Cross Check. Although for commuting and touring, I would opt for a Surly LHT or Disc Trucker. Little more upright position and can take a ton of stuff.
My Cross Check:
Since the Cross Check has horizontal dropouts, is changing a tire more difficult than on a bike with vertical dropouts? I was reading that the horizontal was more for single speed bikes. But I get a sense that changing a flat might be more difficult?
I prefer vertical dropouts, just because it is a tiny, and I mean tiny, bit easier to pop the wheel out. With horizontal dropouts, it really isn't hard, you just push the wheel forward, it takes about 1 second. My commuter bike has horizontal dropouts, I rarely change a flat, maybe once a year so this small inconvenience becomes insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I will add that my gaya wheels suck for road tires. They cannot take over 65 psi. Period. Apex isn't that great and The bike had a fork recall on some models. I ride my nature boy 99 percent of the time the days.
I bought a barely-rideable used one in 2006 and replaced every part on it over the next three years. Then I crashed it and replaced the frame. Though I built it myself, the specs are actually quite similar to what they offer on the complete bike.
I have about 25k miles on my Surly Crosscheck. Most of it commuting, but I've also toured, done two 330 mile four day charity rides and six centuries on it. At the end of the day, I was in far better shape than all the guys my age on the $$$$$ carbon fiber road bikes.
I've even raced 'cross on it.
It's a very nicely built frame in terms of quality and finish. The fork is bomb proof. When I crashed into a parked car in 2010, I bent the downtube and nearly totaled the car, but the fork was undamaged. Surly gave me $100 off of a new frame.
When I first got it, I'd been riding a Trek 1000 with STI shifters. When I got my used Surly, I put bar-ends on it and had no trouble getting used to them. They are super reliable and having friction on the front derailleur means I can use any kind of crank setup known to man. Trust me, I have.
The only issue with the Crosscheck to me is that it has a rather short head tube. The top tube is perfectly level, which looks real nice but might not be what you want if you like your bars close to the height of your saddle.
My question might be: Why not the Long Haul Trucker? Other than lacking the ability to run as a singlespeed, it doesn't have very many minuses over the Surly and has a few pluses. There are a few extra things for touring like an extra water bottle cage under the downtube, and more relaxed geometry. Since you're doing touring, why not get a touring bike? I often regret not getting the LHT frame instead myself.
Well the thread does say only 5% touring - which is probably about what percentage I will be touring in hte future too, so the Cross-Check was the better decision.
Also, the LHT is another few hundred dollars more than the CC, and the CC is already pushing his budget by a hundred or so.
I think that you can't really go wrong with any of the bikes -- I suggested just upgrading to brifters because it seems the simplest. As for the Straggler being $1800 (MSRP)..the great thing about Surly is that you can buy the frameset + donor bike or bd bike and come out way ahead:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...iberty_cxd.htm + Straggler frameset = $1100 + (Assembly fee) or;
http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=2488 + Straggler = $1000 + (Assembly fee) or;
On the other hand--if it were me I'd do this and be done with it:
Motobecane CXX ($799): It's basically a poor man's Crosscheck w/Brifters--(no disc)
Which should give you 90% of what you want (minus disc brakes)...Ride that for a while..if the brakes don't do it for you;
Buy a new frame-set ($450-ish) (I think i would prefer the Soma Double Cross Disc) and transfer your Apex group from the Moto over.
I've listed BD as examples..only because they are easy to link to..you can get better prices with patience and an eye on craigslist/ebay. Also, my next bike will most likely be something from Soma (Double Cross or Smoothie ES) and, I'm looking forward to a frame-up build.
If you are not afraid of doing some of the work yourself..it might make a nice winter project.
Good luck with whatever you choose. Also, do you have a secure place to store this awesome ride once you have it?
Spend a couple hours browsing on Bikesdirect. I think you'll find a better bike for a better price that'll suit your needs better.
I dont know if this applies to the OP or not, but resale value. Around the front range a cross check will hold its value much better than the other bikes, could be regional though.
As a Fargo owner I would be in favor of the VAya, but some of my hard core commuter friends in the area have cross checks, and the price you are getting there is great.
Anyway, something for you to consider in addition to the others suggested.
Been researching a bit more... I've thrown the Jamis Aurora into the mix. Any thoughts on it compared to the others? It seems on par if not better than the Surly...
I know a lot of people have and like the Jamis and I looked at it as well, but I think for a few more dollars you can get something a bit nicer. Jamis is a good value (I have one in the family fleet) and the Aurora is a nice touring bike though. Appealing. I just like the VO much better and next in line was the Macho Man if it had a straight top tube (my preference), kickstand mount, and both fender and rack mounts I may have gone with that one.
BTW - what state are you in? If Florida I can recommend The Path Bike Shop in Clearwater. They will hook you up good and have the All City, the Kona, Salsa bikes, and VO bikes (had to order my VO). Very good shop and great prices. Excellent build services.
If you want a cross bike and you want one that will last a long time with a frame that is deservant to be upgrade then go to Bikes Direct and look at the Motobecane Fantom Cross Pro, it is a tad over your price range by only $200 though so it's not a huge reach. I mention this bike because for that money you get a titanium frame! Titanium won't rust like steel, corrode like aluminum, crack like carbon fiber, and won't smell bad in hot weather. See: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._pro_ti_xi.htm This is a lifetime bike, you can upgrade it anyway you feel fit as the years go by because the frame will still be good unlike a couple of different frame materials. That bike has the exact same frame as the more expensive titanium Cross Team offering, the only difference between the two is components, and the Sram Rival group used on the Pro isn't shabby stuff, but one could later upgrade as components fail to the next level in the Sram offerings. In addition that Pro bike has been highly favored in reviews, plus it has fender mounts and pannier rack braze on's on the rear, the bike comes with 700 x 35 tires which means those are the middle of the road tires, one could put on as high as a 37 and maybe as low as a 25 thus you could have a set of narrower faster tires and a set of cross or touring tires. It would be worth it in the long run to cough up the extra $200 to get a titanium bike.
@Ridefreemc I normally ride with a 30 liter pack now, which I like. But I'd like the option to use racks later, when I start aging and can't or don't want a backpack. Fenders are a must on both front and back. I'm in Boston, very far from Florida :-) How would you compare the Aurora to the Cross Check? Again, they seem pretty similar save parts, which Aurora has better. And I'd probably switch the fenders on it after reading how awful they were.
@rekmeyata While that Ti bike is a awesome looking, it's about $700 out of my range. I'm hoping to spend around $1000, plus I'll need to get fender and pedals most likely.
That Ti bike makes me drool though lol.
I think the Aurora is the better bike of the two but only by a fraction. The geometry of the Aurora has a bit longer wheelbase than the Cross Check which means it will be more comfortable on the road going longer distances. A cross bike is a cross bike, not really designed for long touring rides but they can and have been used for that purpose, but the intent of that bike is to ride in shorter rides combining street with some mildly rough stuff. If after the tour you want a bike to do cross riding then the Surly will be more suited for that with shorter stays and shorter wheelbase and higher bottom bracket thus the Surly will have slightly better handling when unloaded. The Aurora has a lower bottom bracket which makes the bike more stable with panniers and easier to maintain a line and better at higher speeds going down grades thus you'll be more relaxed riding it when loaded. So the two will ride differently loaded and unloaded. And since the Cross Check does have a shorter wheelbase you have to buy smaller panniers then you would have to with the Aurora. Both will do great as a commuter bike. Decisions, decisions!
However, if the LBS you have gone into has by chance a Aurora Elite on sale see if that one is reduced enough (or maybe they'll reduce it further than the sale price if they know you're serious about buying because they do have to dump their inventory due to taxes and get rid of last years stock) for you to afford it because overall it has better componentry and would be worth it in the long haul.
Fenders are fairly cheap, get Planet Bike or SKS, the real cheap ones made by other brands won't last long.
Pedals can be found fairly cheap as well if you want a platform pedal so you can wear shoes to walk around and ride. Pedals like the MKS GR9 are about $25 you can then get a set of Power straps if you want to keep your feet sort of strapped to the pedal but don't want toe clips to lock them in, or go without any strap. If you want the versatility of having both the platform and a SPD clip then the Shimano PD A520 is great at about $45.
Another option is to keep your eyes peeled for a used touring bike, I found a 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe for $100 that only had 250 miles on it, I then paid about $80 to have it gone through professionally and had the brakes cables and pads replaced which made a world of difference in their operation. That was 3 years ago though, today you'll probably spend about $250 for the same bike. There are other fantastic older vintage touring bikes too, those older touring bikes are better in a lot of aspects to modern ones!
Thank you for the detailed reply.
The majority of my riding will be commuting. This takes place in Boston so agility takes slightly higher presidence than long distance. But having the option for longer distance (weekend trips) in the future works be nice. Based on what you've said, it sounds like a shorter wheel base might be better, and that being said the Surly might be best?
I need to look at the specs for the Aurora again and also test ride it. It sounds promising though.
Edit: after looking at the specs, the Aurora wheelbase is only like an inch longer. Is that big? Does it make a huge difference?
And one more thing, a previous commenter said the Jamis Nova Sport would not accommodate both fenders and a rack, but I called my LBS and they said they've done it before.
Such tough decisions!
Before tackling this job I considered myself a moderately competent tinkerer. Since I couldn't leave the bike as is and have since replaced just about everything (mostly with used and new-old-stock parts) I've learned to do just about anything and everything. I now have a full stock of tools too (always looking for excuses to buy tools). I love riding this bike, in part because I built it, in part because it has what I want on it and I feel confident fixing just about anything. Including tools I'm guessing I still have less than $500 invested and invaluable confidence and education!
For sure test ride each, but don't just spin them around the parking lot, take them down the road for at least 5 miles to get a better feel for each, and you may have to do that a couple times each to get a base line in your mind as to how each feels.
You're not going to go wrong with either bike, it just depends on how they feel to you, if the Aurora's handling is good enough it will be more comfortable over the long haul, and being or becoming an older person comfort does become a concern as time progresses for most people unless your plans of cycling is more about shorter distances like under 50 miles would more to your daily riding, but once you get above that comfort becomes more and more of an issue.
I have touring bikes and road bikes, handling wise the touring bikes are not as nimble but they don't present any problems either, but they do handle better and start to ride like a Cadillac when loaded, and they are more comfortable for long distance. I don't have any cross bikes so I can't comment on what I think of the difference between a road bike, cross bike, and a touring bike from a personal standpoint.
Regarding what your LBS said, I've seen lots of ghetto rig jobs, so if that's what they're meaning, I'd stay clear and get something that has the proper braze ons.
As I said before the Jamis bikes are great values (yes - you'd likely do better with SKS fenders though - sell the others on CL). As he said too I like the Elite for the little extra cash.
Sounds like I went through the same thought process as you trying to find a bike that does it all. In the end I have a bike that does the vast majority of what I want, but not "all." I am happy!