Wow, what a huge forum. I have no idea where to post this so I won't mind if a mod moves it to where they think it is appropriate.
Firstly my background and situation:
I'm a male university student, currently living in York, England (a good cycling city). I used to ride my bikes lots when I was younger and then didn't for about 8 years until I came to York. I got a £20 second-hand Raleigh Pioneer which I've had for about 13 months now. During this time its condition has deteriorated considerably and now has a long list of serious problems. By the way, I may not be using accepted terminology here, sorry:
> A hole in the frame at the back where the tyre wore through it
> at least 3 broken spokes at the back
> only about 1/2 the gears are accessable
> only the back brakes work and very very badly
> the chain skips if I apply any real force to the pedals
> the pedal axle is very loose but the bottom bracket is jammed
> oh and no mudguards or rack, which I'd like to have
I have made repairs as best I can, many times, but it feels like its over the edge and would need a complete overhaul to get it working, and I just don't have the means to do that.
Now, I mostly have used it for riding around town, maybe 20 miles a week at most. A few times longer rides into the the countryside, which I'd very much like to be able to do more but its very unpleasant on this bike.
Also, and this is important, I'd like to be able to ride between cities, say ~100 mile journeys. Very infrequently, but I'd like to be able to do that with my bike. I was hoping to make a trip from York to Birmingham in about 4-5 weeks time, in fact. That's probably pushing 150 miles, I'm not sure. Its connected continuously by the National Cycle Network, though.
I'm very attached to this bike, and like that I can use a 99p necklace-like chain to lock it up... but I need to face reality and think about getting a new bike. I'm sure the enjoyment I'll get from having a good machine will be worth it, and I'll soon become attached to the new one just the same, haha.
Ok, if you're still with me now then thanks! I'd like to ideally spend around £200, £250 max. That's about $4-500 which probably isn't a lot but I'm not a demanding bike owner so I think it should be fine. Perhaps only UK people can help here, knowing the available models, but basically I have a few local bike shops. Here are their products:
<--- "hybrid and trekking"
<--- not from the shop in the link, but that's another option
And then all sorts from, you guessed it, Halfords...
And also there exists a "bike rescue" operation here, where old bikes are done up and restored to, probably, a very good standard and then sold. But they don't go cheap, really, and you never know what kind of bikes they have ready.
:/ I'm very **** at making decisions, and my prediction is that I won't get another bike until the back wheel on my current one collapses and I have to walk everywhere. That might not be too long, though.
I realise that my daily use vs. occasional long rides, is going to demand quite a compromise on the type of bike. But I've never ridden any "good" bike so I won't feel like I'm missing out.
I'll leave it at that for now, and see what kind of replies I get..