Recommendations for building up a bike ?


New Member
Hello everyone … I’m thinking of buying a Surly Cross Check frame and building it up to be my everyday commuter (10 miles each way) and for use as a light tourer on occasions. I like the sound of Audaxes too, so want it to be pretty comfortable and reliable.

So I’d really like some ideas of what components to put on it Any must-haves or things to avoid ? Initially on my wish list are a Brooks saddle and a Chris King headset (funds permitting of course) but I don’t really know much about stems, seatposts, handlebars (apart from that I need them !)

And I was thinking of a triple – am currently a bit overweight and underfit !

So any suggestions for any component would be welcome, as it’ll be a total new build up.



New Member
Well, if you're even considering Chris King kit then you're obviously serious! So for stem and seatpost I'd probably go for Thomson, handlebars maybe a nice Easton carbon set? Not sure if you want to go with flat handlebars or drops.

Saddles are generally a very personal thing (oh er!) so try before you buy defintiely.

If you're commuting, touring and audaxing then I think I'd tend towards MTB groupsets (more durable than Road stuff), maybe Shimano Deore XT or SRAM X9, though I'm not sure about compatibility with STIs, Double Tap or Ergopower levers (depending on your preference). There maybe 9/10 speed compatibility issues too. You'd probably want to team them up with larger chainrings and smaller cassette sizes as well...

...Or you could just take the easy option and get a full road groupset with triple chainrings, which you know will at least all work together!

Hope that gives you something to think about anyway!


Senior Member
Birmingham, UK
Ah, nothing better than building up a new bike. That looks like a nice frame - I hope you are going to have somewhere safe to keep that bike!

I'm going to echo Peyote's advice about Thompson seatposts and Easton bars - not because there aren't other decent options, but I've had good experiences both in terms of product quality and after-sales service. Carbon bars will do a bit for your comfort.

What do you think of Peyote's suggestion of using some MTB components? Do you have any feelings about flat or dropped bars? How about wheels (e.g. factory or hand-built)? Are you building this up yourself or having an LBS do the work?

Sorry for all the questions! It's just a bit of a blank slate so I'm trying to narrow things down a bit. :biggrin:
What a great prospect, I would go for a 105 compact groupset @under £300 ,some askiums at @£100 or handbuilt Shimano/Mavics trim the rest with whatever takes your fancy!!

Does the frame come with a fork? If not I may have a good LBS put the fork, headset and Bottom Bracket in place or you might fancy the challange.

Either way it wiould be a lovely project.

roshi chris

New Member
I don't get on with brooks saddles I find them slippy, my favorite saddle is a Rido I bought for ten squids. So its definately a personal thing, I'd definately suggest trying before you buy.

Get cantilever brakes rather than vs or mini-vs, much much better feel and stopping power.

I'd also suggest drop bars rather than flats. if you're doing some touring you'll appreciate the change of hand position.


Über Member
I looked at one of these, what a versatile bike, you could build it up in so many ways. After the frame, wheels are the best place to spend money, other components might be a bit slicker, or lighter or last longer but it all works pretty well. You will notice the difference with good wheels and tyres, get a decent wheelbuilder to make them for you, Bike Plus or Harry Rowland seem to be the favorites down south. You might also consider a dynamo hub, on an everyday bike it’s great to always have lights without having to think about it. Getting a decent Shimano one from the start will add about £30 to the build (+lights), adding one later costs over twice that.
EBay is good for individual components, particularly if you get last years version. Have fun.


New Member
Thanks for your responses, guys. There are so many options available these days it takes ages to check them all out.

I was definitely favouring the drop bar option, although I was given a Nitto Moustache bar as a present, and I haven't used it yet, so that might be an option.

I have no preference for mtb / road components, although I have read positive things about the 105 groupset being a good standard for the money.
I haven't looked into mtb components yet, so I'll check out the Deore XT and Sram X9 - thanks for the suggestions Peyote.

How does the range of gears compare - presumably the highest gear of the mtb is a fair bit lower than the road - but maybe of little significance as I won't be racing ? (or I suppose another way to look at it is that the lowest gear of the mtb is much lower, so useful if loaded up in hilly areas ... decisions, decisions ...)

There was a good test (and timely for me) of different wheels in Cycling+ this month, so I was thinking about ordering one of the sets that spacycles had built up.

Currently i use an old mountain bike to get to work, and haven't used any of these STI, Double Tap or Ergo levers - my last "road" frame was when I was young and they still had levers on the down-tube ...

Regarding the actual build : I am not the greatest mechanic in the world, so I was thinking of going on a 2 day maintenance course, where you strip down your bike and then learn how to re-build it. It would be useful knowledge to get, and it wouldn't take me too long to achieve the first part !

And luckily, barq, we do have secure cycle parking at work, which is why I don't mind spending some of the hard-earned on a new bike. Not so sure I'd do it if I had to leave it outside for any period of time though.

Thanks again for all your suggestions so far - off to investigate some now.


Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
S of Kendal
I wouldn't bother with a Chris King Headset. The Cane Creek S3 works fine and you just pop a replacement bearing in if necessary. The headset is the one bearing that does the least rotating on a bike, so to treat it to the finest bearings is a bit wierd.

There's lots of better things to spend your money on. Like an Easyjet ticket for you and your bike to Spain in March for a long weekend.

The Chris King is also very sensitive to how it's installed. You would certainly have to get the headtube faces skimmed to ensure they were exactly round and parallel. No point in going for high precision and then installing them on the slosh.

Monty Dog

New Member
Don't bother with a Chris King - FSA Orbit Extreme has same quality bearings for half the price. For durability, I'd look at a Centaur groupset - you'll have to respace a Shimano cassette to Campag 10 or get an Evolution cassette - but the durability factor and the fact that you can easily fit a bar bag if needed is worth it. Unless you're planning loaded touring, a compact chainset will give you the same gear range without the wider Q-factor of a triple. Stick to 26mm bars and stems for comfort and an ally post such as the Thompson if you want to use a seatpost rack. You might also want to consider an Avid cable disc brake on the front for serious and reliable stopping power - obviously this will influence your fork choice too.
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