My friend L. is looking for a road bike. L. sees this as a longterm purchase and wants something well-made and durable, but still reasonably priced—she’s hoping to pay around $1,000. Right now the top contender is the Novara Carema from REI, which has all the features she wants: extremely light, with an aluminum/carbon fiber frame, lots of gears (30!) and higher-end Shimano components.
L. plans on participating (for fun) in sprint triathalons eventually, and wants a bike that will be competitive. She also wants to go on distance rides. Since she doesn’t know a lot about bike maintenance, she has concerns about going vintage. I know we have several road-bike-riding readers who know a lot more about this sort of thing than I do — so please, bring on the recommendations in the comments!