I have just purchased a bike for my wife.  $500 for it.  This may sound like alot, but bikes can go up to 4 or 5 thousand.  I recommend going to an actual bike store and not a sports superstore.  The people at a bike store will know what you will need and answer any questions you will have.  They may also offer free tune ups, test rides, and adjustments.  If my wife finds the seat uncomfortable, or the bike not ridable, she can bring it back and trade up for another seat, or exchange the bike for another.  There is a 30 day tryout period.  Not many stores will allow that.
This brand of bike is quite nice.  Comfy and fairly light. My wife’s bike is a Haro bike. 

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