Strengths: strong like iron. so versatile, so speedy. built like a tank and geometry that stays comfortable even when you're riding all day.
Weaknesses: as mentioned, the paint is very easily chipped - I actually think this is kind of a good thing, because it means it's less appealing to thieves. My rear shifter bit the dust about two years in, so I replaced it with an Ultegra shifter and haven't had any problems. (It broke because I got sand in it, I think, but a note of warning about STI shifters - once they stop working, they're almost impossible to fix.)
I LOVE my volpe. love it love it love it. I bought it new in 2004, all stock parts except a Selle Italia Dolce Ti saddle. The Tiagra components were fine, and the build was rock solid. My Volpe has taken me across the country twice and about 9,000 miles all told. At this point, I've replaced all the components except the headset (which is still great) and the cranks.
Strengths: Great speed, durable tires, comfortable saddle, hardy break pads, good control. Great beginner bike for those used to the size, weight, and style of mountain bikes.
Weaknesses: Tiagra front derailer needs constant adjustment and doesn't seem to be very compatible with the Sugino crank set. Looking into swapping the derailer out for a smoother component. Drop-outs are a little testy
I love the sturdy ride. Definitely holds up on rugged Oakland street terrain. Pretty fast for the weight and very comfortable. This is my first non-mountain bike and it was easy to adjust to a road bike set up with the Volpe's cyclocross features. I have noticed considerable adjustment issues with the front derailer, and the clunky shifting has been an issue when climbing.
Strengths: Strong, Sturdy, Unique, and perfect for both long tours and local commuting.
Weaknesses: It's a bit heavy (especially with a Pannier/Top Bag/Rear Saddle set-up); however, I've yet to have an overloading problem. The paint does need some touching up after a few nicks/scrapes.
I found my Volpe from a seller on Craig's List and I've been in love with this bike ever since. As reviewers have already mentioned, this bike is truly unique. I've taken this bike on a few tours around the New England area and it has yet been matched by any loose gravel, dirt road, or pothole. For longer tours, I'll make sure to throw in the extra pair of nobbies I have to tackle some tough back-roads/trails. This bike is fast for a hybrid and extremely stable. I love tailing bike messengers throughout the Boston area. I could go on and on about how satisfied I am with this bike.
Strengths: Solid frame; no worries that it'll break down on a long road trip.
Weaknesses: None that I know of.
The Volpe is a great touring/commuter rig, though, the Surly Cross-Check maybe a strong alternative. I've used it mainly as a commuter for those 'round the town errands as well as a grocery-go-getter.
Recently, the ride quality was phenomenal at the 400K Korea East/West Coast Ride spring 2007.
Looking forward to keeping it humming and tackling San Francisco hills on my August move there.
Weaknesses: Heavy-ish. Tiagra hub cones aren't impossible to pit, LBS's don't like carrying cones. Don't over tighted the screws on Avid Shortys, they will strip; mind you, Avid is an excellent company, they warranted the "back tension" adjustment screws. Excellent!
This is an update to the review below.
The Volpe is very sturdy and comfortable, but like another reviewer points out, the paint dings very easily.
Everything on the bike is fairly heavy, but the saddle is better than I first thought. The Nashbar legend saddle I bought is too soft, went back to the Celeste stock saddle, which is quite heavy but harder. The more cycling you do, the more you will dislike soft saddles.