I'm a pretty competitive runner who recently god sidelined with a knee injury. Fortunately the injury allows me to bike. Since I am only going to be able to bike for the next few months I'd love to try some road / mountain bike racing and do cyclocross in the fall.
Right now, I'm stuck with what kind of bike to get. I currently am commuting 20 miles a day on an extremely clunky single speed mountain bike and would love to see that upgraded.
My training will probably involve commuting with some extra riding in the morning. On Saturdays I'll do a 40-60 mile group ride with some roadies and try to mountain bike if possible on Sundays.
My budget is $1000.
So far I've tried out the Surly Cross Check and Bianchi Volpe and loved them both. Will these bikes allow me to keep up with roadies? Can you ride single track on them? Does anyone have other suggestions?
For a beginner you can pretty much scratch out the idea of using a cross bike in mountain bike races. The only exception might be the cross check with some very large tires on a not-very technical course. Don't get me wrong, I love riding my cross bike on singletrack, but that doesn't mean it's the right tool for XC racing.
The cross-check will be just fine for group rides, but you may find it pretty limiting in terms of a road race bike. It's not even really geared towards cyclocross racing in many ways, though I should note that plenty of people do race on it successfully, many of whom are much faster than me .
A nice aluminum cross bike will, however, do quite well as a road race bike. It's my plan for this spring. If you want to race on the road, you want brifters, not bar end shifters, and aluminum will save some weight. Obviously you want skinnier tires too, but that's a quick change. You can always try out mountain bike racing on your singlespeed. With 1000 dollars to spend, I would look at the Redline Cinquest. It's the cheapest cross bike I know of that is truly race oriented, whereas bike like the cross check, Volpe, and Kona Jake are more of all rounders (again, I've seen all of these raced in cross, but I don't think they would be great road racers).
The Jamis Nova Pro (new for 08) would also be worth looking at. Similar parts to the Redline, but it has a carbon fork and seatstays. It's 1100 dollars.
i too tried a lot of bikes before buying, and i reccommend the Redline Conquest. i tried some of the higher end bikes, as well as a few in the range of the Conquest, and settled on a conquest. lots of good components and feels solid. cant really go wrong. sent you a PM as well.
Thanks, for all the responses. I've tried out a ton of bikes in the past few days and I think I'm leaning toward buying 2 cheaper ones. Perhaps the Redline Conquest and the Redline Monocog.
Sounds fine to me, but I would say, only throw money into the Monocog if you are certain you will be happy with a singlespeed.
I will probably be buying a Monocog in less than a month, but that is after a year of riding the local trails on a SS/fixed Steamroller, and making sure that local mtn bike races have SS divisions. IMO you give up a lot to gearies by racing SS, so check to see if there are SS divisions in your local races.
One nice thing about the Monocog is you can switch to a sus fork in the future, if you want. There are apparently more and more options for 29er forks these days, some quite affordable.
You could also spend an extra 100 bucks and get the Redline D440 1x8. Sram X.5 is a pretty solid component group in that price range, though of course they save money by only using the rear shifter/derailleur. I beleive it's basically the same geometry as the monocog, which is a pretty proven bike in terms of handling.