About a year ago now, I did a fair amount of research into bikes. In particular I wanted a bike that I could fit a rear child seat on and that would withstand all weather NYC commuting. Traditional hanging derailleurs are tried and true, but I really wanted an internal hub due to the durability. I also really wanted disc brakes for the same reason.
Here were the contenders:
http://www.scott-sports.com/us_en/product/10060/55894/218051 (solid choice, but no disc brakes)
http://spotbrand.com/bikes/product-page/ajax-chain/ (They have this at Sid’s bikes in Chelsea)
http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2012/Verza/Verza-City/Verza-City-1.aspx (not the Felt I have, but they stopped selling the model I use for some reason)
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/urban_utility/soho/soho/# (They have these at the bike store on 47th and 9th ave)
http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/seek/9016/48859/ (this one is at Toga bikes on 64th)
http://www.konaworld.com/asphalt_commuter.cfm?content=dr_good (I liked this one a lot for the price, but the handle bars were too wide for me, the store said they could cut them down if I wanted)
1. A few of these bikes have bigger brothers that have upgraded components and upgraded prices.
2. I’m pretty sure these are all aluminum frames which is the happy medium between sturdy/heavy steel and lightweight/expensive carbon, but the forks vary from model to model. I have an aluminum fork and do sometimes wish I upgraded to a carbon fork because of the vibration through the handle bars.
3. Some of these come with the option for a belt drive instead of a chain. I really wanted to try this out because it helps lower the amount of maintenance required, but I couldn’t find one in my price range. I have to do regular chain maintenance on my bike now and it is a bit of a pain.
4. The two options for internal gear shifting setups are the Shimano Nexus (7 speed) vs the Alfine (8 speed). The Alfine costs more, but I’m not really sure what the benefits are other than a single extra gear.
5. Disc brakes come in cable or hydraulic models. The cables stretch out over time and need to be adjusted, the hydraulic ones avoid that problem.
6. If you get disc brakes, you need to be sure to buy the rack that will fit over them for the kid seat. http://www.amazon.com/Topeak-Babyseat-Disc-Baby-Seat/dp/B0028QCVOW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1323705974&sr=8-3
7. There is a topeak babyseat I and II and they are incompatible. The rack and the seat have to match.
8. The tire I upgraded to is called the “Marathon” made by Schwalbe
9. This lock seems to be the lock of choice these days: http://www.amazon.com/Kryptonite-Mini-7-4-Foot-Flex-Lock/dp/B004C94T84/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1CVSETPFFGYGN&colid=2V9APG5DWAO54
My two favorite stores I visited and I went to nearly all of them in Manhattan were:
Hope that helps!