been looking for a 29/700c frame, steel cross-style-dropbar-commuter.
Surly karate monkey, cotic roadrat, kaffenback-style
I went through a similar search for a bike to ride daily to work - for me had to be steel, had to take mudguards, ss/fixed preferably an option without need for EBB or ss tensioner.
Looked at/owned the following:
On One Il Pompino
- had an original one, liked it a lot but sold it as offered too strong money to resist. Good points are taht it is a solidly made frame and fork without being super heavy and, takes decent width tyres with mudguards and descends on rails. Downsides were that the wheels came unbuilt so immediately had to be sorted out and the fork steerer had been cut so that no spacers were possible (I'd hope these have now been sorted by On One). Almost got another but ....
Planet x Kaffenback
- basically a geared Pompino frame but vertical dropouts and not being able to fit downtube shifters put me off
- after reading so many good reviews I got one via a Bike2Work scheme. Decent enough but trying to be all things to all people all of the time - there seem to be loads of unused braze ons however you set it up. I thought that the full bike was seriously overpriced and a bit Emporer's New Clothes. Rode for literally 200 yards and then sold it which I think says it all!
But finally I got another Surly Crosscheck
second hand (didn't look seriously at the Karate Monkey to be honest, probably should have done) and it has done sterling service. Started off with it in ss mode (semi horizontal dropouts) and latterly fixed. Tough paint, doesn't look anything fancy but solidly built and not too heavy. Can fit down tube shifters if I want. 28c tyres and mudguards fit easily, could go wider. Second hand is probably the way forward as a bit pricey new for what they are.
Hope that helps!