Yeah, several bikes will do nicely for you. $1,500 is an interesting price point; its right where bike makers seem to realize they might win a customer for life, and for a more-expensive bike in a few years, if they get it right. So there are some excellent buys.
One bike thats sort of a Subaru WRX of bikesfast, but doesnt really look itis the Fuji Roubaix Pro (www.fujibikes.com). In its current iteration it has a well designed aluminum frame with vibration-damping carbon in the seatstays, plus an excellent mix of Shimano 105 and Ultegra parts. A few minor corners cut on the wheels and crankset, but nothing serious. And the price rocks: $1,500.
Giant is another company that offers a great value in bicycles, in part because they make frames in sizes (s/m/l) rather than in centimeter increments. So they have lower inventory costs. The Giant TCR A1 ($1,400; www.giant-bicycle.com), for instance, has Giants signature compact aluminum frame, mostly Shimano 105 parts that go click-click just fine, and light Xero wheels. Its a very nice bike.
I also like Bianchis Veloce (www.bianchiusa.com), just because, well, its Italian. Its spiffy aluminum frame is decked out with carbon forks and lots of Campagnolo Veloce parts, and it even comes with a decent set of Wellgo clipless pedals. It also has a compact 34/50 crankset for a bit more lift on the hills without the weight and complexity of a triple crank. Price is just above your sweet spot at $1,700, but if you walk into a shop that has one and make sad puppy eyes, maybe theyll knock $100 off, or give you some goodies such as a cycle computer and seat bag. And remember, its Italian. Buon viaggio!
Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this seasons top gifts in Away.coms Holiday Gift Guide. Youll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.