Here's the deal. A few months back I got a job much closer to home (about 6.5 miles away). I am no newbie to commuting, as I commuted to my other job and school 3-4 days a week (40 miles round trip). I figured with the new job and all, I deserve to buy myself a new bike.
I am going to be selling my car by the first of July and decided I wanted to use the money to buy myself a new bicycle.
I currently ride an '87 or '88 Bianchi Strada LX. It's been a fantastic bike and has gotten well over 3000+ mile on it (all with 700x23 Gatorskins, nonetheless), however, the bike is showing some signs of rusting and some of the major parts will soon need replacing.
I have scoured the forums and looked at numerous reviews, articles, testimonials, etc., but cannot for the life of me decide what to get next. My choices are as follows:
Nashbar Steel Touring
I have a Topeak Explorer Rack and matching Topeak Trunk bag with foldout panniers that have served me well, but don't hold up well in rain so I will be replacing both with something more suitable for all sorts of weather. As far as touring, I have no way of being able to tour across the US or anything like that, but I'd like to be able to do maybe weekend excursions or possible 1-2 week regional tours. My budget with everything would be under $1500. I already have lights, computer, clipless pedals/shoes. My front light is a 1/2 watt Planet Bike which is pretty bad, so if you could give some options for a new one, that would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to suggestions other than the Trek 520 (which I test rode and didn't quite connect with).
As a side note, the only bike on that list I can buy from a local shop is the Surly.