I am in the market for a new bike. I have an old Schwinn road bike from the 70's but it needs a ton of work. I have a 26" Schwinn Mesa GS http://i6.ifrm.com/3205/73/upload/p1157247.jpgthat I bought for $125 at an auction 1½ yrs ago and while I like it it is way to small for me at 6'5. I am looking for a comfortable bike that I can ride for hours upon hours and not get overly tired. I have bike trips planned for this summer of 80, 120 & 150 miles for the top 3. Most of my riding is 25-50 miles per day. i have been looking at a 28" Schwinn Trailways from Target. The price is decent and the bike felt better then my Mesa.
What do some of you feel is a good bike that is under $350? The Schwinn dealers/bike shops are way too expensive for me and I feel like they are trying to sell me a BMW when I only have $$ for a Pinto.
I figure at worst i can try the Trailways for a week til my 1st bike group ride on May 10th and after that 17 miles if i dont like the bike i can bring it back to Target.
As tall as you are, look for a bike shop that has pre-owned bikes. I've bought a pre-owned, used ,or second hand bike. Most shops who sell pre-owned bikes can offer a warranty on them. Many pre-owned bikes sold through local bike shops have been reconditioned. For about anybody else, buyer beware.
I would suggest what Barry said. Also at a shop they can fit you for a bike to make sure you are getting the right height and fittings are free. For rides as long as you are looking to do you don't want to have an ill fit bike as that can create unnecessary soreness or worse.
I don't know a whole lot about bikes, but I am pretty sure the bikes you mention are not intended to hold up to the riding you do. Working Bikes, Ciclo Urbano, The Recyclery, Blackstone bikes are all places that have good refurbished bikes and they will work with you to get something that will fit you.
Touring Bikes have a more relaxed geometry. Wikipedia: A touring bicycle is a bicycle designed or modified to handle bicycle touring. To make the bikes sufficiently robust, comfortable and capable of carrying heavy loads, special features may include a long wheelbase (for ride comfort and to avoid pedal-to-luggage conflicts), frame materials that favor flexibility over rigidity (for ride comfort), heavy duty wheels (for load capacity), and multiple mounting points (for luggage racks, fenders, and bottle cages).
Another idea some (not all) LBS will let you do a lay away.
This way you get the bike that fits you and is better quality.
If I were you, I would go to WorkingBikes or other places Lisa listed above, and find a tall bike w/ triple crank, like this one: http://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/bik/4422337917.html
I think you need to reconsider what you would like to do with the bike (on the one hand) and how much you want to spend. If you say, you want to be comfortable for hours and hours of riding, I am thinking of this.
If you want to spend less than $350, I wonder if you will comfortable for hours and hours of riding, and I agree with ilter recommendation of stopping by WorkingBikes.
J.P. and ilter are dead on. In ilter's photo example look at how long the head tube is (front tube between the top and down tube that the steering goes through). You will need that length at your height. That will help you narrow in on the right-height bikes. Touring bikes will have more distannce between the rear wheel and the seat tube which will be at a flatter angle (less perpemdicular) than a road bike. Take Lisa's advice on local bike shops and you should be able to find your dream bike.
A good bike is one that fits you regardless of price. The most common way to measure bike size is the distance from the center of the cranks to near the top of the seat tube. When you sit on the saddle your leg should be slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke. The Trailways bike ,you gave a link for ,is a small bike. I do not know why Target calls it a 28" frame size. From the picture it looks close to an 18" frame about the same size of the blue Mesa you linked to.
You might not need a new bike. Does your old Schwinn road bike fit you? I bought a Schwinn Sports Tourer frame in 1972 and installed parts from my broken frame Bianchii. I rode it a few years then gave it to my son when in high school. He gave it back when he went to grad school. It is currently set up as a flat bar touring bike. I am 6'2" and the Schwinn is a 25 inches frame. Notice the pedal crank looks short on my bike compared to the Target bike picture. I used it to cycle camp across Missouri two years ago and rode from Buckingham fountain to Wisconsin last month. I might use it on the LeTourdeShore this June.
Don't let the townie look on the Gateway fool you. It has a good spoke count and almost looks like it has touring bones....steel frame, cantilever bosses, a rack and preinstalled fenders for $200. WHAT? very cool, IMHO. You can switch to a triple front chainring and do the bottom bracket conversion later, if you still want to keep the bike by then. BUT I do agree there are many good bikes out there used. The old Schwinn bikes are just so incredibly versatile.
Even cheaper and identical in design is the Wayfarer:
Stick with steel. It will return the favor mile after mile and keep you comfortable in the saddle for many years.
The above talks about the difficulty of bottom bracket conversions.....so that's something to consider if you go for the Wayfarer. I still think many used bikes are far better.