Help with first bike purchase
I am looking to buy a new bike just for recreation. I am just a beginner. After reading through some post, I was wondering if it was better for be to get a road bike or a hybrid. Also I am not looking to spend a whole lot since it's my first purchase. Are there any stores anyone recommends? (sports authority or dicks or even some specialty bike shops that have chains in Maryland)? Also any brands that was well suited fo rbeginners like myself?
A hybrid is probably pretty good for recreational use, if you're thinking about short rides on bike paths. If you think a 60- or 100-mile ride might be in your future, then get a road bike. Hybrids are generally much less expensive. I would recommend staying away from anything with front suspension.
Don't buy at Dick's or Sports Authority (and definitely not department stores). Look for a local bike shop (LBS). Depending on where you are in Maryland, you may be near a Performance Bike (I think there's one in Rockville). They are a big chain store and hence lack some of the benefits and quality of an LBS, but they're better than department stores, and they usually have some pretty decent bikes at the low end of the cost spectrum.
Stay away from anything that says Magna, Next, or Kent. They're low quality. Be skeptical of Schwinn or Mongoose. There are both excellent and poor bikes with those names. GT, KHS and Diamonback make some OK bikes that might appeal to you. Some brands that I could definitely recommend include Jamis, Trek, Giant, Specialized, Kona and Marin.
Shop around and ride several bikes before you buy. Make sure whatever you get is the right size for you. As you shop, come back here and ask any specific questions you might have.
For the bike brands that have both junk and decent models under their name, here are a couple of clues: 1) See if the bike comes in different sizes...the junk models probably don't. 2) Check the manufacturer's website to see if that model bike shows up there...the junk models probably won't.
Either bike could be a good choice depending on your needs, but if you're not sure I tend to recommend a road bike over a hybrid. To me it seems I read a lot of threads posted from hybrid owners wanting to buy a road bike but few, if any, riders looking to ditch their road bike for a hybrid.
You really need one of each.
peer to peer advice!
Fresh from my vast experience of one day of bike shopping...go to your LBS, even if you're intimidated. In most shops there's at least one guy/gal who realizes that everyone was new once. They can give you lots of guidance towards what you need and make sure you get a bike that works for you. As one guy I met yesterday said, "A good bike is the one you'll ride." A guy at Dick's/Joe's/Whatever-Mart isn't going to care if a bike fits you or meets your needs, since he doesn't expect to ever see you again. Most LBS see you as someone they can sell stuff to as long as you ride a bike! Another thing about getting out there and looking...I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted, but once I got up close and personal with bikes in the shops, I found that the bikes that I liked in theory weren't the bikes I liked once I got my hands on them.