WARNING, THIS ADVICE COMES FROM A NOOBIE WHO MAY NOT KNOW JACK SHYTE. But I'm hoping that perhaps my less than knowledgable perspective may be a bit more realistic. At 240 lbs and coming from a dual suspension bike, it seems to me like you would have been wasting a LOT of energy. Someone previously mentioned a hardtail MTB which to me would certainly cover the durability issue and tire size needs that you have and should dramatically increase your speed vs. the dual suspension bike. I don't know enough about durability of a hybrid vs a mtb to know if that would be a good idea but I do know that my Giant Rapid 3 flat bar road bike would fix your issue of feeling like your going over the bar that you felt with drop bars. My bike came with 700 x 28 and I know I could go to larger tires than that. I'm about your weight as well and I live in nyc with plenty of rough potholed streets. My armadillios have provided me with pretty good flat protection. I've only had my bike since feb but I'm about to change out my brake pads, they stop me pretty well and I'm in NYC, I gather I'm going to have the need to stop short, a lot more often than you do in canada. my bike was $500 new but i have the lowest end model which has cromoly fork not carbon.
Looking at the specs on the Giant Seek that was previously mentioned, it does look like it offers a pretty good combo of everything you are looking for as well. Finally, I don't know about shipping costs for bikes direct to Canada, but that could be a great way to get a lot of bang for the buck, especially if your capable of doing all your own wrenching. Heck, you could buy a bike from there just to get components to put onto your existing bike then sell the frame
This time last year, I was shopping for a bike withe similar requirements. My decision was narrowed down between the Giant Seek, Specialized Crosstrail, and Trek FX. All three are great hybrid bikes but I'd suggest the Crosstrail for you because of the harsh roads. I agree with Wanderer's post regarding this bike. But at your price point you could go for the Crosstrail Comp, change the tires and still be under budget. Personally, I test rode the Crosstrail Elite several times. Its a very comfortable and quick ride, and the locking suspension helps tailor the ride to your liking.
So I finally got more time off from work to re-ride the bikes that I like plus a couple of new ones that hadn't been built or the LBS didn’t have. So I started out with a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 10 that was way too big for me and very stretched out. It kind of felt like riding your older brother’s bike when he is a foot taller than you- sloshing and stretching would be an apt description of it. I was really happy that the LBS built the next size down for me. Even though it still didn’t fit right, and I didn’t buy anything from them, I was really happy that they would build a bike just so that I could try it out. I also tried a Rocky Mountain Solo. I didn’t like it (too crammed again), but the thing that really surprised me was how much the fork flexed. It wasn’t a badly built bike (the headset/headtube fit wasn’t at all sloppy), but I have never seen aluminium flex nearly that much.
Earlier that day I phoned another LBS to see if they had any touring bikes built (last round they didn’t) in a large sized frame and they said that there was a Kona Sutra that would work. I really liked the fit of the bike, but man was it heavy. As in noticeably heavier than my current dually mountain bike. Also the stock racks looked kind of department store-ish and might not take too many jugs of milk home before bending inwardly towards the wheels and causing a humongous accident and an outright renunciation of cycling altogether.
So I returned to the LBS with the Opus Legato that I liked, rode it once more, had lunch, did some number crunching, and went back to buy it. Dave, the owner, did a bike sizing on me which involved a pair of perpendicular lasers attached to sharks, plumb lines, and a goniometer (Okay, so there were no sharks). A few seat adjustments later and I was sized. He informed me that if I embark on any really long tours that I should get re-fitted with clipless shoes and have the pedals shimmed to avoid knee problems (I’m really duck footed)
One of the things that really surprised me (and I think Dave and Martin), were some of the details put into the bike. I build/repair stuff all the time in my job ranging from trailers, to climbing walls, power tools, docks, and heavy equipment, but I really like working on stuff that is well designed and well built. When Dave and Martin were putting the fenders on they seemed surprised that the fender mounts (and racks mounts) are manufactured into the bike and not just TIG welded on later. The holes for the fenders were drilled and tapped so that the bolts just screw into a structural part of the bike that was intentionally designed to be there. They seemed to be straight and the correct thread and in the right spot so there is no fiddling around with were to put them. None of this thru-bolting to a reamed out hose clamp malarkey. It just fit well:
That’s the way more things should be. I look forward to the day I can satisfactorily turn in the bolts snugly to a nicely designed Tubus rack.
I think that it will take a while to get used to a road style bike with narrow drop bars (as compared to a mountain bike) and STI levers, but it does feel good to pedal and go where you want to- not pedal, compress the suspension, rebound and then finally after you file for your social security, actually get somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my old mountain bike and the places it has taken me, but riding a road style bike is seriously half the work of pedaling my dually.
So right now my Opus Legato is sitting in the LBS with its fenders neatly mounted where some engineer wanted them to go, waiting for me to borrow someone’s truck so I can get my bike out to where I live/work.
I appreciate all your time in helping me make an informed decision on my next bike that I foresee lasting me a good number of years and thousands of kilometres. I’ll have more questions when I start riding this bike I’m sure.