I'm really maxing out the abilities of the bike I have and really want something more capable. I ride 23 miles/day, 5 to 6 days a week, usually 6 and avg between 16 to 17mph overall for the 23 miles(usually around 16.5)--if I get a bike that I can go faster on, I'll likely increase my mileage to 25 or more. Not sure if I should go to the hybrid that is more road like, i.e. Giant Rapid series, or go full on road. The hybrids I tried were the Giant Rapid 3 and the Specialized Sirrus(I believe). Even though the Rapid only had 8 cogs on the rear crankset and the Sirrus had 9, the Rapid was lighter, and seemed faster and smoother in the gearing. The Rapid had 700c x 28 tires whereas the Sirrus used 32s. http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/rapid.3/7298/44052/
Now, if I had the LBS get a Rapid 2 or higher spec Specialized, I start to approach Road bike pricing. Also, Road bikes have more hand positions than the flat bar bikes(even if you do have bar ends). I test rode the Giant Defy 1 and the Specialized Allez. The Allez has a much more aggressive riding position(more like racing). I liked the Defy 1, but the price $13XX.00 is daunting. If I dropped down in component level the price hovers around 1170. The Allez was 830, (the aggressive riding position didn't appeal to me).
The bike I'm really leaning towards is the Giant Defy 1(2011): http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/defy.2/7307/44048/
I'm thinking road as I there are greater number of hand positions, hoods, flats, drops, than with a fitness, flat-bar, bike, and remember, if I upgrade the components on the Giant Rapid, it's starts to get closer to the cost of a roadie. The Defy 1, $1370, has shimano 105s whereas the Defy 2, $1160 has Shimano Tiagra(the 2012 Defy 2 is 10 speed cassette whereas the 2011 Defy 2 is a 9 speed cassette). The Defy 1 that I test rode is a 2011 model...only difference in '11 and '12 Defy 1 models is color scheme from every thing I can tell.
I also tried a Canonndale Cad8 and a Specialized Sectaur...I still like the Defy better...the Sectaur comes in second.
Defy 1 2012 http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/defy/9014/48853/
Defy 2 2011 http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/defy.2/7307/44048/
Defy 2 2012 http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....2/9014/48854/