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.
Todd, seems you don't live very close to Chicago. Sorry for the Chicago recs. But they are good choices if you make your way up here!
You should bone up on the used/vintage market. You can get much more bike from that than you ever will at a department store. I say you should never buy sushi from a gas station or a bike from a department store, you will get equally unpleasant and unpredictable results.
I found an amazing old Fuji touring bike from the 80s for my 6-5 friend for $250 on Craiglist. This guy had a garage full of amazing bikes for sale in West Chicago. Very cool guy. It was hard to leave because he kept showing me old, interesting bikes and parts.
While I don't think you have to get a custom built bike to get a good fit, Gunnar makes some reasonably priced customs at the same factory as Waterford. And there's local frame builders who can build a good frame at a good price. But if you're talking about spending $350 for a new bike, you can spend less and get a better used bike. If the parts are decent, save up for a custom frame and then swap the parts to the custom frame.
I'd look for a (used) Trek, Miyata, Nishiki, Cannondale touring, etc. I have a Trek 400 that I bought here for $200 that's been great, a similar Nishiki I bought from CL in Madison, and a Cannondale T400 I bought on ebay. They are all modern enough to take upgrades with no problems, will fit anything up to 34c tires, and are versitile enought to commute on, tour, or race (in a pinch).