I'm new to the site and am hoping for some sage advice on the purchase of a bike. I'm thinking of the Giant Thrive Composite women's model. Here are my parameters:
I'll be riding steep hills with occasional changes in terrain (to packed mud roads). None of the trails will be heavy duty at all.
I prefer the flat bar with a more upright position - will probably ride about 4 hours at a time.
Can spend up to $1,500, which is what the Thrive costs.
Other bikes I think are available here: Trek, Cannondale, Kona (still checking out what each shop carries).
I've been reading around the site and see some other recs on women's bikes, but other than the Trek, I don't think any are sold here. I prefer a not-too-skinny tire for stability. The roads tend to have some gravel on the side shoulders and I'm not confident enough yet for a road bike (plus I think the bent over position would get to me, and I'd have to stay on paved roads).
I can test ride some of the bikes, which I plan to do. But, I thought I'd pick your brains first and start getting really serious and buying something this coming week.
The Thrive appeals because it's supposed to be light and has the flat bar.
Thanks in advance for any advice!