I realize this has been discussed and I have done a search, but most of those threads were before the crosscheck had mid-fork eyelets. Now things have changed.
I'm considering a pre-built Crosscheck over an LHT because this will also be a commuting/fast road riding bike for me. The new one has mid-fork eyelets for a front rack so I can load up the back and front. Do you who are more experienced than I think a crosscheck is up to hauling a self-contained touring load with it's lighter tubing and 32 spoke wheels? I'm 160 pounds. The C&O canal is a combination of dirt and well-maintained trail.
1995 Kestrel 4000; 2013 True North Touring; 1989 Miele Tivoli; 1979 Colnago Sport
I rode a fully loaded Cross Check 7600km from Shanghai to Singapore last year. Some of the roads I had to take were truly horrendous, by far the worst I've seen in my life. I'd built my 36 spoke rear 32 spoke front wheelset myself with a tensionmeter. Two weeks into the tour I destroyed the front in a massive crash and had a handbuilt replacement parceled in from a shop in Shanghai. Both my original rear wheel and new front wheel were fine for the remainder of the trip.
The frame is definitely fine for touring. 32 spoked wheels are fine for loaded touring, but like all other wheels need to be built well. I assume the wheels on the pre-built Cross Check are machine built. You'll need to rebuild them by hand. This involves detensioning all the spokes, bending the head-in spokes inwards at the head, bringing the spokes up to partial tension, bending crossed spokes against eachother at the cross, and finishing the build with consistent and high tension in the 120kgf range, plus final stress relieving. If this is too much for you, you need to atleast stress relieve the wheels by squeezing adjacent spokes together hard, and then retruing.
November, Trek OCLV, Bianchi Castro Valley commuter
Have done two C&O trips with Boy Scouts on a cross-style bike (Bianchi Castro Valley, frame is similar to Volpe). With front & rear panniers and a handlebar bag on one (self supported group trip) and rack trunk and HB bag (vehicles carrying gear for overnights). Bike held up fine. On the 1st trip, almost every bolt that could shake loose, did (including a really important one that was holding one of the rear rack stays!) so carry spare bolts/nuts, check tightness daily, and consider using some of the less grippy (blue?) lock-tite. This bike is also my year-round commuter, and will accomodate 35mm studded tires with full fenders (Planet Bike). So it should work well. Only potential issue with a 'cross frame vs a touring frame are the short chainstays - panniers may far enough forward to result in heel strikes. Mounting the rear rack as far back as you can, panniers as far aft as possible, and use smaller panniers (C&O is not an expedition-class trip) should take care of things.
My wheels are 32-spoke machine jobs (Mavic Open Pro/Ultegra hubs) held up fine, although I usually get them re-trued annually anyway (that commuting stuff). But I am also a smaller rider (150# at the time) and some "help" (aka getting rid of the unecessary junk I was going to bring) from the 1st trip's leader kept my load down. [Ironically, the same trip leader (a big guy) broke spokes on his MTB that trip.]
Sounds good guys, thanks for the input! I'll bring extra spokes. I don't think we'll be carrying particularly heavy loads (when I said "self contained," I meant two people self contained). We're touring for the first time, but I think we'll keep it light. No laptops. I'll go down to the shop today and place an order for my 60cm blue crosscheck! Woohoo!
I've got a Cross-Check, consider low riders/front panniers and no rear panniers with gear on rear rack. The CC doesn't have short chainstays, the 16.7"/425mm measurement is from the bb. to the FRONT of the dropouts. If you slide the wheel further back you've got the equivalent of 17.5"/445mm chainstays. The issue I found was for rear loads only the front end developed a shimmy.