I'm looking into buying a new commuter and looking for suggestions and advice.
Previously I commuted about 2 miles both ways on a low end hybrid (Giant Cypress ST; don't buy it's a terrible bike) but I've moved and my commute is now about 10 miles both ways. The Giant Cypress is heavy and falling apart so I'm looking for something better (more reliable, lighter, faster, etc). The commute is all on paved bicycle trails and roads, and while there is occasional light dirt patches and potholes there is nothing that could be considered off-road.
My main criteria are:
- Somewhere under $2000
- Drop bars
- Disc brakes (because the rim brakes have been an endless source of misery on every low end bicycle I've ever owned and my rims tend to pick up junk on rainy days)
- Mounts for full fenders and rack
- No extra set of brakes (I'm looking at you Specialized TriCross)
- Shimano shifters (I can't stand SRAM's double tap)
- It will be used for wet weather but probably not while it's raining unless I get caught in it
I've done quite a lot of research and so far I've been looking at two Cyclocross bicycles but I'm open to suggestions on other good bikes that fit the bill. I can't find either of these built in my area so I'll end up having to order them on faith. They are:
There are a few bikes that are close but didn't have what I was looking for:
1. Surly Long Haul Trucker - Don't need the low end gearing and my frame size comes with 26" tires instead of 700c
2. Redline Metro Classic - I don't really like the steel frame mainly because if the paint chips it will rust and I don't mind the ride of aluminum. It has an ugly paint job anyway.
The Jamis has better components (e.g. Avid BB7 brakes) and (I think) is better in every way. The cost difference isn't really an issue. Both are the new Tiagra 10 speed. Both have ugly paint jobs but the Kona's is a little better. One thing I'm wondering about is that the Jamis has cable routing over the top tube while the Kona has cables routed inside the down tube and under the bottom bracket. It seems like having cables routed on top of the top tube would be annoying when standing over the bicycle (which I do quite a lot of at stop lights). However, I'm afraid the Kona's bottom bracket routing will pick up crud and start making shifting and braking feel rough. The routing on the Jamis Nova Race also prevents me from putting tape on the top bar to prevent the top bar from getting paint rubbed off when parking on metal poles (although this isn't really a big deal).
Another thing I'm wondering about is whether Tiagra is sufficient for my needs or if I should pay a few hundred more for 105. I mainly care about reliability and not as much weight. From what I've read Tiagra is as reliable as 105 but cheaper and heavier.
I'm leaning towards the Jamis but I was hoping to find some thoughts on it here first and also to make sure I'm not missing anything important either in my bicycle selection or bicycle critique.
I've also test ridden a few cross bikes at my local LBS. I've tested the Cannondale CAADX and Specialized TriCross (Comp?). They were good bikes and I think a cross bike would fit my needs but those two specific bicycles don't. Either bike I get I will probably have to order from my LBS and have them build it. It's hard to find Kona and Jamis dealers even though I live in a heavily populated area.
I did actually find a Nova Race in my size but it's an hour drive from me. I'm thinking about checking it out this weekend. I tried calling every Kona dealer within 100 miles of me and none have a 2013 Kona Jake.
Obtaining either bike is not a problem, neither is having to drive for followup service. My main concern is finding the right bike. Even if I test the Nova Race I still don't know whether the Kona Jake would be better. I would rather find the right bike the first time than settle for what I can find in stock. I live in a heavily populated area so there is a dealer for basically every manufacturer here is not a problem. Unfortunately finding a dealer with the exact bike I want is a problem.
Tiagra is fine for most people, but I love the 105s on my bike. If you are going with disc brakes I would definitely recommend the BB7, even if you have to pay for an upgrade when you buy it (work with your LBS about it).
Cyclocross season will be over in a few months (Feb) so if you can wait I'm sure you can find some killer deals on either used gear or old stock that didn't sell soon. If you decide to go that route, and I would, I would wait.