The Cross-Check is a great bike. It was the third frame we ever offered, and we offered it as a complete bike a year after the introduction of the frame. Neither the frame nor the component spec of the bike have changed much since we introduced it almost a decade ago because…well, why should it? We have made a few changes and updates over the years when those changes were either necessary or just plain a good idea. For instance, this year we’ve added mid-blade eyelets to the fork for mounting a front rack. This isn’t a touring bike per se, but it will handle lighter touring loads, and a front rack can make that easier.
Rear Dropouts: Long horizontal dropouts with adjusters feature single-speed compatibility, wheelbase adjustability and our exclusive Gnot-rite 132.5mm spacing to easily fit 130mm road or 135mm MTB hubs.
Tire Clearance: Proprietary FFF (Fatties Fit Fine) chainstays and our custom fork give room for tires up to 700x45c with mud and fender clearance left over.
Chainring Clearance: Though we haven't yet tried a '56', we manipulated the chainstays heavily so you can fit whatever size rings you want.
Strengths: Just a quick review. This bike will do everything, I've ridden single track, toured and ridden road and CX races on this thing. Surprisingly light for what it is and how durable it is. Chuck it over fences, stack headfirst on rocks, whatever. This bike can handle everything you throw at it.
Rides like a cadillac, soaks up bumps like a shamwow. Handles excellently. It's relaxed and steady, but nimble when you need it to be. Descends like a cloud. Seriously versatile with all it's braze ons and space for 29er tyres.
Weaknesses: The dreamy ride comes at the cost of efficiency. For off road stuff and burning around by yourself it's fine. However, this frame has some serious flex, which you notice whenever you really lay down the power, get out of the saddle or have bad pedalling technique, which this bike will correct in a flash.
If you want a bike to race with maybe look elsewhere.
If you want a bike which will do EVERYTHING ELSE with varying degrees of success, then go for it.
This bike has been a great companion to me and I love it. It's filled with so many memories and even though it might not hammer up climbs as much as I'd like it's still the bike that feels like home to me.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 31, 2013
Strengths: Tough, nice ride, relaxed yet sporty geometry, do it all and then a little bit, easy on the eyes and the rump.
Weaknesses: I get its a do it all steel cross bike, but 7 lbs for a 52 cm frame/fork seems a bit under achieving.
I bought this frame set and built it up as a cross/commuter with stock breaks, 6500 series Ultegra (9s) f/r derailures, chain, brifters, 12-27 cassette, 6700 bb, 5650 (105) compact road crank, and its shod with Mavic Open Pro's laced to Ultegra hubs with double butted wheel smith spokes and 28c panaracer T-serve tires (love these tires after they break in). I also have a Deore LX rd and a 11-32 sram 970 cassette mounted on similar wheels (dt swiss spokes) with 35c kenda tires for when I want to go muddin with it.
The above build, (with the rest of the parts being of good but not pro quality) comes in at 22lbs 4oz, not to bad for a steel frame with 32h wheels and commuter tires. It really rolls well, every now and then I kinda question how much i spent building up my Ti and carbon road bike. It is certainly not as snappy as my straight road bike, but it is more comfortable and I honestly prefer it for non racing events.
I have taken this thing on centuries, dirt road Randonnées and use it as a commuter. This is a riders bike. Its enjoyable, not flashy, and just does what needs doing. I wouldn't suggest down hill Mtb'ing on it but it'll work for about everything else. The fork (mostly) and rear triangle do have quite a bit of give which smooths out rough roads, but robs a little climbing/sprinting power. The 35's on it give it a lurker 29'er look, the 28's look like a commuter and 23's look kinda silly.
All in all, highly recommended good value for some one who is looking for versatility and a riders bike. I would however strongly suggest you build your own, the factory parts are kinda rubbish, especially the crank and BB. I am happy with my choice and plan on many more years of cross-checking.
Favorite Trail: Franklin land trust D2R2 (google it :)
Duration Product Used: 2 years
Purchased At: LBS
Similar Products Used: Treck 1200, Merlin Agilis
Bike Setup: Surly cross check frame set, almost a full NOS 6500 ultegra group with a 5650 compact crank, 32h mavic open pro's laced to 6500 ultegra hubs 28c panaracers t-serv tires or 35c kenda courriers
Strengths: Strong, versatile, can be many different things
Weaknesses: none at all
I bought this bike back in 2008 to use as a commuter, road bike, and tourer with the occasional rough road jaunt thrown in for good measure. I had the wheels exchanged at the start for DT Swiss mated to XT hubs with double butted spokes because I was a 325 lb Clyde (although I had been much heavier at 431lbs when I started riding) I use this bike mainly for pleasure riding when I don't want to load the MTB up and drive to the trail-head. It gets a lot of riding and has helped me to drop to 275lbs. I have replaced the stock saddle with the Brooks B-17 or Team Professional (I exchange them all the time depending on the look I am trying to achieve. The Team Pro is black with copper rivets and the B-17 is Honey). It has never broken down for any reason and continues to serve me well. It is stable and quick with Schwalbe Marathon 700X28 tires on it and extremely cushy and comfortable with Marathon Supreme 700X40's. I have a set of Nitto Campee racks that are put on it to commute or tour. I still have the original Salsa bars on it but do want to upgrade to either Nitto Rando bars or the Velo Orange equivalent. Or I may get a dirt drop bar of some type and run with that. The bar end shifters still fire off gear changes without breaking a sweat. It has turned out to be the perfect bike for me for everything short of severe off-roading. I also intend to replace the brakes but because the original brakes work quite wll, I see no need to hurry. At some point I am thinking I will change the drive train to a triple but again, it is so reliable the way it is, I see no reason to hurry. I really cannot find a criticism with this bike. Some say it is heavy, but then again, so am I. It seems indestructible so far and I look forward to many more years of riding it. The only slight criticism that I can even thin of is that the seat collar needs to be torqued super hard to avoid slippage, but that may be because I weigh so much. And for that, I can't really criticize the bike. I just need to keep riding it and losing weight!
Bike Setup: Original except for the Brooks saddles and the wheels built to hold me. I also just put Egg Beaters on this bike and have Schwalbe Marathons of different types that I interchange. Otherwise, it is just like I bought it.
Date Reviewed: July 3, 2012
Strengths: Versatility, good bike for road and cx
Weaknesses: weight if you can't climb
I have lighterweight road race bikes, but I still gravitate toward this bike the most. The complete they sell has semi-crap components on it, hence the affordable price and heavier weight. I tricked mine out with high end shimano, Chris King, FSA etc.... I'm a good climber, poor descender so this bike excels for me on road. If I want to shave an extra lb. off of this I'll buy the Nashbar carbon fork for $120 (made by Winwood) and the weight weenies will exclaim hmmm...not that heavy at all.
It does get a little tiring on dry cross racing with the extra lbs., but doesn't fishtail on slick muddy/snowy days like my carbon counterparts. I also put on some Michelin pro 3 road tires in the summer and it climbs and corners just fine. Bottom line, if you need a $4500 carbon piece to spark conversation about weight and economic prowess this bike isn't for you. If you like a bike that excels at all positions grab it and do whatever you want with it. Yes, it's raceable!
Strengths: Versatile, strong, versatile. Fits big tires and fenders. Seems capable of doing everything. Great value.
Weaknesses: A tad pudgy, which might put some people off. Not me, though.
No disc brake mounts. It'd be really nice if Surly added disc brake mounts.
Not a lot of color choices.
I beat the snot outa this bike, and it keeps asking for more. We're best buddies, my Cross Check and me. Sure, it's nothing exotic. And sure, you could say it's a jack of all trades but master of none. That's fair. But it's a really good jack of all trades. In the years that I've owned mine, I have done all of the following with it:
* daily commuter
* long road rides
* gravel grinders
* cross racin'
* many miles of singletrack
* 300 mile fully loaded tour
Seriously, there aren't many other bikes out there that you can ride through rock gardens one day and then do a sixty mile road loop on the next day. The frame has fender and rack mounts (and I think the new models have fork eyelets, mine doesn't), and I thought it handled the ~80lbs of gear I hauled on tour very well.
The stock components are a good - here's that word again - value. Here's something that amazes me - the stock wheels haven't needed to be trued once since I've owned the bike, and I'm anything but gentle with them. (Let's hear it for high spoke count wheels!) Speedmax tires are a good choice for this bike. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they worked for both road and off road.
I did a bunch of research before making this purchase, and decided to change out a couple of the stock components. I went for a 11-34 cassette and SLX derailleur so it'd be easier to ride on singletrack, and I eventually replaced the bar end shifters with Shimano brifters. Also, the Ritchey headset had bad reviews, so I had my LBS put in a Cane Creek S3 instead.
The frame has semi-horizontal dropouts to make singlespeed conversions easy, and that may be the next mutation I put it through.
Sizing can be tricky. I'm about 5'6' and ended up with a 50cm frame. It fits me well with a set back seatpost (I'm more legs than torso), but I sometimes wonder if a 52 would be better. I wasn't able to test the frame before buying, but I'd highly recommend trying out a few sizes before you commit, if possible.
Bike Setup: Stock except for Tiagra brifters, 11-34 cassette and SLX derailleur, Cane Creek S3 headset.
a Weekend Warrior
from San Bernardino, CA
Date Reviewed: June 26, 2011
Strengths: Versatile, great ride quailty, great geo that affords great control and speed despite the weight penalty.
Weaknesses: A bit on the heavy side, but it makes you faster in the long run, hehe.
I purchased this frameset when the 2011 frameset/complete bikes were finally available, the reason for the unbelievable price. But I would purchase this at full-price in a heartbeat, but the price got to completion faster.
The complete bikes are also very nice, but I decided to build my own, since that is one part of the enjoyment I get from cycling sports.
Bike Setup: Bicycle Wheel Warehouse Pure Tour w/ 105 hub wheelset, Sram rival drivetrain, and Avid Single Digit V-brakes(for if it ever it sees dirt or future cyclocross), and Easton EA50 cockpit(stem, handlebars, seatpost).
a Cross Country Rider
from Bismarck, ND
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2011
Strengths: Best ride ever! It's like a multi-tool with wheels. duhhhh.....
Weaknesses: Tektro brakes and stock build doesn't come with cross brakes. Stock saddle.
This is hands down the best bike i have out of many. I ride it on road, gravel, mud, snow, and single track. How many bikes can you take out for a 50 mile rides and hit everything in and out of town while going fast on road and single track. I have 6 friends that have cross checks. They have all seen different phases of saddles, wheelsets, geared, single speed, skinny tires, fat tires, drop bars, flat bars, and etc. I need to change out the tektro brakes for some trp's but other than that it's a solid go anywhere do anything bike. Best bike purchase i've made and all my friends will agree. Oh yeah, and insert 'steel chromoly slogan here'.
Similar Products Used: Motobecane cross bike, hard tails, full suspensions, bar cruisers, yada yada.
Bike Setup: Stock except brook b-17 saddle, thomson seatpost, salsa cross levers, and surly nice rack.
a Weekend Warrior
from brooklyn, ny
Date Reviewed: September 24, 2010
Strengths: versatile beyond belief
Weaknesses: not a weight weenies bike
this is a very versatile bike, which i use primarly as a commuter. i run it with a 7 speed casette at the rear and a single crank up front, and the bike carries me and my stuff, via the ortliebs, 7 miles each way, to work 3 times a week. it is not as light as my road bike but handles everything a road bike will not. fenders offer excellent protection in the rain, and lights assure everyone sees me as I cross their path, making transit around nyc a much more enjoyable experience. it is also not too bling for me to lock up for short stints.
the bike is great, the subaru station wagon (the sporty one) of the bike world. after switching from ritchey speed max tires to the panaracer tservs, the bike rides and handles very well and the shorty's stop it quickly.
Bike Setup: 20 year old shimano 105 rear deraileur with bar end shifter (from donor bike), avid shorty 6's,single cog, sugino crank, 15 yr old 16 spoke rolf vector wheels with panaracer t serv 28c tires, selle san marco regal seat, bull horn bars, fenders, lights, racks, bell, ortlieb panniers
a Weekend Warrior
from Faribault, MN, USA
Date Reviewed: March 13, 2010
Strengths: Strong frame, flexible design, high value parts selection, both nimble and smooth riding.
Weaknesses: No disk brakes mounts.
This is my new commuter, and I have to say it is a nice step up from an older Cannondale Hybrid (Silk Path 400) that I have been using. I love the Salsa Moto Ace Bell-Lap bars, and I am getting used to the bar end shifters fairly quickly. Despite being a steel bike, it is a bit lighter than the aluminum Cannondale, and is surprisingly quick and a good climbing bike. I haven't had a chance to take it off road yet, but on road the stock Ritchey tires are fine and fairly fast. When looking for a new bike I compared this with the Tricross, and after giving both a couple of test rides this past fall, the Surly clearly had a nicer feel, and was a better fit. I also love the idea of how customizable this frame is. Horizontal rear dropouts make a SS, fixed gear, or internally geared hub easy to do, and the ability to take 700X45c tires has its appeal. Add in the fender and rack mounts and you have one flexible frame. As noted, the one piece of modernization really needed is mounts for disk brakes, but this is the only fault I can find with this frame. The stock canti brakes felt a little soft at first, but have shown themselves to be more than adequate so far. The odd "Andel" brand crank is fine, functions well, has a handsome look, and was easy to add the granny gear to. It is another example of Surly making a good high value parts selection, even though "Andel" isn't a well known brand.
Bike Setup: Stock except Brooks Flyer saddle, granny gear, and Planet Bike Fenders. SPD pedals. "Gravy Brown" color.
a Weekend Warrior
from Washington, DC
Date Reviewed: September 28, 2009
Strengths: Solid as a rock. Great city commuter that can handle any urban road. Absorbs road shocks easily. Bar end shifters perfect for urban riding
Weaknesses: Imagine it's a little on the heavy side for cross racing -- but can't imagine serious cross racers would consider a frame made from such heavy steel.
I use my cross check for commuting to work (10 miles round trip daily) rain or shine all year round. This thing is perfect for the urban commuter. With front and rear eyelets, fitting a rack and fenders is very easy. I put a pair of 32mm puncture resistant slicks on it and feel comfortable riding on rough pavement and gravel paths.
I was skeptical of bar end shifters at first, but they are perfect for city riding. All my road bikes have either Shimano STI or Campy Ergo, and it can be a pain to constantly have move my hand to upshift or downshift into multiple gears. With bar end indexing, I can shift through the entire cassette with one flick of my hand -- and it's far less finicky than brifters. I've found the stock wheelset and Tiagra gruppo perfectly adequate for riding around town or longer recreational rides. I use Dura Ace and Chorus on my other roadbikes, so I've got something to compare my Cross Check setup to, and I think it's perfectly adequate. Would I want to be shifting Tiagra through a peloton at 25mph? No -- but that's not what I bought this bike for. One slight word of caution, don't be surprised by the weight. If you're even a bit of a weight weenie, be warned that this thing ain't light -- nor should it be. Don't compare this to an aluminum/carbon cross bike. It's a totally different animal -- for the better.
Strengths: Steel frame, flexibility, fun ride, strength
Weaknesses: colour beef gravy isn't everyone taste but it was on offer and I dont really like black.
I spent six months looking for a new bike. I have been riding mountain bikes for the last 15 years, and before this I was riding BMX's.
I need a 700 wheel road/hybrid bike. Looked at all the built up options at Evans, Cycle surgery etc. None of them satisfied me, component spec was just too poor for asking prices.
I decided on a Surly after chatting to the guys at London Fields Cycles. I carry a lot of weight and a steel frame can handle the load. I then found the frame cheaper online.
I have made mine into a flat bar commuter bike, for the regular 16 mile commute. Its relaxed and fast, rides the potholes well, turns round corners better than anything I have ridden before. Rode it on London to Brighton this year and I left a lot of alloy bikes behind, even with the panniers on.
Great adaptable bike that I can see me using for whatever I need for the next 10-20 years.
Bike Setup: Ritchey XC flat bars, Truvativ XR stem, Crane Creek Headset, LX V brakes and levers, LX mechs, Truvativ Touro cranks (50-39t), Ritchey wheel set, Continental Ultra sport 700cx23, FSA SL-280 seat post
a Weekend Warrior
from Brighton UK
Date Reviewed: May 18, 2009
Strengths: Quality - Comfort - Strength - Steel
Weaknesses: Errr None?
Let me start by saying that I rarely feel compelled to write reviews on a purchase, however, in this instance I actually owe my (unseen) bike choice on so many other’s advice, that I thought I prudent to return the favour; this is for anybody else in the Surly Cross Check “buy or not to buy” predicament.
I used to be an avid 20 mile a day all weather commuter, “used to” being the operative phrase(!), well I haven’t ridden in anger for 7 odd years - the overwhelming urge to get back in the saddle for my commute, including nursery run with my little person on the back, weekend jaunts, and hopefully a little light touring; well that was the remit, it therefore has to be strong, it has to last, and has to be comfortable – I was previously obsessed with the best groups set’s & components, and saving weight was more important than comfort; with this being much less significant now (maybe I’m getting old), several weeks of research later, I narrowed my choice down to the wonderfully engineered and cost effective Surly CC
My brilliant LBS (Baker.St Bikes in Brighton) ordered me the 58cm Cross-Check in Beef Gravy Brown, I spanked most of the build on the beautiful British made ‘Hope Hubs’ “tic tic tic tic” with Mavic rims, the bike is built with a miss-match of old XT parts (brake/levers etc) with new Deore chain set, and the O’So lovely Brooks B17. I thought I’d get the wheels and the saddle right from the start, with the rest being upgradeable when the cash or need allows.
I seriously had a sleepless night over the sizing e.g. 56 or 58 – it’s hard to advice, but I’m 6ft with a rough 87cm PBH and the 58cm is just perfect for me on the road, really comfortable, don’t get me wrong there’s not allot top-tube distance from the ‘money makers’ when flat footed, but with a slightly higher saddle to bar, I could stay on the Brooks all day long, I never truly realised a bike could be so comfortable. I’m also amazed and delighted at how quickly I got back into that lovely rhythm where you and the bike become one. This bike will certainly allow me to get fit again as it just works so well.
If you appreciate engineering, want something that lasts, is comfortable, handles delightfully, can basically do anything you ask of it … well you catch my drift... it’s the most endearing (slightly quirky) all rounder, and I really couldn’t be happier.
Similar Products Used: Many mountain/road bikes - Most recently M1000 Cannondale hybrid(ish)
Bike Setup: Straight Richey Bars, Mavic319's, Hope Hubs, Doere Cassette/Front & Back Mech, Crane Creek HS, LX Bot Brack, Brooks B17, XT levers/Shifters V-Brakes
a Cross Country Rider
from Delta BC Canada
Date Reviewed: October 17, 2008
Strengths: Very versatile and in-expensive frame. Fits my 700C x 42's. Long wheelbase, smooth, comfortable ride. Rack mounts.
Weaknesses: Frame on the heavy side. No disc brake mounts.
This really is the swiss army knife of bikes. I've set it up with shimano 16 spoke race wheels, tires, and fenders for fast winter club ridess and commuting. I've mounted heavier wheels and 35mm hybrid tires and racks for touring, and I've stripped it down and mounted 42mm knobbies for some great off road action, and plan to cyclocross race it this year just for kicks. Smooth, comfortable and stable riding frame, very verstaile as mentioned above. Yes it's heavy, but so what. If I could only keep one bike, this would be it. If you want a cutting edge, light weight race bike look elsewhere. But the light race bike will not ride like this machine and will cost more. Versatility and value sum it up.
Bike Setup: Multiple setups from 700c x 23's 16 spoke shimano race wheels to 700 x 42 knobbies. Bar end shifters, LX 9 spd d's, v-brakes, Nitto 46 cm noodle bar.
a Cross Country Rider
from San Bruno, CA
Date Reviewed: February 28, 2008
Strengths: The bike is very versatile. It can br equipped with whatever size of tires (fatties fit fine)and it has braze ons for racks and fenders. I originally wanted a touring frame but decided to get a cross frame because the geometry is pretty close and I kinda wanted a cross bike. This bike can double as a weekend road bike, a touring bike (equipped with fenders and racks), a fixed gear, a singlespeed, or just a full blown cross bike. It handles really well both on trails and road. The geometry is not too slack, resulting in a not too sluggish turns. Well, this is my very first cross bike. But in terms of road handling and performance, this bike is pretty good. It can go uphills okay, not as snappy as my fast road bike but I'm not complaining, it actually rides pretty good.
Weaknesses: Frame is tad bit heavy compared to Soma Doublecross. But considering Crosscheck is $100 cheaper (Soma costs 375 without fork. Also, Surly sent me a 58 (i measured the tubes) although I ordered a 56. This was the second time they sent me a wrong sized frame as I ordered a Surly Steamroller in size 54 four months before and they sent me a 56. This is my only complaint, I ordered directly from the distributor (wink wink QBP) and the box was marked by the size. I dunno if they usually have a size bigger or what but I dont care anymore because both bikes ride awesomely and the long top tube can always be remedied with a short stem. Another thing, I think it would be nice if the cantilever housing stops are welded onto the frame, not with that silly thing that attaches to the seatpost..
This frame is solid. It handles and rides great, the steel frame smoothes out the road and takes the vibration out of the trails really well. And for its price, I cant really mitch about how heavy the frame is. Its one of those bikes that can transform into various forms which I mentioned above. You can go singlespeed or geared and equip it with road tires or cross tires, and just go balls out either on the trail or on the road.