It depends on what your friend wants the crosser for. I've never used Shimano 'road' cable discs but if they're anything like the MTB equivalent then they should be a worthwhile upgrade over cantilevers, especially in the wet.
Unfortunately discs aren't always allowed in cyclocross races; and disc equipped cross bikes are often poorly spec'd (for off-road leisure rides) compared to similar priced MTBs.
A friend of mine in Germany has this bike, and mainly uses it on-road so runs 700x23 road tyres. It looks gorgeous in the flesh, it has a real presence about it and is definitely something different.
My friend said that the only things he changed were the brake pads, he put a sintered compound on as they got supplied with resin and he changed the bars and saddle too, but only to ones that he wanted, rather than because they weren't any good.
Personally, if I had £800 knocking about I would jump for this bike in a second. Its not the lightest but hell, I'm no pro and I can just train a bit harder. My friend reports the disks to be very good BUT you really need to put sintered pads on to feel that performance.
I brought one of these from wiggle the other day. Arrived very quickly so i put all the parts on and finally got to do about 10miles on it today.
Overall impression (bearing in mind im going from a flat handle bar to a drop) is that its very comfortable to ride, although it might take me a bit of time to get used to the change in saddle. The frame feels stiff and responsive. Yet its not too harsh going over bumps and such on the road. Its much lighter than my mtb, and weighs in at just over 10kg roughly.
Sharp cornering and my feet hit the tyres if im not careful so ill have to get used to that. Also the brakes are a bit soft at the moment HOWEVER, I am still breaking in the brake pads so i expect the responsiveness to pick up. I did on the suggestion of the guy who mentioned getting sintered brakes stick some sintered pads on the front brakes. They dont squel and adjusting them is pretty easy. Overall im pretty impressed with the brakes on this bike. Having had mtb hydraulics they arent as quick at stopping you but they do, do a good job.
Still getting used to shifting on sti levers but they are good and easy to use.
One problem i did run into was mounting my front lights. This has an oversized handlebar (31.8mm diameter) so my normal mounts for my front lights didnt fit and so i had to go to CRC to get some oversized ones.
Apart from the light fittings ive no gripes about this bike. So far so good! Also they are on offer at the moment to clear stock for the 2009 line ( i prefer the look of the 2008 one tbh.) and so they are down to £719!!!!!
Ive only ridden this on the road so far, but ill end up taking it on some trails in the near future i expect. Will report anything else at a later date.