Gallery: John’s Rohloff-Equipped Surly Cross-Check

This is a Cyclocross bike that I built from the frame as a commuter bike. It has drop bars but a long steerer tube to put the bars up level with the seat. I have a Rohloff hub in the back and a Schmidt SON dynamo hub on the front wheel. It is equipped with SKS fenders and a Jannd rack. I use a combination of a Dinotte 200L and the Schmidt E6 for the front lights and a Dinotte tail light. —John

37 Responses to “Gallery: John’s Rohloff-Equipped Surly Cross-Check”

  • Dale says:

    Awesome Bike!!!

  • Roland Smith says:

    My ‘bent has a Rohloff hub and a SON as well, and I like them a lot and would recommend them. But I never really noticed how clean a speedhub makes a bike look. Very nice.

  • Josef says:

    Looks really nice — two questions though:
    Why use drop handle bars when it means and extra grip to shift the hub?
    Why use a hub dynamo to power just one front light when there are great lights on the market with enough power for fast bikes?

  • John says:

    Dale, Thank you. I love it. It works very well for me.

    Roland, Yes, I like the clean look. I selected a frame with horizontal dropouts so I could eliminate an idler.

    Josef, I like riding the drop bars. There are so many alternate hand positions and when you want to get aerodynamic it is comfortable. The drawback is that I had to find someplace else to mount the rohloff shifter. There are other mounting solutions but it works well on the downtube in the tradional shifter location. It also makes for a cleaner cable run to the hub.

    Josef, You are right. There are lots of great lights available these days. They use rechargable batteries and last a long time. The thing with the dynamo is that it is always there and always ready. I like the Dinotte but the E 6 supplements it well. The Dinotte throws photons everywhere which is a good thing. The E 6 directs a very narrow beam exactly where I’m going which is a good thing. I want to try one of the new LED lights designed for a dynamo one of these days but for now the E 6 is fine.

  • Ows says:

    This may be an amateur question, but what’s the frame made of, and how does the ride of a bespoke bike cope with daily wear and tear (potholes etc) as compared with a factory roll-off?

  • TBLJ says:

    Love the Bike, Love the blog :-)

  • John says:

    Ows, The frame material is 4130 Chromoly (steel in other words). The bike seem pretty rugged and Surly has a good reputation for durability. I’ve put 3500 miles on it mostly commuting. I have done a bit of mild off road riding and it still rides like new. Rohloff just produces hubs. There are bikes like the Thorn Raven and the Civia Highland that can be purchased as Rohloff specific. I would like to try one some time. I think of my Rohloff/Surly as an affordable Raven.

    TBLJ, I agree on both points!

  • Josef says:

    Lightwise I was thinking of the opposite: Why use battery lights when you have the best hub dynamo on the market? It can power big lights both front and rear (with a whole generation of new dynamo lights on the market, eg by Busch&Mueller).
    All that one would need on top of that is a small good battery light for repairs in the dark.

  • Steve says:

    Awesome, brutally beautiful bike. Tastefully outfitted, ruggedly efficient. While not quite my cuppa tay aesthetically, it is nevertheless appealing, and its function gives it its beauty.

    The nice thing about this blog is its elegance and a nice combination of eye candy and useful information. It presents this information in such a way that doesn’t suggest that bicycle commuters, utility riders, and pleasurists (other than the usual brace of weekend warriors and their unobtanium steeds) are scary eccentrics who are often confused with DUI convicts or old dudes living off SS checks.

  • John says:

    Josef, Doh! Now I get what you are saying. The answer is that I already have the Dinottes and they really do work very well. The others would need to be purchased. Someday.

    Steve, You have a way with words, thanks.

    I also enjoy this blog. An amazing diversity of bikes and riders are represented. No one niche is claiming superiority to others. We are here because we enjoy bikes and riding.

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    Nice bike John! Seems that we had very similar ideas when it comes to putting together a commuter bike: Neat to see another take on where to put the shifter; it would be a wonderful thing to see Rohloff put out an STI-like shifter but i’m not holding my breath :)

    Happy riding!

  • Steve says:

    That looks like a pretty funky wiring job to the back taillight :)

    I had a similar situation and tie wrapped the wire to the top rail of the rear rack. The downside problem of this is that the wire prevents my Ortlieb panniers from clipping on well.

  • John says:

    Dolan, Nice bike! I think the Kona frame is a good choice for this. I envy your IQ fly light. It looks like you are using the hubbub adapter for the shifter. Is that working out for you?

    Steve, It IS a funky wiring job. I need a few more cm to get the wire out of the way and I have never gotten around to splicing it in. As long as I don’t carry anything on top of the rack it is OK. I also plan to put a couple of button holes in the seat bag to run the wire in the bottom but, again, I have not gotten to it.

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    @John: In hindsight, I’d use either a Civia Hyland or a Steelwool Tweed over my Sutra frame, but neither were available when I built my bike up. The Kona has been decent, but is probably better suited as a loaded tourer than a dedicated commuter; the ride isn’t exactly what I’d call smooth. The IQ fly headlight is just awesome. I recommend it to anyone looking for a no-fuss, bright, and reliable commuter light. The hubbub adapter works pretty well. I had to cut it and the handlebars down slightly to get everything to fit well and not hit my right knee, and cable routing ended up being a bit haphazard, but it’s been working fine for the last year or so through some pretty bad conditions, so I can’t complain too much. The only problem is when the shifter gets wet and I don’t have gloves it becomes very difficult to shift (too much friction against too little grip). Luckily that happens very rarely.

  • Jean Smith says:

    Very nice bike build. I like your use of 2 stems to mount your lights, very clean looking. I do have one question, why did you go with rim brakes? You show your bike in snow, and from my years of winter commuting I am a firm believer in non-rim brakes for that purpose.

  • tdp says:

    Lovely bike!

  • John says:

    Jean Smith, The two stem solution is something new on the bike. It is very solid and provides a lot of extra mounting space. On the brakes, I find rim brakes work well enough for my use. I don’t doubt that disc brakes would be better but these get me by.

    tdp, Thanks. I’m surprised and gratified by all the people that have looked at it and take time to comment.

  • seth says:

    hey john .. nice bike.. I’m building up my crosscheck frame this week with an sram i motion 9 hub. All the parts are finally coming in this week! and I’m excited. May I ask what crankset you used, and how you made the steerer longer?

  • KWW says:

    I too have a Crosscheck build in progress. I believe that John’s steerer tube was never cut down lower (I assume that he purchased the frame and fork). I intend to keep the steerer high/uncut also.

  • John says:

    Hi Seth, That sounds like a great build. The steerer tube is long. I think I took about an inch off mine to get where it is. You can leave it uncut and ride for a while and try various stem positions until you find the right height for you. Don’t be in a hurry to cut it.

    The crankset is an Shimano 105 octalink that I was able to pick up fairly inexpensive. It was a double 39-52 if I remember right. I removed the 52 and used chain ring bolts from a company called “Problem Solvers” to bolt the ring to the spider. They are available from QBP and your bike shop should be able to order them if they don’t stock them. You coould also use spacers but I like the idea for the shorter bolts.

    Putting a bike together is fun, enjoy the process. John

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    @seth: I find that using slightly longer cranks has worked really well for my internal hub bike (175 vs 172.5, for example). It’s a very personal preference, but somehow the extra torque and slightly slower speed matches the slightly reduced gear range and even spread a bit better, IMHO.

  • More options for Shimano internal hubs on road bike setups | Austin Bike Blog says:

    […] For those of us who like both the general design of road bikes and internally geared hubs, our options have been few and far between in recent years. While Shimano’s 8 speed internal hubs are the same width as most road hubs allowing easy installation on road frames, the shifter systems developed for these hubs have been decidedly anti-road bike with trigger or twist shift systems designed to go on mountain bars. There have been work arounds for internal hubs on road bikes, but they have been inelegant to say the least. […]

  • Shimano 8 Speed Internal Hub and a Road Bike | says:

    […] For those of us who like both the general design of road bikes and internally geared hubs, our options have been few and far between in recent years. While Shimano’s 8 speed internal hubs are the same width as most road hubs allowing easy installation on road frames, the shifter systems developed for these hubs have been decidedly anti-road bike with trigger or twist shift systems designed to go on mountain bars. There have been work arounds for internal hubs on road bikes, but they have been inelegant to say the least. […]

  • Tom says:

    John — beautiful bike — shows great pride of ownership. Thanks for the share. I am in the process of installing a Rohloff on a LHT and have been fretting about where to mount the shifter. Your solution looks ideal. Can you give me insight as to how it is mounted to the downtube? 10Q

  • Damian says:

    John – If you’re not tired of answering questions yet… I like the dandy little bikestand you have under the front wheel. Do you recall where you got it?

    I’d also be interested in your thoughts on choosing the Avid V brakes vs. the more commonly seen Shimano version.

    Overall, a very elegant build. Thanks for sharing it!

  • John says:

    Tom, I can relate to the fretting part. Every mounting option is a compromise of some kind. That said, I’ve been very pleased with the downtube location. The mount is a slightly modified GreenSpeed long computer mount purchased from Hosel Shoppe here is a link. The diameter and length are perfect for this application. I will post in the forum section with more pictures and some instructions but it will be a few days.

  • John says:

    Damian, I never get tired of talking about my bike! The stand is by a company called Dimension and is available from QBP so most any bike shop should be able to order you one. It is a handy unit to keep in the garage for bike storage.

    The Avid V-brakes were a new addition the day I took the picture. I had Shimano R-550 cantilever brakes on before. I love the looks of cantilever brakes but after living with them for a year I decided to switch. The Avid brakes on the bike are something I had on hand so I put them on. They work really well for an inexpensive brake. Essentially I did not put any thought into the choice I simply used what I had. The thought went into the decision to go with V brakes vs cantilever. For me it is a choice between style and function. I eventually went with function : )


  • Chris says:

    What camera – lens do you usually shoot with? Beautiful shots!


  • mike says:

    Hey John, can you talk more about the two stem set up. I am new to commuting, and I love the idea. I am a night commuter with several lights in the front. Can you give me an idea of what I need to buy to do that set up.

    awesome bike!

  • John says:

    Mike, You need a stem and some kind of tubing to clamp in where the handle bar would normally go. You don’t need to be fussy about length or angle or even diameter on the bar end. Just find one that will clamp to your tube. I think a lot of bike shops have a box of slightly used stems under the counter somewhere.

    I used 1/2 inch CPVC tubing (hot water style) and a 1/2 inch slip to slip CPVC coupler. The coupler is clamped in the stem and the tubing glued in the coupler. To make it even more elegant I pulled used innertube over the tubing and plugged the ends with some whittled down bar end plugs.

    The mount is rock solid. I can still easily reach the lights while riding but they are completely out of the way of my hands. I have experimented with a variety of light mounts over the years and I think this is the best yet. If I decide I want it longer or shorter I can just cut a new piece of tubing.

  • John says:

    Chris, Thanks for the kind words about my photos. The truth is I just have an old Olympus digital point and shoot and that is what I used to take these pictures. I would tell you how many megapixels but you guys would all fall down laughing. I’ll just say “not many” and leave it at that. :)

    Since it is not the camera and it certainly isn’t my skills I think we will have to give credit to the subject of the photos.

  • Art says:

    Hi John,
    Nice bike! It looks like you are riding a 52cm Surly Cross Check and wonder if you have any problems with toeclip overlap? I just purchased a 52 cm ‘Check and have a bit of a problem with overlap with the Japanese version of Gilles Berthoud stainless steel fenders that I mounted. I am using the same Shimano spd pedals as you have with Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro mountain bike shoes for ease of walking into work after my commute. Just wondering if the SKS fenders would be less of a problem.
    Keep up the good work and thanks for your time.

  • Surly John says:

    Hey Art, You have a good eye! it is a 52 cm. I do bump the front fender with my toe in slow turns sometimes. You are not alone in the toe overlap. I wear a Shimano MTB shoe. The SKS fenders are flexible and sturdy so bumping them does no damage. (I just looked carefully and I can see scratches if I really look for them. Plastic may hide the damage better than stainless.)

    I was bothered by it at first but toe overlap soon became a non-issue.

    A couple of things to minimize overlap:
    1) Experiment with cleat position: Move your cleats up on the shoe a little bit. I did that when I first started riding the CC. I was coming from a Tour Easy and had the cleats all the way back for that application. I prefer riding the CC with them near center of the adjustment.

    2) What length cranks are your using? I’m running 165 mm crank arms. I do that because I prefer that length, not because of overlap but it has to help.

    Good luck with your new bike. I think you’ll find it versatile and comfortable. I use mine for everything from organized century rides to fire roads as well as transportation.


  • Art says:

    Thanks for the reply John. The overlap is less after the boys at the LBS (Old Spokes Home in Burlington, Vermont) re-adjusted the fender a bit and I am learning to live with it. I am using 170 mm crank arms as that is what I am used to and the same length as my other bikes. I enjoy the bike alot using it principally for a hilly 33 mile round trip commute to work at the University of Vermont. I have a Blackburn rack on the back and use the smaller Ortlieb panniers. I also added a 24 tooth small ring for the short, but steep climbs on my commute. Best regards, Art.

  • Paul says:


    I just came across while searching on “Rohloff Crosscheck”. I notice you used the long torque arm. Were the dropouts on the Crosscheck not long enough to avoid the torque arm?


  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Another Year Gone By says:

    […] Gallery: John’s Rohloff-Equipped Surly Cross-Check […]

  • dan says:

    Hello John,

    I noticed that you do not have a chain tensioner on your bike as stipulated by the Rohloff people in their manual. I have recently bought a travelers check frame and am about to build it up. Have you had any problems with slippage because of no chain tensioner? Are you using something else to secure the assembly?

    Dan (montreal quebec)

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