In an extremely encouraging development, my girlfriend (who lives in Edmonton) has decided she'd like to get a bike for the summer, after not riding for many years. Since I'm in NW Washington state, I can't easily walk her through finding something quality in town. I'm inclined to send her to Bike Works, but having never been there, can anyone give me some input on the shop and whether there's a chance she'll be able to find something built that will work for her there? Is there a good shop selling used that she should visit instead? I'd like to find her something basic, just to "encourage" her to fall in love with cycling.
I've tried Craigslist but I think I'm spoiled with our Seattle-area used market; the rides available weren't worth pursuing. If anyone has a lead on something solid, used, and around $150 that didn't come from Canadian Tire I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
I'm one of the mechanics at Bikeworks. We've been selling built-up bikes like crazy with the start of spring, so selection is a bit limited right now. It changes every week, so if she checks back a few times I'm sure we can find something for her. We have a bike building night every Tuesday, so Thursday night would be the best time to stop by (we're closed Wednesdays at the moment). If she's willing to do some work herself (with our guidance), that opens up more possibilities. Ready-to-go bikes tend to be around $80--$100, ones needing work are usually $40--$80.
As for other sources, there's a police auction on the first Saturday of each month. You could also keep an eye on Kijiji, which is much more popular than Craigslist around here. Most of it will be Canadian Tire specials, but decent bikes do come up once in a while. Value Village occasionally has something decent, but that's pretty rare in my experience.
I've never put her on any bikes her size, but at 5'6" with pretty long legs I'm going to guess she's probably going to need a 51-52cm road bike or 16-17 mountain. Ideally, it wouldn't be a cruiser but something light enough that she could ride for fitness (hybrid would even work). At this point I'm not too picky, if there's a good solid bike that you know of, let me know!