Lifelong wheel gazer ...
Join Date: Mar 2005
Bikes: 2 good ones, 2 junkers
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Not to knock high-line bikes and the LBS (I shop at and support mine), but sometimes the paranoia over "what to buy" and the correlation to quality gets comical.
I live in a university town (Tuscaloosa, AL) and there are thousands of students who do perfectly fine with a wally world bike for their four years on campus. They ride them daily, leave them out in the rain and elements, and then throw them away or donate them to charity when finally done with them. A few of those bikes may get an occasional shot of lube on the chain, but my sense is that most of them suffer 100% neglect. But they keep working -- at least good enough to get the kid to class and back, and to the strip on nights and weekends.
My point with this is to say don't obsess on componentry and other such things to the point of making yourself miserable. At your price point the quality is going to be such that any bike you buy at the LBS is going to last you for years. If you really take care of it, it may well be something your own kids can ride. In fact, my college aged kid rides the Specialized Hard Rock that was the first LBS bike I ever bought.
If you buy at the LBS you get the bike, the warranty, probably some initial tweaking and adjustment during break-in, the good will, and an ongoing relationship with a local businessman or woman who shares your appreciation of quality. So I think you are starting off on the correct foot.
Beyond that, find something that fits and then just enjoy the ride!
'80's era Cannondale Police bike
'97 Giant ATX 840 project bike (gave it to a nephew...)
'01 Giant TCR-1 purebred road bike
'03 Schwinn mongrel MTB
Status quo is the mental bastion of the intellectually lethargic...
Last edited by BookFinder; 06-20-09 at 08:02 AM.
Reason: Added another thought...