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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am overwhelmed on where to start, but I am into mountain biking so I do have some knowledge on bikes in general.

Budget $800 as I want to start out slow before I spend more down the road.

I am burnt out from distance running and boring gym workouts and looking for a way to further enjoy exercise as it is a drive to local mountain bike trails. Also, I am looking for a good all-around road bike that I can also use as a commuter and possible time on gravel. Longest ride will probably be 10-20 miles or so. Hence, I am not looking for an aggressive racing type bike though I believe my budget shows that. Where can I start.
 

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a real member's member
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i suggest mid-level vintage from the '70s or '80s, which have:

- chromoly framesets (or better).
- on-frame rear derailleur hanger.
- cotterless cranksets.
- all aluminum components, especially rims.
- down tube or bar-end shifters.
- serviceable pedals.
- quick-release hub skewers.
- craigs pricing from $200-$500.
- ease of maintenance.
 

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You don't want a "road" bike (a typical road bike can fit 25mm tires max, maybe 28mm if you're lucky or the bike has disc brakes). You want a bike like the Specialized Sequoia, Diverge, or CruX. Unfortunately, those bikes exceed your $800 budget.

Look for a used cyclocross bike on craigslist or eBay. See if you can have a trusted friend help you determine whether a prospective bike is worthy of considering. That will help save you from the pitfalls of buying a bike that is too worn, too old, or not the right size. Also, check your local bike shops. Many sell used bikes that they take in trade, or sell on consignment. Don't forget to bring along that trusted friend to check them out.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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First, the Kona rohmrah posted is a heck of a deal.

Honestly, dropping 600-800 on a new bike will get you a fine bike that will serve you very well for a couple of years on the road. Assuming it fits well of course. MTBs ... stuff breaks, road bike stuff not so much. Every major brand will have a good starter bike in that price range.

Used will get you more bike for the money.

You might want to look for something with rack mounts, depending on how much you want to haul for commuting. More than a backpack, and you might want the option for a rack.

But I will suggest something a bit different, given you have saddle time in your history. Go to some bike stores, and ride some bikes in your price range. Ask them if they have any used bikes, and check out their message board (if they have one) where bikes are posted for sale. You might find something you like that way. And then you can come back here and post your experience. If you can say "This was my fav, followed by this one... but I hated this one." then people here will have some basis for making suggestions. "If you liked X, you might like Y since it is similar."
 
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