I have just started commuting to work, about 18 miles each way. I put some slicks on my old (circa 1992) Rockhopper with rigid fork. I'm finding that the roads and bike paths that make up my route are in awful condition after a brutal winter, and the frost heaves and potholes are just beating me up. In addition, my old Rockhopper hasn't seen wrench nor lube since I don't know when.
I am looking forward to commuting as much as possible going forward, but I need to either overhaul the Rockhopper or get a new bike. Based on the beating I've taken on Milwaukee's finest cement roads, I'm leaning towards a new bike with front suspension. If I overhaul, I will need to replace the entire drivetrain (it's pretty nasty looking), and I will still be getting beat up until the city repaves the roads (if they bother with that). Based on some online research, I like the looks of the Gary Fisher Kaitai and the Specialized Crosstrail Sport. To save a few bucks, I would also look at entry level MTB's (but would really prefer the road bike gearing, 48:11 top end). This bike will be mainly used for this commute, with some occasional family trail riding. No serious singletrack or anything like that. I have a good road bike for my fun rides (just don't want to subject it to the commute). Thoughts?