Ok, I understand now that a department store bike with shocks is a bad idea, and that a department store bike is not a good idea in general.. But my b/f is convinced that he can't live without shocks, and that the dep. store bikes are fine. He had a Huffy for a long time--it put up with a lot of abuse and apparently took it well. It had shocks, was $100, and came from K-Mart. He claims that the shocks make a very big difference in his riding experience. But I have been told here that unless I am willing to pay several hundred for a serious off-roading bike, shocks are useless?? Why is this (if they are useless, then why does b/f feel such a huge improvement on a bike with shocks, even one that is under $100??), and how can I explain in a convincing way to my b/f that he is better off saving up for a shock-less hybrid from a LBS? He has had only one dep. store bike, his only bike, he loved it, and he is convinced that all dep. store bikes will be just as worthy. I am sure some are, but I don't want to risk it (even though my own dep. store bike DID handle very well considering what I did to it).