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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am looking to buy my first cross bike. I currently only own a big downhill bike (04 specialized big hit pro), and am looking to buy something a bit more versatile... which has lead me to cyclocross bikes. I am tall and skinny (6 feet tall and ~135lb), however I am pretty tough on stuff. I will be looking to do some light cross-country trails as well as rip on the local trail system. I have done a lot of research which has lead me to two bikes carried at my local bike shop that are within my price range. The surly cross-check and kona jake the snake. I have some concerns with both bikes.

I am concerned about the durability of the aksium wheels and carbon fork on the Kona. I am not going to be doing really aggressive trails, but how much can a cross bike take? Here is a link to the jake:
http://www.konaworld.com/09_jakethesnake_c.cfm

The Surly is a bit more money (about $50 more) , but the part spec appears considerably lower. I also don't know about the bar end shifters, I will have to try them out. I am also a bit concerned about not having a replaceable R/D hanger (I have went through 3 on my downhill bike, though I use that for a different style of riding all together). From what I have read so far the steel frame should give a better ride, and be more durable as long as it doesn't rust). There seem to be a lot of cross-check fans on the boards here. Here is a link to the cross-check:
http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck.html

I also have some questions on sizing. As I mentioned I am 6' tall and I have a 34" inseam. What size of frame would you suggest?

I will be going to the shop to test ride both, but wanted to get some feedback and background beforehand. Any info is greatly appreciated:)

Thanks
 

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I'd go with the CrossCheck for your described use. The burly steel frame is tougher and its designed to be a lot more versatile.

(If you were leaning more towards racing or paved use the Kona would probably be the better choice.)

The CrossCheck complete, however, is an odd bird. Really peculiar build with the bar-end shifters. More of a touring bike as they are packaging it. I would consider buying the frameset and building it up with more appropriate parts for your usage.

Basically, I think you can make the Surly into a better trail bike, but the parts they include on the complete are a step in the opposite direction right off the bat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks PeanutButterBreath I appreciate your response!

I going to heed your advice, and I am looking at building up a crosscheck frame. I am starting to price components and it looks like it will be a bit more expensive than buying prebuilt, but hopefully I will get exactly what I want. Can anyone suggest some component choices that will be both durable and reasonably light ( I don't want to be pedaling around a tank... I already have one of those). I am looking for part suggestions that you believe are a good value.

I think that shimano 105 should be good for shifters and derailleurs, though if I can find a good deal on ultegra I may spring for that.

I am having the most trouble deciding on a crankset and wheels. For wheels I am thinking about mavic open pros on ultegra hubs. Would these wheels be pretty durable if I had them hand built? Could you suggest any others that would be more durable and cheaper?

For cranks I am thinking a FSA Gossamer or 105 but am open to other suggestions. Now, I have been out the loop for while. The last time I was looking for a bike isis was all the rage, but I don't know anything about the new bottom brackets and cranks. Do these outboard bearing bottom brackets work with different shell sizes? Also would a compact crank offering 50/34T work okay on a cylcocross bike?

I was also hoping that someone would be able to help me with my frame sizing question

Like I said, I am new to this sport and really appreciate any help that you can provide

Thanks again
 

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PeanutButterBreath said:
The CrossCheck complete, however, is an odd bird. Really peculiar build with the bar-end shifters. More of a touring bike as they are packaging it.
In today's world where brifters are king maybe yes. But there's nothing wrong with barcons if you know how to shift them. You could always ask your LBS to swap out a set of 105 brifters for the barcons if they bother you that much.

For about $1K the CrossCheck is a killer deal.
 

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You may want to price out Sram Rival over 105. Look at ebay as an option for building it up. That is what I just did with my Soma Double Cross. I got rival shifters, rear der, front der and cassette for under $275. The shifters were used, but everything else is new.
For brakes check out the Tektro CR 720 or look for some of the new 2009 Avid shorty brakes.
Wheels are something if you have the time can find for relatively good deals if you have patience. The ultegra build you mentioned is a perfectly good idea though.
for bars, seatposts and stems check out pricepoint.com for some Sette (price point house brand) setups. You can get those for under $75 for everything.
For a crank a 50 big ring might be too big for what it sounds like you intend on doing. A single ring 42 in the front might be worth looking into, or a 38x46 depending on what cogs you run in the back.
Since you are not racing, go with a 12x27 or 11x26 and you should be good.
 

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cs1 said:
In today's world where brifters are king maybe yes. But there's nothing wrong with barcons if you know how to shift them. You could always ask your LBS to swap out a set of 105 brifters for the barcons if they bother you that much.

For about $1K the CrossCheck is a killer deal.
I have them on my A bike right now (my B bike had a DT shifter). They are less expensive and more durable than STI/Ergos, but they are inferior in usability. If that aligns with your priorities, then they are a worthy option.

However, that LBS swap out cost at least $300, possibly closer to $400 with LBS markup and labor. Not exactly a value proposition on a $1000 bike.

I suppose OP could think about whether old-school bar-top thumb shifters would be tolerable on the Big Hit to see if barcons are worth considering. . .
 

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You can buy a JTS frame for $399 and build it up too. I just got one and I'm starting the build. I wouldn't worry so much about durability, it is the de-facto cross bike and sees lots of abuse in cross. Got a few pics here...

http://www.datasmuggler.com/?p=93

The surley wasn't my cup of tea. I considered it initially, but it soo old tech and campy that it was a total turnoff.
 

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Well, at least you have options. With my requirements of reasonably light frame with rack mounts, I got stuck with the Jake, not that its bad, but it would have been fun to have to decide between a couple....
 

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B-Line said:
Well now I am really confused on what to do...
The JTS is a nice frame, but not the better choice for the riding you describe, IMO. Its not that the JTS is fragile, its that the Surly can take even more abuse, has much better tire clearance and is more versatile.

Since it sounds like you want more of a trail bike than a racer or commuter, I still recommend the Surly. I'd buy the frameset and build it up singlespeed or 1x9 with as many spare parts as you can. You could even go with a spare MTB bar and rear shifter to start.

The JTS with a CF fork could be 1-2 lbs. lighter than a Surly with the stock steel fork.

Search the term "mostercross" over at MTBR and you will see what people are doing with the CX-bike-as-trail-bike: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=355649&highlight=monstercross. If that doesn't seem like the direction you want to go, you can browse the "post your bike" threads on this forum for ideas.

Re: some of your specific questions:

CX bikes in general are pretty tough. If you drop one on a pile of rocks it can damage the frame, but in general they will handle any kind of riding you'd want to attempt on a fully-rigid frame with skinny tires.

The same goes for CF forks. Nothing to worry about strength wise, but if you gouge a rock into the fibers it needs to be replaced.

Rust is a practical non-issue. Treat the inside of the frame with linseed oil and forget about it.

Aksium wheels -- meh. Not bad. Not great. Probably fine but you could do better for the money.

You have to try pretty hard to damage a steel RD hangar beyond repair. Unlike Al, they can be bent back into alignment, so making them replaceable is not necessary.

105 vs. Rival -- if you don't have a clear preference on how they work, buy the one that is cheaper.

Most any crank with the specified BB will work on the CrossCheck. Compacts are a good choice.

Hard to pick a size, but if you can find a 56 or 58 to test ride that is where I would start. You can always test ride a few road bikes, figure out the ones that fit the way you want and then compare them to the sizes available for the frame you want to buy. The nominal sizes probably won't match, but you can compare the actual geometries to get in the right ball park.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone for your input,

I searched around at some of the local shops and found one with an 2008 58 Jake the snake for just under a grand Canadian. Besides this post, I have been doing quite a bit of investigation into sizing. I ended up reading more opinions than I know what to do with (sizing calculators, rules of thumb' ect.."). However there are a lot of people out there that seem to be of the mentality 'you wont know what you like until you try it'. I figure that if I get the 58 jake the snake and find out after a year that it feels a bit too big, I can use the money I saved off (almost $450 bucks off the 09) to put towards a 56 frame and fork (maybe a cross check frame/fork... I think most items should be swapable, but I will check it out).

So what do you think of this idea? Reasonable, absurd?

Thanks again for all your help
 

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I love a deal, but I would rather go smaller than bigger, especially in a cross bike. Make sure you get fitted properly and DO NOT buy a bike that is too big. If you found the one place that will sell it to you for that cheap, you can find another.
 

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I rode a Jake for a couple of years and now I'm on a Cross Check. The Surly fits just a tad larger than the Jake. Its got a slightly longer wheelbase but so far I don't think that has too much effect on traction or climbing ability. Handling is a little less twitchy. It's quite a bit heavier. As for the parts kit, I just transfered all the parts over from the Jake so I can't comment on the Surly build. I'm happy with it cause its a little more forgiving than the aluminium frame but its hard to say which one I liked more as I was also happy with the Jake.
 

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That's what I would also do I guess.

onrhodes said:
You may want to price out Sram Rival over 105. Look at ebay as an option for building it up. That is what I just did with my Soma Double Cross. I got rival shifters, rear der, front der and cassette for under $275. The shifters were used, but everything else is new.
For brakes check out the Tektro CR 720 or look for some of the new 2009 Avid shorty brakes.
Wheels are something if you have the time can find for relatively good deals if you have patience. The ultegra build you mentioned is a perfectly good idea though.
for bars, seatposts and stems check out pricepoint.com for some Sette (price point house brand) setups. You can get those for under $75 for everything.
For a crank a 50 big ring might be too big for what it sounds like you intend on doing. A single ring 42 in the front might be worth looking into, or a 38x46 depending on what cogs you run in the back.
Since you are not racing, go with a 12x27 or 11x26 and you should be good.
 
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