I'm looking for a good commuter/tourer/sometimes single track to replace my Fisher that was lifted.
I've been wrestling with this question for about a month. I'm looking to have a flat bar and ends (I've had them my whole life and am comfortable with them) with mtn bike components (thumb shifters, v-brakes, triple crank... not sure brands, any suggestions?). Would it be better to just pull the trigger on the factory built cross check at about $815.00 and change out the components, or buy the frame, possibly used, and build the bike up myself. Would there be a big price difference? I'm not super familiar with the mechanics, so I'd have to cull the parts together and have the bike shop build it up.
All I can comment on, from experience, is cost. The only way it would be cheaper to build your own is if you had a shelf-full of parts sitting around. If you go out and buy all the components, you're easily looking at an additional $800 or more over the frame. If you have your LBS do the build, they'll probably give you a break on cost, but of course add more back in for labor.
Don't get me wrong, doing your own build is immensely satisfying. Plus you become the mechanical expert on your new bike. The indisputable advantage to building your own is that you get exactly the components you want, no swapping and extra expense for the privilege.
I built a LHT for my wife last May. I've been stealth shopping at Nashbar and various LBS's for years, it's a bad habit.... But I had that shelf-full of components, all gathered at sale prices. The build cost about $680 (frame $340, parts about the same). If I had bought all the parts when I got the frame, it would easily have been in the $1200 range, which is what others are guesstimating for an LHT build.
I don't know details about the Cross Check, but I've heard so much good about them -- and Surly in general -- that I'd say if cost is your main criteria, get the factory built bike. It sounds like the only swap you'd want to do is handlebars, and that's relatively cheap. Even if you could find a frame for half price, the final build will cost more than $850.
If cost isn't your main criteria, I'd say spend a bit more and build it yourself. You have basic tools? Lots of resources on the internet. We can help choose components
If you buy the built Crosscheck and replace the handlebars, you will also need to replace the shifters, brake levers, and front derailleur. The gearing isn't low enough for touring, so you shouild also replace the rear derailleur and cassette and probably swap out the crankset to a triple since you are already replacing the front derailleur and shifters.
I bought a complete Crosscheck a long time ago (they haven't changed much since then) when I didn't really know what I wanted. Since then, I have changed everything on the bike and the only parts left from the original bike are the shifters, handlebars, and seatpost (and eventually I will get a better seatpost too).
Considering how much you would have to swap out to get the bike you want, I think buying a used frame and building it yourself would make more sense.
Would it be better to just pull the trigger on the factory built cross check at about $815.00 and change out the components, or buy the frame, possibly used, and build the bike up myself. Would there be a big price difference? I'm not super familiar with the mechanics, so I'd have to cull the parts together and have the bike shop build it up.
I would agree that it costs more for parts if you build out your own frame, but the advantage you gain is being able to customize your set up as you see fit for your needs. This might be something to consider if you think you would be unhappy with factory parts and would swithch out components anyway. Quality components that you are happy with can last a long time and can easily be transfered to a different bike.
Another option might be to find a used ridgid tail MTB with a good frame that is in good shape and fits you. Then you can change out the components you want when you want. For exaple I have a 95 Marin Palisades Trail that I am overhauling for commuting and occationl touring use. When I get done the only original parts left will be the fork, frame, head set, front and rear derailers, grip shifters, brakes, and the hubs and wheels.
Bikecycle mechanics are not that hard. The biggest obstacle may be having a place to work on it. I would get the book Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and a good home repair stand like the Park PCS1 and jump in. There is also quite a bit of information online such as Sheldon Brown's website and the Park Tool website. There are certainly things that you will be able to do. Other things that you are less confident in you can take to the LBS. For example I may have a shop do the headset on my bike depending on how big of a job it is and what kind of tools are involved.
I will diverge from the previous 2 opinions and say my crosscheck
came with componentry that is totally adequate for any situation.
I beat it up on the rural roads of Pa and VT and have had no reason
to swap anything out. I did swap the stem for fitting becuase Surly's
seem to come sized very large and as mentioned, some people will not
like the gearing. I ride the hills of Vermont with about 15lbs of gear
(30+lbs of bike too) regularly and dont have a problem but you might
be more comfortable with lower gearing. I love bar and shifters (almost
as much as stem-ers ) so I left my bars alone, just raised them up with
a spacer. Ill keep riding mine until the OK stuff breaks then replace it when
it does, but everything keeps working...
At 815.00, able to take fenders, racks etc, I think its on of the best deals
out there. Wahtever you do, I would really go with 700c x 28 or 32 wheels.
Trying to tour on 26" wheels to me, is like pedaling a Huffy cruiser through
sand. Many people do not agree, however.
I recently had a Crosscheck built up for me for very similar purposes--just wanted a nice all-around bike. Found a lightly used frame, used bars, and bought the rest--some from the shop, some on-line. I knew I wanted a triple up front, different bars set pretty high, and was trying to get the bike as light as was reasonably possible. I was hoping to spend around $1000. This is my first "nice" bike.
I am actually a little embarassed to say the bike has wound up costing around $1500 (I've paid for it by selling a bunch of stuff on e-bay, but still...) I am happy with the bike--I got to choose every bit of it, from the overpriced but very nice Jones H-bar to Panaracer Pasela tires. Despite my careful shopping the bike still weighs ~25 lbs. I went with mostly XT drivetrain, Bontrager Select wheels, MKS Touring lite pedals, etc. and just put an Old Man Mountain White Rock rack on it. I don't think I could have gotten a nicer bike for the money spent (and if I could have, keep it to yourself ) My only possible regret is the gearing is a little low (22-32-46 & 11-34), but I more often wished for a lower gear than a higher one on my old bike--even more so with a load of groceries (and coasting downhill is far better to me than having to walk up one.)
I guess the upshot of all this is agreeing with most of the other folks--building up a bike almost always costs more than a pre-built (and perhaps inevitably more than what one intends), but you get what you want. I asked around about the Crosscheck complete (the pre-built one) and several people said the components were fine, but nothing too nice. So, as others have said, if cost is the prime consideration go with the stock build, but I think you could rapidly raise that cost by swapping out bars and drivetrain bits so that a custom build isn't that much more.
In general, I don't think you can go wrong with the Crosscheck as long as you accept it as a compromise bike--not as light or fast as a true road racer, shorter chainstays (my heels clip my panniers a bit) and higher BB than a dedicated tourer, but for an all-around bike at a reasonable price the Crosscheck seems great to me.
Thanks for the great info everyone. I spent the day Saturday testing out some cross bikes, no surly's (as they're tough to find on the floor). A couple of them had drop bars and they seemed comfortable and think I could be a drop bar convert on the cross check, so I think that I'm gonna go with the factory built since cost is a big consideration. So I'd only really need to change out for the triple ring and the gearing. As I was talking to some of the LBS I asked how much the factory built Cross Check would be and was amazed at how high the prices I was quoted. I got one for 1500.00, almost double what it is online. I have no problem paying more if I go through the LBS as there would be labor costs but that is crazy. I'm guessing that if it comes through the mail I'd have to do some assembly, is anyone familiar with how the factory builts are shipped?
Generally, put the front wheel on, attach your pedals and put the handlebars/stem on.
Allen keys and a pedal wrench does it.
Grease your pedal threads and check the brakes are set up, please.
If you are nervous then a half decent service based LBS will be happy to make a bit of money building it. This is not such a bad idea as most bikes are assembled in a production line manner so require a bit of tweaking. If they deal with tourers/tourists a lot then they usually have a set price for building (or boxing) bikes.
On the other hand, it is nice opportunity to get to know your bike by tuning it up yourself. Ride to your LBS when it is quiet, pay some 'tax' by buying an inner tube or some power bars etc and have a chat with the mechanic if you have any queries.
There are, I believe, two standard builds for the Crosscheck--the nicer one with 105 does go for around $1500, the lesser should be at or below $1000. Like I said, I built mine up with XT stuff and was well under the $1500 mark.
As to local shops, I can recommend two I've dealt with Harris Bikes in Newton, Mass and Alpha Bicycle in Denver. I just got my Surly from Alpha and was very pleased with their service.
ahhh Emerson, that could be it. The guy didn't mention the 105 group, but that was probably what he was refering to. The only issue bikiola, is that I blew out my knee 3 yrs ago and ever since have a hard time when I strain on inclines.