This year's "Thou Shalt Not Covet" award goes to the Salsa Vaya:
Now, I should disclaim right away that I haven't ridden a Vaya, and the folks at Salsa offered no bribes for a mention of their bike here. It's just an abstract longing of mine... nice, clean-looking road-biased do-everything bike, fat tire clearance, drop bars. Pretty much an off-the-shelf answer to my weird mountain/road mutt-bike cravings.
The discs give me pause, though. This is not the knee-jerk whining of a Luddite (for a change) -- I was still doing shop work when discs really hit the scene, and I got pretty comfortable servicing them. And I know the theoretical pros behind discs:
- Riding in the grime? Your braking surface stays clean.
- Wheel gone wonky? Your brakes don't care.
- Braking surface on your rims? Don't need it.
The problem on a road bike, though, is that no one's making (yet) an off-the-shelf drop-bar brake lever that can actuate a hydraulic disc. And in my extremely limited experience (just a little more than "squeezing levers on the shop floor"), I've been underwhelmed by cable-actuated road discs. Now maybe they just aren't set up right at the shops I visit (for shame, shops!) or maybe it's the "good squishy" that comes from a really powerful brake (the kind of squish that comes from all that power smashing the flexier parts of the system). Dunno. But I remain unimpressed by the feel and power compared to a good high-profile cantilever or even a basic Shimano V-brake. I'm also not 100% thrilled with the thought of a dished front wheel, but that could just be the paranoid ramblings of a lunatic.
I know I have readers who palp/run/rock discs on drop-bar bikes (lookin' at you, Local Steve) -- so convince me. Are they really all that and/or a bag of chips? Or are we looking at Biopace 2.0 here? And please phrase your answer in the form of a justification for me to get a Vaya if at all possible... because one brown bike in the garage is unusual, but two is a theme (or the smallest UPS fleet in the world).