So I'm new to the forum and bikes in general. I am currently a college student who is getting sick of driving to campus everyday now that the weather is getting nice. I've started looking into some cheaper bikes that are in my price range ($500 -$700). So far I can't decide between the Giant Roam 1 or the Giant Seek 3. I like that the Roam 1 can be used more for trail ridding and that it has some suspension for a less bumpy ride. The Seek 3 is lighter and faster and seems to be more of a commuters bike (which is what it will be mainly used for) but has no suspension what so ever and is a very bummpy ride. My commute to class everyday is roughly 2 miles and contains several hills. What bike would be the better pick? I've already contacted my LBS and they are building a Roam 1 in my size for a test ride on Monday. Any suggestions or advice would be very helpful!
If mostly pavement or street commute, then I say go for the Seek. If at least 50% off roads/dirt roads, then go for the Roam. For the price, I would look into something else with better components. Like the Trek FX series, Jamis Coda, Fuji Absolute etc. For Acera and Tourney components, I wouldn't spend more than $300-$400 on it. For that price, you can get a Trek 7.2 or 7.3 with much better components.
Colleges are thief magnets. Where is your bike going to be parked where you are on campus? You might want to get a beater bike off Craiglist for campus duty. Your ride is short. A new shiny bike is going to attract attention, even if it is not an expensive custom bike. I agree with ChowChow's advice. Ride a bunch of bikes, find the ones that fit and select from the ones that appeal to you.