If I've written too much (as I often do), please just read/answer the first couple of questions - and please forgive my ignorance in general.
1. Not that I necessarily would do this, but can a front shock be added to a bike w/ a carbon fork?
2. How much would making the tires fatter help without compromising in other ways too much? What size would you recommend I go up to? They're supposed to have such great tires but they don't feel all that great to me - probably cause of what I was used to beforehand. They're Bontrager Race All-Weather Hard-Case, 700x28c. Does the amount of spokes make a difference in any way? I think they have only 24 spokes.
Re. the handlebars I butchered the bike as I did my Bianchi - which is to say I had my LBS remove the mountain bike style handlebars (kept them should I ever need them) and replace with one a bit more forward and upright - sorta like a semi-cruiser style...I also replaced the seat with a soft cushy gel one. Still not quite there though.
Purpose is just for getting around town mostly for fun with some long-ish city rides around the river, etc. I do like to pick up some speed on long paved trails that stretch on for several miles so it's not always just a comfort ride. I try to avoid gravel though on my old bike I'd go on it without a second thought. It was more hybrid than road bike and this Trek leans toward road bike. Selling it's not an option at this point.
This bike is obviously beyond my needs (long story why I chose it) and is of course a great bike. The only issue is that I'm still comparing it to my '91 Bianchi Advantage hybrid w/ chromoly steel and added front shock. That bike felt so amazing but alas was stolen. The original tires on my Bianchi were a bit too mountain-bikish so I put on some slightly thinner, better ones...but this newer bike's tires are super thin in comparison so that might be part of the problem.
The feeling I had with my old bike - lacking the proper terminology here, sorry - is that it was like a pliable rock (!). It was a super tight, sturdy, slightly bouncy ride (totally exaggerating - it just never felt rigid). Yes it was heavier but whatever I did, it shifted well and I was able to get a lot out of it...don't really know how to describe what I mean. What I guess I'm trying to say is that no matter what gear I was in, it seemed to have a lot of power and I felt the workout in such a way that there was always a lot of speed and it sorta gave back. It make me feel like I had strong legs in a good way. I know - totally inarticulate here!
In comparison, this Trek FX certainly feels good, but just not as great as the Bianchi did. This bike feels like I can't quite find that sweet spot and it doesn't "give back" in the same way. Geez, this is sounding...never mind I won't go there. It doesn't feel as durable (cause it's aluminum?) and I hear strange little squeaky sounds sometimes (not a clue what it could be) and I seem to peddle too fast or else it's a bit too hard - although again I'm exaggerating - just trying to get across the point. It's just missing that special something. I know it takes time to get used to a new bike and I'm trying to be patient.