I had just about made up my mind to buy a new Giant OCR1, really liked the way it fit, and I found a good deal. Yesterday I test rode a Trek Xo1 and really liked that one also.
So, will I ever miss the extra 3 gears that I can get with the Giant? I think the Giant has better components, but the ride on the XO1 was so much smoother. Also, I can put fenders or a rack on the X01 but not the Giant, except for a stem mounted rack. Are they any good?
I had thought about getting the Giant, putting tires like the XO1 cyclocross tires on it, however, I was told today that there wouldn't be room to do that. Does that sound right?
Go with the bike that feels the best, which sounds like the Trek. You won't miss 3 gears - well, maybe I'm not one who should talk, I don't miss 26 gears Seriously though, you won't miss them, plus if the top and bottom end of the gears are different, you can always swap cassettes or chainrings to get a different range. Not very expensive. As far as the tires go, you would have to look at the frame to see if the Giant has room for wider tires. Cross tires come in a few widths, so chances are you could use the same tire tread on the Giant, but get a narrower width than is on the Trek.
From you post though, I'd say go with the Trek since it sounds like you might want to use a rack and fenders down the road.
Cyclo-cross/tourers are nippier than proper expedition touring bikes , but more useful than purist cyclo-cross bikes or road bikes. They are the ideal for general purpose riding. If you dont plan to race, then the ability to make the bike practical with rack and fenders and wider tyres is a real advantage. Ive seen people strugling to turn a road bike into a weekend tourer or commuter, for the lack of a few threaded holes.
The Giant has brakes which are very close to the rims, so limit the tyre clearance to about 25mm. With a cyclo-cross/tourer style of bike to can fit 25mm for fast day rides, 28 to 32 mm for everyday riding, and off-road knobbly tyres for rough tracks or snow.
24 or 27 gears is a meaningless difference, both are more than enough for any use. I ride hilly terrain on road and trails with 21 gears.
Thanks for the responses. I do think I will go with the Trek XO1. I have one LBS that has it in stock but for about $30 more than I can order a 2003 model for. I'm going to go back there and see if I can negotiate a lower price along with a discount on any accessories I buy at the time of purchase. If not, I'll order it and wait.