Footballus vita est
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Portland, OR
Bikes: Trek 4500, Kona Dawg
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There's one factor people aren't mentioning about buying from a bike shop that is a surprising plus. Size. Bikes at Walmart and Target come in one size. Most bikes from a shop come in sizes to fit people from around 5 feet tall, to well over 6 feet, and this has a huge effect on comfort, which of course, has a huge effect on how much you enjoy riding. Another benefit of the local bike shop is professional assembly. The guys there know how to adjust everything properly so it shifts right and doesn't squeak. Most shops also throw in a free 30 day tuneup, which is important during that initial period when the bike is getting broken in.
To be honest, yes, the Schwinn will probably last you a couple years of riding to school and back, but not as long as the Diamondback, and it will never pedal as smoothly nor feel as good. In my opinion, it's well worth the extra $100.
One more thing. Sure the bike shop will offer to sell you stuff you don't need, but you should definitely get a helmet and a lock. You never know what could happen on the street, and if you're going to park at school all day, you don't want someone running off with your investment.
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