So I finally got to test-ride this, and I ended up ordering it
Thanks all for the advice so far - and I apologize for the yoyoing I did when discussing potential purchases. I finally found an LBS that I liked (and I have visited far too many now!) and he called me after he built an Escape. I should get mine on Monday, and pics will follow
As I had posted, I had decided to order from BikesDirect, and take my chance on the order. I don't have a lot of wrenching experience w.r.t bikes, but I planned to learn. My wife dissuaded me on this plan - she was really uncomfortable with the idea of me out on a bike that I had put together myself, with my limited knowledge. It was a safety issue, and since she has been extremely supportive about my bike commute so far, I agreed.
Waiting for Monday now