Advice on road bike models for a beginning commuter
I posted on here a week or two ago about getting a Walmart bike (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ike-at-Walmart), and we were ultimately convinced that we would probably not go that route. To repeat our background, we're just getting started with better bikes after having ridden crappy $50 mountain bikes all our lives. We're mostly going to use them for commuting around the city (San Francisco).
Now we're thinking of getting something off Bikes Direct--probably my husband's bike first because he's already decided to get a road bike, and I'm still deciding between road bike and hybrid. We're looking at these two models: 14 Spd Shimano Aluminum Mercier Galaxy SC1 for $259 (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._al_xi_sc1.htm) and the 24 Spd MicroShift the AL Frame/Steel Fork Gravity Avenue B for $299 (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...y/avenue_b.htm). Are either of these good bikes? Which one is better? We chose these mostly because of the price. We just don't want to get anything that expensive yet because when we've test ridden bikes so far, we haven't really been able to tell the difference between one or another, so I feel anything too grand would be wasted on us.
Also, my husband's biking co-worker said that when we get a bike, we should make sure that the smallest crank size divided by the largest cassette size should be close to 1, but when we went to Performance Bikes today, the manager, who seemed really knowledgeable, says that it isn't necessary, that you'd be going so slowly if you were using that speed setting anyway. How necessary do you think it is to have this ratio close to 1?