My sister has recently decided to give this “bicycle thing” a bit of a go. So armed with sound advice from a good friend with an understanding of bicycles more rooted in reality than myself (thanks Jim), we went shopping. The criteria were: budget value (up to $600 AUD), able to commute to & from work (up to 12 km), and decent enough to ride for pleasure and fitness.
I don’t normally look for bicycles that fit real world needs, and especially not in the budget sector. This was a real eye-opener and my word are bicycles cheap! But less than $400 AUD and the quality plunges to depths below that of a year 10 shop student with no thumbs, no coordination, and very probably blind as well. Above the $800 AUD price bracket and things start looking really quite professional with a scattering of hydroformed aluminium frames and decent Shimano or SRAM componentry. The $400-800 price bracket is what I would consider the basic entry-level market and it has a hard ask. Buy a rubbish or badly set-up bike and the less-than-resolute newbie gets turned off cycling altogether. Buy a decent bike and we may well have another cycling convert.
In the end we went for the Kona Smoke for $500AUD. Not too shabby for a competent TIG-welded, butted cromoly frame, decent componentry with 3x8 gears (Shimano Alivio front and Deore (oh my at this price bracket!) rear derailleurs), reliable Tektro brakes, solid aluminium & stainless steel wheelset, and fenders.
Inexpensive + competent + understated + chick riding = ubercool.
And you know what else? It probably rides better than a 1930’s Gloria Garibaldina... (once she gets familiar with the bike and the saddle gets raised to it’s proper height)