Thank you for your informed and informative reply DeeAnn, which is what I was hoping for when I made my post. My current bike is probably nearly as heavy as this one and similar ladies’ bikes I’m thinking of, and it has a front suspension which seems to work well in providing a smoother ride on British pothole-riddled road. Despite decades of trying really hard to maintain my bikes, I am just not very competent at maintenance, so I am investigating lower-maintenance options such as hub gears and disc brakes. This really expensive model has something I’d never even heard of: belt drive instead of a chain, along with disc brakes. Have you any knowledge of this strange innovation?
As for gears, I find that my bike’s 21 speeds are most unused, and I stick with the middle chainring 99% of my riding time. Given that I grew up riding bikes with either no gears at all or a 3-speed, I’d be entirely content with seven.