I have been riding road bikes since I was a kid. I use my bike for commuting, and family fun.
I ride about 12 miles one way to work with part of the route on county roads. I like the feel of a steel frame and fork. I am not real concerned about weight. and I would like cante-lever brakes. Another thing, I like old school "friction style shifting"
I have been looking on bikes direct.com But I do not know anything about their brands. If you have any suggestions that will help me build or buy the right bike, it would be appreciated.
The Motobecane Fantom Cross bikes are great. I rode 2 different models over the last 2 seasons. I believe there is a steel model, but they all have brake lever mounted shifters. I bet if you did some looking on Craigslist, roadbikereview.com classifieds and ebay, you'd find a great steel bike with bar end or downtube mounted friction shifters. Of course you could always just add bar end shifters to any bike, but that's something you can decide on.
I have the Blue CXC. Love it. Had steel before. I love steel but I'm small and the bike was heavy. Like, real heavy, hard for me to get over barriers heavy. The steel is more smooth I'd say but the Blue is much more snappy.