I've been spinning for the last two years and looking to purchase my first road bike, comparing road, touring, cyclocross and hybrid. I won't race, but do look to ride weekly & take some 40-80 mile rides on rough pavement/light gravel. I have up to $1200, what do you recommend?
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This started as a comment but I must be in a wordy mood this morning - here's a suggestion and a few things to consider. First though, when it comes to brand, any of the "proper" brands would do, it depends what you're comfortable on.
For multi-purpose use I recommend a hybrid with flat bars - but add ergo grips and/or bar ends.
You don't mention hills, but they're a consideration when choosing gears -- while I'm sure there are people here who could do steep hills in twice as high a gear as I do.,if you're just starting to ride for real, you probably want quite a wide rang. Once again this says hybrid or tourer to me.