It occurred to me that I should ask Alec to write up his impressions of his new VO Rando. Alec is a good person to ask about this since he is a very very experienced long distance cyclists. He's put about 25k on his Cross-Check, including a circumnavigation of Iceland. I thought this might help those considering a new frame:
I wasn't certain at first, since I've grown so used to my Cross-Check over its 25k or so miles, but the Rando proved itself to be a different bike immediately.
It's lighter and more comfortable. Part of that feeling is the long chainstays and traditional-diameter tubing, I think. It seems to soak up bumps and float over sketchy patches instead of transmitting the shocks straight to my body and wearing me out. The Rando has lower-volume tires but still feels very cushy. I've only done two centuries on it so far, but I haven't felt beaten up after any of them.
The allure of the Rando is that it just goes, without complaining. It climbs well and responds when you hammer. Strangest, though is that it feels sluggish on the descents. I thought at first that I was descending slowly, but I nearly broke 40mph. What feels like sluggishness isn't at all - it's stability. The Rando doesn't bounce and twitch at high speeds and doesn't lock into a line; it feels slower, but you can safely go faster. It's a very nice feeling to not be locked into a line; the Rando doesn't wander or twitch, but it doesn't feel like its on rails either.
It also doesn't complain about my handlebar bag. I like to carry a lot of food and clothes with me because I ride to the ride starts, so I usually have 10 or so pounds up front.