After exhaustive research, input from countless sources and riding 9 different bikes I bought a bike that many, including myself, thought to be an overpriced Fred bike. I went to Champaign Cycle and rode one of my finalist for the second time a Trek 2.3. My plan was to make a direct comparison with the Cannondale Synapse Alloy 6 that was finally assembled and ready to ride and a Giant Defy.
When I returned from a 10 mile ride of the 2.3 the salesman asked me what I thought of the 2.3. I told him what I liked and disliked. He said "Before you go. I want you to ride a 4.5 Madone." I replied that I'd ridden a Synapse Carbon 5 and didn't like it and explained why. He said he'd ridden one and agreed with my objections.
So I got on it and 1/4 mile down the road I'm thinking "This is pretty nice but it won't handle the rough roads I ride on." An hour later I returned and bought it.