This is the story of a $98 Wal-Mart bike that doesn't suck. I was driving a trailer load from CT to Honduras, when my customs broker informed me that I was going to have to wait five days for Mexican customs paperwork due to a new title verification procedure. So rather than twiddle my thumbs for five days, I toured the bike shops, sporting goods stores, and department stores for an inexpensive bike I could ride for a couple of days. The bike I zeroed in on was the Next Avalon, sold at Walmart for $98. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=2061606 This bike would fall into the comfort bike or city bike categories, but it is rather unique and well thought-out. It has a 7005 aluminum main triangle with a wide ovalized and curved downtube. The rear shock has perhaps 20mm travel to improve ride without soaking up too much power. The shock is very good looking, with cast or machined aluminum preload adjusters. I think if it had a little Fox sticker it would fool quite a few cyclists. I think it has some rebound damping but I didn't remove it to check for sure. I didn't pull out my magnet, but I believe the single pivot subframe is steel. The front forks are cheap spring-only units with no damping, but that really doesn't significantly hurt the bike's performance for its intended purpose, which is recreational road riding, commuting, bike trails, or non-technical dirt roads. The rims are aluminum with 26 x 2" 40psi tires. It seems 1.75" would be more appropriate. Front hub is aluminum, rear is steel. The spokes are stainless steel. There are no quick-releases, a 15mm wrench is used to remove the wheels. The cranks are chromed steel with a 38 tooth front sprocket. The 7 speed rear cluster is 14-26 as I recall. These ratios are well-chosen, reasonably close ratio with a good low gear for hills. Top gear is a bit low, causing one to spin out and coast a bit prematurely. I really like the relative simplicity of the single chainring, but an 8 speed rear would work better for the application. The black plastic Shimano derailleur shifts quickly and precisely with the twist grip shifter. A couple of times when I shifted, the chain came off the chainring, and there is a plastic ring on the outside of the chainring which catches the chain so it doesn't eat up the bottom bracket or chainstay. A nice touch is the aluminum adjustable handlebar stem because one can substantially change the handlebar position to meet personal preferences. Not trusting Walmart assembly, I brought the bike to Camp Waiting4Customs in the crate. Assembly was simple and took less than 2 hours. My only gripe was that the wheels had "quality control" stickers but were not well trued. I wear 32" inseam pants and the seatpost was at the marked limit, so a bit longer seatpost would be a plus. After assembling the bike, I rode a 75 mile loop from Los Indios TX to Pharr and back with no problems. The next day I washed and waxed my truck. The next day I rode the Avalon from Los Indios to Port Isabel at the bridge to South Padre Island, checked out the view from the lighthouse, and back to Los Indios, a total of 85 miles. After this ride, I changed the straight seatpost for a set-back post which placed my knee directly over the pedal spindle. The riding position on this bike is a bit further forward (relative to the bottom bracket) than most MTB or road bikes, which actually works well for me. On most bikes I have to go from a set-back post to a straight post, and then the plumb still shows my knee a bit behind the pedal spindle. When I got to Honduras, I had several much more expensive bikes at my disposal, but I still felt like riding the Avalon. I replaced the standard pedals with SPDs. Then I rode Carreteria Olancho (a roughly paved road) out to La Sierra and back to my property in El Tomate, an 80 mile ride. Another day I rode a combined road and dirt road loop through El Tamarindo and past Talanga, about 45 miles. This loop included a good climb out of Rio Dulce and I surprised myself by doing the whole climb seated - a challenge even on a triple chainring MTB. I don't understand how Walmart can be selling this bike for $98. It should cost at least $300. The bike is very rideable, comfortable, and enjoyable, even though my average speed was about 3mph below what it would be on a good flat handlebar 700c bike. Someone at Next put some extra thought into designing this bike, and I'm glad they did.