I'm shopping for a new bike, and I've narrowed it down to...
A quick intro: I have been commuting to work (14 miles r/t) in NYC for the past couple of years on my old Trek 4300 mtn bike...and it worked just fine. It was stolen a few weeks ago and I was sad. I had been thinking of buying a new, more suitable bike for my riding purposes, and now that I've been forced to do so, and research new bikes I've discovered I enjoy the cyclocross bike. (80% commute/20% play/offroad). I am trying to keep it under or right at $1000, maybe a little over if it is justified (i.e., I'll need a good story to tell my wife).
I have test ridden the following and feel like any of them would probably suit me just fine:
1. Specialized Tricross Sport ($1100) - First cx bike I rode and I got really excited. No real complaints other than the price maybe, and the opinion of self-proclaimed bike snob acquaintances/friends telling me I can get more for my money.
2. Kona Jake ($800) - Has the cheaper Sora set up, but I honestly didn't mind the thumb shifting...coming from a mtn bike set up that I'd rode for 7 years with mediocre components, this seemed just fine. It also has the second set of brakes along the flat of the bar, which I find myself grabbing often, used to the mtn bike feel I guess. My only complaint would be the color if I had to complain about something.
3. Surly Cross-Check ($930) - This seemed a bit smoother than the Kona, but maybe I was expecting it to be due to all the forum posts about steel framed bikes being, well, smoother rides. My complaint with this bike is the complete build components: the shifters are a little weird. I guess I could adapt, but they really seem out of place to me. Also, the grips on the handlebar where I place my hands (don't know technical term) is hard plastic, and not very forgiving, it wasn't comfy in that respect. To upgrade these things would add a couple hundred dollars to the final price.
4. Bianchi Volpe ($900) - I went to test ride this, but test rode a 2006 Castro Valley as they had one in my size left over and would have to special order the Volpe. LBS guy said the ride would be pretty much identical to the Volpe. Frame is identical. No front der., headlight powered by hub on front wheel, and fenders - more of a commuter bike. He could sale it to me for $720. I enjoyed riding this too, although I think it could use a couple tweaks (shifting slipped between gears sometimes, seat seemed like it was slanted forward a touch). My first question was can i take the fenders off? I test rode this one along the route I normally commute on, which goes along some city streets, cobble stone, then a bike path up the west side of manhattan.
Well, I know this is a long-winded thread, but I'm quite undecided. I'm not married to a steel frame or aluminum frame really. I didn't notice a HUGE difference between the frame types, but this is all based on 20-30 minute test rides too.
I really appreciate anyone's advice, feedback, and insight very much.
OK bike forum, I get it...tough love here. What more could be said about the bikes I inquired about, right? Just go pick one and ride it and shut up.
Well I did. I narrowed it down to the Cross Check and the Tricross Sport. And the winner is...Tricross!
It was a really tough decision. But after an hour long test ride (third test ride) on the Tricross it just felt right to me. I do get a little bit of the front fork "chatter" when I brake really hard, but it is very slight. It is most noticeable when braking while turning, but I don't find myself braking with front brakes really hard when turning much, at least not so far. This is the only thing that makes me a little nervous about the buy, but I had to chooseone, right?
I didn't like the way the Cross Check complete came stocked, with weird shifters and no cross brake handles, plus the handlebar itself is not terribly comfortable. To upgrade the bar, shifters, and add cross brakes, it would've been another $300 on top of the $950 bike, more expensive than the Tricross.
Anyway, I'm excited about it, so I stopped by my apartment to share the news, have a bite to eat, and then I'm off for another ride.
Just so you know, word is the 2008 Jake will have Tiagra shifters. Probably it will be a bit costlier as a result.
But are you locking your bike up outside in NYC? I hear theft is truly awful. A nice new bike probably wouldn't last long, so I might recommend an old beater road bike. If it is stolen, you won't be out 900 bucks.