I'm trying to make a decision between a few cyclocross bikes and am finding myself deadlocked. I'm not married to any of these bikes, but they seemed to come pretty well recommended.
I'd appreciate your input.
-Getting more heavily into biking
-Coming from a mountain biking background
-Solid experience stripping and rebuilding bikes but not much on choosing components.
-Have the means to spend more than these (though no more than ~1000) if it will make a difference.
-Will be biking around the city (6 inch concrete curbs to jump) and outside the city on trails/road.
-Looking for reliability, quality, durability
-Primarily biking for fitness and travel but would like to retain the option to have a good racer
Bikes I'm looking at:
Kona - Jake the Snake/Major Jake
Redline - Conquest Pro
LeMond - Poprad
-Are any of the above the bike for me?
-Will carbon components (fork, seat, integrated into frame) hold up to city biking?
-Would it be a worthwhile good idea to get a second set of wheels and city ones out for road if I'm going on longer rides?
I'm riding a 2007 Redline Conquest Pro as my daily commuter. Commute is 8m each way through Seattle (in all her potholed-roads glory). I love the bike: Ultegra shifters, bar-top brake levers, and it's damn sexy. I'm ~215 and it's holding up well. I plan to get an additional set of wheels for road slicks, but hasn't happened yet. FWIW, I paid $1299 at my LBS.
Specialized Rockhopper comp, Kona Kapu, Ira Ryan custom road bike, Ira Ryan custom fixed gear
I have an 06 JTS, about 1000 miles so far. At 225 (or 250 loaded with water and commuting gear), I'm tough on bikes. So far, new chain and casette, plus a hub overhaul (likely due to dirt infiltration). That's it. VERY solid, very comfy bike. I don't jump curbs, but I do commute on it, including a couple of times in the snow.
I have an extra set of wheels for long road rides.
Of the three you mention I would choose the Poprad for you. The Cross Check is another good all-around frame. Take a look at the Salsa Cassaroll too.
The carbon fork would probably be ok, but you certainly don't need one. Steel would be the most reliable and comfortable and less of a theft magnate.
If you're commuting most of the time, put some commuting tires on the stock wheels. You can always buy lighter/nicer wheels if you want to try racing in the future. Stock wheels are always heavy and durable and you don't need two sets of heavy wheels.
IMO, the Kona and Redline are more equipped for racing. If you're going to be commuting, locking stuff up, using racks or basically using this as your main bike, I would go with steel over aluminum and definitely avoid the carbon in the high-end Konas. Any of these bikes, including the surly, are raceable, but I would pick steel for general use. Also, you need to ride these bikes before you buy. Go check out all the ones you describe. Maybe you'll fall in love with one.