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Depends on how hilly or mountainous the area is that he lives in?
But yeah Sora is garbage. Try find someone in your local area thats selling a decent bike for a good price, but if you can stretch to 600-700 then you'll probably find yourself an alright bike.
Triple chainsets arent for pussies, just get whatever the hell you like. A compact would be good if you live in a pretty hilly area though
as i said, it depends upon what sort of terrain you're riding in
get a compact if you can, wide range of gears, less weight