Alright, so after a month of so of lurking... I've finally decided to join. I've been in the market to buy my first bike in 10+ years, and after a few hours at an LBS, I've decided that a road bike will suit me best. I found it to be (surprisingly) more comfortable and fun than the flat-bar hybrids. The first road bike I tried was a '13 Fuji Sportif 1.3 c ($699) which has the Sora front derailleur and Tiagra in the read. I loved it! It was a joy to ride, and ended up spending the better part of an hour trying it out. My only complaints were that I was unfamiliar with the shifters, thus making for some very rough gear changes. When I got back to the shop, the salesman put me in a 2013 Fuji Roubaix 1.3 c ($999) which has a full 105 setup. The test was to see if I liked the more aggressive frame, and to also have me feel what the smoother 105's feel like. Well, by this time I was a bit tired so I didn't spend much time out there. I was also adapted to the shifters and my changes were significantly smoother. Being new to the sport, I really didn't notice much difference with the frame. They were both comfortable, the ride was smooth, and with some extra padding I could definitely see myself getting some serious mileage with either bike .
Before my question, a bit about my intentions... My primary focus is fitness and enjoyment, so I don't need anything serious. I won't be doing any racing but I would like to advance to the point where I am able to keep up with the pack on longer group rides. I don't see any centuries in my near future, but 30-40 miles would be nice. With that said, I know that I don't need anything above a 105. It seems that the general consensus is that Tiagra is plenty for a beginner, with room to grow. However, if the Roubaix is in my budget (albeit, the max), is there any reason I should turn down the 105s? I want something that will last and that I can "grow in to" but I also don't want to over-do it with my first bike.
Lastly, assuming Tiagras are more than sufficient for my intended purpose... The interwebs seem to grovel in the glory of the Giant Defy 2 ($1075) as "the best beginners bike." Now, I realize this opinion is very subjective... but just for the sake of argument, does anyone have any experience or pointers for these Fuji bikes versus Giant's offering? Is Giant known for making better frames? Just curious!
Thanks in advance to all of your input!