Wow. First, what an informative forum! I have spent the better part of a week reading up on as much as I can before I make this post. Truth is, I'm at the point where I could really use some experienced advice.
Feel free to skip this part:
My wife and I live in hilly Utah going to school and with spring approaching, we've been seriously considering cycling. We are both huge athletes (namely soccer) and think this could be a fun activity to do together and stay in shape. Last summer was spent longboarding (amazing in the mountains btw), but after 4 months out on a broken leg, I'm ready for something less hazardous to my well-being.
I want to buy/tune up two bikes by May (one for me, one for her). My budget is around $200 per bike. My plan is to being visiting pawn shops, checking yard sales, keeping an eye on my local craigslist/ksl.com (local thing), and find something older. Problem is, I'm not sure what to look for. I think, with mountainous terrain we would prefer gears but I'm not ruling fixed gear bicycles out at this point.
(1) What are the better frames to look for? (top 5?)
(2) What are the better components to look for?
(3) What are sure signs to steer clear from?
(4) Are my budget expectations reasonable?
I've found a wealth of good info on how to maintain the bikes and how to upgrade, but I have struggled to pinpoint what are the best bikes to look for in the first place and how to spot a good deal. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again and I look forward to learning more from this community!