Steel or alu, road or touring, bike advice please!
I've been searching the forums for a while now, trying to decide which kind of bike is best for my needs but just can't decide, and we're moving to Switzerland in about a month so I need to, soon. Any more targeted advice would be very welcome.
I'm in the market for a new bike, around $1000, a little more if needs be, that I envisage I will mostly use on weekends for going out into the (Swiss) countryside with my family on day rides. We have a toddler that I envisage my husband will take in a trailer on his Cannondale Synapse (alu, carbon) so I will probably carry whatever else is needed for the day. I may also end up riding the bike around town too with the kid in a rear child seat.
I initially wanted the Dolce Elite, I'm 5'2'' and it was light and fun and fit like a glove, loved it. However for regular loading up and possibly having a rear seat on, I was advised it's not fit for purpose and a steel touring bike would be both more durable, more comfortable and have better control with a heavy rear load.
I've tried the Novarra Verita at REI so far, which apparently has a more road bike geometry than a touring bike. It was a really smooth ride but doesn't come small enough for me.
But following that, I think a road bike with a steel frame is where I'm going, lighter than tourers but able to take more weight and handle better than alu carbon forked road bike. I'm going to see if I can try a Surly Pacer at an LBS on the weekend. I've also been eyeing up the Bianchi Volpe, for some reason it's really speaking to me
My only doubt is whether the extra comfort of steel is worth the extra weight. I found the Dolce pretty comfy riding over New York's pot-holed streets, though it was only for 10 mins. Also, bearing in mind I'll be carrying a load of some sort and may be in hilly country, will I really feel the extra weight, even with a triple? This was the view at the first LBS I tried, though as they were all about racing, I'm not sure they were being fair.
Also, can I even load up a steel road bike? I know more spokes would be needed for proper touring, but for day rides with enough stuff for the kid for the day or a picnic, and sometimes having her in the rear bike seat (she along is 27 lb), is the frame at least able to take it? I read somewhere the chainstays won't be long enough for panniers, so would it still not be fit for purpose? Will the steel road bike end up fulfilling no needs at all?
So I keep going round and round, whether to go for the light road bike, the stronger steel road bike, or just get a tourer that will definitely be able to handle it? I don't see why I'd want more than 28 mm tires or need full loading capacity, but the handling is meant to be more stable and also the geometry more upright, both of which is important if I use it in the city with my daughter on the back.
So, any thoughts on which direction to go down so I can test ride a few types? The first LBS turned me away after my third ride and told me to come back when I had worked out what I want....
PS I thought about cyclocross but it seems to miss the mark on all, heavier than the steel road bike yet more aggressive. I want to be fairly upright.
PPS Should I just wait until I get to Switzerland/France and see how we end up living and then buy something? It is more expensive there though and less choice, especially at this time of the year....