Re: Thrifty vs. Cheap!
Yeah, if you have to scrimp, I think the power dept is a good place.
Another point is this: cheap new MallWart bikes may look very similar to the bikes you see in a bike shop or even 20 yr old mid grade bikes (cheap on c'list), but they're not. It's what you don't see that's the problem; crappy bearings, weak stamped steel, low grade components, and brakes (oh my!) etc.
I feel a lot better about pickin' up a late 80's early 90's trek or specialized etc for $20 on c'list than any $100-$200 dept store bike!
Good to see some common sense. Also good to see that it doesn't seem hat I've heard of too many accidents since I started (considering the inherant dangers).