Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Surly Cross Check: a Colourful Build

Two months ago, the Co-Habitant got a Surly Cross Check frame that he wanted to build up as a fun on/off road bike around a touring wheelset with fat tires that we already had in our possession. He is getting a nice roadbike later this summer (waiting for the frame to be finished!), and the Surly was meant to be "the other bike" - a playful, go-anywhere bike built around an inexpensive frame, mostly using components we already had. He swiftly put the bike together and has now cycled about 500 miles on it. The Cross Check is technically a cyclocross frame, but it is versatile and can also be used for touring and commuting. Given its unusual build, we've had many questions about this bike and so I offer a review on the Co-Habitant's behalf.

The most noteworthy aspect of the build, is that we were able to fit the frame with Schwalbe Fat Frank tires and metal fenders. This looks great, and the tires feel awesome, but to tell the truth the whole thing was a pain. The Cross Check is described as being able to fit tires up to 45mm with fenders, but the Fat Franks are 50mm. It was a tight fit that required some DIY. Initially we wanted to use Berthoud steel fenders, which are available in 700Cx60mm, but the Co-Habitant was not impressed with their quality upon seeing them in person. He also dislikes plastic fenders and did not want to use SKS. In the end he decided to get the Velo Orange Zeppelin 700c x 52mm fenders (which are rated for 42mm tire), and "massage" them to fit.

Out of the box, the fenders were too tight: The edges touched the sides of the tires and there was not enough space under the brake bridge and behind the seat tube to mount them high. So, the fenders had to be opened up. But when you open up a fender that's 52mm, it no longer follows the line of a 700C tire, instead making the opening much smaller. So while opening the fender, it had to also be stretched out -  taking care not to crimp the edges. To do this, he used a flat low table holding the fender upside down against its surface and pressing down gently, rolling it end to end - opening and pressing down. Pressing down would close the fender and opening it would alter the curvature, so the back and forth balanced out the opposing forces.

For the front fender there was sufficient clearance underneath the fork crown, but in the rear there was less clearance - the brake bridge is quite low and the chainstays are short. He had to dent the top of the rear fender (which isn't visible) in order to get it closer to the brake bridge, then fabricate a custom circular-L-bracket to hold the fender in place, screwed into the eyelet of the brake bridge. To dent the fender, he placed it on some clothing on the top edge of the back of a chair, then hit it with a rubberized end of a pedal wrench, creating a grooved dimple. He also had to dent the ends so that they wouldn't pinch near the bottom bracket. It was a bit of an ordeal, and if you are going to attempt this beware that it is easy to ruin the fender - it may not be a risk worth taking.

Happily, the "massaging" was a success and the Cross-Check looks great with the fat cream tires and the VO Zeppelin fenders. The ride is fast and cushy, and the Co-Habitant is discovering just how addictive wide tires are. On the downside, the clearances between the tires and fenders are so tight, that the set-up is not really practical for serious off-road cycling: stuff can get caught in there and cause problems. But for fire trails and gravel paths it is fine, and if he decides to do anything more serious (like the D2R2!), he will remove the fenders.

The rest of the build for this bicycle has mostly already been described here, but a few changes have been made since then. The original shortish stem has been replaced with a 9cm stem, flipped upside down. The original yellow cloth tape got filthy and tattered fairly quickly, so we replaced it with Fizik tape. Initially, the cloth tape was supposed to be shellacked to a warm caramel - but the bright yellow looked so "right" on this bike, that it began to seem like an inherent part of its personality and he decided to keep it that way. He also added a frame pump, lamenting the lack of pump peg and using a strap to hold it in place.

After two years in a lukewarm relationship with his Brooks Flyer saddle, he decided to sell it and replace it with a Berthoud touring saddle - the male version of the one I now have on my Rivendell. So far he loves it.

He fitted the bike with the Carradice bag that used to be on his old bike.

It now has a patch on it, to cover the tear that happened as a result of the bag rubbing over the brake cable on his old bike.

He affixed a CatEye headlight to a braze-on on the front fork, and a Spanninga Pixeo tail light to the rear fender.

He tried to liberate himself from clipless pedals and rode the bike with touring pedals for a few weeks, but ultimately could not take it anymore and put his old clipless pedals back on. Fair enough, but this does limit the versatility he originally had in mind for the bike.

After riding the Surly Cross Check for two months, his main feedback is that the bike is faster than he expected - even with the wide tires and a bunch of weight in the saddlebag. While initially he intended to use the Cross Check in conjunction with his old Motobecane until he got his new roadbike, the Motobecane was retired as soon as he started riding the Surly - no need for it, since the Cross Check did everything it could do and more. He does not find the bike sluggish, and it seems that the tubing is just right for someone of his stature (6ft/ 200lb+). Overall, he is pretty happy. Though he likes lugs, he also likes a nicely done TIG-welded frame and the Surly suits him just fine.

My take on his Cross Check... I think it is a well-made, attractive frame for the price and I am glad that he finds it comfortable and fast. To be honest, I think that at least to some extent this build was not so much about practicality, as about doing a fun and challenging project using a bunch of components that we had acquired but had no use for. If the original purpose of the bike was off-road, then the tire+fender combo with such tight clearances does not really make sense. I have a feeling that he will end up using it mainly on the road, because I can't imagine him bothering to remove and reinstall the fenders every time he wants to take it on serious trails. And this means that when he gets his long-awaited road frame later this summer, the functionalities of the two bikes will overlap considerably. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But given how much he likes the Surly I am almost worried that he might be disappointed with the special bike he's waiting for. Well, hopefully not.

On a more general note, while the Cross Check is clearly versatile enough for commuting and touring, I wonder whether many cyclists actually use it for cyclocross racing. I have a hard time imagining that, given how relatively heavy it is - even the floor models with narrower tires and sportier components. But maybe I'm just biased from having handled too many lightweight bikes recently.

The Surly Cross Check is a fun bike with a cult following, and it is particularly impressive how customisable the frame is. With its happy colours, fat cream tires, elegant fenders and classic touring accessories, the Co-habitant's Cross Check is distinctly his own.

50 comments:

  1. I think the reason the Fat Frank will still fit under a fender on the Cross Check despite the fact that it's a "50mm" tire is that it's not actually 50mm wide. Fat Franks are basically the exact same tires as Big Apples, with just a different tread slapped on, according to Schwalbe's description. If you look at Rivendell's Big Apple description, they have a picture of a caliper wrapped around one, reading something like 46mm, if I remember correctly.

    I love my Cross Check, and I love the Big Apples I've stuffed in it, but I don't think my balls are brassy enough to try and sandwich a fender in there. I already have to deflate the rear tire to get the wheel in and out. Pretty minor inconvenience considering the fast rolling, durability and stupid-cush ride of the Big Apples.

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  2. Interesting! I have seen both Fat Franks and Big Apples in 700C desribed as either 48mm or 50mm, or possibly even 52mm. never 46mm. I'll have to find that Riv picture.

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  3. Being an LHT owner, it's lovely to see the humble Surly on your site. Exalted company indeed! I use my LHT for commuting as well as touring and transporting loads. The cross-check is more versatile, so I'm sure a lovely relationship will develop.

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  4. More detailed specs:

    bars: Nitto Noodles 44cm wrapped with Fizik
    levers: Shimano r400
    shifters: Shimano 8-speed (in indexed mode)
    cables: VO steel braided
    brakes: VO Grand Cru mk2 canti w/ KoolStop replacement pads
    headset: VO Grand Cru polished
    stem: VO 90mm flipped to -17*
    stack: brake hanger, 3 x 10mm spacers, 1 drilled/tapped, Crane bell
    BB: Shimano UN54 x 110mm
    cranks: Sugino Alpina 170mm 48/34
    cassette: Shimano 13/15/17/19/21/23/28/34 (customized)
    FD: IRD CD
    RD: Shimano XT Shadow
    chain: SRAM nickel-plated
    hubs: Shimano LX
    wheels: by Rich Lesnik (Hands on Wheels) LX 36-h hubs, DT st. d/b
    spokes, Synergy (rear asym.) rims
    tires: Schwalbe Fat Frank 700c x 50mm
    fenders: VO Zeppelin 700c x 52mm (opened & reshaped to fit)
    seat: American Classic Equipment 27.2 post, Berthoud saddle
    pedals: Shimano M520

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  5. I used to work in a shop and sold hundreds of bicycles now I work at a famous local bicycle fabricator and I have to say Surly's are the best and most versitile bikes you can get that are not custom frames. They make the best commuters and winter bikes.

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  6. One solution to the pedal issue would be the Wellgo pedals I found for my bike. SPD on one side, platform on the other. It lets me ride to work in my sneakers, a trip that includes some stairs and a ferry ride, while still letting me hammer up the hills in my cycling shoes after work and on weekends. Shimano also makes the same kind of pedal, I think. Love the idea of the wide tires and road frame. When I can finally afford my custom frame, that's the route I'll go.

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  7. smoke & Veloria, don't Fat Franks have better sidewall protection than the Big Apples? The Schwalbe self-rating system indicates a big difference there. Also, there's a 40 gram weight difference between the two at 29x2.00.

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  8. When I went cross racing, I didn't see any Surleys. Ridley seemed to make the frames. The Co-Habitant might want to consider the pedals I have on my cross bike (or one of a number of similar ones). One side of each pedal is platform and the othe has SPD attachment. I've blogged about them under keyword pedals.

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  9. I recently acquired a Surly Pacer. I absolutely love the bike and the 700x28c Continental tires. The bike is tough but smooth and faster with 28c tires than the 32s I put on my Raleigh. I use Sylvan touring pedals with toe clips. The Surly handlebar stem is a bit long. I'm changing it to a shorter 70mm Civia stem. My local bike tech says it should improve steering.

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  10. I have a Surly Cross Check that I purchased a few years back (before my current fixation with vintage Raleighs). I have put a couple thousand
    on this bike, mostly commuting, with some minor trail riding tossed in for fun. I have to admit that between all the other steel horses I have, I always come back to this bike!

    I have mine outfitted with Schwalbe Delta Cruisers and some no-name fenders. I lust after the Honjo-like fenders, but haven't rallied the money for them yet. I stripped the stock tires off the day I got it. They were a bastard cross between road and mountain bike tires that I found frankly dangerous in either condition. A Brooks B-17 and a Carradice Barley round it out. My bike is dark green and I consider it my "rainy day" bike, which means (here in Seattle) it's my EVERYDAY
    bike...

    I'm not sure how to describe the ride, but supremely comfortable and spry come close. Many of my old steel frames feel sluggish in
    comparison. Many of my purely road frames feel harsh on my old bones. The Surly + Delta Cruisers + B-17 = Just right. Yet, this bike rolls fast. I routinely find during rides with friends (even "friends" that ride carbon fiber monstrosities - you know who you are!) I find myself on some downhills out rolling them while they pedal to keep up. There is something very gratifying in that.

    Overall, despite my lust for lugged frames (shame on you Rivendell for leading me on so...), I love my Cross Check.

    charles

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  11. Welcome to the club, Mr. Co-Habitant!

    It's amazing how different that bike looks from my own (black) Cross Check. I need to dress colorfully at night to make up for it, or I just feel like a ninja.

    Great job building it up! It's beautiful! :)

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  12. First thing I thought when you described the intended purpose of the bike as including some off road riding was that the fenders looked a little tight. The fender line looks great and hats off to MDI for having the patience to get it done so well. I have seen some very nice bikes with poorly aligned fenders.

    It's nice to have a less flashy/expensive bike for times when one wouldn't want to loose a really expensive ride, but the Surly looks so good, I'm not sure it qualifies. I have a '71 Schwinn Sports Tourer for rides where I don't feel comfortable taking the 'good bike', but people even notice the Schwinn - though I doubt many know it's the cromoly fillet brazed model.

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  13. A spare wheelset with slightly smaller tires on it may allow for a greater range of use. Something like a Continental Cyclo X in 700x42, perhaps? Granted, you'd lose some cushion and that beautiful cream color, but versatility is full of compromise. I'm not sure how off-road the Co-Habitant intends to go with the bike, but I would be hesitant to take the Fat Franks through mud or over slick roots; I could be wrong.

    -Matt

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  14. It's a lovely bike in its own way. My oldest is quite in love with that bike, but at 5'1 and 100lbs, she has to get a LOT taller before she can buy herself one.

    Sorry MDI, but your bike is at least one 14 year old girl's fantasy. Complete with a picture taped to her computer desk. If you name him, give him a teen heart throb type name.

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  15. I have a Surly,and I love it, but I just couldn't take those hideous logos! I scraped them off and it transformed the bike. You should give it a try, it would be the perfect finishing touch to an already beautiful bike.

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    1. Me too! Although the decals themselves started flaking off not long after I purchased the bike. I got rid of all the print decals and the bike looks awesome. The only identifying item is the big Surly "S" on the front of the head tube. Perfect.

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  16. I like the Rough Riders patch but a Nitto Wire Guard would keep the bag off the brake cable. (yep, we are a sponsor of Lovely Bicycle and we sell this product. hope nobody gets bent out of shape over it.)

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  17. NICE!! Very nice! The yellow tape on the bars just make that whole color scheme just POP!!!

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  18. My Big Apples 46-48mm, depending on pressure. A new tire at 20psi is as narrow as Riv shows.

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  19. Bike Hermit - It's fine for businesses to suggest products in the comments if it's relevant to the topic, whether a sponsor or not.

    I'll have to have a look at the Nitto Wire Guard in person, but it seems complicated and it's expensive. You could get one of those Bagman support thingies too for that matter, but we don't care for them either. Plus, looking at pictures of Nitto guard online, it seems that depending on what's in the bag it can still sort of bend to go inside the guard and rub against the cables?

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  20. I don't have proper calipers that go that wide, but I tried to rig up a system to measure them inflated to my pressures and I get just around 48mm. If my rims were wider, I think they could expand more. So it at least partially depends on what rims you mount these on, and somewhat on pressure.

    For road I run the rear at 40psi and front at 35psi. That hides a bit of cush but rolls perfectly. I could be coasting alongside V's loaner Seven with its 23mm Krillions on level ground and if we both start at say 10mph I don't really fall back--we stall at the same time. If I run the rear at 35 and front at 30 (or let it sit a week and it will get there) the bike feels like butter. I imagine if I let it get to 30/25, it will automatically seek out curbs and jump them. I already have to resist doing that.

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  21. Erin - The frame is available in small sizes too : )

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  22. Velouria said...

    Erin - The frame is available in small sizes too : )

    She knows. She is bike stocking and getting a summer job to finance one.

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  23. Erin- This bike will always be "The Bieber" to me now, regardless of how MDI feels about that.

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  24. Adam said...

    Erin- This bike will always be "The Bieber" to me now, regardless of how MDI feels about that.

    Snort! I know what you mean. When I read this comment to her she almost sprayed milk out her nose. I'm supposed to tell you that she actually has good taste in music.

    Poor Justin.

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  25. That's what they all say! ;)

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  26. What do you have against the Bagman supports? I've used them, the QR model, with a Carradice Super-C saddlebag, and found it very useful, sturdy and stabilizing for the bag. And this with the saddlebag fairlt well loaded - on tours of several days.

    Roff

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  27. MDI and Velouria, I know you guys don't like the look of the Bagman-type supports for saddle bags, but the Carradice bagman really transforms the Carradice Pendle or other similar-sized bag. It perches the bag into a position that it was designed to be in... better than a rack can, and it eliminates sagging and swaying. I don't care for the "floating" look of the bag, but in my book this is one example of function over form clearly winning out. I like it so much I don't even see the need for a rear rack, unless I specifically want to hang panniers.

    I like another poster's comment about having a second wheel set (or tire set using the same rims) with more fender clearance for off-road riding. The fenders can be kept as-is, but there will be more clearance to prevent debris from getting stuck under the fender. I intentionally built in adequate clearance for the fenders on my 650B wheels, so that twigs and other debris won't be a problem. I took the bike on one pretty rough trail ride with all kinds of twigs and branches, pine cones, rocks, mud, leaves, tall grass, etc, and nothing got caught up in the fenders.

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  28. Adam,

    I think the Big Apple with the weaker sidewall must be the "liteskin" one...they make both wire and kevlar beaded BAs. They also make a tire with the same tread as the BA, but an even lighter, racier compound, called the Super Moto.

    The Fat Frank description says it's "Technically one hundred percent equal to the Big Apple." That's probably referring to the heaviest wire-bead version. Mine have a kevlar bead, but I don't remember them being liteskins. Whatever they are, they seem durable enough for whatever kind of street/crushed limestone/gravel I ever do. Pretty great tires.

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  29. full fenders plus "real" trails= stuff getting caught between the tire and the fender.

    cruiser tires plus "real" trails= insufficient traction.

    i love the build, but it'll need some changes if it's ever gonna have a "go" at bonafide off-road riding. For fire roads and well-groomed hardpack, it'll do fine as-is. All moot b/c, if i recall from a previous post, mdi doesn't have an interest in riding trails anyway.

    -rob

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  30. Velouria, I have been following this build very closly because it follows a similar set of circumstaces that started with a set of wooden fenders I bought in 06' I had intended to put them on my Green-Gear Cyclocross bike, but because of the unusual construction of that bike (no chain stay bridge) It just was not working. six months ago I bought a used Raliegh cyclocross frame to fit the fenders along with most all of the corresponding parts to go on it, only to have that frame be unusable as well! :-( At that point I started looking around at the Surly's and especially the Robin's egg Blue! My local shop had a lonely pair of white Specialized Nimbus tires and they seemed like a natual, so imagine my surprise to see your test ride of MDI's Cross Check in Robin's Egg blue with white tires!! Well, to wrap things up the tax man decided to give me money back this year so now there's one 52CM Cross Check sitting in my living room right now being built up!!

    I hear what you are saying about the suitability of the CC as a cross bike though, my other Cyclocross frame and indeed most that I have seen have very little (if any) bottom braket drop, but the Cross Check has a fair bit, which would work against it in racing conditions! ;-)

    Additional note: many times even though I am alreadt signed into Google blogger, it won't allow me to post my comments and repeatedly asks me to sign in?? very aggrivating!

    masmojo

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  31. That is such a great bike! Versatile and good looking. The fender question is a tough one... maybe leave them off in summer and put them on when it starts to rain in autumn? You can go a LOT of places with fat tires that you don't need knobbies for, so the only thing that could be a problem is the fender clearance.

    FWIW, the 50mm BA's measured 46mm for me (camera was dying here). Unfortunately just a hair too big for my bike :-(

    And you can make a real quick and easy DIY bag support out of a wire hanger. Take an ~5 inch section, bend it into a sort of a wide 'V' flipped upside down, bend the ends into circles, and bolt onto the rack brazeons on the seat stays. Voila, bags are protected!

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  32. smoke, not likeskins, not wireless. Here are the Schwalbe self-ratings:

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/big_apple

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/fat_frank

    Schwalbe gives their Fat Franks a 5 star rating for sidewall protection, and the Big Apples a 2 star rating. That may all be marketing, to justify the almost double price tag of the Fat Franks, but it is a profound distinction.

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  33. That is a beautiful bike in every way. I've never seen a Surly that appealed to me so much before.

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  34. Very well done!

    I use my CC set up with Grand Bois 32 mm Berthoud Fenders and Front Bag as a Randonneur Bike. Works great. Great value for the money. Only some critizisms:

    I did some touring with a back rack and about 10 kg of load. This did not work out too good, there was a strong shimmy as soon as I rode one or no handed. This is a general weakness. Not so great no hands riding.

    But going over unpaved sections I make a lot of time compared to the race bike crowd (on Randonneur Brevets you get a good comparison because there are all kinds of set ups). Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly in a recent test rated the Surly LHT frame as mediocre.

    His theory is that the main frame is too stiff and the seat and chainstays are too soft. Might be.

    Maybe that is also the reason why I can not quiet the back brake (old Shimano STX antilever). Any comparable experiences?

    What brakes work great on a CC??

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  35. I am not planning to put a rack on my Cross Check (425mm chainstays), and my Carradice bag hangs just fine as it is. I think it's designed to hang in this position and I don't feel it against my legs when I pedal. Some riders who put their saddle back or use a very set-back seatpost will have the bag come down against their thighs, but in my case it's just about perfect.

    I don't have any shimmy coasting down large hills or pedaling hard to max out my highest gear. I am not sure why or how a rear rack would add shimmy. Perhaps it's a function of size, weight, components, position? I don't know, shimmy is always a bit of a mystery.

    This bike is fairly easy to ride no-handed. I am able to sit up, stretch, steer around bends, etc. At downhill speeds this becomes even easier.

    Regarding fender clearances: the front wheel has as much clearance as you would want. It's the rear wheel that has less than ideal. One of the reasons we focused so much on tight fender clearances is because we don't want someone to read this and try Fat Franks on their Cross Check and be disappointed. It's a real pain to modify and install these fenders.

    I've tried some dirt trails and nothing gets stuck. So, in a sense, it does what I need it to do. It's also a lot more dangerous to have tight clearances on the front fender. If the rear wheel locks up the bike is much less likely to crash, I think.

    No metal fender install I've seen would be good enough for actual cyclo-cross style mud/sludge/real offroad riding, and I have no interest in that style of cycling, so it's a bit of a moot point for me.

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  36. Saschi--V brakes probably. Or low profile cantis like Paul touring.

    I don't think you'll be happy with Tekro or Mafac-style cantis like my Grand Crus even if you provide Koolstop pads. The mechanical advantage is just not there, regardless of what anyone says. Check out: http://www.circleacycles.com/cantilevers/

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  37. MDI-- I thought you were happy now with your Grand Cru brakes now that you're running Koolstop Salmon pads with them.

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  38. As long as you're not getting sticks and stones caught up in the fenders, leave 'em on! They won't slow you down, although they can be noisy.

    Here's a quick pic of the bag-protector I mentioned above: flickr.com. Works like a charm!

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  39. somervillain--I am happy in the sense of it's better and won't destroy my rim now, but we both know it still sucks.

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  40. I was recently in a very strong downpour and the brakes felt completely useless. Maybe it was because the rain just began, oil on surfaces, I don't know. Once the rain stopped or even slowed down it got good enough again.

    I mean, I am not going to ruin it with V brakes or anything like that, but I'd like to see the rumor that cantis are great go away.

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  41. Are you sure your cantis are adjusted properly? I've used them for years on heavily loaded expedition bikes, in mountains and in vile weather and never had any problem. They can, I'll concede, be a bit of a nuisance to adjust, but if they are a good make and in proper trim they'll work just fine

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  42. Well-adjusted cantis are good brakes, but they are difficult to adjust. Well-adjusted v-brakes are better brakes, and they are easy to adjust. Personally, in regards to brakes, I'd rather find myself saying "these brakes work very well" rather than "these brakes look elegant." V and others have mentioned a lack of modulation in v-brakes,And i agree that the weaker cantis are more easily modulated, but I've had no trouble modulating V-brakes on my bikes. Still, there's no need to upgrade to v-brakes on the cross check, just tune those cantis up properly. (Cantis should be able to be lock up the wheels enough for skids undermost conditions.)

    -rob

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  43. My cantis are tuned as well as is possible with current cantis.

    The only way to improve my cantis is to increase lever arm by switching to different model brakes.

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  44. I really love the Tektro CR720 wide cantis I put on my commuter bike, and really hate the stock cheapo low-profile Tektros that came with the frame and haven't been replaced yet. The key with cantis is getting the right angle on the transverse cable, and putting proper toe-in on the pads. The only way to get proper toe-in is to buy brakes that use the newer-style pad posts that have a nut on the back and a pair of wedge-shaped washers in the mix...they set up real easy. Mafac copies generally seem to use the bare-post-through-a-hole type of pads, which you have to toe in by wrapping a rubber band around the back while tightening, or just bend. Avoid.

    Adam- Not to be argumentative, but each description page on the Schwalbe site has but a single table with the traction/durability/whatever ratings for the tire being described, but the table at the bottom lists all the different sizes, compounds, beads, etc...there's no way that generalized table at the top accurately covers all those available models.

    A final note about cantis...I bought the 720s to put on my Cross Check, but found that with my rather wide Mavic 719s, it was going to be impossible to achieve an appropriately upright angle on the brake arms when engaged, so I guess it's back to the drawing board when I go to replace the cheapies on there. Kind of sucks, as the 720s stop the hell out of my other bike. And are only about $20 a pair.

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  45. That's a beautiful bike. The sky-blue color looks like my old Proteus from 1976.

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  46. I have a Surly Cross Check built up by Grace Bicycles with 105 components (racing triple, 12-30 cassette), 36 spoke wheels. It is a fine bicycle and I have used it for some great rides on paved and dirt roads, including the 2009 D2R2. I use Panaracer 700x32 tires, which provide great cushioning and give me an ability to handle substantial off road travel. But I don't have the tight fender clearance that the cohabitant has. While I am running narrower tires, I am using 37mm planet cycle fenders. I do like the your colors generally. The year I bought the bike I had the choice of black and gravy brown so I own an all black bike but I have been thinking of yellow bar tape for some color. I also missed the braze-on for low riders that they added last year or so.

    The Surly's ride qualities has significant overlap with my IF Club Racer but there are enough differences, including 5 pounds in weight, so I am happy to have the very nice bike for faster rides and the Surly for commuting into Cambridge, dirt roads, and carrying the boys.

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  47. I tried three different sets of Cantis on my LHT, I had them tuned by several different mechanics, & I tried several pad compounds. Through all that, I was never able to achieve a lock up of the front wheel. This was especially concerning when hauling my kid in the Burly trailer.

    Finally, I put some cheap Deore V-Brakes on it, set them up my self in about 3 minutes and instantly was able to stop significantly faster than any of my Canti setups. I can lock up both wheels and power slide to a very, very short stop.

    I really don't care if they aren't aesthetically popular because they are the main safety device on my daily commuter. Eventually I plan on removing the gray anodizing and polish the arms to match my other components. Nice.

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  48. I was wondering what size frame the co-habitants Cross Check is? I'm looking at getting one of these frames, and it seems I'm physically similar to him (6ft 1, 200lbs), I'm considering the 56cm frame. I know there is more to bike fit than size, but knowing what he chose and why would be useful info for me.

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  49. I purchased a 52 cm Cross Check a few months ago as my winter bike. Soon after, I put snow tires on, which worked great, and recently swapped them out for 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. What wonderful combination, the CC + the Schwalbes. So smooth and stable. Surprisingly fast, too.

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