I've been lurking for a few weeks while contemplating a bike purchase. Thanks so much for all the great advice you've given each other - it has put me on the correct path towards buying a bike (as well as increasing my enthusiasm for getting started riding!). I hope to make my purchase today.
a little more about me - 38 (today!), single female, I live in San Jose, CA (it's a big place - for those of you that know it, I'm between Santa Clara and Campbell). I rode a lot 20 yrs ago (hahaha who didn't!) and now that it's time to face facts I'd better get in shape and lose all this weight. Remembering biking fondly, I bought a Huffy Avenue at Target (gasp - no not that!). But like a smart impulse shopper, I let it sit in the garage for a week while doing my research (ok, aside from the one ride around the complex - wheee!!! that was fun!!). After reading about the quality and assembly problems at the mass merchants, I gave it a once over with the crappy instructions and sure enough the handlebars were installed crooked and the rear reflector was missing. I returned the bike (30 days with pretty much no questions asked - there were 3 returned bikes sitting in the customer service area!) and started reading even more here and at Mfg. websites, then started visiting the local shops. I wanted to find a truly local shop - walking or ride distance.
Nick at Calmar Cycles has been great, Noelle at Wheel Away was nice too. Couldn't even park near Summit. Not familiar with the brands at Off Ramp. Since the lower priced hybrid seems to be my bike and price range, I'll go with my favorite shop - so Nick won. He happens to carry Trek (Wheel Away would have been a Specialized Crossroads). I hope to make it in today for us to pick the right size/model. Last time I stopped by, he had both a 2004 and 2005 womens 7100 - that frame style difference is major (mentioned in another thread).
I did ride a Townie 3 at Wheel Away - it was terrible for me - hand brake for the front and back pedal braking for the back. Yuck. I'd just as soon spend $150 on a cruiser than that much more for a Townie! Also rode a Townie 21 (or was it 24? whatever). It was better, but it just didn't feel right. Def. not good enough to justify the extra $$ but it looked cool with that black matte paint
So after that long winded introduction - if anyone has any input on Trek 7x00 vs Specialized Crossroads that would send me back over to Specialized, please speak up. Or if anyone has a horror story about Calmar, that'd be helpful too! Otherwise I'm sticking with Nick!
Best Regards, Clarice