I have recently given my wife the cycling bug and she is looking to upgrade from her Walmart BSO. We have done mild/intermediate offroad trails and a half triathalon with what we have; the second leg was brutal for her. I have a Gary Fisher Utopia and found a tire swap will give me the performance I want on and off road. Is there anything comparable to the Utopia in a woman's bike?
Is there a woman's bike that can do mild offroad AND uncompetitive triathalons?
As you have ascertained, tire SIZE (and therefore, weight) has an affect on how much effort a rider needs to expend when riding on the road ... AND, tire SIZE is the key to whether or not a bike can be effectively ridden off road ...
First, what size wheels does your wife's bike have AND why couldn't you replace the tires on her bike for the half triatholon?
Why can't you buy an equivalent TREK for your wife?
- i.e., the Trek Utopia (from the "Gary Fisher collection")
The Trek Utopia is already in your price range ... it should be negotiable for even less if you can find a NOS 2011-or-older version in your local bike shop ...
If you need to, then CANCEL your cable ... or, make some other short-term adjustment to your budget (e.g., no more Starbucks).