Hey folks...I've been commuting off an on using my slightly modified mountain bike (2001 Specialized Rockhopper). My trip is 28 miles round trip and I'm doing it 2-3 times a week. The whole thing is flat/smooth city streets, with the occasional square curb here and there. I'm 6'2 and about 230lbs and am in reasonable shape.
I've swapped the tires out for the smallest street/city tires I could fit on the thing and that helped a bit...I found I picked up a couple mph, but I'm still feeling like it just takes too much effort to ride this thing at an acceptable speed. Not to mention all the years I abused it as a mountain bike. Lots of squeaks, creaks and groaning coming from this thing. I track my rides and I average about 14.0 - 14.5mph for the trip.
Barring my own fitness level, would I see an appreciable difference in speed and effort by switching to a road or cyclocross bike? I'd be willing to spend as much as $1200 (which is what I originally spent on the mountain bike back in 2001).
I can park the bike in my office so theft isn't an issue. I would be using it for primarily for commuting with an occasional paved trail ride once or twice a month. I don't need panniers. I have a seat-post mounted rear rack that I use to carry my stuff and was planning to continue using that.
Can anybody point me toward a few recommendations?