Surly Cross-Check Review
  • Total rating
3.5

Summary

Overall, if I had to rate the Surly Cross-Check on a scale from 1 to 5 I would give it a 3.5. It certainly isn’t a bad bike, and as a member of the “steel-is-real” movement I appreciate what Surly is doing here, however, I feel like no matter what you are using this bike for you are making some trade-offs.

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Pros

  • Relatively affordable
  • steel frame
  • can fit big tires

Cons

  • Heavy frame
  • frame quality
  • jack-of-all-trades but master of none
Sending
User Review
2 (3 votes)

With the popularity of cyclocross exploding across the United States, there are a lot of people out there who are considering getting into it.

It’s a very exciting sport that is demanding for both the riders and their equipment.

However, it can be hard to tell if this sport is for you or not, but nobody wants to buy a bike only to realize after a few months that they don’t like riding it because they did not get into cyclocross like they thought they would.

If you feel that you fit this description, then the Surly Cross-Check might just be the bike for you.

Surly designed the Cross-Check to be versatile, while still performing well as an entry-level race bike. If cyclocross racing isn’t for you, this bike is just as much at home on the pavement or a gravel trail as it is in the mud of a ‘cross course.

I have ridden the Surly Cross-Check in a variety of configurations. First, I rode it as a commuter around town with some wider road tires for a gentle ride.

Then I set it up as a ‘cross bike, but never really raced it. Currently, it is set up as an errand runner with some panniers on it to haul a bag of groceries.

In all of these configurations, the bike handled well, but there are some trade-offs. Keep reading to find out more about my experience riding the Cross-Check.

First Impressions

When I first hopped on the bike, I was not blown away. The frame feels a little sluggish and uncomfortable, to me.

Whether this was a design flaw or just a side-effect of jumping on a new bike and taking it for a spin, it did not have me particularly stoked about it from the get-go. Once I spent a little more time in the saddle, I warmed up to it and got used to its positioning.

The frame and fork are made out of 4130 CroMoly, so it does a good job of absorbing most road vibrations, but it can get fatiguing after a while. Maybe I have just been spoiled by other steel-framed bikes.

surly cross check
source: treefortbikes.com

On-road Performance

On the road, this bike will certainly get you where you need to get. With clearance for up to 42C tires, you can fit some beefy, and I mean beefy, road tires on this bad boy and just crush everything in your commute.

A benefit of the larger tires is you can run them at lower pressures which makes the ride much more enjoyable as well.

The bike isn’t particularly note-worthy on the road but does a fine job and provides a relatively good ride quality.

On-trail Performance

I have ridden the Cross-Check down some rail trails (straight, crushed gravel trails on old railroad beds) and found it to really be quite a pleasure to ride.

In my opinion, this bike really shines on gravel trails like these because the frame feels stable enough, and does a good job absorbing the vibrations but not to a point where it gets boring.

The bike feels lively on trails like this and I find it a ton of fun to ride.

Off-road Performance

Off-road, like a cyclocross course, is definitely something the Cross-Check is capable of, however, it would not be my first choice.

Its steel frame is not made out of the highest quality steel, so it carries a bit of a weight penalty with it, which you can really notice when you’re carrying the bike.

If it is what you have, I would not hesitate to do some ‘cross on this bike whatsoever. However, if you are buying this bike with the intention of making it a true cyclocross racing machine, this might not be the bike for you.

Overall

Overall, if I had to rate the Surly Cross-Check on a scale from 1 to 5 I would give it a 3.5. It certainly isn’t a bad bike, and as a member of the “steel-is-real” movement I appreciate what Surly is doing here, however, I feel like no matter what you are using this bike for you are making some trade-offs.

Instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, I think most people would be better served to find a bike that is a little more purpose-built.

The steel frame in the Cross-Check is kind of heavy and doesn’t do the best job at absorbing vibrations. I think it would be best suited for a person who wants to do a little off-road riding on a trail or something and has a desire to give cyclocross a try but isn’t sure if they want to stick with it.

Surly Cross Check Reviews on Youtube

Here’s what others are saying about Surly Cross Check: