Surly Cross Check Build

The idea was to build a Surly Traveller’s Check with low maintenance components. Due to the high price of TC and the fact that it’s somewhat risky to order a frame without test riding it first the plan morphed into building the cheaper Cross Check with a similar spec instead.  Following is a list of components in the build:

Cross Check

Duomatic two-speed rear hub 109 Hubstripping
Sora Road Double cranks 23 Ebay
On-One Midge Bar 28 Planet X UK
Shimano PD-M324 pedals 39 Ebay
Orbit XL II headset 26 Ebay
Sturmey Archer X-FDD dynohub with drumbrake 84 SJS Cycles
Schmidt Edelux headlight 162 SJS Cycles
Tektro RL740 brake levers 33 Rivendell
Surly Cross Check Frame 60cm 343 Bike-components.de
Brooks Bar Tape 32 Bike-components.de
Brooks Flyer Saddle 74 Bike-components.de
Mavic A319 rims 29 a piece Bike-components.de
DT Swiss Competition Spokes49 a box of 100 49 Bike-components.de
Shimano 68×110 bottom bracket 13 Bike-components.de
B&M Seculite Plus rear light 21 Bike-components.de
Kalloy seat post 8  
Salsa Moto Ace 40degree 105mm stem 27 Bike-components.de
Misc. Stuff 50  
Total 1162.5 euro  

Here are some thoughts behind the build. As was said, the goal was low maintenance, all moving parts hidden under the hood.  The goal was also simplicity and avoiding any expensive and fancy parts in the build.

Sturmey Archer X-FDD hub
Sturmey Archer X-FDD hub

Not long ago, Sturmey Archer introduced a new dyno-hub, the X-FDD, with an integrated 70mm drum brake. They received quite favorable reviews on the web. Most comments noted that the initial performance of the brake was disappointing but improved considerably over time. Also, the dyno part of the hub wasn’t strictly according to spec. producing too low voltage at low speeds and too high at high speeds possibly frying halogen bulbs, but with this project, it was thought that combining the hub with good quality led lights with built-in over voltage protection should make that a non issue.

The main benefit of a drum brake over disc is the possibility of using basically any fork that can withstand the forces introduced by the brake arm, meaning that we could stick to the stock CC fork. As a matter of fact, there are not too many 28″ disc forks available. We have used Dimension disc-only cross fork in the past but this time we chose differently. The rim and spokes where Mavic A319 and DT Competition, respectively. The spoke length for this combination was 283mm with a 3-cross lacing.

On-One Midge Bars
On-One Midge Bars

Ok, enough with the front wheel. Let’s move up, onto the bars.

The bike was built for a rider of height 186cm (6’1.2). The steerer tube was kept as stock and a stem with a healthy riser angle was used to bring the bars roughly on the same level with the seat.

The two main drivers for the bars were comfort and quick access to the brakes. The comfort factor manifested itself as On-One Midge bars. They are wide and have a shallow drop.  Not the best choice for a time-trial but perfect in the city providing good handling from both the top and drops and with the shallow drop the ride position doesn’t get to extreme. The quick access to brakes factor, on the other hand, meant ignoring regular (linear pull) drop bar levers and going for a reverse lever at the drop and a separate cross lever at the top. This of course results in losing one hand position at the hoods but the hood position is not considered that important with the Midge bars where the drop position can be used most of the time and the plan was to dial in the bars in such a way that the drops would be the main position.

Tektro RL740
Tektro RL740

As there is a kick-brake on the rear hub, we only had to worry about levers for the front hub. There was still enough to worry about as the SA drum brake needs a linear pull lever instead of a short pull that is a standard issue on drop bars. For a reverse drop lever the best option would’ve been a bar-end lever – but there is none available in the linear pull category. So we went with the Tektro RL740 for both the top and the drop. This was a tricky choice as the Midge bars have very short drops and as the Tektro cross lever is clamped to the bar instead of bar end, it consumes the valuable bar resource and might get in the way of the grip. Nevertheless, the combination seemed to work reasonably well

Sachs Duomatic Hub
Sachs Duomatic hub

We are fond of single speed and fixed gear; simplicity, aesthetics, and the fun factor – but we consider that some gears just usually make the bike more practical in the type of use we have them for; mostly urban utility, commuting etc. For these purposes we have usually found three-speed hub gears to be a good compromise between a number of gears, hub efficiency, size/weight, maintainability etc.

but as this bike was originally going to be a Travellers’ Check, where the frame can be split in two, the idea of having no cables between the two frame parts seemed a perfect idea. The TC never materialized but the Duomatic stuck and actually in a possible TC build in the future we might try the Sachs Automatic hub instead to see how it compares with the Duomatic.

Schmidt Edelux
Schmidt Edelux

We were very curios to see how the new Schmidt Edelux front led light compares with the previous generation led dynamo head lights. And it certainly didn’t disappoint us. Very bright with a good pattern.  The on-off switch is especially handy at the top of the lamp.

For load carrying it has the Carradice SQR block on the seat tube for attaching the Carradice Slim bag.

The remaining components in the build are pretty standard. B&M Seculite Plus rear light, Brooks Flyer saddle, Brooks leather bar tape, Sora road double converted to single etc.

Stay tuned for impressions from the road!

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