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What IS IT About The Surly Cross-Check?

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What IS IT About The Surly Cross-Check?

Old 10-24-14, 06:03 PM
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What IS IT About The Surly Cross-Check?

Forgive me for being a Danny Downer here, but I just want to know what I'm missing.

It seems that, on many different forums (this one in particular), people talk about the Surly Cross-Check as if everyone who rides a bicycle should know that it's the absolute be-all and end-all of bikes - and that everyone who rides for fun, work, or sport should aspire to owning one.

I'm not much of a "gear-head" in any aspect of my life, but I look at photos and spec sheets on this bike and it looks like a bazillion other bicycles out there. This doesn't mean that there isn't something special about it, but I'm just kind of frustrated that I can't see a difference right off the bat.

Can anybody tell me what makes a Surly Cross-Check something so many people are drooling over?
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Old 10-24-14, 07:33 PM
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You should try one.

I had two, one after the other. The first was too big; my mistake. I traded it for a better sized one. It's a nice, stable, predictable ride. It is versatile in that it accommodates all kinds of components to be put on it. But the ride is not remarkable, and the weight is too high for the price, in my view. I sold my second, and I trust the new owner is happy. There are lots of happy Cross Check owners. My utility bike is a Bianchi Volpe which is lighter and cheaper. I have 35mm tires on it, which is plenty wide for me.
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Old 10-24-14, 07:49 PM
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Tom nailed it. The Cross-check is a basic but versatile bike/frame that has wide distribution (Surly is a QBP brand), which led to the name becoming recognizable, and then relatively popular even though it's basic.
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Old 10-24-14, 07:49 PM
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Probably the Surly's no. 1 feature is that it's not a Trek, Specialized, Giant or other major line bike. Also consider the market, many of the newer urban shops owned or staffed by the "cool" folks, cannot get major lines so emphasize, 2nd tier (in brand recognition) or niche brands like Surly, so they immediately have cachet with the cool crowd.

There are many similarities the bike world and the fashion world. Things assume a cool factor within a circle, and ride that for a while until the next cool thing. The bike companies are a bit handicapped here because of the Yogi Berra factor. Nobody buys the most successful bikes because they're not cool anymore.

This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with Surlys, but like you I don't see anything special either.
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Old 10-24-14, 07:59 PM
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It's one of the most versatile new bikes you can buy. We sell quite a few of them at our shop, and versatility is probably the most important selling point. Honestly, I like the bike because it's one of those models that pretty much sells itself...... Want to try cyclocross without breaking the bank? Want to set it up as a singlespeed (the bike has old school semi-horizontal dropouts)? Want to put oversized cyclocross tires (up to about 42mm wide) on it and ride it on the roughest dirt roads, or even selected mountain bike trails? Want to install some 28mm road tires (or narrower for that matter) and use it as a laid back, comfortable road bike? Want to do some loaded touring? Want a bike that works great as a commuter, with all the braze-ons you need? 132.5mm rear dropout spacing allows the use of 130mm and 135mm hubs without issue. Want a relatively inexpensive, new frameset with a quality finish that you can build up in any number of ways? Want a complete bike that comes with practical and okay stuff on it, gives you all sorts of options for changes, and has come in all sorts of interesting colors over the years (and likely is available at any given time in at least a couple of different colors)?

That's the Cross Check. Jack of all trades, master of nothing. Very attractive to a wide variety of people, but definitely not for everyone. I've not owned one myself, but I do like the Cross Check.
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Old 10-24-14, 08:25 PM
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I test rode the Cross Check and would echo the comments above. It's a really solid bike, competitively priced, versatile, and has cachet due to the Surly name. It's maybe slightly on the heavy side, but then again, that helps it be touring and off-road capable. It is widely available, so why not find a local dealer and check it out? Sounds like it's more a curiosity thing with you, and you're not in the market for one, but it's always fun to go "kick the tires."

The Motobecane Fantom CXX was clearly designed to compete with the Cross Check, but I think it's a better bike at 2/3rds the cost. I test-road the Cross Check and liked it, but decided to take a chance on the Fantom CXX, and that was the right choice for me: Save up to 60% off new Cyclocross Road Bikes - Motobecane Fantom CX Clearance
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Old 10-24-14, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by well biked View Post
It's one of the most versatile new bikes you can buy.
And that's what convinced me to purchase one, it's versatility. It's a good, tough bike and offers a fair amount of flexibility in how you set it up.
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Old 10-24-14, 09:26 PM
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I got one last December, it was my first real bike purchase since dropping $450 on my Trek 820 in 1994 in middle school. I got it because I want a bike that was versatile enough to be both a good recreational and event bike, and well as a touring bike. Yes, it's heavy. I've been trying to take off weight where I can. But I've done some light trails on it, and I've recently just swapped out the 32s that came on it for some slicker 28s. It rides quite nicely. I love the simplicity of the bar end shifters though sometimes wish I had brifters. I've swapped the handlebars and stem to suit me more as well.

Personally I love the classic road bike style it has. Level top tube, narrow tubed frame, clean lines. That was also a factor in my purchase. Would I also love an n+1 carbon bike for t-shirt rides and other events? Yes, and I probably will have one eventually. But for now the Cross-Check is a great highly customizable do everything bike. I'll probably get some 34s soon for touring and for some trail riding.

Oh I also love that Surly's color schemes are simple and clean. It doesn't look like a rolling billboard with whacky blending of color lines or whatever.

I think its it's a great starter bike for people looking ride in many different styles or situations. It's reliable and comes with decent components to start with.
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Old 10-24-14, 09:31 PM
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I own a Soma doublecross which is a pretty similar bike. The tubing set is I think a little nice (prestige main tubes) than the surly cross-check. It's the most versatile bike I own. I run it with good quality 700 x 32 c tire and as a triple. The bike is comfortable for all day riding over almost any type of terrain. It is simply a solid high quality bike.
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Old 10-24-14, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Forgive me for being a Danny Downer here, but I just want to know what I'm missing...
CrossCheck is so 2013. It's all about the Straggler now.

Actually, kidding. Most have moved on to All-City (another QBP brand). Salsa is popular too. It's the fact that just about any bike shop can order a QBP bike, they are good bang for the buck, and they fulfill a market need (commuter oriented, instead of race oriented).
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Old 10-24-14, 10:04 PM
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I will say that if I could have afforded an All-City Space Horse it is what would be sitting in the other room right now instead of the Cross-Check. They are gorgeous to look at. Just couldn't rock the $1800 price tag.
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Old 10-24-14, 10:05 PM
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How much heavier? An amusing note about weight, I was once looking into a particular bike that had caught my eye. The maker's FAQ says that they don't publish weights. Then I googled reviews of the bike, and they all consistently commented on how heavy it was.

What are you supposed to do, bring a scale to the bike shop? Or is it yet another thing that's supposed to be subjective?
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Old 10-24-14, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by the sci guy View Post
I will say that if I could have afforded an All-City Space Horse it is what would be sitting in the other room right now instead of the Cross-Check. They are gorgeous to look at. Just couldn't rock the $1800 price tag.
Complete bike price, MSRP, for the Space Horse, is $1499. The X Check complete, MSRP, is $1250. Framesets are $599 and $480 respectively. FWIW.
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Old 10-24-14, 10:29 PM
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Hmm you're probably right. It's been a while since I saw them at the shop. I guess it's not too much more, but we were also buying my wife a bike at the same time so, every little bit mattered.
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Old 10-24-14, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I own a Soma doublecross which is a pretty similar bike. The tubing set is I think a little nice (prestige main tubes) than the surly cross-check. It's the most versatile bike I own. I run it with good quality 700 x 32 c tire and as a triple. The bike is comfortable for all day riding over almost any type of terrain. It is simply a solid high quality bike.
Have the same bike. Its the best bike I've ever owned. It can be a rigid mtb, a roadie, a commuter, a tourer, a cx bike, or any combination. It really makes one bike only doable. I also hate being a rolling billboard and the Soma does a fine job of looking good, but a single color with very subdued markings.

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Old 10-25-14, 02:52 AM
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I didn't see this already but Surly is probably the largest brand pushing steel frames. Trek does their 520 and so on but it's pretty much an afterthought for the bigger retailers. There are certainly other manufacturers that do steel (All City, Jamis, etc) but they at least seem smaller to me. Not as big where I live for sure. Maybe Kona is an exception for a bigger brand that tries hard with steel, but they're also pretty dang popular. Anyway, the Cross Czech is a grumpy fellow that meets a lot of comfort, stability, aesthetic and utility needs that bigger brands don't even bother to attempt. Plenty of other bikes do the same thing but mostly from even lesser brands. Top that off with Surly's strong marketing department and you've got a dime a dozen bike.
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Old 10-25-14, 06:07 AM
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I have to agree with the folks who point at the CC's versatility. I ride it's rough equivalent in the Handsome Cycles Devil. The Devil has a bit livelier front-end geometry, a bit lower bottom bracket and long chainstays but it's a capable and fun frameset that can be used as a commuter, road bike, cyclocross, light tourer, etc. I think the only thing it gives up to the Cross Check is a few mm in tire clearance. It's rated at 47mm but I've seem Cross Checks with tires I'm certain wouldn't fit on my Devil (Big Apples).

This is generally how I run the bike. Currently sports 32mm Vittoria Hypers but sometimes has 40mm Schwalbe Marathons on it. It's a great all-rounder....like the Cross Check.

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Old 10-25-14, 10:26 AM
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For me Surly is one of those things where I kind of like the company more than the bike, but would possibly consider the bikes just because of the company... if that makes sense.

My Giant TCX cost less, is lighter, rides better (depending on circumstances), and is better equipped, IMO. None of that makes the cross check anywhere near a bad bike though. The thing about Giant, Trek, Specialized... they're kind of in the market of "OMG this year we did THIS NEW THING WHICH RENDERS EVERYTHING ELSE OBSOLETE!!!" which every once in awhile brings something pretty cool to the table, if not quite revolutionary, but it gets kinda stale. Surly is more about, "Bikes were pretty much perfected a long time ago, here's that old formula for a great bike, with some thoughtful little twists." Being that they're not a giant of the industry, they can't discount their bikes as much as the big three, even though they're all made in the same factories, so the price isn't usually too competitive unfortunately.
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Old 10-25-14, 10:33 AM
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I tried the built model and didn't find it fit to my liking at the time. I can understand the marketing appeal, though. A size larger set up flatbar might be great.
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Old 10-25-14, 10:44 AM
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Mainstream brands pimp alu and carbon. QBP found a steel niche and exploited it well with it's "racing sucks" bike-fashion campaign (Riv without lugs). Personally, I will never purchase another metal bike again...but to each their own.
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Old 10-25-14, 11:27 AM
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I won't buy another steel bike either - probably because this CC will last forever. But my next road bike will be carbon. And i'm assuming the MTB i get will be aluminum.
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Old 10-25-14, 12:05 PM
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It seems the major bike bike co's were behind the times at serving a segment of the market. Now sure it's all the rage. But at the time the cross check came out did the big boys have something roadish that could handle a little mixed terrain, had rack/fender eyelets, wider tires, more comfortable/upright position and was reasonably priced?

Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Probably the Surly's no. 1 feature is that it's not a Trek, Specialized, Giant or other major line bike. Also consider the market, many of the newer urban shops owned or staffed by the "cool" folks, cannot get major lines so emphasize, 2nd tier (in brand recognition) or niche brands like Surly, so they immediately have cachet with the cool crowd.

There are many similarities the bike world and the fashion world. Things assume a cool factor within a circle, and ride that for a while until the next cool thing. The bike companies are a bit handicapped here because of the Yogi Berra factor. Nobody buys the most successful bikes because they're not cool anymore.

This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with Surlys, but like you I don't see anything special either.

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Old 10-25-14, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
Mainstream brands pimp alu and carbon. QBP found a steel niche and exploited it well with it's "racing sucks" bike-fashion campaign (Riv without lugs). Personally, I will never purchase another metal bike again...but to each their own.
Pretty much, just 180° as I have absolutely no reason to spend 2-3x as much on a carbon frame. *shrugs* Then again, I'd rather have half a dozen steel bikes than a couple carbon bikes (that's my budget). Even if I wanted a race bike, I'd buy a CAAD or something, so metal for me.

I don't know, I might pick up a carbon bike on discount some year, like a Wilier or Focus online or something. Not in any hurry though. Even then, I'd only do it for the sake of having something different to ride once in a while.
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Old 10-25-14, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ricebowl View Post
It seems the major bike bike co's were behind the times at serving a segment of the market. Now sure it's all the rage. But at the time the cross check came out did the big boys have something roadish that could handle a little mixed terrain, had rack/fender eyelets, wider tires, more comfortable/upright position and was reasonably priced?
Yes, but not with drop bars. Such bikes seemed to be killed off by the MTB fad.
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Old 10-25-14, 12:30 PM
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All of that is very well put, @AlTheKiller! The concept is great. It's just not for me. My first built had very light wheels, and I liked that. The second one had heavy wheels and mustache handlebars, so it wasn't a good test, but still, there wasn't a good reason for me to keep it, as I have too many bikes, all lighter. But yes, they took what's good of the old stuff, kept it, and added the new stuff, such as canti bosses, room for fat tires. Well done. The colors are too drab, though. I realize it's part of the image, but I see Surly are now looking for women to do free product tests. No wonder they can't get women to buy their stuff. The colors are pretty dumb.
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