The Cross Check holds a venerable spot in Surly’s lineup of quirky, yet practical bicycles. Ostensibly a cyclocross bike, it is sold and marketed more often as an all-rounder, capable of spirited road riding, loaded touring, and everything in between. In the bike snob circles I run, the Cross Check is known as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, oftentimes with emphasis on the latter.
I purchased my Cross Check in the summer of 2011 from Box Dog Bikes in San Francisco, with very little idea of what I actually wanted from a bicycle. Since that day, the bike (named Dottie, after one of my favorite breakfast spots in my old neighborhood) has fully lived up to its reputation, seeing me through my first ever recorded ride on Strava, a handful of cyclocross races (both geared and singlespeed), several seasons of randonneuring, and a 6 day fully loaded tour. With my recently acquired Rock Lobster taking over rando and CX duties, I decided it was time yet again to rebuild Dottie, this time as a commuting/touring combo, heavily influenced by Irving’s Specialized Expedition and the Rivendell philosophy. The bike sports downtube shifters, a Sugino XD2 Wide/Low 40-26 crankset paired with an 11-32 cassette, and 42mm Continental file tread tires in case I decide to take the long way home from work and find myself on a dirt trail.
We here at Boyz on the Hoods HQ strongly believe that touring bikes and commuting bikes have the most crossover in terms of function. Comfort, carrying capacity, and a healthy disregard for a few extra grams all characterize both. Dottie meets all these criteria. Fenders for rainy days, plenty of racks for carrying capacity, and dynamo head and taillights for constant illumination mean I’m always ready to ride my bike, no matter the situation.
Of all the features of this bike, I’m most stoked about the front basket. The convenience of carrying items in a wide open basket where I can keep a close eye on my goods has improved my commuting and grocery shopping experience immeasurably. I’m no longer fumbling with panniers or dealing with a constant layer of backsweat from a backpack. As a bonus, the Nitto Randonneur bars have enough flare in the drops that the basket doesn’t get in the way of any of my typical hand positions on the bike — hoods, tops, ramps, or drops.
Dottie won’t be winning any races, but when the Big One hits, she’ll surely be my vehicle of choice for surviving the wreckage.