Hi. I'm a total newbie. Haven't ridden a bicycle at least 15 years. Even then I hated drop handlebars, always tuned them upside down so the brake levers were facing me, and I pushed them. So I'm looking at flat-bar bikes, even though I'm aware of the lack of positions a flat bar provides. I also grew up riding motorcycles, so that's an additional bias for the flat bars. I do understand the flat bars, but hate having to shift and brake in the drop position.
I also live in a very hilly/mountainous area where I will do most of my riding. It will mostly be paved with occasional fire roads and trails. So a straight road bike isn't perhaps my best choice. So I've been looking at fitness hybrids / road warriors, like the Trek 7700fx, the Fuji Forza series, the Specialized Sirrus' etc.
I'm leaning toward the Trek 7700fx mainly due to the lower gears that come on that model (as well as the shorter tube top on the Treks - I'm Male, 5'6" and weigh around 140). The crank has an inner chain ring of 26 teeth and a large cog on the cassette of 32. Theoretically that should be the best choice for getting a newbie up the monster hills in my neighborhood. Here's my dilemna. Maybe the $300 cheaper 7500 fx is fine for my hills (it's got a 28 inner chain ring and a 30 largest cog). The Treks seem like the best fit as far as reach and everything. But the Specialized feel less jarring on rough surfaces (is it just the suspension seatpost - or is the frame absorbing more?). The drag is that none of my LBSs (and there are many in LA) have these bike and are near a hill anything like the hills I'll be climbing every time I ride.
So I'm hoping some of the forum members expertise and experience will give me more information to consider or share their experience. So I can make a decision I won't regret later.