Need Help Choosing My First Bike
I've been perusing this forum for the past day or so and feel I have gathered enough information to post a coherent thread. So I want to make my first bike purchase (I was in high school when I had my last bicycle) and all I know, thus far, is that I want a Hybrid bicycle and (if at all possible) to stay under/around $600. The cheaper the better as I am on somewhat of a budget but I would rather wait/save longer for a quality bicycle than purchase an inferior product.
A little about myself/riding situation:
I live in the WNY area (Buffalo)... thanks to the snow and salt, our streets are not what you would call *pristine*.
I'm 6' tall and weigh 200lbs.
My riding, at least to start, would consist of riding to work (7.5mi each way) and riding around my neighborhood for exercise (thinking 30-60 minute rides to start... looking to get into better shape).
I would prefer a bicycle with fenders as I would be commuting with it.
I don't need a million gears (but I don't want single-gear either)... I feel the 7-9 range would be fine for what I'm using the bike for.
I do not want a fixed gear bike.
I don't think I need/want disc brakes.
I have spent several hours researching bikes I've read about on here over the past few days and I believe I have narrowed the list down to a somewhat acceptable number. I was hoping if anyone knew about any of these they may be able to tell me why one would be better than another, etc.
Also, before I list all the bikes I have a question out of pure curiosity/ignorance: are the step-through model bicycles only made for women? And, if so, is there any reason men couldn't ride them? I ask because, to me, it just seems more convenient to have the lower/more accessible frame.
So, without further adieu:
Specialized Globe Work 2/Work 2 Step-Through - $600
Specialized Globe Daily 1/Daily 1 Step-Through - $600
Specialized Globe Daily 2/Daily 2 Step-Through - $700 (are the components worth the extra $100?)
Jamis Commuter 2/Commuter 2 Step-Over - $560
Jamis Commuter 3/Commuter 3 Step-Through - $750 (Again, worth the extra cost?)
Giant Via 1 - $600
So these are the ones that have enticed me thus far... I think I'm leaning towards the Globe Work 2 personally. I'd love to hear your input and if you know of any similar bicycles to these that you would recommend I would certainly be open to researching those as well!
Thanks for all the help!