Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
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I'm not sure what limiting factors you're considering when saying road bikes aren't versatile. I think road bikes are the best for riding on roads, but there is a wide range of road bikes. You can spend thousands on an ultra-lightweight, carbon-fiber beauty witn 23mm tires; and you can spend considerably less on a touring or cyclocross bike that can handle hard knocks, wider tires, big loads, etc.
You can also get a mountain bike that will be rugged and excellent for dirt, but with a simple switch of tires can also be okay (and still rugged) on the road.
What exactly do you want to do with your bike? What road surfaces, what kind of loads, etc.?