I can answer many questions on bicycling. I have been cycle touring for many years.
I've lead cycling trips for several organizations.
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Dept store bikes are cheap, not for serious riders. I would be more inclined to search for a good used bike. Check out bike clubs in your area, many may have a member listings for used bikes. Bike
I would classify bikes into 3 categories. Department store bikes, bike store bikes and custom bikes. Department store bikes tend to be cheaper, lower quality and more for the mass market. Bike store
Your budget is a problem. You probably want a decent road bike or touring bike. But decent will cost you close to $1K unless you can pick up a used bargain. Hope this helps, Scott<> Just out
I'm not too up on sizing of mountain bikes. But generally they are sized smaller and shouldn't necessarily allow full extension. But there is really very little you can do to retrofit such a bike.
There used to be "mopeds". These were battery powered "bikes" that could be pedaled to preserve battery life and maybe provide some charge. I believe they still exist in some areas. But I'm not real familiar