Pros: Great brakes; good frame
Cons: Cheap components are hanging off that frame
Never, never, never, never waste your money on one of these things. Want a comfort bike with a lot of dandy gears and such? Go to an honest-to-goodness bike shop and buy one. In the long run that will be the cheaper route.
The Kent Sierra Madre is a 21-speed comfort bike with an aluminum frame. A comfort bike, of course, is little more than a mountain bike with a wider seat, "street tires" and handlebars that allow the rider to sit in an upright position. The frame is nice and light and the welds on it seem solid. The hand brakes are absolutely flawless. Furthermore, all of the bearings and "moving parts" are well greased, too. The frame, brakes and the use of grease are the only good things I can say about this piece of junk.
I picked up a Sierra Madre on Amazon for about $180 off of eBay because I figured I'd give it a try and save a few bucks. That turned out to be a horrible move because I've got a Chinese-made piece of junk sitting in my garage that I can't return, can't repair and can't even give away for $75 on Craig's List (perhaps I'm too honest in telling people why I want to get rid of this lemon when they contact me about my ad).
The problem with this bike has everything to do with the awful derailer system. The derailers (or derailleurs, if you want to get snotty about it) simply move the chain from one cog to another, thus allowing for 21 speeds of fun (in theory). The Sierra Madre comes with two sets of derailers -- one on the front to move the chain along the three cogs near the pedals and one on the back to move the chain along seven cogs on the back wheel.
The bike is set up with a Shimano derailer system. Shimano is supposed to be great stuff, right? Either the boys at the Shimano factory were smoking dope when this junk derailer system was made or the company licensed the brand name to the outfit that made this garbage. At any rate, the derailers don't work.
I took my fabulous Kent bicycle to a local bike shop and sheepishly asked them to fix the derailers. They not only fixed the derailers but also straightened out my bent rims and did a few other things to the bike for only $20. Nice folks. The derailers worked great for a spin around the neighborhood then fell back into the familiar habit of not working worth a damn. Don't try to tell me that's to be expected because new cables must be tightened until they're worn in -- I've already tried that. This derailer system is just plain junk and that's all there is to it.
The main problem has to do with the front derailer, which seems to work pretty much when it feels like it. Even when it's working properly, the chain rattles like a bastard going through the front derailer gate. The rear derailer is finicky and the cable leading to it has to adjusted constantly (i.e., every damned mile or so), but it almost works like it should. Almost.
I'm left with either pulling off the front derailer and leaving the chain on the middle cog so that I have seven gears of fun (the chain rattles so bad through the derailer gate that it sounds like a lawn mower), replacing the entire derailer system with something decent or kicking the hell out of the bicycle about a dozen times and putting it on Craig's List. I've chosen the latter option. I do believe I'll be stuck with that thing in my garage until I stick it out back to rust in the rain.
What else is bad about this bicycle. Let's see. The seat is pretty rotten for a "comfort" bike in that it's, well, just uncomfortable after awhile. The tubes are thin and seem to lose air in a hurry. The riding position on this 26" bike just feels a bit awkward for some reason. All of that, of course, could be forgiven if the derailers worked. It's amazing that any bike manufactured in the past 50 years or so would come with such rotten derailers. Those are brute force little devices that are hard to get wrong. Kent's managed to find a set that gets things very wrong with this awful bike, however.
On the plus side, the bicycle was easy to put together in spite of the fact that it came with no instructions save for a sketchy, thin little sheet that had a lot of technical specs about the (you guessed it) horrible deraillers and how to adjust them. Also, the frame is surprisingly light and durable.
In other words, I blew some money on a great frame with junk components hanging off of it. I'll spend the extra money next time and get a decent bike from a local store full of people who know how to set the thing up when it's new and fix it when something goes wrong.