Thanks to Mr. Dario, an excellent bike site, Lovely Bicycle. In particular the article on price and bike selection represents very sage advice; it’s not about the price, it’s about the experience of riding a bike and whether or not that experience will encourage you to ride more.
We used to call cheap, department and big-box store bikes, “garage bikes”, because that was where they were destined to spend their dusty lives. And these days, it’s very easy to make beautiful looking bikes from crappy material; they look amazing, yet produce abysmal experiences that one avoids like the plague.
I used to joke with people that a cheap bike is like a cheap suit: It’s not that it won’t last; it will….and it will make you look and feel bad forever.
This is an excellent quote that sums it up perfectly:
The truth is that what constitutes a quality bicycle and a good value often depends on the person. It depends on their needs. It depends on their standards. It depends on the kind of riding they do, on their body’s sensitivity, on their terrain, even on their climate. It depends on their level of mechanical skill. It is impossible to profess “the answer” that will be applicable to everyone.