So I'm going to start this off by saying that I'm not too well versed with bicycles. I'm able to do a pretty good job maintaining and fixing them, but that's about it. I really have no idea how to compare them. I had a 10-year-old Trek 800 (bottom of the line mountain bike, still pretty nice as it was a Trek) that recently got stolen, and I've been looking for a new bike. Spent a bunch of time in Europe recently where I developed a liking for older bikes, and so this is what I've found for some ideas to replace it.
Schwinn World Sport - $160
Peugeot UO-8 - $100 (original owner, seems to know what he's talking about. It needs tires though)
Univega Supra Sport - $130
Univega Eagle Sprint - $250
The Peugeot, being the cheapest, has naturally caught my eye. From what I've found online it's supposed to be a pretty solid bike. It does have steel wheels still (ad says they're textured, were they on original models?). The shifters and derailleurs have been replaced with non-stock components as well. I really haven't looked into the other three bikes so much yet because I just emailed the owners to inquire about the specific conditions of all the bikes, so if anybody can point me in the right direction and tell me which of these would be the best deal that would be great.
How will these and the other bikes I've posted in this thread compare to a modern, low end bike? I've been finding a lot of Dawes Lightning DTs and Vilano Tuonos on ebay, and they don't look half bad. Even the GMC Denali that you can find on Amazon and Walmart looks decent. I'm up for maintaining an older bike, but are they going to be any faster or more fun than these newer ones?
Lotus is a decent bike, and the price seems OK to me, but I would guess it is too small for you. As far as sizing, I would guess you will like either a 24 inch or 25 inch frame bike. 25 is pushing it, but I have sold several 25 inch frame bikes to riders that were 6-1, and they fit fine.
Wrong forum to get a recommendation for that bikedirect branded stuff. Really you need to decide, do you want a vintage bike or not? If you are looking for something modern, then I would look for a bike shop branded bike in the four to eight year old range.
My other tip: the good deals do not last long enough to get responses to: "Is this a good deal?" Better off spending some time educating yourself on what to look for, then POUNCE on a deal. In any larger metro area, there are always scoopers looking for deals on bikes. They move fast.