I'm new to cycling. Got a Denali from Wal-Mart. Didn't know anything about bikes, or cycling, but still, fell in love with it. I should have thought of craigslist, and gotten a used bike off there, I know, but I didn't think of it. Plus, my only time using a self check out to date is by wheeling the front wheel of my bike over the scanner while I held the bike pretty high in the air. That's almost worth the money, right there. Now, I'm looking for a new bike, and I don't really want it to be just a bike I get before I get a good bike. I want it to be the last bike I ever need to own, unless I trash this current one. Now, onto the questions.
What determines a bike's "fit"? I know size has a good deal to do with it, I'm sure seat height, and angle does too. What else matters to how a bike "fits" a person?
What material(s) should I be looking at? I'm looking for a bike I can replace my car with. Carbon is light, but rather expensive, and if I were to fall and scratch it, it could unravel. I'm not a fan of that idea. I hear steel is pretty much the best material for "ride quality", unless you go with a bike that's got a steel spine, and a carbon cock pit. Evidently, you get the benefits of both, where they count, without the draw backs? Is that true? Other places say material doesn't matter at all, and its just a myth. I have no idea.
How rust prone is a steel frame?
What level of components should I be looking at? I know I'm not going to go for Campy, unless I find it cheap, but do you think SRAM or Shimano would be a better value? I haven't ever used SRAM. I figure its about the same as Shimano, but don't know what the value would be. I know if I'm doing Shimano, I'd prefer at least ultegra, but don't think 105 would bother me. I tend to get competitive, so racing could be an option I pursue in the future. But, I'm pretty sure I'd want to keep the drops on. I don't think I'd like the feel of rams or areo bars too much.
I'm a fan of trying to keep my bike around 15-20 pounds before I toss anything extra on it. What does a typical "Super light", "light", "average" and "heavy" frame weigh? What about component group sets, including cables and that jazz? How about wheels? I realize this will cost me extra. I figure the frame and the components should be what i worry about first, and wheels later.
How easy is it to paint a bike? There doesn't seem to be anything in green, which, I'd really like my bike to be.