they're 3x8, so, triple chainrings (or double if you ignore an extra position), and 8 cogs in the rear.
sora is the component grade
flightdeck indicates compatibility with those silly motorcycle style display add-ons (never ever seen anyone actually use one)
I dont like that particular model myself, since the shift return lever is the little tab up on top; which is not accessible from the dropped riding position.
-ie, these are meant to be used from the hoods primarally; entry level/casual riders intended.
may not be a deal breaker if that describes how you're going to ride of course
higher end ones relocate the shift lever to be more usable from the drops; that or just buy Campagnolo
I dunno, 60$?
The clamps may have only been tightened out of view into the housing.
You can't do that; half the loop should be visible, so there are no clamps in that pic.
$60 sounds fair, $50 without the clamps... you should be able to pinch another pair from most other brake levers, might require a couple of bolts as well if the Soras use a nut (same thing that holds brakes on BTW)... just use something in a 5mm allen dome-head, and the bigger hole won't matter if the head is big enough. I think canti/V-brake mounting bolts can often do the job.
The clamps were indeed present and I got them for $65. I doubt I'll be in the drops much, if ever, so I think they'll work for me - this is my first road bike, though, so maybe I'll eat those words. Much thanks for the input - it really helped in my decision.