Originally Posted by MisterK
no winnipeg winter biking for this guy (yet!)
maybe after i get a year or two of serious biking under my belt.
been lookin at a few bikes, dont mind spending a bit over 400$
Giant Boulder SE
Dawes Haymaker 1500
i just want a decent bike that will take well to upgrades.
for my now i just plan on a nice seat and post, new pedals, bullhorns and a fender for my (thumbs up! lol) Raleigh Matterhorn daily commuter!
Your other option is to look for a used bike - there always seems to be a few kicking around kijiji. Given the time of year, if you are looking to buy, I'd wait until the end of season sales.
Also look at the type of riding you are going to be doing before deciding on a bike. If you are using your raleigh for commuting, you could always turn that into a dedicated commuter bike and buy a bike for trail riding.
Until last month my year-round commuter bike was a 10+ year old Kona. How old? so old that it had first generation Deore LX top mount index shifters. Because it had good componentry to start with, I didn't have to do alot of upgrades, and haven't had to do a lot of component replacement. Generally the chain, bottom bracket and middle chainring on an annual basis and that's it.
Couple of suggestions for commuting: Slicks! amazing how much easier the ride is. Commuter rig also has fenders, front and rear racks, horn, lights/computer, clipless.
That bike is now retired to the winter commuting machine as I picked up a Scott F60 FB road bike last month that I put bar ends and a rack on to be a faster commuter bike.
As far as I am concerned, it's componentry that you need to look at when buying a bike. The key to frames is finding one that fits you, not where it is built. I mentioned in a PM to you the difference in top tube length between two different manufacturers. Find a frame(manufacturer) that fits, and then look for the best spec'd bike from that mfr in your price range.
You may want to try Sampsons or Lifesport on Pembina. But remember, a rear rack is $15, so don't look at having a rack included as a main selling point.
And if you get fenders - get full fenders! I've had both and it is night and day.
Any bike will take well to upgrades - most are quite easy to do if you have the time and inclination. As for department store bikes - there is a post in the road forum ( I think) from a user called cigtech. It's quite lengthy, but he sings the praises of the same road bike that Canadian Tire sells. Of course he mentions that he pretty much had to rebuild the bike about 4-5 times. That pretty much sums up department store bikes in my opinion.
Sorry to blather - but I hope you find some of this helpful.