I think you are getting unnecessarily used and abused by the dealers here because you are lacking in a certain objectivity
don't take this the wrong way! But I google the Masi and I see a steel framed road bike. So, I think you should just get a metal framed road orientated bike. Don't get a bike that is too big or too small. Don't let the dealers pressure you into getting something they want to sell you (not something you want to buy). That, come to think of it, was my experience of the much lauded (on the previously cited blog) Famous Bicycles
. I basically wanted a good value road bike with the geometry, etc appropriate for the mountains - I had a budget. They wanted to sell me a bike appropriate for the flats. They wanted to make me pay more for the groupo I wanted, too. So they were pretty much happy to sell me a bike I didn't want at an inflated price (they added extra stuff to get me up to budget) and dress it up like they were doing me a favour. I said, "I'll think about it," and I honestly thought I was sincere... until I got 2 minutes down the road and the pressure lifted off. I'm pretty obsessive about these kind of purchases, too; which is why, when I got 5 minutes to myself I knew I had made the right choice - at least not to buy a bike I knew wasn't right! So, I honestly don't like that shop. I think the blogger reccomends it mainly because he thinks he is being politically astute by supporting a LBS (aka not a Giant
franchise, which he dislikes as a sort of political statement) and if he's honest, I expect he wants the rep.
I say fly under the radar and with an open mind. You know steel and alloy are basically the same at your price range and for your purposes. I say you want bang for buck rather than names and concepts. Get a steel framed road bike as good as you can get. If you can find a good second hand one, get that - the quality is more important than all the rest of it.
really you only want a road orientated bike, strong and practical enough for man and child and hills.
I saw a guy riding around on a mountain bike with his child seat attached. I think that is the say to go. In fact, mountain bikes are probably what you really need here. I have a friend who used to ride centuries on his mountain bike (all day), no problem.
You want visibility, control and comfort, durability and as good as components as you can - all included in the ticket price.