Impressions on bikes I have tested, a dummy's point of view
I have been searching for a good cross bike in Kansas City. I have tested a bunch of bikes and have a couple more planned. However I am having a feeling that I will be buying a lesser bike, or a more expensive bike just to be at a bike shop that I enjoy working with. My budget is $1400 and these are the bikes I have available. My LBS of choice is the one that offers the specialized and ridley. My next choice offers Cannondale and Surly.
I am using the bike for a mix of fitness, touring (50 - 60 mi day rides with light load), and gravel roads.
2009 Jake the Snake - comfortable bike, needs faster tires
2009 Felt f35x - uncomfortable geometry, may be reason for only 1 year productions
2011 Tricross Sport - somewhat disappointed, didn't shift as smooth as I would have hoped probably because of the triple. I felt spread out on their frame.
2011 Ridley X-bow - I enjoyed this bike a lot. Same shop as the Specialized Tricross. However the price is 1400 for Tiagra components.
2011 Cannondale CaadX 105 - for $1400 this seems to be the best equipped bike in the group. Shimano launched new 105 components this year so this should be better than the Jake the Snake from 2009. I enjoyed the ride, it was pretty stiff and I wonder if it will be comfy for touring.
2010 Nova Race - This bike is under $1000. The dealer is about 45 minutes away so my main concern is should I buy from a place not near my house?
2011 Surly Cross Check - I plan to ride this bike in a couple of days. The dealer is not near, but I hear that these bikes are worth checking out.
I have considered looking at touring steel bikes as well, but am not sure that cyclocross bike won't do what I want it to do.
I am welcome to thoughts and suggestions?