OK, still haven't made a bike purchase. <sigh> Wasn't planning on new, but haven't found the "love it!" element yet. Just found these on Craigslist:
-a Trek 7100 for $250 (said to be 2 years old, "never ridden" in excellent condition). I have a friend with this bike so I tried it last night. Smooth ride with the suspension fork, my bum actually hurt from the softer stock seat (weird!). 7sp, grip shifting.
-a Trek 7.3fx for $450 that is said to be about 5 years old and lightly used, with some extras ("rear rack, speedometer, more"). Not thrilled about the gold color, at least from the picture provided. Can't figure out what year from Bikepedia, either. Looks like a WSD, but not sure because I can't find a match.
-could still consider a new Specialized Vita and others I've been looking at in the $400-$550 range new. The thing is, I've been dragging my heels because I'm not totally smitten with any of them. The thought of spending $250 on a bike I'm not thrilled with is better than $500 on a bike I'm not thrilled with....