Recently did a short three hundred mile tour up the coast of California on a crappy, Toys R' Us steel bike with a borrowed trailer and after actually surviving (and beating the living hell out of the bike) I have decided that I need a new bike for a long distance US tour this summer (three months, from Southern Cali to Florida and back up the Trans America route).
I've read the forums for a bit but am still utterly confused...
I have $600 for a new bike (needs to be capable of touring, commuting and everything implied) and... HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET
Different gears scare me, as do sizes, handlebars, Panniers, wheels, lights, saddlebags and especially DIFFERENT BRANDS. I have this incessant fear of walking into a bike shop and being completely fleeced because I have no idea what the heck I'm buying.
Ya this bike thing is completely new to me (started about a year ago on the same, crappy bike (heh, the gears were rusted to) but have been doing the stationary bike thing at the gym and.. Well..
What kind of bike should I get? (Thats under $600..) And... All these posts about comparing bike's and equipment is utterly confusing.