I need a faster bike. Right now I ride my commute bike (used to ride to high school, but school is now over), cheap $100 walmart bike. I rode this type of bikes for the last 4 years.
I ride on asphalt along the bayou here in Houston. There is approximately 20 mile stretch of normal road (after that asphalt ends on both sides). I "smoke" everyone on this (cheap walmart) type of bike, and only people to pass me are on sport/road and recumbent bikes.
I'm 6ft tall and slim (145lb). Ride with huge headphones and banging tunes.
I feel like this bike is holding me back: in highest gear it's too easy (I want to spin slower but harder) and seat is too low - my leg is bent even in the lowest position.
What bike could you recommend that is fast and cheap? Don't want a recumbent. Someone suggested to get a hardtail bike, because full suspension (see pictures above) that I got in walmart loses the energy.
I don't have a budget, but I want to know what my options are. Buying used from craigslist is fine by me, my ex-teacher bought a $300 bike (several years old, new it was $1500) and it owned.
I am not looking to spend X dollars, I just want good price/performance ratio. I am tired of slow walmart bikes that also break often.
edit: budget is up to $600 and I do not ride off-road or on bad surfaces.