Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Chicago, IL
Bikes: 2008 Novara Big Buzz
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Using it for anything else?
I recently made the leap into biking again myself for the same reason -- skating alongside my kid was getting harder to do.
I personally opted for the Novara Big Buzz (http://www.rei.com/product/775488
). It had the upright position that I was also looking for, and the 700c tires give you some speed. I'm guessing you don't necessarily need the knobby tires for paved trails/sidewalks/roads.
It also depends on what else you might use it for. In throwing down the $$$ on a new bike, I also decided that I wanted a bike that I could use for commuting to work on (5 mi each way). If that type of thing is in your agenda, check out the Commuting forum where they have many posts that list a whole slew of bikes on any budget.
I also became a fan of disc brakes and was looking for it on my purchase.
Try out some different stuff and see what you like/don't like. My wife chose a Trek 7200, which was not where I ended up (the front suspension wasn't something I was looking for). Lots of options in there.