I'm getting ready to make my first bike purchase. My search for one bike that I can use as a commuter, for longer rides (30-60 miles), around town, and for some off-roading has led me to a cyclocross bike. I expect that I will use the bike more recreationally rather than for racing. Unfortunately, I haven't found a LBS in my area that stocks cyclocross so I haven't been able to test ride and have been relying on the great info on this forum (thanks!) and elsewhere on the internet to help me pick out a bike.
From what I've read, the Surly Cross Check sounds like it would be a great option for me. With that in mind, I found a LBS that can get the Cross Check, and had a fitting yesterday (cost of which will go towards the bike). I was told that the bike would fit me great. The dude at the shop also recommended that I consider the Ridley X-bow, which is the only other comparable bike that his shop carries that is in the same price range (the Cross Check is $1149 and the X-bow is $1299 on close-out). He said that bike fit me equally well.
I like the idea of steel versus aluminum but am not set one way or the other. The guy at the shop was in no way trying to steer me away from the Cross Check and towards the X-bow, but he said from his perspective the major drawback of the Cross Check was the bar-end shifters versus the brifters on the X-bow. The Cross Check seems to be more utilitarian while the X-bow is the more technically advanced of the two and would ride closer to a road bike. I would be grateful for any feedback as to how the two bikes compare and which bike you all would recommend. By the way, I'm in South Florida so most of my riding will be on flat grounds for what it's worth.
For me, the bar end shifters would be a big drawback. Sounds like the x-bow might have better bits all around? Wheels etc might be better. Sounds like it might be worth the 150. I have an aluminum Trek with a carbon fork and it rides fine, and weighs a lot less than a cross check.