Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Northern Nevada
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They're two different things, IMO. You can probably find an old single-speed or three-speed in a thrift store for $10-$25 (at least you could here), and put it back in riding condition for $25 to $50, depending on how much work you can do yourself and whether it needs tires. I just rebuilt a $15 Raleigh for a 75-year-old neighbor who wanted "something with a basket to go to the store," and it's fine for what she does with it.
A new bike (hybrid or basic mountain bike) would probably cost $300 or more, and I don't know that it would be THAT much better suited to your purposes--I mean, it's a better bike, and it would work, but would it be COOL?
Another thought: Check the classified ads in your newspaper for a used bike. They're often less than half the new price, and a lot of them have barely been ridden. That's why they're for sale.