Tax returns are on the way and I have my sights set on putting together a Surly Cross Check. I'm leaning toward buying a bare frame and building the bike up from scratch (expensive, I know). The plan is starting to formulate in my head and I need to be sure I'm heading down the right path before pulling the trigger. But first, some history...
A couple of years ago I bought a pair of Novara Randonees on sale from REI (one for me, one for the girlfriend) in an attempt to get into touring. All was going well until I actually started riding the bike consistently. To make a long story short I had bought the bike in a frame size that was too small and I didn't feel comfortable unless I was sitting on the rivets of the saddle. I ended up returning both bikes and tried out a 55cm Randonee with my Brooks saddle and pedals, and it was a win. But life happened and I never got a chance to replace the bikes I returned, and fell off the idea of touring which was a sad day.
Fast forward to today and I've got the bug again to build up a bike. I've decided to focus on a Cross Check since I plan to mostly use it for road/dirt path riding for fun, to commute to work in the future and if I feel like loading up a couple Ortileb panniers (that have been collecting dust) to go for a weekend camping trip. The Cross Check seems to fit the bill.
I plan to focus on quality over cost. I haven't considered much on the side of components other than the wheels and tires. I'm focusing on "bulletproof" and a little research has pointed me toward having a set of wheels built by Peter White. I'm thinking Phil Wood 36 hole hubs, Mavic or Velocity rims with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Might be leaning on the side of overkill, but I want the thing to last. Any clues on what a setup like that might cost?
I would likely go with the black frame and try to use as many black & chrome components as possible with a flash of yellow (panniers) here and there. I still have a pair of Brooks B17s sitting on the shelf and a few other small components lying around.
The next piece of the puzzle will be figuring out the crankset, drive train and shifters. I'm looking to get some input on what you would do if you were going to build up a solid bike from scratch based around the Cross Check frame. I'm not looking for a speed demon of a bike, but comfort and reliability are important.