Surly Cross-Check Advice

catbaier Posts: 123
edited December 2013 in Road buying advice

I'm having a minor dilemma. I recently tried a new Surly Cross Check from my LBS, and having ridden it around and really enjoyed it, ordered one. I've been riding it for about a month, and I'm not really getting into it as much as I'd hoped.

The problems stem from geometry primarily. I have been using the bike for my 13mile (each way commute), the first couple of miles with my toddler on a seat on the back. After dropping him (and the seat) at pre-school I'm free to hammer it into the office. However my issues are that with the relatively high and flat top tube, it's a massive ball-ache getting my leg over the cross bar when my son is in the seat. To the point where it sometimes feels like we're both going to go over (it's fine once I'm on, and I never had the problem with my old CdF), the other is that the front end is very low and very long. I know I can add spacers (I have) and shorten and lift the stem (done that too) but the geometry still feels all wrong somehow. Especially with the weight of a kid on the back. I'm used to longish low bikes (I have a C'Dale Caad7 Optimo in the same size), so I don't think it's lack of experience. I just think the geometry is aimed towards cyclocross rather than commuting (yeah, it's in the name), far more than I first thought.

To be honest I'm thinking of cutting my loses and getting something else. Any advice on a suitable alternative? I'm aiming in the C2W sort of region.


  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Sounds like someone sold you a too-big bike? Fatter tyres and higher BB can result in a higher ride-height, hence the standover problem. However, longer reach is simply a case of the frame maybe being too big.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • catbaier
    catbaier Posts: 123
    Possibly. It's a 56cm and that's what I've always ridden. And I think if I were to ride it just as a road/cross bike then I'd be okay. But as a commuter with a kid on the back, it's too high, too twitchy, the gears are in the wrong place for a quick change in traffic, the brakes get snagged on the child seat, the standover is tricky, the spec seems poor for the price (still pushing out 9spd at that price with no brifters to bump up the price, the money can't be on the frame alone?), the seatpost is utter crap and it's heavy (I'm used to riding steel, but this thing is a monster).

    On the plus side, it looks lovely and... urm... I've already paid for it.

    I fear I may have to chalk this one down to experience and move on. It'll be listed soon!

    In the mean time. What other options do I have? I'm quite tempted to just get a very fast flat bar bike (like a Whyte portobello). My commute is so stop-start there's little chance to settle into the kind of fast rhythm that is so rewarding on a pure road bike.
  • woolwich
    woolwich Posts: 298
    The Cross Checks geometry is reasonably relaxed, depending on the size of tyres fitted the Trail figure is low to mid 60's. This is more in line with touring bikes than CX or racing. CX courses often have a high amount of tight hairpins, a cross check would need a bit of manhandling to get round, although it would manage it.
    I think the twitchy feeling you are experiencing is more a weight distribution issue. Out of interest does the child seat mount to the bosses above the dropouts? Is the axle somewhat forward in the slotted dropouts? Meaning the weight is acting behind the wheelbase of the bike? Maybe this is making the front end light and could be easily improved.
    Sorry I'm inclined to agree with Monty that you got a size too big. I sympathise, commuting with no standover height is no fun. Again as suggested a lower profile tyre could help massively.
    Sorry your not enjoying it. Pity as its a very capable frameset.
    Mud to Mudguards. The Art of framebuilding.