questionscan someone please recommend a style, make…

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I don't have any brilliant answers, just a possible savings suggestion. Where I live, the police department uses very expensive BMW bikes, which they retire after a pretty short period of use.. Those are sold at the city auction for reasonable prices, like $100 or so. They've moved my office to only about 2.5 miles from where I live and I would live to bike-commute. But the area is very hilly and has comparatively heavy traffic. I hadn't been on a bike in at least as long as you, and when I tried I found I felt extremely precarious, mostly about stopping on hills. I am also not in good enough shape to make the last steep climb to my house. So I am considering a "park and bike" strategy for the summer, leaving my car/bike parked at the hospital at the bottom of the hill.

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You're in luck - cycling is very popular in the Metro DC area and there are many new and used bike shops to visit. Finding the right bike is very much a fit & feel thing, so I can only recommend going to a couple of the shops and try out a few different bikes to figure out what you like. I went to REI to try out and purchase my bike during one of their yearly sales. But, any of the bike shops in the area should have lots of different bikes to choose from. Even if you don't buy from the shop, at least you will know what size, what type, what brand of bike you are looking for. That makes craigslist surfing much easier when you have a list of 2-3 specific bikes to search for.

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It doesn't sound like you'll be riding that much. Head on down to Walmart and get one for like $80. Just make sure it can handle your weight. Then buy a nice gel cushion seat for $15. Can't really go wrong for what you'll be using it for.

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If it's just for occasional riding with your kids, I too would recommend a cheap box store bike. I bought one of the pricier Huffy bikes (~$100) about 5 years ago, because I needed cheap transportation, and I live in, um, one of the less desirable counties in the dc metro area, where theft is a concern. It's held up well, aside from a plastic coating that's peeling off.

Otherwise, it's about finding a bike that fits you well. Finding a bike that's comfortable for you is what matters.

For just riding with the kids, you likely won't need any gear beside a helmet and bell. It's generally considered polite to use a bell to indicate that you're going to pass someone, and some local governments require it. If you have any plans on riding at dusk or later, get a very visible head light and tail light. I bought Planet Bike brand lights, and I'm really happy with them.

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I took this path a few years ago. Hit several CL ads and bike "recycling" (ha!) shops.
Ended up with a "higher end" Schwinn hybrid from Wally ($200). It does the trick for riding with the kiddos (Who ride Trek's, BTW because CL has much better deals on kid's bikes)

j5 j5
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I would suggest something like a Trek Navigator 2.0 or 3.0. It's a lower-priced but still good quality bike shop bike. Decent suspension for what you are riding.

After finally having stepped up and bought a bike from a local bike shop after having used big box store bikes for most of my life, I will never ever again suggest a box store bike. The difference is night and day. And on sale I got mine brand new for around 300 bucks. Much more than worth it for the quality difference.

I enjoy riding now where before it was just something I did.

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I too am in a similar situation. Has anyone ever tried a genesis v2100 or know if it is a good bike? http://www.walmart.com/ip/Genesis-26-Men-s-V2100-Dual-Suspension-Bicycle/14089739

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I bought a TREK 4300 back in 2004, for under $400. It handled the deserts around Phoenix for 7 years, and now going on two years in hills of San Diego. My advice is whatever you get, put on a comfortable seat.

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any recommendations on a seat?

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@icemanforlife:

Do NOT buy a gel or overly padded seat. Contrary to popular opinion, they are worse.

What happens is...the soft padded parts of that fancy gel seat squish up into your nether bits, cutting off even more of the circulation. And so your ass hurts/gets numb, and you put on another layer of padding, thinking that it will help. But it only gets worse.

Padded bike shorts, and a semi hard seat works best. Your ass will break in after a while and all will be fine.

Padded/gel seats are meant to do one thing. Sell padded/gel seats. Not to make your ride any easier.

ptr ptr
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@75grandville: What did you end up doing? Did you get a bike? Do you like it?

My wife and I are both looking for bikes, but not wanting to spend a ton (hoping for $350-$400 or less)...we won't be riding a lot, but would want to have the option of going out trail riding for an hour or so a time or two a week.

Originally I was thinking about a mountain bike (because they're cool or whatever), but after more consideration, would probably look at a hybrid bike from a Local Bike Store (LBS).

I've looked at Craigslist and there are not a lot of options for us unfortunately.

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@sgrman05: Wound up buying used hybrid bikes on Craigslist - tons of stuff around here. I got a Trek 7300, and got a Giant Cypress DX for my wife. Both were in the $250 range. Also scored a Burley D'Lite trailer for the kids, and a trail-a-bike for when they are a bit older/more confident. Plus a bike rack for the car. Lock and helmets from Amazon.

Not sure what the LBS around you offers - do they take trade-ins? Are you close enough to a major metro area that it would be feasible to plan a day trip in to pick up a couple of used bikes?