Well many years ago [1983 I believe] I stopped into a very small bike shop in my beat I became a regular visitor mostly just to visit and get out of the car. The majority of his business was repairs mostly very low end dept store type bikes. He was however a Raliegh dealer and owned a Raliegh Professional. The more I visited the more I was getting bitten by the bug to buy a nice bike. His advise to me "was whatever bike you to purchase make sure it has a high quality frame made of Renyolds 531 or Columbus or their equal because then you will be more likely to add more quality components and not be throwing good money after bad." He also added "if you buy and inexpensive bike you are more likely not to ride it because it will not perform well whereas if you buy a high quality bike it will be more likely to keep your interest because it will perform well and you will continue to ride" I believe he was right I ended up purchasing a Raliegh Competions GS which i still have to this day and acutally just cracked the inner change ring, have gone through the original Campy derailuer and replace hubs,pedals [all Philwood] ect. Over the years I have met many people interested in biking and have been able to pursade them to purchase a quality bike and the ones I still have contact with have expressed their graditude in me talking them into spending more money than they would have because the bike they purchased is a joy to ride. So in my opinion department store bikes are good for kids that are not necessarily responsible and are more likely to have them stolen. But for an adult invest the money and you will enjoy and ride more. Glenn in phx.