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  1. #1
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Surly XC Fit Help?

    OK, assuming I fit my old Pinarello steel roadie which is a 56cm c/t and 55.5cm c/c top tube and stand over of 31.5inches, traditional Italian steel road racer and am 5-10.5 and PBH of 86cm and a fairly normal mesomorph (arms proportional to legs) build, would I go with a 54 or a 56 in a Surly Cross Check? I do not intend to race the bike but to use it as a multi-purpose, dirt road, light trail, multi-surface and road bike. I intend to fit smooth center type tires and fenders for winter and even commute with it as well general fitness riding.

    I live down a dirt road I have to traverse before reaching pavement, my old Pinarello and Guerciotti (56c/c, says 57cm) do not like it one bit.

    The Surly and the Soma DC and all of these bikes seem to have long top tubes and this is confusing me.

    Thanks for any insight.

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    Eff top tube for the cross-check 54 is listed as 22.4" ~ 55.9cm, so I'd go with that. I'd also look at fork length + head tube and compare with your current bike.

    Allow me also to recommend Nitto Randonneur handlebars for your build.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    I was thinking to buy the complete bike. A local bike shop is willing to order one at a much reduced price over MSRP and then just upgrade whatever is lacking. At least that way I can relieve the work load on my Italian road bikes who currently are not fond of me much.

    It is just, what freaking size, argggghhhhh. I hate sizing bikes by mail order.

  4. #4
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I've got a 54 cm Cross Check. Send me your Pinarello and I'll tell you if it fits.

    Seriously, top tube length is usually the critical factor for fit. Anything else can usually be adjusted for more easily. Consider, however, that the Cross Check complete comes with Salsa Bell Lap bars, which have about an 82mm reach. If your Pinarello has bars with a 100mm reach, the 56 might be the best size for you. I would imagine that you can make either one work, but you might need a short stem and/or short reach bars on the 56.

    The 56 has a significantly longer head tube, so if you like your bars low, the 54 might be the way to go. Then again, the complete probably comes with a precut steerer, so the 54 might limit how high you can get the bars without a riser stem.

  5. #5
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that you really also need to factor in seat tube angle because you'll likely move you saddle forward to adjust for a seat tube angle that puts you further back. I read somewhere that each degree of seat tube angle difference equates to about 1 cm of effective top tube length. For instance, the 54cm Cross Check has a 73 degree seat tube angle and a 560mm effective top tube, while the 56cm has a 72.5 degree seat tube and a 570mm effective top tube. Comparing apples to apples, the 56 would "effectively" have a 565mm top tube compared to the 54, because you'd slide your seat forward 5 mm more. Of course, this only helps if you know the seat tube angle on your Pinarello.

  6. #6
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    I would go for the 56. A lot of people say to go a size smaller with the Cross Check, but forget to factor in how short the head tube is on this model. The 54 will end up with pretty low handlebars for an all arounder unless you get a pretty steep stem. I bought a size smaller based on the shop's recomendation and have been wishing I went with the bigger size ever since.
    Last edited by c_m_shooter; 03-25-10 at 09:11 PM.
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  7. #7
    Velophile Epicus07's Avatar
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    I just built up my 54 cross check and am also having fit problems. I tried to mirror the fit of my 54 Roubaix. With the same saddle in roughly the same position i measured from the nose of the saddle to the center of the handlebars. On my roubaix it was about 19.5 inches (using a 110mm stem). On my cross check its at about 20.5 inches (using a 90 mm stem). I feel too cramped on the cross check and the reach appears to be longer!

    What gives?

    On a side note. The frame came with a V-brake front and Canti Rear. I have a travel agent on the front brake but i feel like i'm still squeezing super hard and not getting any result. Anyone else have a problem using drops and v brakes? (with STI shifters that is )
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    I'm gonna further confuse this. I'm 5'11 and I ride a 52 crosscheck. It's a perfect fit. If they made a 51 that would probably fit allright too. Bigger would definitely be too big for me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I have not ordered the bike yet but I might very soon. I am getting a new bike, just size and maybe a few other things hold me up. I am leaning to the 54 cm frame. These bikes seem awfully long.

    My Pinarellos and Guerciotto are very steep bikes and I have them set up aggressively since I bought them back in the early 80s. They have 100cm stems and the top tubes are 55.5 to 56 c/c. It seems to me that with these new sloped top tube bikes the standover height is generally a lower number for a given frame size?

    I am thinking to buy the 54cm XC and put a longer stem on it of about 100 to 110, move the saddle forward some from neutral and then dial in my saddle height or maybe that is backwards.

    I am just afraid that the 56 (measured c/c per the Surly geometry) is really a 58 and the 54 is really a 56 if you follow, from tt length that seems to indicate that.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
    I would go for the 56. A lot of people say to go a size smaller with the Cross Check, but forget to factor in how short the head tube is on this model. The 54 will end up with pretty low handlebars for an all arounder unless you get a pretty steep stem. I bought a size smaller based on the shop's recomendation and have been wishing I went with the bigger size ever since.
    I'm virtually the exact same size as the OP. If you go to a 56 isn't the TT going to be too long? Most of my road bikes use a 56CM TT. A 56 CX has a pretty longish TT if I remember.
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  11. #11
    shoot up or shut up. isotopesope's Avatar
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    i also vote for the 54 since it's top tube length is so close to your road bikes. the headtube length is important to consider as well, but in this situation the 54's is only 8mm shorter than the 56's.

    perhaps compare your headtube and fork lengths of your italian steel to your prospective new bike to get an idea of how your bar height will be different. that said, i prefer my bars higher on my cross bike.

    i've used bike forest's bike cad to help me visulize and compare bike's geometry and fit. give it a try. it's super fun.



    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    I'm gonna further confuse this. I'm 5'11 and I ride a 52 crosscheck. It's a perfect fit. If they made a 51 that would probably fit allright too. Bigger would definitely be too big for me.
    how many fists of exposed seatpost does this "perfect fit" require?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    The shop measured out my Pinarello which of course being a classic Italian roadie puts me way low. They came to the conclusion that the 54 Surly was the dealio for me.

    My hope is that it will not have me as low but at the same time, I am not a bike newb and don't particularly care to sit bolt upright either, I just want a nice compromise position that is more comfortable than being in a full racer crouch. Sooo, fingers crossed that the 54cm Cross Check is the right bike.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    I dunno, I hope I ordered the "right" size. It seems there are two schools of "right" size:

    1. The big frame group that likes the handle bar tops even with or slightly below the top of the saddle (and their b-lls resting on the top tube). These folks seem to come from a touring or recreational cycling background and prefer a much more upright riding position.

    2. The little frame group that likes the handle bar tops to be way down four to even six inches below the top of the saddle. These folks seem to come from a competition or performance oriented cycling background.

    Oddly, if you go to the Surly Cross Check page and take a look at the bike, they have it set up as if in Category 2. Clearly a 54cm frame is going to set up for me much like the bike on their page, saddle very high, lots of seat post out, low(er) bars. So, I guess it depends what group I am in. Well, I have always been in Group 2 but now I want a bike more upright but not ready to be a nanny in Group 1. I dunno. I don't think a bike looks good with the bars up even with the saddle, perhaps I am a minority in that I suppose but it seems bike manufacturers typically show bikes set up as if in Group 2 so they must agree also?

  14. #14
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I think you'll be happy with the 54.

    Here's a pic of my 54, from which you can see that I'm squarely in group 1.



    For reference, I'm 5'9" so you'd obviously have the seat higher. I built mine up from a bare frame and had the steerer cut where it is because I like the rising stem and don't like a lot of spacers. I can't say where yours will be cut.

    It occurs to me that this picture would have been more helpful to you before you decided, but I didn't think of it then. Anyway, I think you'll be fine. The top tube length is critical, and if you want the bars higher you can always get a fork with an uncut steerer.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Thanks Andy K. Very useful. I will indeed have my seat higher than shown but that is the question. I am a believer in the LeMond formulas. My cycling inseam is 86cm and using his formulas for saddle height I will have a center crank to top of saddle height of 76cm. I am pretty sure that will jack the saddle up from where you have it.

    However, I like your riser stem, tell me about it. I think the pre-built bike comes with a 15mm spacer and a modest rise on the stem. Perhaps I will need to get one longer and with more rise.

    I guess I am more afraid of a too long bike than having a high saddle, lol.

  16. #16
    Freddin' it
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    I thought the complete bike comes with an uncut steerer. That's what it says as www.universalcycles.com, and what my LBS said once. If so, with the 54 you'll have lots of seatpost showing and as much steerer as you need to get the bars where you like them.

    Can anyone with a recent complete XC confirm this (uncut steerer)?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Andy K, you have a nice looking bike. I like the rack and fenders on it. The blue color is pretty. I am afraid mine will be black, lol. Well, at least it will match my black Jeep.

  18. #18
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Thanks. Mine started out Beef Gravy Brown, but I bought it intending to get it powder coated. I would have been happy with the black except both my other bikes are black so I wanted something new.

    The stem is a Profile Design Aris with a 25 degree angle and 4-bolt clamp. It's available in 31.8 or 26.0 clamp. I've got these on all three of my bikes (on with a 7 degree angle), so obviously I'm happy with it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    The fork comes uncut. This gives the shop the opportunity to set it up to fit the new owners preferences. Mine came in today but is not built yet. Very attractive finish and nice quality for the price. It is a very attractive machine. Solid component selection, very nice.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Loose Chain's Avatar
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    Well, here it is, Surly 54cm Cross Check. Left the stem long so I can vary the bars to suit the mission. I guess it is a 57th birthday present. I swam a mile, ran six and then took the Cross Check for a twenty five mile maiden voyage. All went well, the bike is actually quite quick, weighs 25.2 pounds. I imagine when I upgrade wheels and tires and a few other things the weight will drop to around 22 or 23 pounds. The bike rides great, fast, stable, smooth.


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