Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Bikes: 1984 Trek 660, 2003 Specialized Hardrock, 2004 LOOK KG386i (RIP), 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2014 Islabikes CNOC 14 (son's)
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Since you admit to knowing about bikes, I'm assuming you haven't considered the gearing or ability to take a rack/fenders in your bike buying decision.
For gearing, if you'll be riding hills much, especially with a backpack full of books, you'll likely not appreciate "race" gearing on your road bike. I didn't look through every bike but the Nishiki everyone is favoring appears to have a 52/42 double. As someone who bikes every day through hills, that is not the gearing I'd want on my every day bike.
As to a rack and fenders, if you'll be riding every day with a load of books/lunch/whatever, you should look into a rack for carrying it. Getting the weight off your back and on the frame makes for a much more enjoyable ride in my experience. Fenders will keep your clothes from getting ruined by road grime when riding on wet roads or in the rain. They won't keep you dry in the rain but you'll be happier with them than without. The Nishiki, like most road bikes, doesn't appear to have much room for fenders. I can't tell about rack mounts though.