This post should probably be called "Test Ride Saturday Redux" or something like that, but the title I used is a nod to Jimi Hendrix, one of my childhood idols.
Between the last set of test rides and this Saturday, I talked to a colleague who asked what the tire pressure was on the Sutra LTD when I rode it. So I went in for another test ride, this time lowering the tire pressure on the Sutra a bit. The pressure was even lowered a bit more on the rear tire per the recommendation of the clerk at the LBS.
The route I took with the Sutra LTD was my normal work commute. In terms of repair, it's one of the worst roads in the neighborhood it goes through. Potholes, cracks, and just general bumps. For my test ride, I rode over some of the worst parts of this route.
And...only minuscule differences from the last time I rode it. The Sutra LTD is still a zippy ride. Under good road conditions, it seems to "get out of the way" better than most bikes. The bikes I know that come the closest to doing this are the Surly Cross Check and Straggler. The major difference between the Surly bikes and the Sutra LTD is that both of the Surly bikes insulate the driver from washboard roads; the Sutra LTD communicates those bumps to the rider. With a lower tire pressure, the ride was better than previously, but still...I felt most of the bumps. A different saddle might help with this, but as is, I couldn't like the bike as much as I wanted to.
I was also able to ride a 2017 Vaya Deore. Not sure why it's called a Deore, unless the convention is to name it after the rear derailleur; the majority of the drivetrain components are SRAM. That's not a complaint -- every SRAM-equipped bike I've ridden has been great in terms of shifting.
I was told that there were some changes in the frame geometry for the 2017 Vaya, and I can believe it. The 2015 Vaya is a nice ride, but the 2017 is the most comfortable drop-bar bike I've ever ridden. The reach was just right for me, and the frame absorbed the bumps from our local washboard streets.
I wasn't that fond of the brakes on the Vaya Deore. They're Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, and they felt a tiny bit spongy. That could be something that's easily adjusted; or it could be the difference between hydraulic (which I'm used to) and mechanical.
The one thing that felt wrong about the bike was the saddle, a WTB Pure V. It wasn't that it was outright uncomfortable. It's just that I could see it becoming uncomfortable on a long ride. If I were to purchase a Vaya Deore, I would change the saddle before I left the bike shop. There are a lot of people who like this saddle, but I'm not one of them.
However, if I needed a bike today, it would definitely be the Vaya Deore. That's how much I liked it.
Sometime in the future, I'll be riding both the Surly Straggler and the Vaya Deore again. In my imaginary bike sweepstakes, the Vaya is the leading contender right now, if only because I know it would get a lot more use than the Straggler.