first time here and i'm looking to buy a bike. i saw a used "rallye coyote pass" bike for $85. i've never heard of this brand, does anyone know if it might be worth it. it would be for commuting to work, about 4 miles each way. i'm 5'11 and the bike size is 17.5"
Giant TCR 0, Lemond Zurich, Giant NRS 1, Jamis Explorer Beater/Commuter, Peugeot converted single speed
Are you sure you are spelling the name correctly? Raleigh (pronounced Rallee) is a very popular and respected brand. I am also familiar with the Coyote brand. Any googling will bring you up to speed on Raleigh but Coyote is a little more obscure. I have only seen them in the west. About 15 years ago, there was a company in Sun Valley ID named Coyote that was manufacturing skis. It is my understanding that they also manufactured the Coyote line of bikes but I have not seen them around for years. They were pretty well built at the time for the money. But if you are talking about a 15-20 year old bike, $85 should get you a lot and I would tend to go with a more well known brand.
Remember, the brand of a bike is usually just a frame and most frames will hold up pretty well. So unless you are racing or otherwise performance oriented, the true value of your bike really lies in the components that are on that frame. Look for Shimano, sram, or campy components. And do a little research on the hierarchy of those. Here is a primer on Shimano from lowest to highest (and I may have forgotten something):
Altus or just shimano named parts (just fine for commuting if in good shape)
Alivio (just fine for commuting and we even put some very hard offroad miles on this stuff)
STX or Deore (really pretty good stuff, entry level racing stuff. New Deore is better than old XT IMO)
LX (Just fine for the average racer who does not have pride issues)
XT (light and strong. The enthusiasts choice)
XTR (many thousands of dollars and really only the stuff of "real" racers or those who must have the best)
Road (newer groups)
Sora (works just fine for anything that does not require you to shift from the drops; 8 speed vs 9 or 10)
Tiagra (sport level; you can shift from the drops on these)
105 (entry level race stuff, great performance)
Ultegra (the enthusiasts choice, light and strong, reliable)
Dura Ace (again, real racers or those who must have the best)
I am 5'9" and ride a 17 or an 18 MTB frame. I am guessing that you would need something more around a 19. But you can do a lot with a longer stem to make up for a small size. But again, when you are talking about really old bikes, $85 should get you the right size and a pretty decent bike to boot.
Hope that helps.