hey bike people I am currently in the market for something to cruise around in, no long rides or billion gears or anything, just to take short rides in town in, any suggestions or places to begin looking? brands ect would be helpful. I enjoy the clean lines of fixies but would not want one, I still need some gears
It really comes down to how much you are willing to spend. I've gathered that your family has money and perhaps they will extend you a loan since you don't yet have credit. Explain to them that you are trying to get around town and keep fit. It will keep you out of trouble (yeah right) and will cost a fraction of a car.
That said, you should not buy a bike at a thrift store. I know what I'm looking for and the only bike I've seen worth its salt ($350) was found at a pawn shop, not a thrift store. eBay, local bike swaps, craigslist are a whole different story, but avoid looking at thrifts.
A new bike from a bike shop will afford you the attention of capable mechanics and some sort of warranty on frame, parts, and labor. As a veteran bicycle mechanic, I will steer you this way.
As a broke asshole, I often purchase my bikes and parts used. Please go back and read that I know what I'm looking for.
Since you live in/near SF, I would encourage you to go to American Cyclery, Boxdog Bikes or, if you're willing to spend real coin, Rivendell Bicycle Works.
There are too many brands to mention...go with your gut. Talk to professional people about your passions and let their knowledge guide you.
Whatever you do, please don't turn into a douce triathlete.