I bought a Free Spirit off eBay for $16 to use as a winter commuter because my town uses alot of road salt. It has Shimano Tourney brakes and Altus derailers. The frame is lugged steel (not CroMo). It has no date stamped anywhere so I don't know how old it is. The steel rims were bent so I slapped on some old Normandy Super Champ aluminums until I had time to straighten them.
Well, this bike is great! It rides beautifully ... very quick and comfortable. I'm tempted to keep it away from the winter elements because it is so tight.
Have any of you been disappointed with your Chinese bikes? Have they become a higher quality producer?