Alright, firstly my apologies to anyone who is annoyed by the possibility of oft-repeated-beat-to-**** questions in this post, and sorry again for waking up anyone who was asleep in this thread.
I'm looking to get into commuting by cycle, from my house in Ditmas Park through prospect park into and into downtown BK, about 5 miles one way. I commuted year-round by motorcycle for a little over a year before some a--holes stole that bike, so I'm looking to upgrade to a more mature form of transportation with the insurance check. If any of you know motos, I rode a supermoto style bike, essentially a dirtbike with slicks and lights. It was great for being light, maneuverable, cheap, reliable, sturdy and fun. I'm essentially looking to find a style of bicycle that mirrors this. I'd like to hit a few dirt sections of the park in the morning, bash curbs, rumble through potholes, and still make the trip in a decent time.
Now I really have had to start my learning from square one here, and am trying to narrow down what kinds of bicycles I should be looking at. So far I've gone from eyeing 29" commuter setups, to cross bikes and a few styles in between. The ability to handle an occasional offroad thrashing, carry luggage, and ride year-round are all paramount. A straight MTB seems not quite right for keeping up speed on the flats and the luggage/ergonomics I would like, but maybe I'm wrong.
My budget would be around $500-$600 max for the bike, leaving a couple hundred spare for accessories and the like. I have pretty decent mechanical ability, and access to some fabrication machines, so building and modifying components doesnt scare me. I would love to do a build from a frame up, but would rather get riding sooner by buying a rig, and it seems less expensive to buy a built bike anyways. Currently I'm scanning around on Craigslist for used bikes that fit the bill.
Examples of bikes that have intrigued me so far include:
Seek 2 (2013) | Giant Bicycles | Australia
Raleigh Bicycles - Misceo 2.0
Surly Karate Monkey
Karate Monkey Commuter
I'd love to hear opinions from some of you, and if you have some knowledge on other local forums with classifieds, that would be greatly appreciated