The first three paragraphs are just background. I'm long-winded. That's how I roll.
I am fortunate enough to work for a company here in London that participates in the government funded cycle to work scheme. For those not familiar with it, the basics are that I pick a bike and gear and the company pays for it minus the VAT and I pay them back over 12 months with a salary deduction. It typically means savings of around 40%. Official website here http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/
At the moment I am commuting 13 miles a day for work and adding in another 20 or so on the weekend. The bike I am using is a Montague Hummer, a gift from my parents back in the States that is a lot of fun off road but ill-suited for London commuting.
I'm a big bloke, 90kg and 73" tall. I live in East London and commute to Covent Garden and cover a lot of road works that leave potholes the size of land mine craters. Feather-weight road bikes with skinny tires make me envision taco shaped wheels and split frames.
I'm looking to pimp my ride and so far the Trek Valencia is leading the pack for what I think I want. What I love about commuting with my Hummer, aside from the over-the-top name, attitude and uniqueness, is the disc brake, handlebar and riding position and smooth ride. What I dislike is the inability to add accessories like racks to use panniers, places to hold a lock and the suspension fork that gives a smooth but sluggish ride. Essentially it's big plus points are the ability to fold into a small package and haul ass over rough off-road terrain. These aren't a factor in my commute.
The Trek Valencia gives me disc brakes x2 which seems pretty bad-ass to me but makes me wonder if it's overkill. I've heard good things about the riding position and it seems like it could hold up well for London commutes as well as a London to Brighton ride that I'm planning (perhaps even the London to Paris?). The Cro-Moly fork sounds like it could substitute quite nicely for my Rock Shox on my daily ride. The fatter tires (than a road bike) appeal to me as does the 700c wheel size.
Essentially I'm looking for flaws in the Trek Valencia, either real or just perceived for my particulars, and potential contenders I should consider. Any feedback/experiences are more than welcome.
The Valencia wouldn't be my top choice for a commuter. From Trek, I'd opt for the 520 or maybe the Portland if you really want disc brakes. But I prefer more of a road bike position than the upright position with flat bars.
My top choice for a commuter is the Specialized Tricross Sport, but again, no disc brakes.
The program is the tax breaks, that's where the savings come in. I'll look at some of those other suggestions but I think I like the flat bars better than the road bike position. I like the disc brakes a lot when it's wet but it's likely that I might not completely need them.