Hi everyone! Firstly, this might be in the wrong place so I'm sorry if so! I'm looking to buy a bike for university, and I'm torn between a hybrid and a road bike. I originally thought I'd get a road bike, since lots of guys at my school/6th form ride road bikes and they get on just fine. The first bike shop I went to said a road bike would be fine, since they're tougher than they used to be, etc.. The second bike shop guy suggested (in a nice, non-salesy way) that I get a hybrid, since I'm mainly planning to use it around Cambridge (provided I get in!). I know everyone (give or take) says that hybrids are silly, but he made some good points; it will be stronger, faster than a MTB, more durable, etc. My budget is around £450. So that was my intro, here are the bikes suggested to me:
Merida Ride 77 - he said the one with carbon fibre forks is £499 but since they didn't have the one without (£450) in stock he could do the one with for £450. I said I'd think about it. Stupidly I didn't look at the hybrids in the shop.
Claud Butler Elite - down from something or other, the numbers on it were 6061 t4-t6 if that means anything (showing my ignorance of bikes). This was £398.
Raleigh 100 airlight - £409
Ridgeback Velocity MP £380 - this was the bike he pointed us to when I said what I'd be using it for.
Part of me says I want the drop handlebars, but another part says that I'll never use it for racing (I'm going on a couple of 50 mile rides over summer but that'll probably be it) and that I'll look pretentious when I only need it around town.
So my questions are:
Are hybrids really that bad? They seem light enough, and with thin enough tires, but durable. I would get toe clip pedals, but is the drop handlebar thing enough to make a road bike a better choice?
Is the ridgeback a good choice? I like the look of things like the Trek 7.3 [EDIT: maybe 7.2, can't remember] which is about in my range. Should I visit some more LBSs? I've seen others online but I seem to recall that buying online isn't a good idea for someone who will need help fitting like myself.
Is my budget realistic?
Any other advice? I'd appreciate any tips; as you can tell I'm no bike expert so I'm hoping to learn a lot.
Thanks very much in advance