After buying a new bike for me last year, we are looking to get something new for the wife. We are just in the beginning stages of the process, and wil need to do some legwork (literally) to decide which would be the better long term choice.
She is a longtime cyclist, though she doesn't go much for the nerdy gear aspect of the sport. She just likes to ride. Her current bikes are a 70s era Peugeot UO8 she rode through France when she was a teenager (still with the original Simplex components!), and two cruisers from the mid 2000s: an entry level Trek WSD 7000, and a Bianchi Milano I bought used last year that we share as a general utility bike. The Simplex components on the Peugeot are at the end of their useful life, and the wheels are steel. So while I considered upgrading the Peugeot, I don't think it is a cost effective solution long term. She wants a bike with drop bars, rather than a flat bar bike. She is agnostic on other variables (SRAM vs. Shimano, brifters vs. bar end shifters, canti brakes vs. sidepulls vs. discs), though she does like a bike that can accomodate fenders and a rack.
I upgraded to a Salsa Casseroll last year and I am more than happy with my choice so far. Unfortunately, that model is now discontinued.
So I went to the same bike shop that sold me the Salsa, and some of the bikes they had were the three Jamis bikes, as well as the Surly Pacer (and Cross Check and LHT). This LBS also sells Kona and Raleigh. There are also Trek, Cannondale, Giant, and Specialized dealers in the area, though most of those shops focus on aluminum or carbon fiber road bikes. I like the idea of sticking with steel rather than aluminum, but maybe that is just me. This particular LBS seems to focus in on steel, which is why I bought from them last year.
Right now, our rides are mostly as a family with our 11 year old son. And the rides are mostly paved, though we have done rides on crushed limestone and gravel trails. Right now we ride 15 to 30 miles just for fun, though we hope to do longer rides, perhaps a multi day tour sometime in the future. I doubt we will ever do fully loaded touring, but one never knows.
As I said earlier, I know she will have to test ride and utimately pick what trips her trigger, but putting it out there to the collective wisdom of the good folks on bike forums. Anyone have experience with the Jamis in general or Bosanova in particular? Any other bikes that should be on the short list that I forgot?