Hey everyone, I'd appreciate some help from anyone who has a better understanding of the 1980s/1990s road bike options than I do. I completely understand that the answer is "varies based on condition" & "buy whatever fits you best". This will be my first road bike and it's simply not practical to test ride more than one or two of these (not to mention I wouldn't know what to feel for at this point). If I can get a quick schooling in some basic, "XXX is commonly accepted as being a better bike than ZZZ" I'd really appreciate it.
[I'm looking for something for long distance city riding (50+ miles). I'm under the impression that I want something comfortable, fast, and lightweight -in that order. I don't need anything flashy/popular. I just want the most bike for my money. I'd like to move somewhat with traffic (20MPH+ if possible). I don't plan to climb any serious mountains etc. I'd like to keep it for 5-10 years, I'm interested in putting maybe $50-75 in upgrades into it depending. No fixies etc., just a nice long range road bike that will put a smile on my face for many years to come]
What I'm looking at (all used, 1980/90s, +/- $100 of each other):
Novara Strada (REI bike)
Specialized Epic (carbon fiber)
What I can't find a general consensus about:
Lotus (Prestige), Fuji (Royale II), Nishiki (general), SR, Centurion (mostly LeMans/RS), Raleigh, Schwinn, Peugot (staying away from Peugot unless a PX10 falls from the sky seems like a good choice for me..)
Can I ignore this list of "seconds"? Been pretty much judging based on lugged/downtube shifters/700c/no extension levers/searching etc. Don't know what a good bike should "feel" like when ridden though.
Searching suggests the Miyata 912/914, Bridgestone 700, Trek 1200, & Specialized Epic all look like good candidates. I'm leaning towards the 912 or 700 at this point. The Epic seems cool but I know less about CF bikes than I know about steel (not much..)
I don't really know where to go from here, and would appreciate an overall take of my options from someone who is familiar with most of them. I really want to get riding again!
TL;DR: Which of the bikes listed is/are best for me to check out further? I want a fast/light road bike I can keep for 5-10 years. Not much steep hill climbing, no impressing my friends, just longg, mostly flat "commuting" pleasure. Willing to put $75 into resto/upgrading, but want to maintain the original bikes feel/character.