Carbon forks ARE highly durable under regular wear. The problem is accident damage - they're more vulnerable to it, plus if they fail as a result later it can be very sudden. A damaged fork can look fine, except to a very knowing inspection, then crack while you're riding. It wouldn't stop me from having one if I was racing, but I don't see the need on a fun/training bike - especially as you have to pay more to get them.
Re the difference in component level - it really won't show. Mid range components are excellent and last for literally decades. If I was going to worry about components the question I'd ask myself is whether I wanted SRAM, Campag, or Shimano for the power train. Imo that's the order of desirability, but I'm basing my opinion of SRAM on this -
Ben Jacques-Maynes of Team Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada, was an early adapter, first riding the group at the national criterium championships in Downer’s Grove last season. He developed a technique for sprinting that he calls “trigger shifting.” He hooks his right forefinger around the shift lever and pulls it back to the handlebar and holds it there, since it, like Campagnolo’s cable-pulling lever, pivots back toward the bar. While holding tightly to both the drops of the bar and the lever, he can simply twitch his forefinger inward to cause upshifts. “I was a Campy guy, and Campy riders tend to play with the lever behind the brake lever, since it flips back toward the bar,” he explains. “I was just playing around with this lever that way one day and discovered this way to shift. I called up SRAM immediately, and they thought it was cool, too. With Campagnolo, to get my thumb on the lever and shift, my power in a sprint drops by over 400 watts when shifting, from up around 1300 watts to under 900 watts. With Shimano, I lose even more; I practically have to sit down, shift, then stand up again and restart my sprint. With SRAM, though, my power in a sprint drops by only 40 watts
- rather than having ridden an SRAM bike.
But a very big factor in component choice should actually be how comfortable the brake/shifter housings feel when your weight is on them, because that's how you'll ride. I think Campy are better than Shimano, but that could because of my hand shape/size rather than any inherent ergonomic advantage.
The Raleigh has SRAM. I'm not sure what JTS level bikes in the US have Campag - maybe someone could suggest one?
Final advice: when you test ride bikes the saddle and tyres will have a big effect on your perception of the bikes. Try to filter these out - they're easy to change. If you don't like a bike's saddle, have the saddle changed and test ride again.