Actually, I'd recommend something like the Windsor Timeline http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...line.htm#specs in that price range, since it comes with fat 700x32c tires and sturdier rims for reliable urban use. I recently bought a Kilo WT, which is similar to the Windsor Timeline, and my experience is that the Bike Direct bikes are decent quality overall, and that the only parts that are crap are the pedals. The saddle is passable for short trips. Also, wheel build quality is poor, and you'll need to tension and true the wheels. The only issue I have with all the BD bikes is that they come with very tall gearing, and you'd probably want to change the freewheel for one with more teeth (lower gearing). As far as buying from other sites like Performance, don't forget that BD ships their bikes free, whereas others change for this.
Wider tires are much less likely to get pinch flats when you run over rough spots, potholes, grates etc in the city. Also, they are typically thicker and more puncture resistant than narrower tires. The rims will also typically be sturdier and less likely to get damaged when you hit a pothole etc. As to bullhorns, drop bars with hooded levers pretty much give you the same riding positions, plus the additional drop positions.
Last edited by John10568; 05-29-10 at 02:13 PM.
Reason: add photo