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So I have gotten the ok to spend the money and I have the button ready to push I just need to figure out what bike shows up at my door when I push the button. 

I am looking to buy a cross bike to use as a full season road bike and then to start racing cross in the fall. I am hoping to spend $1500 or less. I am trying to figure which brands to look at. I have a list of some bikes that I have seen for around $1500 that I can keep an eye out for. The brands are:

Fuji Cross 1.1, Cross 1.3

Trek Crockett 5

Specialized Crux Sport 105

Focus AX 1.0, 2.0, 3.0

Cannondale CAADX Disc 105

Raleigh RX 2.0

Felt F75X, F65X

Redline - I can't remember the model I test rode

I am looking for a 58cm aluminum frame. I hope to find one with Shimano 105 or better. I have also been told that SRAM Rival and up are good so that would probably work. At this point I am not picky about the rims or tires. It can also be canti brakes or disc, I don't care at this point.

Basically my question is, of the brands I listed or haven't listed, is there anything I should stay away from? It seems that any bike I went with would be a good purchase.

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Do you already have a 700c bike, eg road bike or 29er MTB? I'd buy whatever is compatible with that bike so you can make double use of those wheels and drive train parts.

I do have a 700c road bike with, I believe, 25mm rims.

I do have another question that maybe you can help with. When it comes to tire and rim size. For a 25mm rim lets say, what is the maximum tire size that I can put on there. For argument sake, lets assume they are clinchers. Would the maximum size change if i was using Stan's No Tubes or some kind of tubular? Then the same question is if I have a 32-35mm cx rim, what is the narrowest tire I could put on the rim, assuming again that I was using clinchers.

I'd go with a rim brake cross bike so you have a built in set of extra wheels off the bat.

What tire size you can fit on a bike is mainly dictated by the frame. That is, how much tire can you shove in the fork or between the seat and chain stays? What road bike do you have?

The narrowest you could go is 23, maybe 19. But really you don't want a 19 for any purposes so the functional answer to your question is 23 and/or "don't worry about it".

My road bike is a Schwinn Le Tour from the late 90's. I definitely couldn't get much bigger than what I have on there now.

Also, don't blow your budget on the bike. Chances are the tires on that bike suck and at some point you're going to want a second wheelset (and tires). Frame and components need only be serviceable on a cross bike. Tires are where it's at.

Thanks for the recommendation. Looks like a nice bike. I'll add to my list.

since this will also be your road bike you might want to consider what brakes are best for your scenario. personally i would want disc or mini-V over cantis for better stopping power on the road

Yeah. It seems that most of the cross bikes I have looked at have disc brakes. A co-worker just bought a cross bike with discs and loves it. I have heard that discs have better stopping power so I can't complain about that.

since this will also be your road bike you might want to consider what brakes are best for your scenario. personally i would want disc or mini-V over cantis for better stopping power on the road

I'm not sold on discs for cross yet (hydraulic being out of my price range, and I'm not fond of the mechanical setups), but I would echo this statement. I've never ridden canti's that I would want to rely on for pack riding, traffic hazards, or stopping power on steep road descents. Mini-v's may be enough but I don't have any recent experience there.

I have ridden mini-v's (the TRP's), disc (hydro and BB7) and canti's.  While I loved the TRP's they are pricey and if doing it again, I would go with narrow canti's.  I believe one of the earlier CX Mag's did some comparisons but my experience is that if you set them up properly, something like the Shimano CX canti's will give you almost the same stopping power as mini-v's but with more mud clearance and better modulation.  I rode in the Alps on LONG descents with canti's on a touring bike and had no problems.

Disc's are cool ... they work (exclude the recent recalls) when they work.  On a mountain bike they are the best thing ... I have had mixed experience on a cross bike.  Nothing more fun then when descending and your brakes are GONE!

If I was starting out I would buy a good, canti equipped bike (there is a CAADX for about $1000).  Then I would buy a descent set of wheels - probably tubeless.  Finally, I would buy a saddle that works for me - never had a stock one fit the bill.  Put the rest of your $1500 in the bank, ride and then spend on upgrades as needed.

Also, (don't flame me) Rival is a touch above 105 ... lighter, equally durable, blah blah blah.  On a cross bike you are going to get mix and match components so don't focus on that.  And as Andrew noted, make sure your gearing will carry you through the kind of riding you do.

Have fun.

I am also looking and am in love with the Kona Jake the Snake. It's a multi purpose bike. I plan on buying a frame and building one up with parts from my parts bin. You should give it a look!
~M

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