I've been saving up for a LHT since last year to use as a commuter. I had a Cross Check, but sold it after 3 months due to never being able to get the handlebars right (I like my bars even with the saddle, and once I got an adjustable stem to bring the bars up high enough, it made for a pretty short effective length of the stem). I heard that the LHT with its taller head tube may be a better fit. So, I drove an hour today to go try one.
Turns out I should have called first, as they didn't have any LHTs in my size. However, they did have a 2009 Jamis Aurora that fit like a glove on sale for $641. The shop said they are no longer a Jamis dealer, so I couldn't get warranty support through them but I could go to any other dealer just fine. I took it out for a test ride, and the derailleurs needed adjusting (would not shift to the large front ring), but the shop said they could take care of that for me.
I also looked at a Masi Speciale CX, which seemed like a beautiful bike, but would have been made better with a triple.
I'm looking for a bike primarily for commuting - my commute now is 6 miles round trip, but will jump to 24 miles round trip next year. I'm more concerned with comfy than fast, and my commute next year will include easy wide dirt and limestone trails. The only touring I see in my future is some short weekend trips this summer, and my friends and I are looking at doing RAGBRAI unsupported in 2012. How well would the Aurora handle all this? Might I be better off with a cross bike as my commute next year is going to be mostly unpaved? As I have cash on hand to buy an LHT with a few upgrades, might the Aurora be a decent choice as I'd then have more cash to customize/accessorize to perfect it? Any opinions on any of these bikes, or others I might not have considered?