I've been shopping for a new road bike (possibly a Fuji Roubaix Pro or Specialized Allez Sport) because I want something with significantly more speed than my current rig, which is an old Bianchi Timberwolf mountain bike. My dilemma is that many of the trails and paths where I'll be riding are not paved, so the smooth, skinny tires on a traditional road bike are not well-suited for the conditions. What I really need is a road bike that can also handle the unpaved trails.
Then today I noticed the Fuji Cross Pro at my LBS. The tires look rugged enough to handle the hard pack trails I'll be using, and since I do not contemplate ever using the bike in "real" cyclocross conditions, I don't think I would need anything more rugged than that. I really intend to use it on pavement as often as possible, so the Fuji Cross Pro looks like a good combination of features to me (ie basically a road bike with slightly wider and more rugged tires, and a wider fork - but maybe I'm missing something). Thoughts?
From my research, it's as good as most of the other cyclocross bikes in that price range. It was one I was looking into too, but I've settled on the Jamis Nova Pro. Honestly what I've found is, everyone says basically the same thing about every bike in a certain price range.. "Yea, it's a good bike, but I went with....." or "Yea, it's a good bike, I bought mine.... months ago and love it.". hehe. That of course is not 100%, but for the most part, at least for the bigger companies. Fuji Cross is a bike I see often enough day to day here in Stockholm, and it has good reviews. Any cyclocross bike is going to be a "road bike that can also handle the unpaved trails" though. My advice is go to a few LBS and ride all their cross bikes in your price range and see which feels better. Most of the components are prob gonna be similar in a given price range, ie under 1k, 1k - 1500, etc etc. I'm no bike expert, this is just what I've found in my research to find the best bike for "commuting, triathlon, fitness, light weight, on-road, off-road" for $500. *smile*
+1, try out as many cross bikes as you can. You might want one with eyelets for racks or fenders, which the fuji has. Slightly cheaper and a little heavier, you could consider a fuji Cross Comp (I got an '07 cross pro last year). A cross bike will handle pavement, gravel, and dirt just fine. The 32mm ritchey speedmax tires on the fuji seem a good choice for an all-around tire, I'd suggest adjusting tire pressures depending on the surface though (higher for road, lower for gravel).
I have an 09 Cross Pro. Love it and would buy another in a sec. Nice, comfortable bike to ride. Mine's primarily a long distance commuter (50 mi a day). No issues with it at all. FYI, Performance dumps them pretty frequently, I picked mine up for $1050. Hard to touch a full Ultegra bike at that price point in other brands.
I will say that with a 46 big ring and the 12/25 rear it's not quite road bike geared.