Goodbye to the Surly Cross-Check, one of the first “gravel” bikes to be officially retired

Surly Cross-Check is a bike that has gained a lot of fans in its 24 years on the market, and now this feature can be considered its obituary. The Cross-Check was a bike that could be called one of the first “gravel” bikes thanks to its clearance for 45c tires and its versatile, tough-as-nails steel frame.

Despite its CX inspiration, the Cross-Check was a bike that transcended the boundaries of specific cycling disciplines. It’s been used between the stripes on muddy CX tracks, for city commuting, and has even become a popular choice for those looking for an all-around touring bike, or a “shitty MTB,” to put it another way. Now the bike has been moved to the “Legacy Lineup” on the Surly website, marking the end of an era.

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“What a great bike that was,” was the first thing Surly UK brand manager Duncan Kennedy said when we asked if the rumors were true, and he then confirmed our suspicions.

“Yes [the Cross-Check] was phased out with models like the new Preamble replacing the inexpensive parts replacement frame that many used Cross-Check for.

“The main reason was the large number of bikes now equipped with disc brakes compared to Canti mounts, people were replacing frames on these bikes, whether it was a replacement after an accident or just a new bike, everything had switched to discs, leaving the replacement not so easy. Not to mention the choice of canti or v brakes was rapidly decreasing.

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The Cross-Check was a true legacy model that Duncan sees as one of the first “gravel” bikes for the masses. With clearance for 45c tires, a comfortable geometry for covering plenty of miles, and grips to meet all your adventure needs, it really sets the tone for what so many riders are looking for in their adventure/gravel bikes today. So what made it so great?

The Cross-Check frame was a simple but versatile platform. It was constructed from size-specific 4130 CroMoly’ Natch steel tubing and provided plenty of clearance, multiple tie-down points and semi-horizontal dropouts. Speaking of sizes, like many Surly bikes, the Cross-Check came in a really wide range of sizes from 42 to 64.

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The overall package allowed riders to experiment with derailleurs, upgrade the bike to fixed gears or equip it with BMX hubs, and generally explore different setups. Despite a slightly shorter head tube, the Cross-Check’s steel frame has made it a real workhorse for everyday use – and perhaps that quality is why bikes like the Cross-Check are seeing a resurgence in the face of the maintenance cost crisis.

“It’s been interesting since Cross-Check has caused a huge resurgence of people wanting to build rim brake bikes. I think the popularity of a simple setup is something that enthusiasts crave.

If you’re sad to see Cross-Check enter the gravel bike graveyard, Surly still offers bikes with similar features…

“In terms of model, the Preamble, which was released earlier this year, really has the Cross-Check DNA with more modern features, but is still an affordable option. Surly offered the Bridge Club in a 700c version for a while to fill the gap until the Preamble was released and to this day the Bridge Club remains one of our best-selling models with options ranging from 700 x 45c to 650 x 2.8” and wheel and tire configurations 26 x 3” (just in case),” Duncan said.

Have you had Surly Cross-Check? Do you agree that this is “one of the best”.
ride, the most versatile bikes around”? Let us know in the comments. For more bike checks like this, go here and see our collection of previous bedtime bikes.

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