I want to get a bicycle for myself. The shop I went to carries the following brands: Norco, Specialized and Cannondale.
The Cannondale F300 ($699CDN) is what I want mainly because it was made in the USA. Since I was unable to locate where the Norco and Specialized bikes were made in, I supposed they were made in China or Taiwan.
Here are my questions:
a) Does it make a difference on where the bike was manufactured?
b) For a bicycle, say around $500, are they more or less the same quality, regardless of the brand?
c) I will be using this bike to ride along with my three-year-old kid. Since I am expecting this bike to last at least 10 years, I want to get a better bike. Besides, I might go mountain biking one day... Having said that, I think spending $699 on a bike is an overkill for me. Maybe I should look for something cheap, say from Walmart?
My thoughts - The Walmart brands are not that great (they kind of suck). A $300 bike is a much better option.
If you only ride the bike 2 times a year, for 5 blocks, leave it outside in the rain, and let kids beat it with a baseball bat, run into with your car - - maybe a wally world brand would be for you.
If your semi serious about riding (twice a week for a 1/2 hour or more) - a $300 range bike may be a good choice. I wouldn't spend $700 unless I was going to ride 30 miles at a time, 3 times a week or more (then maybe a $1000 would be worth while).
I have a 2003 F300 and love it, but.......I have replaced the stock tires with armidillos,
the seat with a selle italia gel flo, and will replace the overweight rockshock for with
a Headshok, then maybe the handle bars....other than that maybe bullhorns.
It is all about what you are planning to do. I am a commuter and ride a 18 mile round trip
in Chicago. I wanted something I could beat on as well as upgrade when necessary.
Last night, I went to a bike shop to try out 4 different bikes.
The first one was made by Specialized with a price tag of $549CDN. It was a 2005 model and they claimed the original price was $749CDN. Since I had not ridden a bike for a long time, I could not compare it to anything, felt indifferent.
The second bike I tried was made by Norco with a price tag of $409CDN. It felt the same to me as the Specialized - that is, I could not tell the difference between the Specialized and the Norco, even with a price tag difference of $140CDN.
The third bike I tried was made by Cannondale F300 ($699CDN). It had a better feel (lighter, easier to peddle?)...but since I had a flavor of the brand, it could be my illusion.
The last bike I tried was a Kona ($749CDN), I didn't feel too much difference when compared against the Specialized and Norco.
Still not sure what I would get, but I kind of agree that given I am an occasional biker, the Norco bike fits my need.
I think you will be fine with your price range. If you really just want to tool around with your kid now and for the next few years and nothing more, you will likely be fine with your choices. If you will do some riding outside of your kid, I'd recommend spending a little more time picking your bike. Visit a few local shops over the next month and test ride a bunch of bikes. Over time you will start to have some favorites. Based on the price ranges of the bikes you mention, there likely are differences in the bikes that may not be readily apparent to you at this point. It's very hard to help with the nuiances of what bike people would recommend without more conversation. I just want to help you understand what you could expect on the forum. Try searching for other threads on this issue. There should be some. Many have talked about the Trek 7.3 or 7300 favorably, but that is a comfort bike. However, those threads may discuss some of the finer points of opinion in bike selection.
If the bikes feel about the same handling wise, consider the weight and the components of the bikes. If it is significant, I would go for the lighter one with the better components, all other things being equal. There are some caveats around that statement, but close enough for your purposes without boring you . I am not a fan of aluminum but that is my personal preference. To me, they feel much harsher than steel or other materials. They are/were wonderfully light. Many people love their aluminum frames. It would be better for you if you did like aluminum as you would have that many more choices. Component levels should come into play also. Better components will last longer and perform better. They will cost you more upfront but should provide better service (very analagous to computers and tools in terms of tradeoffs). I do not know any of these bikes so I have no specific comments for you.
You will need specific model numbers to hopefully find other reviews on mtbr.com.
One option is to get the less expensive bike now until you figure out what you want. You can always sell the bike and get something you like more later.
a) It typically does not matter where the bike is manufactured. In your price range, they will mostly be asian manufactured.
b) For @$500 they are more or less the same. However it was my opinion that you could get more in a MTB bike for a given price than you could in road bikes, in the mid-price and up range. That may no longer be true as I do not currently keep up with bike prices.
c) If you are going to do some mountain biking, then you will want the better performing components. Mountain is taxing on the components and they need to perform quickly and reliably to get you through technical single-track riding. If you're talking fire roads, not as much of an issue.
Whatever you decide, don't let Spring go by without you purchasing a bike. Your kid will never be 3 again.