Hello everyone, new to the forums, and fairly new to road cycling. I rode an old late 70's Miyata for a while when I was living at the beach back home, and wanted to get back in to cycling but am unsure where to start. I've browsed a couple of threads here and there seem to be a lot of knowledgeable people here as well as some heated debate on what it is good and what is not so good. So I figured this would be a great place to ask some questions.
I am interested in commuting, and am also interested in group fun rides, and a half century coming up in June. I want a good all around bike that won't break the bank(I have about 600 dollars to play with). So far, the bike that seems to be my first choice is a Raleigh Sport or Grand Sport. Both which can be had for less than 700 dollars at the LBS. My other choices are a lower-end Fuji, at around 500, a Giant for a little over 700, and the peek of my budget is a Cannondale CAAD8. I would really like the cheapest/best solution for my money. And so far the Raleighs seems to be my best option. Neither of the Raleighs come with a Carbon fork, which is an option on the three latter bikes I listed. But I test rode the Raleigh and would have no problem riding it, the Sora gears shift flawlessly and it was effortless to ride.
My biggest question to you, is what are some other options? Are the Raleighs a good starter bike? And is splurging a little bit of extra money going to be worth it in the long run? I'd really like some help.