Just turned fitty, by the way, and couldn't figure where to post this--General, Road bikes, or Hybrids or here-- but this place seemed as good as any. Relocate as need be.
I'm shopping for a bike to ride on longer distances of 30+ miles. I hope to go on a hundred mile ride this year and would eventually like to take a ride to NYC. Presently, I ride my Breezer to work and around town. Don't really go any further than 12 miles or so.
I've been looking at the road bikes out there and notice that they are all aggressive in nature. If you look at the Giant or Raliegh or Masi websites (I'm sure others are this way, but I didn't look), the road bikes all have handlebars well below and fairly far from the seats.
I've ridden the Giant Defy and it says it's "relaxed" but it isn't. To be certain, I rode it about 5 miles. I require a comfortable bike, as I ride for fun first, sport second.
However, the Giant Rapid, a flat barred bike, is relaxed and I loved its ride--love the responsive frame and the light weight. The Raleigh Cadent also looks nice--it's a flat bar bike. But note that in 2006 it was a drop bar bike and Sheldon Brown wrote a great review on it--it switched to flats sometime in '07 or '08. The Masi has the Caffe Racer that looks like a nice relaxed geometry, but it also has the flat bars. The other Masi's are more aggressive.
(Sheldon Brown review:http://sheldonbrown.org/raleigh-cadent/)
Everything I read points me toward the drop bars for long rides, yet it looks like the only way to get one that I'll be comfortable on off the shelf is touring or cyclecross bikes, which don't appeal to me that much.
So, I'm thinking that my best options are live with the flat bars, which I like a lot, or buy a bike like the Giant Defy and have them extend the stem and angle the bars up. Doing such a mod concerns me in that it will cost a few bucks and I'm not sure that I know how much to adjust it and if it will work for me.