I'm looking at selling my car and am strongly considering bicycling full time. I'm sure many of these have been answered, but the answers might change often enough it might warrant a fresh asking. To give some background, my commute to work would be a touch over 7 miles by bicycle (each way) versus a touch over 5 by car/highway. There are some hills, but I'm in East-Central Texas, not Colorado.
I don't know much about bicycles, but I see myself on some sort of quick do-it-all bike outfitted with fenders and a rear rack/basket, trekking or drop bars, compact crank (I assume that means it's more efficient?,) and probably 10 speeds. 21+ speeds would be nice, but if I'm honest, I'd probably only end up using one set of the gears because of all the confusing overlap, so if I can simply and reduce risks, why not? I've looked at the "Civilian Bicycle Co. Vive Le Roi," but I don't think it comes with fender and rack mounts, Konas, Salsa Vaya 3, some of REI's options, and the Trek 520 but it's been reported to not be quick and responsive.
1.) This is probably going to be the most hotly contested, so why not ask it first?
How much do I need to spend to get a bike that will last, and be good? Sort of like, "How much do I have to spend, where the point of investment and tangible results cross?" Certainly there'd be a point where the results are less and less tangible the more you spend, and I need to try and figure out where the point is, considering that I don't make much more than minimum wage. All the options I listed aren't exactly comfortable for me, especially considering I'd have to spend money on a helmet and other stuff. I thought it'd be <750 to put myself on a good bike, but it's hard to find options around there, especially for a decent no-frills bike that doesn't try and pack a bunch of features and an alloy frame, but compromise on components and build quality. Of course the dollar is poor and I last priced bikes several years ago, which jades things.
2.) What's the difference between men's and women's bikes? I'm gender nonconforming, and it would mean a lot to me if I ended up on a woman's bike, but since I wasn't born female, how much does that reduce the bike fit for me?
3.) If I were to order a bicycle online, what is involved with assembly? How off would the fit be vs. going in store and assuming whatever the shop worker says is correct?
4.) Is it worth it to modify the bike much, where that money could have just been spent on a "higher end" bike? Like, if I were to buy a $1000 bike, change the handlebars, saddle, and wheels (for ones that would be less likely to damage in case I hit a bump,) would I just have been better going straight for the $1300 bike?
5.) Roughly how long would I need to condition myself for the 7/14 mile daily commute? I'm not heavy (127 pounds nude in the morning,) but I'm not perfectly fit either, even though if I try and exercise a few times each week by walking.
6.) Why are there so many variants for the same bike? It seems like some manufacturers try and stick 20 variants on the same frame and fork and charge a 200% price difference between the lowest and highest specs. Why not just go for a different bike instead of going with the lower spec frame and fork combo?
7.) Do I need specific shoes and pedals because of my commute length?
These are self measured using the competitive cyclist size guide, so they probably aren't the most accurate.
inseam - 32
trunk - 25
forearm - 12.5
arm - 25
thigh - 21.5
lower leg - 21
sternal notch - 57
total height - 66
What size frame would that put me on, 54cm? 56 for a "French Fit?," which seems to focus on long distance comfort, something I would like?