Hi from minnesota, and I hope to not be a troll despite department bike fixation :)
Hello, I created this account because i'm in a process of trying to get back into cycling that I haven't done in about two decades or so during high school... I used to ride pretty regularily at the time, doing about 13 miles a day 5-6 days a week probably averaging 20mph when not at a stop light pretty religiously on a mountain bike through the city which was probably not the most efficient bike for the job. Although it was a department store bike it never gave me a lick of trouble at the time. A car crash later screwed up my body and stopped the fitness junkie lifestyle, i've been struggling to get back to full health and function ever since then, many things which required learning about alternative medicine therapies like prolotherapy to rebuild cartilidge which are finally proving to make all the difference. My future bike time may be limited or/and determined by things outside of my willpower, or take longer than I want to get to what I can do however - just in case my early posts, explorations and such here end up never panning out. I'm having to start back into this slowly and it will take awhile to learn and verify what my body can take. (so no I won't be joining anyone for marathon biking sessions anytime soon and if i'm commuting during the week probably won't care to do it recreationally on the weekend normally)
Rising gas prices have made me more and more aware of exactly how much it costs to get around all the time so i've been researching more and more efficient transportation options. I expect gas to just go up to $6, 8, 10, 12 a gallon if we keep having middle east wars with oil producing countries and so i'm making plans early because there's no way I can afford a monthly fuel bill more than my monthly rent. Researching economy cars, turned into researching modifications to economy cars to take them even further, turned into researching 50-250cc motorcycles and mopeds, turned into seriously considering going back to a bike much of the time. Especially since the shortest city route averages speeds not much faster than a bike does - a moped would only barely be faster if at all if you rarely get above 25mph.
I'm looking at going to college as a nontraditional student (having never done it back at the time) in a year or two but the living situation and the college is making me look at about a 41 mile commute to make it happen - hence my name. Whether it happens by car, or motorcycle, or ideally e-assisted bicycle (that seems an awful lot of daily riding without otherwise) will be determined by things beyond my power like if my body can do the 2+ hour commuting without being so exhausted I can't get through classes okay. It's possible the conditions of some of this may change but even if it does, i'm still interested in using bicycles as a form of primary transport as much of the year as possible, playing around with homebrew e-assists, and otherwise getting into recreational riding on the weekends and for short trips - even if I just use a Geo Metro to get to college and back. The rate of getting back into it may be slowed if it's impossible to commute with it since it wont be a priority then but i'm still hoping to compile information for the future when I am tinkering with such things even if the projects end up dragged out for months without progress on them because i'm too busy.
I may seem a little fixated on cheap bikes - it's not because i'm unwilling to spend $400+ (and I can't even comprehend spending $1000 at this time) thinking it wont pay for itself despite being poor but because of concerns about crime (I fully expect to have at least one or two stolen statistically during my time at college making me unwilling to spend as much on it up front), crappy weather, and similar. It's also because of an unwillingness to 'invest' when I don't yet know if i'll be able to even do that kind of mileage comfortably which justifies much of the entire pursuit. If it's just recreation thats second class to finishing school and paying my bills I mean... I may upgrade later if I legitimately know i'll be commuting like this for 5+ years afterwards. If I can't commute it will not be as important to me. I also don't mind turning my own wrenches or cobbling parts from another bike to fix a first if I have to, since the level of tinkering i'll need to build my own e-assist in the future will demand are more intimate knowledge of how it's all put together anyways.
Well that's about me, if your interested in anything I have to say or know something you may think will be useful to me, send me a message.
Welcome to BF and back to cycling! If you can commute to+fro work &/or school throughout the entire MN winter, you're a sturdier sort than I am.
It's a personal thing, but... I think your love of low-end dept store bikes is sensible. The higher levels of bicycle theft in college environments and the negative effects winter commutation has on a bike are good reasons to stick with something inexpensive right now. My bad weather/winter beater is a Diamondback Sorrento ($220 @ Dicks Sporting Goods in 2005).