I've started commuting with my old mountain bike and am really enjoying it! I'm looking to buy a new bike that will be a little nicer for to/from the office, 75% along rail-to-trail (the Burke-Gilman for those who know Seattle) and 25% city, about 5 miles each way. It would be nice to go on longer rides from time to time, but probably most of the time it will just be commuting. I would like a rack for lunch/clothes, so I don't have to keep backpacking it.
I've tried out probably 10 bikes so far, and am looking primarily at three options:
2011 Giant Escape City ($550)
2010 Masi CaffeRacer Solo ($600)
2010 Bianchi Valle ($800)
I've been trying to learn the new language that is bike components and materials. I'm currently leaning toward the Masi, since its 200 bucks cheaper than the Bianchi and has a 105 deraileur (which I understand is better than the others...?). After fenders/rack probably still 130 cheaper. I believe the components are better enough to justify the extra for the Masi over the Giant... but not sure. The Bianchi has a dynamo on the front for the light, which seems like a cool feature, but not sure if that is worth the extra expense. I do love that mocha brown on the Masi...
I'm trying to stay below 1000, but less allows me to pick up other things sooner (such as bags, eventually maybe clip pedals?). I wouldn't be opposed to drop bars, but it seems like those quickly juice the price up, and for starting out may be more than I'm looking for.
So, o commuters of bikeforums, what do you think would be the best bet price/bang for the buck wise? Or am I not as likely to notice all the difference in components the bike store people have stated, and should I just get the cheapest one that works?
Much thanks in advance!