Plain, simple and fun bike - No money to earn for manufacturers?

Utility often has nothing to do with market demand / viability.

If “utility” were the goal, we would all be riding steel bikes with alloy rims and downtube shifters.

Again, this is a trend that is largely the result of consumer demand, not “influencers”.

I believe there was a Cannondale Synapse model and a few Kona’s that were carbon that used mid-reach brakes and could take larger tyres. Maybe not cheap, but take a look at these bikes for inspiration:

Independent Fabrications Club Racer (cheap for custom)
Gunnar Sport (uses the same tubeset as the road race model)
Moots Vamoots LT (dream bike, but no longer made)
Hampsten Strada Bianca
Seven Red Sky

Kona Zone had mid-reach rim brakes. Nearly got myself one but went with a Ti Kinesis instead. It is everything described by the OP, save for the seatpost which is 31,6 mm and the internal routing (but with Ti guides welded in the frame routing is as easy as good old external).

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I have a Ritchey Swiss Cross which could be called simple, except it has mechanical discs instead of rim brakes.

I like it, but I couldn’t say I like it any better than my road bike. If I want to grab a cup of coffee with a friend who lives 50km away, I’m grabbing my road bike.

I think this is why these bikes died out. People love the idea of them, but ultimately they end up buying something else. I feel the same way about the Ritchey Road Logic. I think it’s a lovely frame and I definitely lust after one. But the bike I ended up recently buying has disc brakes and larger tire clearance and is much more practical for my area where most rides have some gravel mixed in.

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