But at 5'2'', and a small-ish budget (around £300), my choices were limited, especially in mountain-bike centric Edinburgh. I came across the Dawes Duchess in a vague state of despair, and though it wasn't love at first sight, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
See? It doesn't look too bad, does it?
My glamorous moutain-biking assistant holding the culprit. "You look so French", he said.
It has a steel frame, 7 gears, a chainguard, mudguards, and a basket.
Sadly, the test ride was disappointing. There was an air of cheapness about it, of over-complication. The colour was more purple than plum, the stitching on the grips was naff, and the rattan "effect" basket was, well, plastic.
Still, I could have overlooked all this if it hadn't been for the rickety feeling when I took it for a test ride. It was light enough, comfortable, and easy on inclines. Perhaps it had something to do with the bike having been assembled that morning, but I could feel every bump in the perfectly smooth road, and just felt like the bicycle would fall to bits beneath me.
Dejected, I walked up the road to find my lovely Falcon... but that's for another post.