I have the option to buy a 2005 Jake the Snake for about $20 more than the 2006 Bianchi Volpe out now. The normal retail for the JTS is $1100. I'm leaning heavily toward the JTS (I've only got a 24 hour hold on it) but am still wavering. Both bikes cash in at around $800, a fairly large chunk of change for me to drop right now. I'm looking for single bike to do everything, daily commute, longer weekend rides, and possibly (if I can get fit enough) a future cross race (for fun). I live in Seattle, so there
It seems the major differences between the JTS and the Volpe are that the JTS has an Aluminum frame and only two front chain rings, but better components (shimano 105). The Volpe is a steel frame and has three front chain rings but Shimano Tiagra and Deore components. I'm not sure how much the third front chain ring will matter during commuting/riding, I imagine it might help on some of Seattle's larger hills.
I've ridden the Jake the Snake a bit (gonna take it on a longer ride tomorrow) and enjoyed it. I haven't taken the Volpe out as the LBS that has them in stock didn't have one built in my size yet.
Should I jump on the JTS now? I figure if the worst case happens and I decide I need a third chain ring for larger commuting loads and big hills I could change out the front rings and derailer. And If I somehow manage to crack the aluminum frame in a few years I could always rebuild on a steel frame and reuse most of the components (I think?).
This is my first serious bike purchase, I'm just looking for some more experienced input before I go dropping a lot of money (for me). I'm not dead set on the Volpe if the JTS is not the way to go, but my budget does top out at about $800 pre-tax. The Surley cross-check is also appealing...