I'm sure the forum sees this type of post frequently, and I apologize for more of the same. However, I am new to "real" bikes and do not have a good idea of how parts compare, beyond 105 being better than tiagra, etc., so your help and advice are much appreciated.
I have no intention of doing any cyclocross races at this time; I am looking for a versatile bike for exercise and enjoyment. It does not need to be a commuter. One of my LBS's has an unused 2010 Cannondale Cyclocross 5 for $1199. I'm not sure if it is the compact or triple version. I need to call back tomorrow and double check that. It's my size, and I was able to ride it this morning. This store offers free lifetime tune ups for bikes purchased through them, and you also get 10% off all accessories for a month. The staff has been very friendly and helpful, as well.
I am also considering the 2011 Motobecane Fantom Cross from Bikes Direct. It is $799.95. I would have to have it assembled for me, so that would need to be figured into the cost.
Finally, the 2011 Scattante X570 from Performance Bicycle also interests me. It is $1099.99. There is a PB store within driving distance (though not exactly local), so I might be able to ride this one before I buy it.
Between these three, which would you recommend? Originally I wanted to stay below $1000, but am I now seriously considering the Cannondale. I do not want to go beyond its $1200 price tag. Are there any other bikes I should consider? Thank you for your time, and once again, I really do appreciate your help.