Ok so i am at college in philadelphia. i want a bike that is A) quality and B) that can ride in an urban enviorment but still be able to go through a dirt trail or two if i have to, but nothing intence at all. so far i have been looking at the trek valencia and the trek hybrid 7300. these are around the max i am willing to pay.
I recently helped my mother pick out a Trek hybrid 7300 because she was interested in riding rail trails. She is happy with it (extatically so). If you plan on riding in icky weather, the disc brakes on the Valencia would be a nice feature though. But I think the tires that come with the 7300 would be better suited to the handling of a dirt trail.
In any case, if you are going to be doing mostly urban riding, the front suspension is really not necessary. There is no need for it on paved roads, and it will absorb some of your power.
I took the front suspension off of my Sedona DX and replaced the shock with a chromoly fork, and I like the handling better, and I haven't noticed any significant degradation on packed gravel rail trails.
I think front suspension is standard on many bikes mostly because consumers think they need it.
It is like the spedometer on a car that reads 120 mph even though the car's on board computer limits the top speed to 100 mph. (I know, I tried in mine). I'll bet fewer people would buy the car if the spedometer only went up to 100.
im also concerned about the rims getting bent up. i oringaly looked at mountian bikes but i want someting fatser and more efficent. thats why i looked at thee hybrid. and i have no idea what im talking about but my thinking is if i go down a curb hard with a front suspension, the suspesion will absorb some impact and less chances of the rims getting bent?