My wife and I want to get into cycling and are first time buyers. We are looking for a little help and direction on the best place to start. We live in the Heights Area. We're interested in using our bikes to enjoy some of the paved trails such as Buffalo Bayou trail along 7th St., TC Jester, and along the bayou between Allen and Memorial. We would probably also use our bikes for some minor street use (neighborhood riding and getting ourselves over to the trails). I've done some research and believe we may be looking for maybe a hybrid bike. My wife wants a little more comfort out of her bike, while I'm looking for something I can be a more active on. Again, we would like to be able to go out on the trails together with our respective bikes.
Originally, our budget was $500 ($250 a bike) but I'm quickly realizing that's a little low for entrance level. Basically, I realize that leaves us going to a Target or Academy to buy a bike, but I've been reading how much of a poor investment that is due to the cheap components being used in those bikes. This is a new hobby for us, so I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a bike until I know it's something we will really enjoy. We are willing to go up to $300-$400 per bike if thats a better investment.
My question is pretty much where's the best place to start? Does anyone have any recommendations for bikes in our price range that they think would fit our situation? I've looked at some of the local bike shops (iCycle, Blueline, Urban Bicycle) online and plan on visiting some of the stores this week. I'd like to have a little bit of an idea of what I'm looking for before I walk into the store, so any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes time to help us out. I'll be checking back on the forum to reply to any questions anyone has.
Also, we have a 9 month old baby that we'd love to bring with us on our rides. Can anyone suggest the best type of carrier to purchase? I don't think we are comfortable with buying the trailer that you pull behind our bike yet. We were interested in the stationary seat that attaches behind the cyclist rear wheel. Are these reliable and the best buy?