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I am looking for a flat bar to make my ride around the city as efficient as possible and I've become overwhelmed with the choice on the market. I will ride with a group occasionally on weekends and might even use it to begin entrly-level triathlons. I have done a bit of research and narrowed it down to the following choices:

Specialized Sirrus Sport $1049 AUD -reduced from 1349 apparently.

http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=13594&bikeTab=techspec

Issues I have: no carbon forks

Norco VFR - 4 $949

http://www.norco.com/ts/pass/norco06australia/templates/bike_model.php?lang=en&loc=rd&sloc=fb&tabloc=1&id=vfrfour&col=white
Issues: No carbon forks, only 2 cogs on crankset

Giant - CRX -2 $1099

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/au/030.000.000/030.000.000.asp?model=10020

Issues: the frame looks cheap and it's a "giant", but appears to be a well rounded package as far as the fittings they chose to put on it (besides the crankset and pedals).

Trek Pilot 1.2

http://www2.trekbikes.com.au/catalogue.cgi?rm=product&product_id=166&category_id=3&subcategory_id=30

Haven't been to the shop that stocks this one yet, but it could still be a contender.

My main concerns with buying a bike is:

1. total number of gears, hill climbing should be easily handled, I don't just want straight line speed.
2. The quality of the rims, I have no idea what brands are good for road bikes, I grew up on BMX's in high school.
3. The size of the rims, all of the flat bars in this price range have 28c tires and I want 23c really.
4. Quality of hubs and bearings. This baby has got to roll smoothly and with confidence.

Things I am not fussed about:

1. Pedals, I dont need cleats and these are easily exchanged anyway. Most of the packages in this price range have got crap pedals anyway, I might even end up putting on some BMX bear traps if the cranksets are a unversal-size.
2. Carbon forks, saving x hundred grams is going to make not much difference to me.


Does anyone else know of any packages that I have overlooked, I would want to keep the price under $1500 AUD?

Basically I want to know what too look for in Rims, hubs, crankset and brakes?

I am leaning towards either the specialized or the Norco (only 2 cogs on the front is holding me back, but it looks like sex on wheels).
 

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I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on the Jamis Coda Comp. Just noddling frame size. Going to upgrade wheels, tires and saddle, my local guy is awesome for this. Add some fenders and rear rack too. The Comp is steel frame with carbon fork. I'm looking forward to the added comfort the steel frame and carbon fork I think it will provide. The 2006 Comp is around 8 bills. The next one up has disc brakes which I don't want.
 
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