Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: West coast of New England
Bikes: Gary Fisher Supercaliber (deceased), Surly Cross-Check
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There are all sorts of ways you can adjust the bike to fit -- swapping stems, etc. -- but the key is your comfort. My setup works for me; your mileage may vary. I used to do lots of touring, so my body is comfortable in a certain geometry; I am also a fat bahstid with gorilla arms, so the more upright position is a nice compromise.
As you are new to this, the best thing to do is go to your LBS and get fitted properly (an LBS near me uses a laser scanner) and have them help you choose the bike that works best. Test rides are worth taking, but ultimately it is time in the saddle and constant (or at least that's how it feels) tinkering to get the bike right. Buy the one that speaks to you.