Originally Posted by douglasseattle
I was a competitive cyclist (road racing) and coach for 12 years. I can tell you that cheap bikes do not handle well, especially at speed. They tend to be misaligned and heavy. Steel rims are cheap, hard to true, have cheap and rough hubs and I doubt they are stronger.
It is better to look for a reasonable quality used mountain bike on craigslist (univega, diamond back, among many others) that were sold at better bike shops than at department stores.
High quality is always better, still there are many members here using inexpensive department store bicycles and moving down the road just the same. Some of these folks have been through several engines on the same inexpensive bicycle.