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I'm mid 40s, large human (6'5 280), biked off and on since I could walk. I was on mtbr in the early 90s (long live DaleRider!)
Anyway, my work commute is 9 miles (mostly bike paths, parts on the street) and I'm thinking of getting a bike to ride to work more. I have a Kestrel Talon w/ full dura ace that I used to love to ride, but my back isn't in love with the racing geometry it has anymore. I have a Salsa Mamasita hardtail and a Spec Stumpjumper elite full susp, also.
I want something with more relaxed geometry, disc brakes would be nice, I'm OK giving up top speed/aero for this.

In my mind, here are my options:
1. Buy a new bike after lots of research
2. Buy a frame and build with the parts from the Kestrel
3. Buy a frame and build with the parts from the Salsa

Or would it be feasible to make changes to the Salsa to make it much more pavement friendly?

Budget - I'll probably sell the Kestrel and possibly the Salsa, so I'm OK spending up to $2k.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks in advance.
 

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Check out the specialized sirrus. I commute about 9 miles each way to work on mine. Comfortable pedaling position like my mtb without all the resistance from wide tires. So you get the comfort of a commuter bike with the speed of a road bike. Many models within your price point and it comes in a xxl.
 

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I'm mid 40s, large human (6'5 280), biked off and on since I could walk. I was on mtbr in the early 90s (long live DaleRider!)
Anyway, my work commute is 9 miles (mostly bike paths, parts on the street) and I'm thinking of getting a bike to ride to work more. I have a Kestrel Talon w/ full dura ace that I used to love to ride, but my back isn't in love with the racing geometry it has anymore. I have a Salsa Mamasita hardtail and a Spec Stumpjumper elite full susp, also.
I want something with more relaxed geometry, disc brakes would be nice, I'm OK giving up top speed/aero for this.

In my mind, here are my options:
1. Buy a new bike after lots of research
2. Buy a frame and build with the parts from the Kestrel
3. Buy a frame and build with the parts from the Salsa

Or would it be feasible to make changes to the Salsa to make it much more pavement friendly?

Budget - I'll probably sell the Kestrel and possibly the Salsa, so I'm OK spending up to $2k.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks in advance.
If you want minimum investment, you can make the Salsa more commute friendly. I commuted for a number of months this past year on a full ridgid steel MTB, just put on some med width slicks, I started conversion with thin slicks, but fatter was better. It worked pretty well.
Last few weeks I switched to a new cross bike that I'm loving. It brought my average speed up a little and cut a few minutes off time. The drop bars actually give more varied hand positions, when the winds are kicking, go into full drops. When cruising usually on the hoods approximates position of bar ends on the old MTB. When wanting to stretch out a little and get a little more aero than on the hoods, I'll cup the tips of the brake hood, the Ultegra hydros have pretty large hoods, gets similar to the position on the secondary bend of bar end. And if you want to get upright to give back a bit more of a break you can go onto the flats. The cross is set up with a shorter stem and high on the spacer stack.
I wouldn't go straight bars on the road bike, but at 9 miles you could prob do whatever and get away with it. My commute is usually 10 miles, if all the stars align I've done it in 35 minutes. My average is more like 43 minutes. At that kind of ride time, you can get away with riding whatever.
If you go frame only, I'm not sure what parts you could transfer, what kind of terrain is your commute?
I use my cross to hit some trails too with some good climbs, so I'm running new Ultegra RX which can handle a pretty good gear range. Don't know if your DuraAce would be what you want for commute.
Also my cross is road disc with through axle, so none of my other wheels will swap, except my FS rear wheel.
 

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My 14 mile round trip commute is boooooooring. I ride a vintage rigid single speed XC mtb because it makes it fun. I have to stand to accelerate from stop lights, and to climb overpasses. The mtb handling is fun to hop up/down curbs and practice cheesy flatland skills. It's ok to jump, but not great. On average, it's 1 minute slower than my road bike- who cares?!

Mine was built out of discarded crap in my garage. By some measures it's somewhat fancy, but to me it's a 150$ piece of **** that works great for me. I love that i can lock it outside the taqueria and not worry.
 
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