I plan to buy Van Nicholas Amazon cyclocross bike. This bike will be my first real brand name bike. I am just wondering if any one on this forum have one of their bikes? Is their bike quality stuff? Also is it right to own one of those bikes as a first brand name bike? Because it is pretty pricey. I have provided a link at the bottom.
Or should I buy a specialized Tricross? How long will that bike last me? I plan to do daily commutes with one of the two bike I have mention.
Spec' Tarmac (road), Ridley Fenix (commuter & fast tourer), Salsa Mamasita (MTB), CoMo Speedster (tandem), Surly Big Dummy (cargo), Airnimal (folder)
I own a TriCross Comp 2009 and I bought two Van Nicholas Amazon frames (2011) that I built up into complete bikes for friends.
The TriCross is awesome and does everything I've attempted with it - riding rough hiking trails, doing a one-week loaded tour, using it as a commuter, using it as a winter trainer with dynamo-powered lighting, and I've stripped it down to do road rides over Alpine passes. It has done everything well, although the handling on the Alpine descents is not as responsive as an all-out road bike. Plus, when putting a lot of weight on the back (>25 kg) then the back end does feel a little more flexy than my dedicated touring bike; but with a more moderate rear load (10-20 kg) then the rear end felt just fine. Overall, I couldn't be much happier with this bike.
Unfortunately, Specialized no longer makes my model of TriCross with the aluminum frame and carbon seatstays, and I'm not sure exactly how the newer models differ. The friends I recommended the Van Nicholas bikes to are far more wealthy and only want the best, so when they wanted a bike that they could do mixed-surface rides on (mostly road, but the occasional trail), plus do some weekend touring, then when we discussed frame materials then Titanium was the only thing they were interested in. The Amazon model fit their needs perfectly, is a decent price (compared to other Titanium options), and was available in sizes that would work for them, so they chose that based on my recommendation. They also might choose to switch to disc brakes in the future, so they liked the fact that they got the option with this frame.
I was very happy with the quality of finish on the two Amazon frames, and I ran into no surprises when building them up - everything was as stated by Van Nicholas. I remember the mounting points for the rear rack being at a slightly odd location, and I was not able to get the top of the rack to be horizontal because of this, but that has not caused any problems during use. I was only able to do a short 10 minute test ride on each bike; I was happy with how they rode, but obviously this is not enough experience to say much about the ride characteristics. My friends have had the bikes for a few months now and have used them as intended, on rough roads and light trails, plus some light touring. They are completely happy with the frames, and are only worried about whether their brake choice was correct - they may change that this winter and switch at least one of the bikes to cable disc brakes.