The Magna Sink effect is when people who have never really used bicycles for transportation come to Davis and buy/bring along a shiny new bike from Magna, Next, Murray, Huffy, or the new Schwinn. These so-called "department store" bicycles are generally made with inferior materials and assembled as fast as possible by people with questionable abilities as bike mechanics. They're pretty much toys rather than transportation. Invariably, these already sub-standard bicycles aren't maintained and they're utterly unrideable after a few months of semi-serious use. These unridable bicycles usually are abandoned and replaced with another bike (often another department store bicycle) or a car.
There are alternative explanations for the Magna Sink effect, however, and not all are entirely based on assuming the ignorance of the bike rider. A lot of students, for example, come to Davis with a laser beam focus on their education, and could not care less how they get to and from the lab each day (whether it be on a rusty, poorly maintained, piece of junk, or a $3,500 bike from Wheelworks). Guided by the expectation that they'll be getting the hell out of Davis as soon as possible, they generally don't have much motivation to lay down big bucks on a fancy-pants bike or to put in the time for frequent maintenance. Bikes, for these folks, tend to be an afterthought, and they tend to stay on the rack when the student lands a job and leaves Davis. MagnaSink++.
Also you get folks who just don't know better, and realize after the fact that they could have spent money alot wiser
If you plan on riding your bike seriously, get a good quality bike, assembled by competent people, and don't bother with department store bicycles. A good quality bike doesn't have to be expensive. You can get some pretty decent ones new for $300 or so and used ones can be even less expensive. Read Stolen Bikes to learn tips on how to protect such a serious bike. And even if you do get around on an old junker, please consider recycling it somehow before you leave town.
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