Well I have some pretty solid rides on the Delta now so I thought I'd let you all know what I think.
"What brand of bike is that?" I've been getting that alot... (I need decals)
Today I did a quick loop that incorporates tar, bike paths and meadow dirt roads that aren't kept up with, and the Delta shined. Very comfortable ride. For this ride I put on some fatter slicks that I had laying around and the difference was a huge improvement over the Kenda Kwick's (For what I'm using it for right now). Keep in mind, this isn't a road bike so you're going to still feel a bit bogged down. If you're looking for road performance, look else where (although I do hear rumors about something road-like cooking in the Airborne hanger...).
If I was commuting to work (I don't need a bike to get down to the kitchen) or wanted to be able to explore dirt roads and bike paths this is the bike I'd reach for. It is perfect the way it's set up right now with the slicks. Comfort, efficiency, and reliable shifting and braking are all here.
Now this is a cross bike, so let's look at it from a cyclocross racing point of view...
There's alot of debate on the forums and such on whether or not cross bikes need disc brakes. Too be honest, I can see both sides. To me, nothing is sexier than a nice clean cross bike with canti's (OK, maybe there's a couple of other things sexier...) and when you gotta lug a bike over barriers for an hour in crappy conditions while there's a bit of throw up in your mouth, every ounce saved, counts.
But, discs do over reliable braking in all conditions and if I stop eating Funny Bones, I can save the extra weight on my mid section...hmmmmm
Well I can't teeter on the fence anymore. For the technology that is available to us as of today, I would say discs make sense so everyone but the highest of levels (and snobbiest of snobs). They just offer so much more consistent braking that I can't see how they'll not help anyone... especially mid pack fodder like myself.
What will it take to get to get discs to the elite level? Well first is going to be weight. Right now the only thing available that's not crap is the BB5/7's from Avid and they are kinda portly. I don't think they need to be that heavy.
Another step will be to develop a 140 rotor size for the front. I do find the 160 standard up front a bit over kill on a cross bike. The front brake seems to overwhelm the bike, but in a race situation, that may change. Plus, it will save a bit of weight...added bonus!
Next step is going to be to develop hydraulics. Although I think mechanicals work fine, they won't be fully accepted until a hydraulic/closed system is available. This is what I think is holding Shimano and Sram back. Where to put the master cylinder is the sticking point... there's not alot of room in those brifters.
So what's my take? This is really a great do-it-all(almost) bike. Touring, commuting and exploring are spot on out of the box (except for maybe tires). Racers? A few tweaks to save some weight and this has the potential to be a great weapon for most.
Now I just need to unload these canti's I have laying around....