Hey guys, I've been doing a fairly exhaustive search this summer for a bike and it's been less than fruitful. I will be pretty honest and realize that I know next to nothing about bikes (I can tell the difference between a road bike, a hybrid and a mountain bike...and I know how to brake and change gears)... Sorry if this is a little long, I'll try to give a quick background.
I was a pretty dedicated trail runner but last year had a significant achilles injury that resulted in me being in a cast for 5 months, the irony is I got hurt at work, not even while running! I purchased a spin bike but I find myself loathing the 30 minutes I would spend on it during my rehab, I was SO bored. I am one of those people that would rather run outside in -20 degree weather (yak trax are awesome) than run on a treadmill inside.
I am currently located in Iowa City, Iowa. We have winter weather for about 6 months of the year and mostly hot/humid summers. I don't really have the "bike bug" in me, at least not yet. I have figured out that I want a hybrid, the roads here can be a bit grumbly as I like to call them so a road bike would just be asking for trouble with the super thin tires, and quite frankly I don't really like the extreme riding position.
I did have an 80's road bike that I brought out here with me from California (I'm a southern californian, not used to winters!). Unfortunately it was stolen within 2 weeks off the top of my thule car rack (i was inside a store for 20 minutes ), I also had a mountain bike that was stolen out of my garage. I don't know what it is about Iowa city but they love to steal bikes...which just really disappoints me.
To my problem. I have scoured the craiglist ads but for the most part the bikes are either super huge or usually from the 80's and the prices are still $300-$400, I also have checked ebay but with shipping I end up coming to the conclusion I might as well buy new. Single speeds seem popular here but I'm not so sure about that. Those seem very pricey too.
I went to my LBS and chatted with the guy about my needs (basically I want to use it to get to class at the Uni and the hospital that i work at...both are on the other side of the river and it is hilly...but only about 2 miles away from me). He pulled out the Raleigh Cadent Ft0, I loved it, but this could also just be the fact that it was shiny and new. They were having a sale and he said he'd let it go for $400 but i was on my lunch break and had to quickly get back before being able to test ride it.
"Unfortunately" I had to fly back to cali for a family emergency and the july special was over when i came back. I went back to the LBS and they didn't have the Ft0 anymore but did have the ft1 and i test road that. Wow!! Amazing, the last bike i rode was an old diamondback where the chain slipped and had i been a man I would have been unmanned. the gears shifted nicely and I enjoying riding it. He looked at the dealer site and it said they were out of the ft0's but he'd call and see. He got back to me and told me that they in fact still did have the 2011 ones and they ordered one in my size because they wanted one anyways. It will be there in about a week and I can have it if i want it.
I was at the mall recently and walked in our local sports place called Scheels and they had a trek 7.1fx for $299, which seemed like a steal. To be honest Im one of those people that prefers to go local, but that is a such a steep price discount especially when I want to get a basket and fenders. I guess my question here is the trek fx 7.1 as good as the raleigh? I have done so much research but when you don't know the lingo it's like trying to decipher russian using a chinese dictionary, just not gonna happen.
Initially my price point was no more than $400, well this young woman has discovered thats the minimum of where bikes start. But Im one of those people who is financing their own education and even with working I make ends meet but this is an extravagence for me. I have talked my father into possibly helping out with $200 of it.
So thoughts? Suggestions? This other guy i talked to at the LBS sounded pretty firm on not giving me the price that was quoted to me in july (i still have the business card wit the guys name on it and the price) and $459+tax BEFORE fenders and basket is a pretty big ouch, or do I go with the fx that I like but not as much as the raleigh? I'm 5'5 and 122lbs with an inseam of 30".
Somehow I feel that someone has already snapped up the fx though, seems like a pretty decent price. Should i just try to be patient and wait for something else? I haven't been able to find any used cadent's either and again a lot of the bikes in my area are priced fairly high (there is a high demand here, and a lot of students come here from the chicago suburbs and their parents have huge wallets).
Sorry this is so long and I truly appreciate any help, sorry if this is a bit jumbled, I had to work at 4am and am running on empty.
Also, any tips about how to avoid getting my bike stolen? I just don't want to go through that again, I hate thieves, and when I don't have parents that help me out it makes the item essentially irreplaceable. I have a U lock but i have heard that some people carry 2 locks on them, I'm not adverse to that, especially considering the money I'm likely going to be forking out. Suggestions on locks to buy?
Thank you Thank you!!