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I know this gets asked all the time, and I've read reviews and posts til my eyes are bleeding, but I figured I would put all of my info out there and let you decide once and for now what bike is best for me.
My situation is a little unique in that I live in Japan and am not yet fluent in speaking the language, and even worse reading it.
This makes it hard for me to actually find bikes I'm interested in to test ride.
So here is everything I can think to tell that might have some bearing on the decision. Thanks in advance for any and all help given.

age - 45
height - 5'7" (170cm)
weight - a few pounds over :rolleyes:
budget - under $1000 U.S./ 100,000yen
riding preferences - 75% on-road (comfort and conditioning more important that speed), 25% off-road (trail riding, dirt roads, etc. nothing hardcore)
wishes - I'd like something comfortable that is useful for everyday commuting while being sturdy enough to handle the extra pounds I'm toting (until I lose them) as I begin to get off the roads more and more (like I was doing years ago before marriage and gravity took their toll).
I know hybrids come to mind, and I've certainly researched all of them, but if there's a hard tail that would meet my needs I might be more inclined to go with that.

Let me throw out a sampling of some of the many that I've been thinking about for you to critique:
Kona Dew FS
Jamis Allegro 2X (3X not available in Japan)
GT Karakoram
Giant XTC 3
Cannondale F5
and many more...

Thanks again for your help.
 

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I would go for a regular hardtail with slick tires. Actually, it is what I have for a commuter/back up all-around bike. I don't think a hybrid is strong enough even for commuting in urban environment, where you need all the time jump on/off the sidewalk. Using it off road doesn't sound as a good idea either, particularly given the years of marriage and gravity :).
I would add to your list of brands one more, not marketed in the US, but very popular in my part of the world - Merida (not sure, if it is sold in Japan, but worth checking). Normally it gives a very good value for money.
 
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