My wife wants to get a bike for rides on an extensive system of bike trails we are lucky enough to live near. Some of this will be pretty casual, but she wants to do some longer rides also, including some possible credit card touring. Not all of the paths are paved, and she is interested in flat bars, so she is looking at the performance hybrid or fitness type bikes (lower bars than most hybrids, V-brakes, more tire clearance than the true flat bar road bikes, Trek FX, Jamis Coda, Cannondale Road Warrior 400, etc.).
I'm wondering if for longer rides a touring-ish drop bar bike would be more comfortable, something like a Jamis Aurora or Bianchi volpe that still has V-brakes and can take non-racing tires. She is a little intimidated by the idea of drop bars, but I think if she tried one with higher bars and a more relaxed feel than my racing bike she might not think it's so bad. But I don't want to push her this way if it's not really necessary.
I'm wondering how far you can go on a flat bar bike before it stops being fun. Will adding bar ends make a big difference?
Thanks for your opinions!