So you may have noticed my thread about my Tricross. I may need to find a new bike. I don't Cyclocross or even race at all. I might do some Tri's, but for now, I use my bike to commute (less than 10 miles), run errands, and get a little exercise in. I'm looking for a do-it-all type bike, something like a road bike, but a little tougher. That's why I think a cyclocross bike is a good fit.
So, in the $1,000 range, what are my options? I'm 6'3", 193 lbs. (hope to be 185 by fall), 34" inseam and I currently ride a 58cm.
IRO Mark V pro (RIP), Bianchi Giro, Giant Xtc1, Redline Conquest Pro, Kelly Deluxe singlespeed.
There is nothing wrong with getting a cross bike for around town riding. My only issue would be that true cross gearing is not really ideal for general road riding. You can get specialized allez for around that price, and I have no doubt would be plenty tough enough. The only downside is that you wouldn't be able to put large tires on... however for what you want to do I don't see why you would want larger tires.
One need look no further than the Kona Jake. Around $800, triple crank to accommodate a diversity of riding, and a great frame that can be upgraded as needed for future use. Just check through past posts on this board. Everyone raves about them.
I was in exactly in your boat (price, use, etc. though I am a bit shorter) and I decided that the Kona Jake was for me, I already put a deposit down. I am injured right now and I and I can't ride it so I don't know if it will live up to all the hype but people really seem to love it and for the price (I found a 2006 for 15% off) it seemed perfect. It also seemed that for cyclocross that to get a meaningful upgrade to the Jake you would need to spend in the $1300 range, which was too much for me. So after quite a bit of looking around I found that the Jake was the best bang for the buck and was a good all around choice that could be upgraded down the road (the frame seemed like one of the best parts of the bike and would be a good base to start with). Also supposedly the gearing is on the aggressive side so I also felt it would suit me as I want to ride it primarily on the road.
Love my Kona Jake.
I've put about 2,500 miles on it in the past year- mainly on my 13mi roundtrip commute. My only suggestion is to choose your tires wisely. I used the stock 35c knobbies for a while (June 2006 to March 2007), and picked up a lot of speed once I swapped them out for 32c urban tires. I think next time I'l go down to 28's, which should give me the best mix of speed and comfort.
The bike is incredibly versatile. The ability to run wider tires is one of my favorite characteristics. Here in DC, we have 2 trails that run parallel for a bit out of Georgetown- the Capital Crescent (paved) and C&O Canal (dirt carriage trail). Regular road bikes would be hard pressed to run the C&O comfortably, but my bike can handle it no problem, which should come in handy on the 185 mile Alzheimer's Ride later this year.