I am 5' 7" riding a 15" Specialized Rock Hopper with front and rear shocks which I bought used in a desperate moment a few years ago after my other MTB was stolen. I don't MTB, just commute and run errands. I want to buy a bike that fits me better and will make my commute easier. With my current small frame with the seat set way back (so I don't scrunch so much) and panniers on the back, I end up riding wheelies on my way home up my steep hill. The elevation gain is 1000 feet in 3 very curvy miles. This is after riding 3 miles on a slight incline to get to the bottom of the hill. Riding down to work is fast and fun. Going home can be drudgery. I rarely actually ride up the hill. Instead, I wait for the once an hour bus and begrudgingly fork over the 2 bucks to get me home or have my husband drive down to pick me up or leave a car at the bottom. The latter means no super fun bike ride downhill to wake me up, though.
I want to be able to ride comfortably, bike up the hill, go fast off the hill and feel safe with the terrible Honolulu streets.
I would love a road bike, but don't feel it would be safe for my commute. So I am thinking about a hybrid.
Would love input on models (last year's preferably) that I can comfortably get up the hill and expect to ride faster in town. Also, what should I be looking for as far as components and design?