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First road bike flat bar or drop bar.
   I have not ridden a road bike for at least 33 years and have been looking at road bikes on the net for the last few weeks . I have been looking at Giant Rapid flat bar and Defy drop bars bikes. Depends on who I talk to they either say stick to a flat  bar bike (Rapid) due to have only ridden mtb and a hybrid for years and other say go for drop bar bike.
The bloke in the Giant dealer shop said a lot of people who have brought flat bar bikes seem to come back for drop bar bikes in the end. I am seeing miles more people on drop bar bikes this year on my daily ride to work this year.
I was in a similar position last year and finally bought a drop handle bar bike. I mainly use it to commute to work however have recently started riding in a group and hope to get the miles up over the summer. Cycling in a group on the road is wicked.  
Drop bars are comfortable  once you get used to them.  I believe they better your proformance uphill compared to flat as out of the saddle you can pump the bike.
If its just for commuting then maybe you should buy the hybrid but if you have thoughts of group rides in the future then drop bar would be better suited.  
The spicy is most definatley on theback burner.

Compact Chainset

Carbon Forks
What is the advantage of the compact drive train and I would also only be going for a bike with carbon forks. I have only ever had Giant bike which I have had 5 differant models and is there any other makes to look at for road bikes.
The idea is it gives you the flexibility of a triple chain set with only two rings.

As for manufacturers you can pretty much pick a mainstream MTB maker and they do road bikes. Specialised Roubaix's get good write ups for their slightly more relaxed geometry and inserts in the frame to reduce impact and vibrations. You can't beat the board an for under £1K either. I suggest head to somewhere like Evans where they have a multitude of makes (trek, Specialized, Fuji, Bmc etc) take a look at them and see how they fit and feel. Some will be much racier than others. Last time I was looking Cannondale were doing a good deal on their 105 equipped SuperSix.
2010 Canyon Aeroad 9.0 SL
2014 Specialized Epic Marathon
Triples can twiddle up any hill but heavier and more costly plus more chain line trimming probably required

Compacts look better and work better but you loose a few top end gears and a couple of the lowest - good option if want to improve fitness as after 5 or so rides the lowest 2 or 3 gears on triple you'd never need again. 2 or 3 did 50 min/9km climbs on recent trip on these

Normal double is a bit of pain on steep hills on second half of long rides but can always put a different cassette on if doing mountains
Drops, unless the bike will be used for primarily city commuting.

For gearing, don't get a 53/39 double if you plan on riding many hills.  I have a triple, not by deliberate choice but by virtue of that's how I bought the bike.  I do use the 30t granny ring sometimes, but my middle is 42t and my cassette is 12-26t.  I find 42/26 to be too tall for me during a few of my local climbs, but I think 34/27 or 28 of a compact would be fine.
Drops are much better for the few times (5% or so ) in  ride when you use them - much better stability/lower centre of gravity and more controlled braking

fast downhills and fast bends on road is where you need them - ride on hoods most of other time and have two or three options for hands - plus softtape etc

flat bars no good

Drops are also less of an in lanes etc as easier to pass vehilcles on narrow stretches and less sticking out to be clipped
So a mild hijack, what would people recommend looking at? I know the Boardmans get good reviews but what about the planet X and Ribble bikes. A chap at work has a Ribble Grand Fondo and it looks nice to me even with basic kit on.

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