What actually is the problem with "cheap" bikes? Not the $100 Walmart bikes since I know what they are like as that is what I am riding, an old 8 year old Walmart Mongoose with all rusted up components. I am wondering about the $350ish bikes like the Diamondbacks at Dick's Sporting Goods. I'm not rich, so I'll never afford a "good" bike and I both don't know enough about bikes to buy used on Craigslist, nor do I see very many on Craigslist (I don't live in the city, not much CL activity where I live.)
I've googled about the big box store bikes like the Diamondback and all I ever see is "don't waste your money on that junk" when reading on sites like here, but obviously see great reviews on the sites that are selling like Dick's and Amazon.
Riding my junk Mongoose, obviously the derailleurs and shifters are junk. I literally have to stop peddling to get them to shift because they are so clunky that I'll kill myself if shifting while peddling the hills I am on. Looking at names, I have no idea what are good and what aren't. I can't imagine a $350-399 Diamondback being in the same clunkiness junk as my $100 job.
I also read about the junk front shock forks. That one really confuses me because I see no problems with the forks on my $100 junk (I do hate the rear shock, but that is having a rear shock, not the quality of it.) I'm just riding on the road and paved bike trails, not doing anything in the woods or actual mountain biking so I don't even know if the front shock is doing anything. I don't ever see any mountain bike that doesn't have a front shock though.
I look at Bikes Direct.com (I've read plenty on the thoughts from the elitist folks on that site, but there would be no other option for me with price.) A couple of coworkers are very happy with their Dawes Haymaker 1200/1500's. How do you compare stuff though when you have no idea. It all looks the same to me as I see everything pretty much comes with 2 or 3 different brand names of components but about 100 different model names of components.
I probably won't have the funds for a bike until after the new year, but I probably still wouldn't have a clue how to buy a bike at that time.