Surly Cross Check Drop Bar Vintage-Look Road Bike Build

Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Check out my beautiful Surly Cross Check:

Surly Cross Check Drop Bar Road Bike

I decided I wanted to try and combine what I like about vintage and modern road bikes.  Vintage bikes have a really nice smooth ride, but I really like the shifting and drivetrain of a modern bike.   There is also much I like about the look of a vintage bike.   

First thing I needed was a steel frame.  I thought about updating a vintage frame but decided to go with something newer.  After searching around, I decided on the Cross Check.  The frame is 4130 chromoly steel and has straight, round tubes with a curved fork, so I think it has a good old-school look to it.    I picked it up used and it came with the Tektro brakes, seatpost, headset, and barrel adjusters.  Sadly, it came with a lot of scratches and chips which I spent a good deal of time cleaning up.  I also replaced many of the decals since those were also damaged. Never buy an Ebay frame without real good pictures, even if they claim it’s lightly used.   

So now I started planning the rest of the build.  I didn’t want it to just look like a modern road bike with a Surly frame, so I decided to try to give it a vintage-look.  I found a nice silver, 10-speed groupset from Microshift to use and added lots of other silver.  Here are some of the components:

Microshift 10-speed Centos shifters/brakes

Microshift Centos 10-speed front derailleur

Microshift R10 10-speed rear derailleur

Microshift CS-G100 Lightweight Cassette

Stonglight Impact Double Crankset 48/34

KMC X10 Chain silver/black

Whisky No 7 F12 Silver drop bars

Wellgo W-01 Pedals

Jagwire Silver Braided cable housing and cables

Origin8 Uno Road Bike Saddle

Zac19 Wheelset

Bontrager R3 tires 32mm

Joytech Skewers

Here are some more images:

Weight is about 24lbs

I’m pretty happy with the weight given I have been a bit restricted by the vintage-look.  I can’t go adding a bunch of carbon parts after all.  It’s in pretty good company from a vintage road bike perspective.  In 1974 the Schwinn Professional Road Racing Paramount was listed as 23-25lbs.  Now that I know I really like this bike I do wish I had gone with a more lightweight bottom bracket, but I think I can shed quite a bit of weight still. 


So far, the fit seems really good.  The Whisky bars seem to be perfect; I went less wide than I usually use at 38cm.  They also have 12 degrees of flare which helps the drops feel more comfortable.  The hoods are also angled inward a little which also feels great.  I need some longer rides outside to know for sure, but this bike was even comfortable on the trainer.


Really comfortable ride.  With the steel frame/fork and the 32mm tires, the bumps of the road are absorbed nicely.  Microshift drivetrain is working well with really good shifting, and I really like the shift levers.


I’m really happy with my attempt at a vintage-look.  All the silver parts look great, and I think really go well with the frame.  The Stronglight crankset looks like it could be out of the 70s, so it’s perfect. My original plan was a silver stem, but I kinda like how the black stem looks with the silver bars.  What do you think?

Really enjoying this bike.  Because of this I already have some upgrade plans.  Some to lighten it a bit, and others to work more on the look.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this is the best-looking vintage-look Surly Cross Check built in Wisconsin by an amateur mechanic with a Microshift drivetrain.  Stay tuned for updates.

Published by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Jim has over 40 years of experience with bicycles and loves road and mountain biking and just going for calm cruises. He is a mechanic who has built custom bikes and is also very interested in bike history.

8 thoughts on “Surly Cross Check Drop Bar Vintage-Look Road Bike Build

  1. The 36 spoke wheels definitely add to your vintage look – as does the really low saddle height. (Looks like you bought a couple sizes too big!) And I do like the black/silver/black/silver (frame/spacers/stem/bar).

    1. Yeah I think the low saddle height look is just the reality for shorter people with top tubes that are horizontal to the ground. According to the Surly size recommendations based on height I’m at the top of the size 46 and not quite on the bottom of the size 50. So I could have gone either way, but I found the deal on the 50. The standover for the 50 is 30.9 and the 46 is 30.2, so not a big difference. I think I might be a bit more torso long. I can standover the bike with flat feet and it feels comfy so far so I think it’s gonna workout well. I might stil raise the saddle a little, but not much. I start my fits with the saddle a little lower rather than higher.

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