So happy to find this forum with knowledgeable cyclists! And yes, I'll make sure to always lock up my new bike even when it's inside my house.
I'm a 50+, petite, occasional rider planning to ride 5 miles a day to start, for 6 months a year. Although my decades-old, too-big, 5-speed was stolen from my house I see this as an opportunity to get a new, more comfortable bike, perhaps a hybrid, one that will take me from pavement to packed, sand-clay side roads on ocassion. It's flat here in the Keys so gears aren't an issue, but salt is. Also, I like a comfy seat (who doesn't).
I have an extremely limited budget of $300 and expect to spend another $50+ for accessories. Before you click away in disgust, could you tell me if it would be foolish to order a Motobecane Elite FS 14" womens' bike from a place like Bikedirect? I know that I will miss out on the custom service of a LBS. And if I do that, should I expect to have the wheels balanced or trued, or whatever that's called? I'm interested in any and all advice and thanks in advance!