advice to get one from an actual bike shop or a good used bike is spot on. You don't have to (or even should) go for the high end stuff, but a few hundred bucks can get you a bike that will, with proper servicing, serve you for decades, feel much better to ride and, most importantly, can be trusted to not fall apart on the first pothole ;) – user622505 Jul 21 at 6:58
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First of all: congrats for being able to commute 7+ miles by that bike.

Second: when thinking about buying a bike, there are only two factors to consider: fitting and components. From what I can read, you are very happy about the fitting of your bike, but you have some doubts about the components.

Walmart bikes are at the bottom line regarding price, but they aren't even fairly priced: a bike like yours from a major brand (Trek, Giant and so on) may cost 3 or 4 times what you paid, but it will be AT LEAST 3 or 4 times easier to pedal AND 3 or 4 times easier to mantain. So, if you are enjoying your current bicycle, you will be in love with a better bike.

Probably you already paid your Kent cruiser back (15 miles per day, per 20 days) in a month, with respect to your car.

So, financially you are good to go (or you know you will be soon), you can think about spending something more for a new bike. Your current bike components will be a nightmare of maintenance and adjustment, if you plan to commute that distance. One may think about replacing all of them with better components ... if you dig into this, you will soon discover that it is easier and cheaper to find a bike with almost the same fitting, but better components. I will leave in the comments some bike models that may be of your interest and you may be able to test at local shops).

  • From big manufacturers: Giant giant-bicycles.com/us/simple-seven-2015 Trek electrabike.com/bikes/cruiser or electrabike.com/bikes/townie smaller manufacturers: Polygon polygonbikes.com/bike-category-urban – EarlGrey Jul 23 at 11:32
  • "a bike like yours from a major brand (Trek, Giant and so on) [...] will be AT LEAST 3 or 4 times easier to pedal" Sorry but that's nonsense. Even cheap bikes are mechanically very efficient and, even up a steep hill, the difference between a heavy bike and a light bike is small compared to the weight of the rider. And Tourney isn't that bad. It's perfectly functional. – David Richerby Jul 23 at 12:03
  • But I am not discussing weight, nor the Tourney: it is not known to me that the bike in discussion here has a Tourney Shimano (I doubt) nor that the bike in question weights more than others. Even a poorly assembled Titanium speed-lite with poorly assembled wheel hubs and a poorly fitting bottom brackets will become a maintenance nightmare and it will be hard to pedal around. – EarlGrey Jul 23 at 14:48
  • You said "AT LEAST 3 or 4 times easier". That's nonsense. – David Richerby Jul 23 at 15:00
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    I really think the biggest issue is that the people putting it together barely did that. Most of the components were loose, and it shifted perfect the first week, but after that it would not go in second or fifth anymore, then the shimano tourney derailleur ripped off the hanger. – Loren Stevenson Jul 23 at 18:26

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