Yesterday, I got to take out the first bike I built myself. It's a Surly Cross Check. I bought it as a frameset and had the BB faced and chased. I put a Cane Creek 40 EC headset in it, Sram Rival Cyclocross Groupset with Avid Shorty 4 canti brakes. BicycleWheelWarehouse touring wheels in a 36 spoke 3X pattern. 46 cm wide dropbars and a VeloOrange seatpost with Brooks B17 Flyer saddle. Please excuse the electrical tape as I'm still sorting out the cable housing lengths and didn't want to trim the cable ends yet. Cantibrakes are a different animal.
28 mm front and 35 back. These are tires I already had. The very limited (maybe a mile) somewhat brakeless ride showed it to be very smooth but slow on acceleration. I probably stopped 10 times to adjust stuff. I still have a lot to learn as this is also the first Sram stuff I've been around.
I just got back from a ~6 mile ride around Lake Paradise. These are the coarsest roads around without actually being gravel. Kinda a connected series of patched potholes. I got the brakes adjusted to just below insanely inadequate and the shifters shifty. This bike is quiet. When you hit bumps it just soaks them up without complaint. The long chainstays makes holding a line effortless. I haven't wrapped the handlebars yet so I can't comment on hand comfort but I like having the extra 2 cm of width by going to 46 cm bars.
With all that said this bike doesn't beg me to go faster like the Madone does. It's more of pickup truck than a sports car.
Now that I have the derailleurs adjusted. They work well. The Rival groupset isn't as smooth as my 105 but is has a feeling of solidness to it. I like the extra chain wrap aroung the rear sprockets. The Double tap hoods are shorter and narrower than my 105 and I have huge hands. I'm going to rewrap my bars and overlap the tape more to get that area thicker. I really like having the 46 cm dropbars over the 44 cm wide that's on the Madone. The bars I put on it were $15 cheapies to try the spacing (Easton Ea-50) I can see why they were so cheap as riding in the drops is weird. (bad weird) It's like they made these for a super aggressive geo and I'm running 60 mm of head spacers so I don't know whether this will work out. Right now If I get the Hoods at the angle I want the drops are sloping down towards the back. I'll play aroung with this and maybe learn somthing about this in the process.
The Rival 46/36 Crank is super nice. Much better than the Shimano R600 that came with the Madone. Facing and chasing the BB made installing it a real pleasure as the spindle litterally fell in place. I've pulled the R600 crank in the madone to regrease the supposedly non-serviceable Hollotech II bearings in the Madone. When reinstalling the Crank in the Madone I had to push it in. I May have the guy that did the BB machining on the Cross Check do this to the Madone as well.
The Avid shorty 4's are getting better as I learn the art of cantilever brake adjustment. I've had some issues with toe-in and appears the the cone washers that come with these brakes are not real well machined. if you rotate them in respect to their partner the toe-in is affected.It's kinda maddening that you have 4 little parts that have to be just so to get the toe-in correct. Like I said it's a learning experience.