Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Central Illinois
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Well, it would be hard for a stranger to recommend one or another to you. If you're a grown up of average height, then I'd scratch that 24" off the list. I'd also avoid the beach cruiser unless your 3 hour ride is quite flat.
I'd also avoid department store, full suspension bikes. They're really heavy. So, as a matter of fact, I wouldn't recommend any of those bikes. But the Beast of Bentonville also sells a Roadmaster with front shocks and a rigid rear frame. I'm riding one right now and I'm quite happy with it. (I've also owned fairly high end bikes before, so I've experienced both.) The wheels are pretty poor, when it comes right down to it. But with reasonable riding they can be kept straight long enough to justify their cost. If you have a bike that works well for you, then spending about $100 bucks a couple years later for better wheels is not a terrible price to pay.
There are folks who have nothing but contempt for big box store bikes. But IMHO, they're all wet. They can, pretty easily, be perfectly good bikes for a very good price. They do have a moderately high rate of defects in one form or another. Your only choice is to inspect that bike rather well, find any defects and fix if possible or return and exchange if necessary. One good way of doing this is to hang the bike up and do some dis-assembly and re-adjustment. Brakes, derrailleurs, etc. You might as well grease the wheel and crank bearings, too.
You didn't mention whether or not you know how to dis-assemble bearings, etc. But you might as well learn it. You're going to need to do this whether you buy the cheapest or the most expensive bike, or anything in between. (well....the bearings on a high end bike are likely to be sealed. But these bikes have plenty of other adjustments and repairs that you'll need to be able to do) The good news is that it's not very hard at all and it's quite satisfying. And this is what will give you the reliability that you need.
Good luck, have fun and ride, ride, ride. You won't regret it.