I've very recently discovered cyclo-cross bikes and I'm thinking it might be the right kind of bike for me. I need a very general purpose bike (good for the odd commute or trail) that won't be too slow for the occasional triathlon. Probably my biggest problem is going to be the price. I think I can stretch to about $700. From looking at other threads I figure this limits me to the following new bikes: Redline Conquest Sport or Motobecane Fantom CX from bikesdirect. I'd really like to get a bike from a lbs but I've yet to find one that has a Redline in stock. I did take a look at a Surly Crosscheck and Kona Jake yesterday ($930 & $850 respectively) as these were the cheapest cx bikes they had in stock at the lbs's. Not sure if I could spring that much cash. Does anyone have any ideas or tips for where to look for an older year model or used? One lbs said they could order a Redline Conquest Sport for me for $700 which is nice since I would have the support of the lbs etc but I would really like to test one first.
Having barely ridden a bike at all in the past decade I noticed quite a few differences in the Jake & Crosscheck.
1. Extra brake levers on top. What are the pro's/con's of these? Since my bike will be very general purpose and not used for road racing (but the odd tri) would these likely be useful or pointless? Also I used a hybrid bike with aero bars for my first tri and I found it really helped my comfort and power generation. With a cx I will be in a lower position naturally so I guess the power is not so much an issue but what about the comfort of resting arms? Having never ridden drop bars, would the aero bars help?
2. Shifters. The Crosscheck has the ones on the end of the drop bars, the Jake has the flippers behind the lower brake levers. Any pro's/con's to either of these? For example is one more suited to racing vs touring?
3. Steel vs Alum. I guess it's rigidity vs weight. I figure I don't care too much about weight. In the end I'll probably just get whichever bike is cheaper if it comes down to a choice. But just how much difference would I feel when bouncing around on a trail?
Are there any other considerations?
Jonno in Austin, TX