Analysis paralysis. My wife says I can spend up to $500 on a first bike. I don't want to spend it on the wrong stuff. My intention is to use it as the "last mile" on public transit on commute/weekends, quick to the grocery, leisure ride, and perhaps even intentional exercise. I've read tons of other posts on this site talking about what to look for in the abstract. Now I need some concrete advice. Which bike to buy?
At 6'4", 36.5 inseam, This calculator says my ideal mountain bike measurements are 21.5" seat tube and 180mm crank. I don't know how that equates to a hybrid. I think the larger frame size limits my options - bikes stores don't seem to carry these sizes. So perhaps I have to order online?
Besides being the best value in all parts, certain luxuries I think I'd like are wheel splash guards and a rear rack as I might commute to work. Can these be added to any bike? Front suspension? Not sure if I need it, but I know to want lockout if I do. Aluminum vs Steel? I've read that aluminum is less shock absorbing than steel, yet my known options below are all aluminum.
Here's what I'm looking at:
Are these any better than a Dick's Sporting Goods Diamondback brand hybrid?
What others should I look at?