So even with my Hardrock and a cheap FCR I still couldn't get rid of my itch for a more "roadish" drop-bar bike. My wife's interest in riding on my FCR allowed me the opportunity to find one. I had decided on a touring or cyclocross bike.
Hit the chain LBS here in Milwaukee, they sell Trek (and sub-brands), as well as Breezer, etc. They also special order Surly. Didnt' see anything in-shop I liked.
Visited another smaller LBS in the 'burbs. THey had an '06 Trek Pilot I had been watching for awhile, but there was something about the bike - I just didnt' get the "wow" from it. Plus it had 23c tires on it, and I wasnt' sure how much clearance there was for anything fatter.
At that point I had figured it would look at the BikesDirect route and look at the Motobecane Fantom CX. I cant' tell you how many times I was THIS CLOSE (pinching fingers together) to pulling the trigger on one.
Tried another LBS that has an insane collection of older bikes (at insane prices). They had a Fuji Touring there, but from a couple years old and for $800 (new/old stock). They had a nice collection of Bianchi frames. You could walk around this place (they own two buildings full of bikes) for hours and find gems, but they would cost you.
I figured I'd go back one more time to the LBS that sold me my Specialized. They picked up Giant 2 months ago after the chain LBS that sells Trek dropped them. They also sold Schwinn. I was going to look at Giant's TCX1 Cyclocross as well as look at some Specialized Allez they were closing out.
Looked at a couple 2006 and 2007 new/old stock Allez (various variations). All ran about 6-800 bucks. Even jumped over and looked at a Specialized Sirrus - they are sweet looking flat-bar road bikes.
Saw this '06 Sequoia that had been sitting there as long as I had been going in the store (March). I figured it was too big for me (57") - I'm 5'11" but have a 30" or thereabouts for inseam. The sales guy/owner was pleasant as usual and said "Just sit on it - you may be surprised!".
He took it out of the rack and I sat. WOW, I fit! Took a ride, it was AWESOME! When I( got back he had a 54cm Allez out there, he said "Try this". Wow, 54 may be decent from an inseam standpoint but it is most definitely too short for me. Next, a 56cm Allez: FIT!
Tried the Sequoia again. I loved this bike. Problem though, price was $699 and it's an '06 model. Here in MIlwaukee you dont' have a lot of choices for bike stores, this is the only Specialized dealer in my area, and even better, it's an LBS that's a mile from my house. I asked what they could do for me - they dropped $20 off the price, and are going to swap out the 26c tires for some 32c armadillos. Also got 2 years service on there as well for free, plus they fixed up the FCR that we own (RD was finicky when shifting) for free as well. Figured that was about as good as I was going to get, and I brought it home!
Took it ofr a ride this AM. I still have the stock 26's on there while the 32s are on order. Gonna put the rear rack on it probably next week (no need for now) and the Mrs. and I are going to take a 15mi. jaunt this Sat. while Grandma watches the kids, her on her now new-to-her FCR3 and me on the Sequoia.