Okay, here we go. After I took Mandy to Salvagetti to look at the Ute I've been thinking it might make sense for me to go with a Ute too instead of converting the Cannonball with an Xtracycle kit. Historically Mandy and I have had matching vehicles from the beginning. When we met we both had Chevy Celebrities. Then we moved to matching Honda Accords, and since then we've had Suburbarus.
Then when I bought my Giant OCR2 (R.I.P.) we went back a few days later and got her an OCR3 which she still has.
When it first came up in discussion I began thinking a Ute for me just made the most sense. But then I had a thought: I want a good touring bike, and the Ute just doesn't seem to fit the bill. However, my plans for the Cannonball would essentially make it into a touring longtail bike. It would still be a "fire road" bike if I slapped MTB tires on it or a good road touring bike with the commuter-type tires (or even skinnier) I have on it now.
So let's break it down with the current info.
First, handlebar configuration: The Ute has swept back cruiser/commuter type bars. That means limited hand positions. That's fine for a 10 mile commute or trips around town, not so good for all day riding. The Cannonball X will have drop bars for multiple hand positions. Hands down (pun intended) a plus toward touring.
Second, riding position: The Ute has an upright riding position, again good for around town or a commute, not so good when you're trying to cut through a headwind on an all day ride. The Cannonball will allow varied positions for any riding conditions.
Next, the Ute will be a brand new bike, all new components with associated warranties and a year of maintenance. The Cannonball will need new (disc) brakes, the frame is about 16 years old and eventually I'll need a dedicated set of wheels for it. I plan on sharing with the OBS at first.
And then the Ute doesn't seem to have appropriate gearing for touring (16 speed - 2X8). The Cannonball is set up with 27sp (3X9) already and is a proven climber, even better than the deceased Giant. I can climb a wall with that thing.
Lastly, the Ute will cost a little more but need no other work initially. The Cannonball X will need to be built and may need some tweaking in the first few weeks afterward. The Cannonball X will be longer and harder to store, but not by much.
One thing, I need to ride the Ute and see how it feels. But I think the decision is ultimately going to come down to the touring questions. I don't want to have to buy another bike if I get the opportunity to go on a multi-day tour. The OBS is a full on MTB and the Ute just doesn't seem like a long-haul bike.
The Cannonball X might just have to be that bike.