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Surly Cross Check - the end of an era.

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Surly Cross Check - the end of an era.

Old 10-03-23, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by seat_boy
New Albion Privateer, Black Mountain Cycle Monstercross, and....? What else has geared or single speed or fixed gear capability, and pretty good tire clearance, and useful braze ons? I love this type of bike, what else should I be looking for?
Handsome Cycles makes a model called the Devil that's pretty similar. You can get it as a frameset, or as a complete build with swept or drop bars, and all options are pretty cheap. I actually think it's a better choice than the CC, because the reach is a bit shorter and stack is a bit taller. I think the geometry is based on the Bridgestone XO-1, but it's meant for 700c wheels.

I've had one for a few years and love it. Every time I consider selling it, I talk myself out of it because it's just so solid and versatile.

Also, if I'm not mistaking you for someone else... I was a big fan of your blog (Bikes and Playgrounds). I'm still a little bummed you stopped writing, haha.
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Old 10-03-23, 04:04 PM
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I had a Handsome Devil (and a NAP Privateer, and a BMC Monstercross). Unfortunately, the biggest 60cm size of the Devil was too small for 6'3" me.

Yes, that's my blog. I had this image that I was still kinda sorta updating it, but (checks blog) the last update was in June '22, so yeah, pretty much dead. But thanks for the feedback! It's tough to write into the void.

Originally Posted by Primal Pete
Handsome Cycles makes a model called the Devil that's pretty similar. You can get it as a frameset, or as a complete build with swept or drop bars, and all options are pretty cheap. I actually think it's a better choice than the CC, because the reach is a bit shorter and stack is a bit taller. I think the geometry is based on the Bridgestone XO-1, but it's meant for 700c wheels.

I've had one for a few years and love it. Every time I consider selling it, I talk myself out of it because it's just so solid and versatile.

Also, if I'm not mistaking you for someone else... I was a big fan of your blog (Bikes and Playgrounds). I'm still a little bummed you stopped writing, haha.
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Old 10-04-23, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by seat_boy
I had a Handsome Devil (and a NAP Privateer, and a BMC Monstercross). Unfortunately, the biggest 60cm size of the Devil was too small for 6'3" me.

Yes, that's my blog. I had this image that I was still kinda sorta updating it, but (checks blog) the last update was in June '22, so yeah, pretty much dead. But thanks for the feedback! It's tough to write into the void.
Ah, I didn't realize the sizing topped out at 60cm. I guess being 5' 8" has it's advantages. The BMC Monstercross looks like an awesome bike.
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Old 10-05-23, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
The Surly Cross Check wasnt the first gravel frame and while it was a long lasting model in Surly's lineup, it was hardly some aspirational or highly coveted bike. It was a simple workhorse, no different from many similar steel blended function frames.
It was a bike that was clearly based on CX geometry from years ago.
- the bb drop was only like 65mm. what?
- the stack height was antiquated and required a lot of owners to run a goofy number of spacers, just like so many have to do with LHT/DT bikes.
- the reach was really quite long for the frame sizes and forced a lot of riders to either ride frames that was too small, which then forced a ton of spacers onto the steerer, or forced riders to use 35deg short length stems to offset the frame reach.

Its hardly surprising to see another rim brake frame killed off. At this point the highest level road group to still offer rim brake shifters is Tiagra.

If this means I see fewer CrossChecks with 80mm of spacers because people were suckered into buying an image rather than geometry that makes sense for them, I wont complain.
Why hate the bike if it does'nt suit the rider or his riding style?
BB drop is probably 72mm if you pull the wheel all the way back in dropouts.
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Old 10-05-23, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Jv_247
Why hate the bike if it does'nt suit the rider or his riding style?
BB drop is probably 72mm if you pull the wheel all the way back in dropouts.
As already stated, the design seemed to not fit a majority of riders without some significant creativity. That, to me, means the frame geometry is bad or too many people are hoodwinked and buying an image instead of the best product for their use.
I dont have love for the bike or frame because of this.

Of course the bike will properly fit some people. Everyone has different body measurements and the Cross Check would for sure fit some people well. But it sure seems to properly fit fewer people than how popular it was.
Thats my dislike- that it was so popular even though so many people had to make serious adjustments to fit the frame sizes.


I posted this on PL yesterday and it gives specifics to geometry-
66mm bb drop, 424mm reach, and 630mm of stack height on a 64cm frame? That's some wonky geometry, no other way to say it. What other bike, made for versatility, has less stack height than the seat tube? 665mm seat tube with only 630mm stack height?

It's no wonder why so many cross checks roll along with 60 to 80mm of spacers under the stem.
Same for smaller size - a 56cm frame doesn't even have 560mm of stack height, and it's 394mm of reach.
Surly has made its success on image rather than geometry that is modern and fits the majority of Surly owners(at least around me). People slow rolling on Truckers with 80mm of spacers and a 35deg rise 70mm stem doesnt scream 'good fit'. Cross Checks are similar around me.
Hey, maybe this really is just a local issue and people elsewhere properly fit super long low stack bikes.
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Old 10-06-23, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
But it sure seems to properly fit fewer people than how popular it was.
Thats my dislike- that it was so popular even though so many people had to make serious adjustments to fit the frame sizes.
I was one of those people. I loved everything about the bike except for its geo and fit, for how and where I ride. My lessons learned from riding the bike though are invaluable, as it led me to learn about finding the right geo for me (where and how I like to ride). Road and cx geo is absolutely not what I want from a gravel/atb bike. A version 2, with the same frame and fork, and price!, but more atb geo would have me interested.
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Old 10-06-23, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
As already stated, the design seemed to not fit a majority of riders without some significant creativity. That, to me, means the frame geometry is bad or too many people are hoodwinked and buying an image instead of the best product for their use.
I dont have love for the bike or frame because of this.

Of course the bike will properly fit some people. Everyone has different body measurements and the Cross Check would for sure fit some people well. But it sure seems to properly fit fewer people than how popular it was.
Thats my dislike- that it was so popular even though so many people had to make serious adjustments to fit the frame sizes.


I posted this on PL yesterday and it gives specifics to geometry-


Surly has made its success on image rather than geometry that is modern and fits the majority of Surly owners(at least around me). People slow rolling on Truckers with 80mm of spacers and a 35deg rise 70mm stem doesnt scream 'good fit'. Cross Checks are similar around me.
Hey, maybe this really is just a local issue and people elsewhere properly fit super long low stack bikes.
This has nothing to do with image....The reason why Surly Crosscheck and many other Surly products have been successful for so long is because they're versatile , practical, durable and can be build in many different configurations and people who buy them actually enjoy riding them....Nobody spends $ 1500 on a bike because they're trying to project a certain image....People who are serious about projecting a serious image purchase $ 10 000 - $ 15 000 bikes and not a $ 1500 bikes.
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Old 10-06-23, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
This has nothing to do with image....The reason why Surly Crosscheck and many other Surly products have been successful for so long is because they're versatile , practical, durable and can be build in many different configurations and people who buy them actually enjoy riding them....Nobody spends $ 1500 on a bike because they're trying to project a certain image....People who are serious about projecting a serious image purchase $ 10 000 - $ 15 000 bikes and not a $ 1500 bikes.
I didnt say the riders are trying to project a certain image. I said the brand made its success on image. Some consumers bought into that image because they liked it or identified with it. I have no idea if they were then also trying to project that image.
Regardless though, yeah of course people on a $1500 bike can try to project a certain image. Projection is no limited to the 1% most expensive bikes.

I will agree that in addition to image, Surly was successful because they came up with some good ideas that started trends in the industry. They then rode those trends for many years and largely stopped being an innovator.

We all project an image, whether intentional or not, because those around us are constantly observing and categorizing. Its basic human nature.
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Old 10-09-23, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
As already stated, the design seemed to not fit a majority of riders without some significant creativity. That, to me, means the frame geometry is bad or too many people are hoodwinked and buying an image instead of the best product for their use.
I dont have love for the bike or frame because of this.

Of course the bike will properly fit some people. Everyone has different body measurements and the Cross Check would for sure fit some people well. But it sure seems to properly fit fewer people than how popular it was.
Thats my dislike- that it was so popular even though so many people had to make serious adjustments to fit the frame sizes.


I posted this on PL yesterday and it gives specifics to geometry-


Surly has made its success on image rather than geometry that is modern and fits the majority of Surly owners(at least around me). People slow rolling on Truckers with 80mm of spacers and a 35deg rise 70mm stem doesnt scream 'good fit'. Cross Checks are similar around me.
Hey, maybe this really is just a local issue and people elsewhere properly fit super long low stack bikes.
I basically agree with your thoughts. I tried to use a 56cm and a 54cm. These had long top tubes and short headtubes. The 56 I tried to make it work but it felt too long, like 80's road bike long. The 54cm then felt too small, so ultimately I gave up trying to make these work. I know some people love these bike, fat tires being a big draw and probably did have an influence on where gravel bikes sprung, but they never really ever worked on the geometry, which I heard quite a few times why people moved on from them.

If you look up surly crosscheck picture groups, there is a lot of fitting adjustments going on to make them work, or at least tall headset spacer stacks.
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Old 10-30-23, 02:24 PM
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I think that alot of Surly CC riders understand the difference in measurement... but aside from being versatile, it is the ultimate gear bin bike. There has not been on e bike I have owned that can use almost any part... I have a SS wheelset for mine that is F/R disc 100/130 have a disc QR fork so it works rims are beast and rim brake ready. So if you are playing with parts of trying to utilize all of the gems you have once found the CC can def do it. toss fenders on thickem tires and those reverse dropouts may any on the fly fixes a breeze esp if you run a dingle dangle set up. Geo and all of that only matters so much yea yea yea say what you will. If your not chasing tour times just riding a bike is what its about and CC allows for so many modes in which a person can do. Surly has a sticker that says "**** it lets go ride bikes", it is hard enough to find parts vs having to go to a shop and only here them sell what they have. Crosschecks can do it all. 200 mile CX race single people do it 200 mile road race... people do that too and ride way faster than me or you can on what ever frame. its a beast a non conformist kinda vibe surrounds it. People say RIP CROSS CHECK when it really is RIP SURLY.
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Old 11-26-23, 03:59 AM
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I got a Cross Check frameset from Surly a couple of years ago because it was designed to use many of my favorite Old World components and in today's modern world it looked like these framesets would not be available for much longer. And sure enough, they are now out of production.

Its stack is notably low and its reach is fairly long, great for a drop bar aero riding position, yet as a commuter, occasional tourist and grocery shopper I ordinarily ride using flat bars while seated in a semi-upright position, but a Velo Orange Left Bank riser-type handlebar, a 60-mm stem, and a few 1 1/8-inch spacers corrected that situation.
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Old 11-27-23, 07:47 AM
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Just to be clear, Surlyís success was not due to image , but rather due to it being among the most (I would argue THE most) innovative bike companies in existence from the early 2000s through the early 2010s.

The first gen Karate Monkey - while not the first 29er or SS MTB - was responsible for many people first dipping their toes into both.

The Pugsley is why fat bikes are a thing.

The Moonlander is why 5Ē fat tires are a thing.

Krampus is why plus tires are a thing. And arguably a trendsetter in bike-packing design.

I donít think LHT defined a new category, but it was the rock solid affordable go-to for years for loaded touring at an affordable price.

Sure, a company will build a lot of cashe as a result, and I guess that is sort of like imageÖ and they have always maintained a specific brand vibe. But their success ultimate came from them being an extraordinarily innovative bike company.

But now the market is flooded with bikes that fill similar niches, and often for less money. And Surly has not really come out with anything groundbreaking for a good 10 years. So I do think it is somewhat riding on its previous reputation.
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Old 11-27-23, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
But their success ultimate came from them being an extraordinarily innovative bike company.
...
And Surly has not really come out with anything groundbreaking for a good 10 years.
Truer words were never typed.
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Old 11-28-23, 03:46 AM
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Don't want to be a hater but they just never appealed to me. They looked funny with the flat top tube and stack of headset spacers, and are heavy. I'll take a Bianchi Volpe over a Surly Cross Check any day.

I'll acknowledge their versatility, capability, and affordability, though. They're nice touring/commuting bikes for people who don't mind riding a heavy bike. And having less options in the market, albeit one I won't personally miss, is a bit of a bummer.
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Old 11-28-23, 04:33 AM
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One of Surly's innovations that may have been underappreciated at the time was that they provided a semi-mainstream alternative to the "lightness-is-everything" mantra, instead emphasizing comfort, versatility, and durability, qualities that were rarely so much as mentioned during the '80's and '90's (except for Grant Petersen's Rivendell niche, starting in the mid-1990's, of course).

The Surly frames being heavier also means that they probably have had fewer frame failures and thus fewer warranty claims than otherwise, which is good for the riders and good for Surly.

Last edited by Trakhak; 11-28-23 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 11-29-23, 03:25 PM
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Companies like Gunner, Milwaukee, Waterford made and still make whatever one desires to user’s specifications but at a higher price. I expect that such outfits are going to remain in business.
I test rode a Surly years ago but decided to get Waterford.
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Old 11-29-23, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Alan K
Companies like Gunner, Milwaukee, Waterford made and still make whatever one desires to userís specifications but at a higher price. I expect that such outfits are going to remain in business.
I test rode a Surly years ago but decided to get Waterford.
Sadly, Gunnar and Waterford is/are no more. RIP hound dog.
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Old 11-29-23, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk
Sadly, Gunnar and Waterford is/are no more. RIP hound dog.
That, indeed, is sad!
I havenít bought new bicycle in a long time - my wife extracted a promise from me a few years ago that since I have too many bikes, if I want to buy another one, two of the older ones must go. I like all them for one or the other reason, and tinkering with them is also fun! 😉
I used to know a couple of custom frame builders in Tennesse (mostly worked with Titanium) - should check if they are still around.
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Old 12-04-23, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
The Surly frames being heavier also means that they probably have had fewer frame failures and thus fewer warranty claims than otherwise, which is good for the riders and good for Surly.
While I wouldnít say Surly frames arenít durable, they do in fact break all the time and itís pretty easy to find broken Cross-Checks and Stragglers on the internet. No doubt the large production numbers make it easy to find examples of frame failures, so I wonít try and argue theyíre worse than average, I just donít know. But heavy != strong and thereís no real reason to think Surly frames are more survivable than anything else.
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Old 12-05-23, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby
While I wouldnít say Surly frames arenít durable, they do in fact break all the time and itís pretty easy to find broken Cross-Checks and Stragglers on the internet. No doubt the large production numbers make it easy to find examples of frame failures, so I wonít try and argue theyíre worse than average, I just donít know. But heavy != strong and thereís no real reason to think Surly frames are more survivable than anything else.
Yeah, they are heavy because they are (or used to be) cheap. I donít think they are any stronger than comparable, lighter steel frames from some more high end companies.

Yes, frames like the LHT are bombproof, but that should be a given for a loaded touring frame.
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