I've read a lot of threads on randonneuring bikes and gotten a lot of useful points - thanks to all. I'm about ready to upgrade my too-small mid-eighties Centurion (I love it and I'll keep it) to a bike I'll use for commuting, centuries, 30-milers with friends, and brevets... with the goal of doing a 1200km in 2007. If I'm going to finish a 1200 I need to gear this purchase toward that goal. I can stomach something in the range of $1200.
Obviously the best bike for randonneuring is a randonneuring bike. But in my price range, I cannot escape cyclocross bikes. I've accepted that I'll make a bit of a compromise buying a cyclocross bike primarily for brevets, but it seems like a very minor compromise.
I have a chance to buy a new 2004 Redline Conquest Pro (105 shifters) for $1050. I'm partial to steel (this frame is aluminum), but I'm inclined to think I can make this bike work very well for me and ride a 1200km without regretting my purchase.
My questions: 1) Am I wrong in thinking cyclocross bikes are the best thing that could have happened to randonneurs who share my price range? 2) Setting our love affairs with steel aside, will I be making a terrible mistake to buy an aluminum cyclocross bike for the express purpose of riding a 1200km brevet? (I might make a few gearing and accessory modifications. I suppose I can buy a Surly Cross-Check frame and treat the Redline like a bargain-priced build kit.)
Forgive me if this post is a repeat. Thanks.