Been looking around a while via the internet and the local Dick's, Craigslist and such.
Finally set a budget and hit some of the local bike shops. Visited something like 10 different ones and steeled myself from buying the 1st "deal" I came across. Met a number of nice folks and a couple of jerks.
Pretty much covered the gambet of price ranges 400-1200, brands (large and small), rode a number of bikes around in the parking lots (some shops never even offered to let me) and used 10-12 hours of time educating myself, hands-on, beyond the internet.
As you can see the title above tells you what I finally decided on.
I was directed towards a wide range of bikes from the 6-7spd basic Hybrids to altered Mountain Bikes and all inbetween.
Customer service from shop to shop varied widely from Excellent to worse that the local Dick's (even though it was pretty good there, a different Dicks, when we bought my wife's bike a year ago, knowledgeable young man helped us).
The $200 to 400 range lacked some things.
- One, at Dicks, 2-4 bought you so-so quality, some features and no sale support.
- At the LBS, 2-4 got ok quality, fewer features and after sale support.
So, quality, features and support were the key.
The $400 to $800 range moved things up a notch.
- The first being taking Dick's out of the picture completely.
- Near 4 the bikes were better quality but again bottom of the ladder features.
- Moving towards the 8 level, everything began changing as far as features, build materials, quality really stepped up and now design came into the picture.
to be continued...
After much review, I had been told a 29er MB with changes would be a good choice. I had seen a number of Hybrids that interested me with Specialized and Cannondale being the front-runners.
I had also set my budget at max $600 but wished to be more in the 500 range. The 6 number gave me better choices.