Archive for June, 2007


 
 
Okay, I admit it. Maybe it’s crazy for an old guy like me to buy one of these things, but I just couldn’t help it. I’ve wanted one for a long time. Maybe I’m just re-living (or trying to re-capture) my childhood, but WOW, was that first ride ever fun! This thing makes me feel like a kid again!
 
I bought one of the 2006 Repros, & although a lot of people knock ’em, I love it! Yeah, it’s an imported knock-off of an American classic, but still…
 
The bike arrived in an opened, damaged box, but miraculously, it was in perfect condition with no missing parts. Although it required assembly, it was a snap on a simple bike like this! In less than an hour, I was on the road & grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat!
 
Actually, the quality seems pretty decent to me. The welds look good, the metallic purple paint looks FANTASTIC & it rides just like the old originals. A very accurate reproduction, the only noticeable difference being the shape of the rear of the seat & the sissy bar.
 
The bike is actually a little too small for me, as you might guess, but it’s so much fun to ride, I don’t mind being a little cramped on it!
 
Like a lot of people, I owned several of the original Sting Rays when I was a kid, but they were all used. It’s nice after all these years, to FINALLY get that BRAND NEW ONE that I always wanted & never had! Sure, it may never be worth as much as a "real" one, but I’m having fun with it, & in the end, isn’t that what matters?
 
Joey Wallace
 

Review #1 – THE RHOADES CAR

 
 
Okay, let’s tackle this one first. Loads of fun, but pricey & heavy, the Rhoades Car is not for everyone. Weighing in at over 80 pounds (decked out), this baby is built like a tank! The good thing is, of course, it will haul a heck of a load & it’s not easily damaged, by any means.
 
I popped for most of the factory options & then added a few more myself. For me, the 36 speed drivetrain was a no-brainer. In low gear, this thing could climb a tree, but even with this great range of gears, it would take a world class athelete to get any real speed out of this thing on level ground! It’s really more about leisurely cruising & enjoying the ride. And of course, the exercise, and believe me, you’ll get plenty!
 
The top is a very nice option, too. Especially in a hot climate area like the southeast, where I live. Expensive, yes, but another "must have" for me.
 
I chose the Mag wheels (so they’re called), just ’cause I love the looks of them! On the functional side, I also sprang for the thorn-proof inner tubes & Kevlar liners. Once again, added weight, but worth it to me. I HATE FLATS! (Also got the spare, but I don’t carry it unless I’m planning a really long ride.)
 
The water-proof cargo box is another nice option. It’s huge & has a sliding tray inside, kind of like a truck tool box. Worth the extra money, in my opinion.
 
Surprisingly, the "Deluxe" seat doesn’t come with arm rests! Arm rests are an option on top of the "Deluxe Seat" option. Go figure. It is FANTASTICALLY COMFORTABLE though, & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, making the Rhoades Car the most comfortable HPV that I personally have ever ridden!
 
I also opted for the heavy-duty bearings & the computer. After all, how can you ride without a computer?
 
Overall, the workmanship is first rate. The welds are beautiful, as is the powder coat paint. The components, for the most part are decent, but not great. In general, I’m fairly well satisfied with the Rhoades Car, however there were a few disappointments. Most notably was the ONE PIECE STEEL CRANKSET!!! For the life of me, I CAN’T BELIEVE they would use something like that on a machine in the 3 grand price range! COME ON! We’re talking about junk from the stone-age here! Even cheapo department store bikes come with 3 piece aluminum cranksets these days! Doesn’t leave a guy much room for an upgrade, either, unless you want to go hacking on the frame & then re-paint! NOT GOOD! This was a MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT to me!  
 
Another area that definitely has room for improvement, is the conspicuous absence of braze-ons. None for a water bottle cage, tire pump, cables, or anything else! NONE AT ALL! All of the brake & drivetrain cables are zip-tied to the frame! I even had to zip-tie my (NOT INCLUDED) water bottle cage to the frame!  A few braze-ons would have eliminated all of these shabby-looking zip ties & cable housings, not to mention microscopically less weight & wind resistance.
 
Another disappointment was, to a much lesser degree, the bracket they use to hold the cargo box to the frame. Aluminum, yes, but a big funky-looking thing which protrudes beyond the back of the box, & looks like it was homemade or scrounged from a scrap pile. 
 
The nut on top of the steering column is a big, ugly castle nut! This is VERY noticeable & should have been topped off with a nice looking acorn nut instead. (Mag wheel style.)
 
The basic model only comes with a ONE WHEEL BRAKE, believe it or not. To get two wheel brakes, you have to pay extra, like I did. Another "must". On the plus side, however, both brake levers are lockable, so you basically have a pair of park brakes! VERY handy!
Options I added myself after the Rhoades Car arrived, include front & rear reflectors, wheel reflectors, custom valve caps, horn, mirror, headlight, 2 tail lights, handlebar pack, flag, water bottle cage, & a "Jesus Loves Me" license plate!
 
At around $3,000 (with the options I chose), the Rhoades Car is definitely not for everyone, & has lots of room for improvement, especially at that price! This behemoth is still a lot of fun though, & will definitely turn some heads, especially if you have it loaded with goodies, like I do!
 
Bottom line – if you wanna go fast, look elsewhere. However, if you want EXTREME COMFORT & STYLE in a well-built machine that still has room for improvement, & you don’t mind the price tag, then the Rhoades Car is for you! I’m glad I bought it…
 
Joey Wallace
 
 
The following is a letter I wrote some time back, regarding one of my more memorable shopping experiences…
 
 
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to relate to you, a somewhat typical shopping experience at our local “Lowes” store. Recently, I decided to order four sheets of 4×8 vinyl privacy lattice. Arriving at Lowes, I proceeded to a check-out register, assuming this would be the logical place to order and pay for said merchandise.
After waiting through line #1, I arrived at the register, only to be told that she did not handle such transactions, and I must see the “man at the computer” at the commercial sales desk. After waiting through line #2, I arrived at the “man at the computer”, only to be told that he did not handle such transactions, and I must see “Danny” at the register. (Still at the commercial sales desk.) After waiting through line #3, I arrived at “Danny”, only to be told that he did not handle such transactions, and I must see the man at the regular check-out register. (Still at the commercial sales desk.) After waiting through line #4, I arrived at the register, only to be told that he did not handle such transactions, and I must see “Danny” at the same commercial sales desk. After waiting through line #5, (previously line #3) I arrived at “Danny”. (Again!) By now I was very frustrated and somewhat irate. I expressed to Danny, my extreme dissatisfaction with Lowes’ policy of dealing with a simple order. It was very obvious that none of the employees wanted to deal with placing the order for me, and that each one was simply trying to pawn the work off on the next one. Now, he was suddenly able to handle the transaction after all, my order was finally placed, I paid for it in advance, and my wonderful day at Lowes was over.
It would be well over two weeks before I would hear from Lowes, regarding the order that was supposed to arrive in ten days or less.
Arriving at Lowes, I proceeded to the information desk, assuming this would be the logical place to start. After waiting through line #1, I arrived at the information desk, and was told to proceed to the commercial sales check-out register. After waiting through line #2, I arrived at the commercial sales check-out register, some paper work was done, and I was told to proceed to the customer service (what a joke) desk, for a “pink slip”. After waiting through line #3, I arrived at the "service" desk, where I received my “pink slip”, and was told to proceed “out back” to pick up my merchandise. “Oh joy!” I thought, “Finally, the big moment is at hand!” Upon arriving “out back”, imagine my ultimate dismay, to discover that the lattice had been stored on a cart, ON EDGE, for several days, warping it beyond any possibility of use. The attendant agreed with me that it was totally unusable, and I was to return to “Danny” at the commercial sales desk. (See a pattern yet?) After waiting through line #5, I arrived at “Danny” again. At this time I requested a discount for all that I had been through, and the fact that said merchandise would now have to be re-ordered, with a subsequent 2-3 week wait. I was informed that I could have a discount on the damaged merchandise only. I informed Danny that the merchandise was unusable at ANY price. Still, my request for some type of compensation was flatly refused! Some paper work was done, and I was told to proceed to a regular check-out register, where a refund/rebuild would be performed. After waiting through line #6, (Yeah, I know, unbelievable!) I arrived at the register, where more paper work was done and I was merrily on my way!
In my opinion, events like this can only be attributed to very poor store management, however, due to this, and OTHER SIMILAR EXPERIENCES at Lowes, I have concluded that having my teeth drilled would be preferable to shopping at Lowes. I have come to absolutely DETEST shopping at Lowes, and only do so when it is absolutely unavoidable!
I am, needless to say, very eagerly anticipating my return to Lowes for another exquisitely supreme shopping experience, when my merchandise finally arrives for the second time. I can’t help but wonder how many lines I will have to wait through, and how long it will take THIS time!
 
Your faithful Lowes customer,
Joey Wallace