I am thinking of getting a different bike to ride during the winter months. I am also looking for a bike that I can take off-road (more likely Mopac type trails rather than MTB trails) and that I can ride with the family on more leisurely rides. The way I see it, I have three choices:
1) Hardtail MTB
Pros - entry level MTB can be had for $300, can ride it on any surface
Cons - Slower, heavier, position will be different than on the road bike, won't be as much fun out on the road
2) Singlespeed Cross bike w/drop bars and long reach brakes
Pros - good for spin and strength training, lighter and faster than MTB, position can duplicate road bike, easy to maintain
Cons - not as versatile as MTB, tougher on the steeper hills (this could also be a Pro), more expensive than MTB
3) Cross bike with 9 speed cassette, drop bars, and disc brake
Pros - More versatile than singlespeed, lighter and faster than MTB, can duplcate road position. With slicks can function just like the road bike on the road, or switch to knobbies for off-road.
Cons - $$$
Unfortunately "all of the above" is not an option. My wife is still giving me crap (good-naturedly) for buying a road bike that cost more than all but one of our cars.