Above see my most recent acquisition, a 2001-2003 Surly Crosscheck. The color is “green bean green” and I picked it up the Friday before Christmas.
The story behind this goes something like this – I have an old Bianchi Axis cyclocross rig. I really like it – good fit, very versatile, very useful. It’s absolutely one of my most favorite bikes. I liked it so much that I was starting to look for another one, with disc brakes and front rack braze-ons etc – with clearance for some bigger tires – 700 x 45 Firecross tires, precisely. I had seen the pictures of the new Monstercross rig that Soma is putting out – due in June or July – and I had really liked it. However, the more I drooled over it, the more I realized how expensive it was gong to be. I was going to have probably $700 or so in just the frame and then I would need to hang parts on it after the initial investment. Ouch!!
So – I looked at other cyclocross rigs on Craigslist and other online stores for a while – several months at least. I didn’t want aluminum, and carbon is not a good investment for me right now. I’m not 100% convinced of its hype, even though I own a carbon road bike. I like the carbon, but steel does a better job of the dampening factor, in my opinion. I saw several that caught my eye, but nothing really jumped out and screamed, “Buy me!!!”
I was looking on a local Craigslist and had searched under “cross” and several things came up, this bike being one of the more recent postings and close to my home. I also really liked the price – I was able to get a good, light cross bike for less than the price of the Soma Wolverine frame that I was considering purchasing. While the Crosscheck doesn’t have the disc brake braze-ons that both the Wolverine and Surly Straggler possess, I’ve ridden rim brakes for years and haven’t managed to kill them, or myeself, yet.
I’ve had the bike out on several rides and really like it. As with most steel bikes, the road vibe is pretty well minimalized. Made from 631 Reynolds tubing, which is cold-drawn, air-hardened steel, the bike is lively and responsive without losing the vibration dampening qualities for which steel is best known. It’s fairly light overall, and is running on a Shimano 105 drive train. The wheels are Cane Creek Cronos Cross rims, which are crazy light. It will eventually be getting a triple crank, one of my favorite saddles, and a bigger range 9-speed cassette on the back – I have in mind to take this on the fire roads of Michaux and I am going to need some hill-climbing gears for some of those roads. Sizewise it’s really an excellent fit for me – right top tube length and a good standover height as well. I believe it’s their size 52, which works well for my shorter arms and torso.
Another thing I really like about the bike is its overall condition. This lovely two-wheeled conveyance was ridden less than 500 miles by its original owner. The gentleman from whom I purchased the bike said it was too large for him – too long in the top tube, and so he never rode it much. The paint is in good shape as are the components. I think the blue handlebar tape will need to go – not sure what color is going on next. I’m debating about black, brown, or a similar green.
I will post a later review of overall ride quality and other imoprtant factors when I’ve had the bike for a bit longer. Right now, I’m just excited to ride the new toy!!!
UPDATE: bought the toy some new tires – Schwalbe Smart Sams – coming in at a knobby 40c – I thought about the Panaracer Firecross tires for this rig, but they are 45c – don’t think they would have fit in the frame. the Smart Sams are pretty good, though. I put some other, smaller cc tires on the Axis, and that works pretty well. Looking forward to less snow so I can get the bike out of the shed and onto the road!