The manufacturer bills the Surly Crosscheck as a cyclocross bike, but it goes beyond that definition in several features in its geometry and specs. It’s versatile for users who want to have a say in all component choices while striking an excellent balance between comfort and performance. We’ll compare it to other models in the line as well as comparable rides from different manufacturers.
What is the Surly Crosscheck Designed to Do?
The Surly Crosscheck as a cyclocross bike is made to serve as an all-around bike which hovers the landscape between a touring and road model. It’s suitable for bike touring and commuting with specs that make it pannier-friendly. It can handle a variety of surfaces and pavement conditions which adds to its value for a mid-range road steed.
Who is the Surly Crosscheck Good For?
The Surly Crosscheck will please a wide range of cyclist from the weekday commuter to the weekend warrior. It’s an excellent choice for the serious rider who want to customize their ride to their needs whether it’s in the gears or the chainring clearance—and everything in between. It accommodates a variety of components in various sizes, making it the ultimate choice for the user who wants to trick out their ride.
The Surly Crosscheck uses a Surly 4130 CroMoly steel frame with a double-butted main triangle and a Surly Cross-Check, 4130 CroMoly fork.
It has semi-horizontal dropouts so that you can customize it as a single speed ride, or you can fit it with cantilever or linear-pull brakes, making it truly a jack-of-all-trades or dare we say, Swiss Army Knife of bikes.
The Surly Crosscheck has a Shimano CX50, 36/46t 10-speed, double crankset and a Shimano CS-HG50-10, 11-32, 10-speed cassette. It uses Tektro M730 V-Brakes and Microshift BS-M10, bar-end shifters.
While they are lower-end, they provide decent stopping power at a reasonable cost to the build and fit in well aesthetically with the Mule Mug-colored frame.
"I do love this bike so far. The only downfall like I said was it's heavy, but it's sturdy." - Matt Vallejo
“This is the Surly Cross-Check, one of the most versatile bikes around with tried and tested geometry and a great spec list.” - Damian Harris Cycles
How Does Surly Crosscheck Compare to Other Bikes from Surly?
If you can say one thing about Surly, it’s that it has a unique take on building its brand with brusque language on its website and some of the most imaginative model names in the industry. By their own admission, there is a lot of crossover between the different bikes which is reflected in some different geometry. Let’s see how the Crosscheck fits in with its line.
There is a lot of variation in these measurements which reflects the versatility of the manufacturer’s definition of a cyclocross bike. The Long Haul Tracker makes aerodynamics the goal, whereas the Crosscheck at 538.4mm favors comfort. For the reach, the Ogre tops the list at 410.5mm for greater stability to compensate for the loss of speed, while the Crosscheck seeks a common ground at 394.8mm.
The different takes on the design of a cyclocross bike from Surly are evident in the wheelbase length. There are the stability and comfort of the Ogre and the Long Haul Trucker versus the nimble rides of the Steamroller and Pacer. The Crosscheck comes in at 1014.3mm which falls in line with what we’d expect from a typical model of this type in the Goldilocks role.
It works well for pannier commuting while the pacer does better with lighter loads and the Long Haul Trucker the ride of choice for the cross-country tours with more gear on board or for longer rides.
The differences in the chainstays again speak to Surly’s broad definition of a cyclocross bike with the Long Haul Trucker coming in as the most user-friendly for pannier commuters. The Crosscheck holds the middle ground at 425mm which will still give you plenty of heel clearance to make your ride more enjoyable. The difference between the extremes lies with the weight of the load you typically have onboard.
Surly’s line of pavement bikes varies widely in price which is a reflection of the different component and material choices. The Crosscheck falls on the lower end of the spectrum which is evident in its choice of a steel frame. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story since other models also use this same material, leaving components as the deciding factor in performance, weight, and maneuverability.
The manufacturer often strays from the typical manufacturers of components such as Shimano and SRAM, though they do appear frequently. Some models such as the Pacer fall back on the tried-and-true choices like the Shimano 105 FC-5750, 34/50t crankset. They tend to fall back on their own brand of tires with a few exceptions like the Long Haul Trucker with the Continental brand.
How Does Surly Crosscheck Compare to Similar Bikes on the Market?
The classification of cyclocross bikes leaves a lot of wiggle room with the geometry as each one tries to toe the line between comfort, speed, and maneuverability in different ways. Surly recognizes the variations with several options. Let’s look at how other manufacturers get creative and deal with that same issue
The Diamondback Haanjo Comp comes in at the highest stack height which gives it a nod when it comes to aerodynamics. The Crosscheck is on the opposite end of the scale at 538.4mm, opting for comfort instead which makes sense given the bike’s purpose. For reach, it takes the other extreme, choosing stability over maneuverability at 394.8mm.
What we find is that all of the bikes, including the Crosscheck at 425mm, are comparable in measure. It falls right in the middle with what we would expect in a cyclocross bike to give plenty of clearance for panniers which will also appeal to cyclists who commute or tour and adds to its versatility.
The wheelbase for our picks gives the necessary comfort and stability for this type of ride. The Crosscheck is no exception at 1014.3mm. It comes at a price of maneuverability when you ride at slower speeds. The only outlier is the Diamondback Haanjo Comp which approaches a length closer to a touring bike which reflects its emphasis on comfort even if there is an impact on the liveliness of the ride.
Head Tube Length
The head tube length probably matters most in terms of comfort since it affects the upright profile of the rider. A shorter length will favor a more aerodynamic ride which is obvious with the 10.2cm height of the Crosscheck. The Haanjo Comp takes the opposite approach for comfort with its taller length.
The Crosscheck is the only bike in our round-up with a steel frame whereas the others have opted for aluminum often with carbon forks to improve vibration dampening. The other bikes favor disc brakes in contrast to the V-brakes of the Crosscheck which has the extra burden of cutting down on its weight. The Crockett uses mechanical disc brakes to minimize the disadvantage of maintenance and setup that comes with hydraulic versions.