So I've been doing some bike shopping the last month, going around and harassing the local bike shops with a bunch if amateurish questions.
I think I've whittled my bike preference down to a Trek 7.3FX, and the potential of a $250-$300 one in good condition, but used. But I'd like to check again with the forum sages and make sure this is the route I want to take.
The bike will be used in Seattle, mostly as a commuter bike to commute short distances between campus, grocery stores and local libraries. I also wouldn't mind taking the bike on light gravel from time to time as a fitness bike, but nothing like a bumpy dirt road. Road bikes seem like they wouldn't be able to handle the bumps and holes on Seattle's streets, have a much higher starting price, and probably make for a juicier target in a so-so neighborhood.
So I've been looking at the Trek FX series and other brands with similar bikes. Local bike shop folks have showed me the Giant OCR 3 and the Globe Vienna which feel about right, but seem a little heavier than the Trek 7.3FX (or even the 7.2).
Are there any other bikes I should consider at the last minute? Considering my needs, thus "class" of bike seems the most appropriate, but I thought I'd look into it one more time.