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  1. #1
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    Build a Cross check for commuting and more

    I'm making a commitment to commute daily. After weekends at several LBS and countless hours on the web I decided to get a Surly Cross-check built up by my local shop. My commute is 13 mi each way and I can choose road or rails to trails. My goals for this bike are:

    - go fast 5 days a week for 26 miles on pavement or hardpack
    - ride some single track and fireroads
    - do a 7 day bike tour across Washington (John Wayne Trail)

    So I picked a frame that has lots of room for tires, fenders and racks but I'm at a complete loss on what to look for in:
    - tires to commute on (I'll swap them if needed for the tour)
    - wheels
    - components (I'm thinking 105 across the board but bar end shifters would save some $$)
    - brakes (I really, really wanted disc brakes but nada on the do-all bikes I looked at)

    I've never owned a road bike or anything close so I'd love to hear your suggestions or experiences.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    I would recommend building a set of wheels using Deore XT hubs with 36 DT Swiss double butted spokes. Maybe a Mavic Open Sport or Open Pro rim. A 135mm hub (like the XT) works better on the Crosscheck (I've had trouble with 130mm hubs slipping in the drop outs). If you want to use 105 "brifters" and a 105 front derailleur, go ahead, but a Deore XT rear derailleur with an XT cassette (11-32) would make more sense for touring and single track. I hate cantilever brakes, but you're stuck with them unless you go with bar-end shifters and Diacompe 287-V levers. Then you will have better brakes, but the hoods on the 287-V are curved and not very comfortable at all.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Cross Check is an excellent choice for your purposes. I'd spend a tiny bit more up front and make sure your LBS treats the frame with something like FrameSaver before building up the bike. Much easier than doing it later.
    Lemond Poprad / Jamis Dragon Race 29er / Surly LHT
    "the feel of steel"

  4. #4
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    Good choice. I built mine with the same purpose in mind: commuting, road riding, on/off road loaded touring and it's been a versatile, durable ride. I'm also a big (heavy) rider and opted for strength over weight savings. Here's my component list:

    XT rr. derrailleur
    Utlegra fr. derrailleur
    Dura Ace downtube shifters
    Mavic Open Pro's with 36 spoke config.
    Avid Shorty 4 brakes f/r
    Dia Comp Aero road levers
    Truvativ Cyclocross crankset (39/48)
    9 speed cassette (12/25)
    Sette road bars
    Ritchey stem
    Easton seatpost
    Nashbar saddle

    My current commuting tire, Continental Top Contact (700x28). Other than the brakes which have always been almost entirely useless, I love everything about this bike and have relied on it for my daily ride to and from work, weekend rides, and multi-day loaded and unloaded touring. I only recently had to replace the rr wheel (fatigue crack at spoke nipple) and rr brake (threading on set screw stripped while adjusting pad clearance), other than that it's been bullet proof. Let us know what you decide to do.
    die trying

    everyone likes my shirt

  5. #5
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Davidson Impulse, Merckx Titanium AX, Bruce Gordon Rock & Road, Cross Check custom build, On-One Il Pomino, Shawver Cycles cross, Zion 737, Mercian Vincitore, Brompton S1L, Charge Juicer
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    I'm running old LX cantilevers with Kool Stop Salmon pads on my Cross Check and they work very well. I find cantis that take pads with threaded posts (Avid shorty, etc...) a total pain in the @ss to set up. I like the Cane Creek SCR-5 levers a lot. The compact model is nice too if you have small hands.

    Mine's singlespeed but if I were doing gears for touring I would probably set the bike up with the new Rivendell friction bar end shifters or mounted on some Paul Thumbies with wiiiiiiide Nitto Noodle bars.

    I'm using Salsa Delgado rims on my Cross Check. So far they have been really nice.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ldesfor1@ithaca's Avatar
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    i also recently built up a crosscheck as my commuter/tourer/audax bike. i am lusting after a rohloff speedhub for the rear but untill i sell my LHT, a $1200 wheel is out of the question. so i am running a 1X8 drive train with a 42t chainring and a 12-32 cassette and a ultegra barcon shfter. I will likely go fixed gear for the snowy months, so this will help my braking in icy weather. As far as brakes go, i bought a cheap cromo fork with disc tabs (a la Nashbar) thinking that i'd want to run a front disc for the winter. so far ive been using the diacompe v-287 brake levers with old tektro V-brakes with great stopping power and good modulation. This is way cheaper and eaiser than discs, and im happy with my descision. I am running ON-ONE midge handlebars which i love so the shape of the brake hoods is less relavent to me. I higly recomend these bars if you have wide shoulders or just want a super versatile bar set up. I am running continental contact tires 32c in the front, 37c in the rear. 0 flats in 1200 boston miles, a bit heavy but great piece of mind. panaracer pasela tourgaurds suck in my experience, 2 sidewal tears in 300 miles. I have 36 hole rhino light rims with deore hubs, great so far. Brooks b-17 and Carradice Nelson saddlebag are great for my commute. SKS or Freddy fenders are a must for all weather. great bike, have fun building it. -leo

  7. #7
    break-beats turtle77's Avatar
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    Just built up a Crosscheck after getting hit by a car (my '99 Aluminum Specialized Allez frame was demolished). I was able to salvage everything but the wheels and built up a bike that, even with 700 x 38 slicks still feels pretty darn fast. It's also a hell of a lot more comfortable and I think it would be well suited for all the conditions you describe.
    Also, I just switched from brifters to bar ends (I even use them in friction mode because of a slight chainline issue that arised from changing from a 130mm to 135mm hub) and while it's taking a little getting used to, I think I'll grow to love it. I would suggest, though, that you do still go with a good group, like the 105's. Mine are Ultegra (only difference between Ult & 105 is weight, and not enough to justify the price jump) and they have lasted through countless winters and abuse. I think the 105's would serve you well for a long time.
    As far as brakes go - like Idesfor1, I also went with the V brakes with Dia-Compe 287 combo and they work pretty well. Maybe not as good as the disc brakes you had your heart set on (I've never used them), but I could definitely go over the handlebars if I pulled hard enough on the front lever, so that's good enough for me.

    It's kind of a frankenbike.

    Here's my component list, just for fun:
    Velocity Dyad 48 hole touring rims (they're okay, they weren't cheap and seem to pit a little easily)
    Phil Wood Hubs
    Ultegra triple front & 9 sp. rear / Shimano bar end shifters
    Shimano V-Brakes w/Dia-Compe 287 levers
    Chris King 1-1/8" headset
    Bontrager road handlebars and stem*
    Brooks b-17 black saddle
    Planet bike fenders
    Specialized cranks
    Serfas VIDA tires with flat protection (haven't had for very long, but seem pretty good so far)
    Old-ass pedals/toe clips n' straps that I took off a weird old bike and overhauled and still work really well

    *Okay, so I also changed my handlebars and stem from my old bike because my old headset was 1" and the Crosscheck's (as are most bikes now) is 1-1/8". I bought the new bars and stem at 31.8mm (the diameter of the stem where it clamps the handlebars). Sheldon Brown calls it "road oversized" and the kid at the LBS told me that it is going to be the new defacto standard. I'm not sold on it yet, it's really fat...

    Good luck. If you have the time and mechanical inclination, try building it yourself. It's not easy, but really also not that hard and you can learn so much. It really gave me an appreciation of all that goes into a bike.

  8. #8
    Daily Rider hairlessbill's Avatar
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    I run an Avid v-brake in the front with a travel agent adapter and some old 105 levers. They work fine. I use a Suntour XC-Pro canti on the back. Lots of stopping power with good modulation. My commute is on on flat smooth road and bike path so any tires will do. Currently using an old set of Vittoria Open Corsa CX off my road bike. I run my barends in friction so I can switch between wheelsets and rear cassettes. One wheel is a 7 speed 13-26 and one is an 8 speed 13-32.

    Details and pictures of my Crosscheck build (though now it sports a rear rack as well) are in my signature.

  9. #9
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    Thanks to everyone for the input.

    I've looked up a lot of suggested parts and found a bunch of stuff I didn't even think about including like the On One or Nitto bars, a Brooks Finesse saddle, XT rear and bar-end shifters. The Mavic Pros sound like a good bet for rims. I haven't tallied this up yet but luckily I have a good local shop that will work with me from the ground up and compromise where needed.

    Plans could change if this ends up costing the same as the Baby Grand my wife wants but right now the anticipation is killing me.

    I'll post the outcome of this weekends spending spree

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    I just recently bought a cross check from my local dealer. I was planning on putting pics up when it arrived!

    While I will not be doing any great mods right away, I did order 105 deraillers for it. I will be keeping the bar end shifters. I will be changing the tires to something smoother for my commute, which is also 13 miles.

    I heard someone mention the brakes sucking, is that true? Should that be one of the first things I look to change/upgrade?

    OP, not looking to derail your thread, just for some additional cross check comments and it seemed like a decent place. Good luck with yours and let us know!

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    turtle77, I have the same brake levers but had problems with V brakes. How were you able to get yours to work? I tried the travel agent along with other adjustments but couldn't get anything to work well. Someone suggested mini V brakes as they have a shorter travel and more leverage to work with road levers.
    die trying

    everyone likes my shirt

  12. #12
    break-beats turtle77's Avatar
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    Not sure what I did right, or what I didn't do wrong. I just put 'em on and they worked, no travel agent. And they were cheap, like $20, not mini's (I don't even know what type of Shimano v's they are, bought them last year, though) Sorry I can't help ya...

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