Good morning everyone!
Longtime forum browser, first time poster here. I am moving to Madison, WI in the upcoming weeks and am looking for a versatile bike for commuting to work (4 miles RT), grocery shopping/errands, rails-to-trails and occaisional light touring and offroad use (i.e. nothing hardcore). Based on my research and test rides, these are the final criteria that I've established for said bike:
TYPE: Given the wide range of conditions in which I plan to use the bike, I found that a Cyclocross bike fits the bill perfectly. I don't plan on racing with it, but want to make sure that the bike is fitted with reliable and high-quality components. My road bike is a 2006 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra -- while I don't expect my new bike to match that spec, I don't want a bike which has crap components and handles like an army tank.
PRICE: $1300 ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM (before tax). My original budget was $1000, so this is already quite a stretch.
FRAME: Aluminum. I know that steel frames in theory have improved shock/vibration absoprtion. However, after riding several steel and aluminum frame bikes, I much preferred the lesser weight of aluminum. Plus, aluminum frames with carbon forks and nicely spec'd tires were very comparable to steel in terms of shock/vibration absorption.
GEO: Coming from a road bike, I've got to have drop handlebars. I would prefer to be in a slightly more upright riding position than my road bike.
COMPONENTS: Shimano Sora at the very least. Because I plan on doing much riding in inclement weather, disc brakes are a MUST. I'd prefer something like a BB7, but realize that at my pricepoint I may have to make some sacrifices (if only $$$ grew on trees!).
After test riding numerous bikes, my final 2 contenders are:
Trek Crossrip Elite - $1150 (On sale from $1270)
Cannondale CAADX Disc 6 Tiagra - $1259
The CAADX overall has better spec, is lighter and felt more nimble than the Crossrip. I still very much enjoyed the ride of the Crossrip, however, it just didn't seem quite as responsive as the CAADX (probably due to aforementioned weight/spec differences). That being said, my decision is being complicated by several factors:
1.) I would prefer to purchase the bike in Madison (for ease of bike servicing and dealer support, not to mention lower sales tax). However, Madison has ZERO dedicated Cannondale dealers (I find this strange as Madison is such a bike-friendly city). On the other hand, there are 2 HUGE Trek dealers in Madison (both stores are actually owned by Trek). The complimentary bike service plan they offer with any bike purchase is fantastic (initial fitting, 2 full tune ups, unlimited brake and derailleur/shifter adjustments). The Trek store also discounts all accessories purchased with the bike at 10% off.
2.) The Crossrip is less expensive than the CAADX. The $109 saved could then be applied towards a rack and fenders or other accesories.
3.) The CAADX overall has better spec (Tiagra vs. Sora), however I am suspect of the discs (Promax Render R?). The Crossrip comes with Hayes CX5s (which I have heard great things about).
4.) Because I will be commuting the work, the bike will be locked up outside for 8-10 hours/day. The Crossrip sports an urban stealth slate grey finish which does not scream "STEAL ME." On the other hand, the CAADX (while beautiful) is brightly colored and decaled -- I would be somewhat apprehensive about locking it up outside (especially given that it's also more expensive).
Any thoughts or recommendations on which bike to go with? The CAADX is a better bike on paper (and slightly better to ride), however the above factors are complicating my decision. Does anyone have any experience with either of these bikes? Since I've never commuted to work before, I would also appreciate any thoughts/experiences regarding locking the bike up outside.
Sorry for the long post and thank you in advance!