I'm shopping for a bike for the first time since I bought my used Raleigh 5 speed 10 years ago. I love biking and have ridden almost every day over the last 10 years. I have stubbernly refused to buy a new one. I didn't want her to feel rejected. But the time may have come.

I live in NYC and want a bike that I can ride through the streets of Manhattan and also bring on longer trips (ie. 30-50 miles with the occaisional century). All trips will be on City streets and some green ways. Perhaps an occasional gravel road. Never off road.

My current riding position is very high. I put high chopper handle bars on my bike so I sit straight up. This serves two things. First, it is safe as it makes me extremely visable in NYC and two, it protects my lower back which used to get sore. It's comfortable, and I have been able to do at least 1 century a year (of course not all that fast).

My thought for getting a new bike is first, I've never bought a new bike, and next, as I've been going on longer bike rides I've noticed the inneficiencies of my bike. I thought it would be better to have an upgraded machine. While I also can tell that it is inneficient to ride so high, I'm not sure I'm willing to give up this style. It's possible I will put high handle bars on whatever I buy. Currently, I lean over my bars when I try to get more power. It's not all that safe though.

I test rode a road bike today and just felt unsafe on it in NYC. Too aggressive a riding position.

I have the following questions I would love your help with.

1. What type of bike should I get.
Given my research, I've come up with the following possibilities:

Trek 7500
Specialized Sirrus
Fuji cross
Jake the snake
Bianchi Volpe

What do you think given my needs?

2. Do I need front suspension? I occasionally have shoulder problems.

3. Does it matter whether it is alluminum or steel?

Thank you oh great bike community for sharing your wisdom with a humble newbie such as me.