In this week’s Reader’s Rig, we check out James Perich’s heavily modified 2012 Surly Cross-Check, which he uses for flying down British Columbia’s gravel roads and hauling cinnamon buns around town. Learn more about James and his unique Cross-Check build here…

Words by James Perich, photos by Casey Elzinga

My name is James, and I reside in the town of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada. I work in the neighboring ski town as a carpenter, while my wife and I have a small urban lot where we raise chickens, quail, and Giant Flemish rabbits, as well as a vegetable patch.

Surly Cross-Check

I love all types of two-wheeled antics and have been riding for my entire life. I grew up riding BMX, which eventually morphed into freeride in the early 2000s. Trail riding and cyclocross came later, with touring and bikepacking being a still later addition. I enjoy all types of riding, but nothing tops a good skid down a gravel road!

My bike is a 2012ish Surly Cross-Check. At least that’s how it started. It was supposed to replace my fixie as a more versatile commuter. I discovered something people were at the time referring to as “monstercross,” which was just running larger tires on a cross bike. I started out with 2.0″ Ritchey tires with trimmed-down side knobs. The bike stayed like this for some time, with various setups including dropbars, flat bars, single speed, gears, racks, etc.

  • Surly Cross-Check
  • Surly Cross-Check

The current, and my favourite setup thus far, involved me widening the yoke with some brutish technique, and fitting 2.25″ Maxxis Ardent tires. The handlebars are actual Renthal Motocross bars with the crossbar removed, and for gearing, I’m rocking 1×9 wide range. I love it. It’s perfectly suited to skidding gravel roads, hitting jumps, and going on small multi-day bikepacking adventures.

  • Surly Cross-Check
  • Surly Cross-Check
  • Surly Cross-Check
Surly Cross-Check
  • Frame/Fork Surly Cross-Check (56cm), custom bend yokes
  • Rims Alex CX
  • Hubs Shimano Deore, rear converted to nutted axle
  • Tires Maxxis Ardent 2.25 EXO
  • Handlebars Renthal MX, cross bar removed
  • Grips DMR Void push on with flanges
  • Headset Cane Creek
  • Crankset Shimano XT with 36tooth e.13 narrow-wide ring
  • Pedals Deity flats
  • Cassette Sunrace wide range 9-speed, 11-36
  • Derailleur Shimano XT
  • Brakes Tektro canti with some parts bin moto-style levers
  • Shifter(s) Sunrace friction
  • Saddle Brooks B17
  • Seatpost Truvativ Stylo
  • Stem Vintage Kona 90mm
  • Front bags Swift Zeitgeist, large (sometimes Wald basket on Surly rack)
  • Frame bags Hopefully soon!
  • Rear bags Swift Zeitgeist, small
  • Accessory bags Dakine hippack
  • Other accessories Wrist Rocket slingshot, lotsa neat stickers

If I could change anything, it would be to make a frame bag for that enormous triangle, which would really help me overstuffing my Swift bags on multi-day trips. I have also had my eye on Tumbleweed’s Persuader handlebar. And to answer the inevitable questions: the front bag support is homemade from Wald basket struts. It’s very sturdy and took about five minutes to make. I bounce a bit between the front bag and a basket mounted to Surly’s 8-Pack Rack, which is helpful for when I need to be carrying more cinnamon buns. The frame has had my stretched yokes for over five years, and no sign of failing. The tire clearance is tight, but does not rub.

  • Surly Cross-Check
  • Surly Cross-Check

Thanks for checking out my bike! Hope you dig it or at least get a good laugh out of it! I don’t use any social media, so if ya want to connect, come out to the Kootenays and look me up!

Want more Cross-Check action? Check out Kenny’s Cross-Check Reader’s Rig and our in-depth post on building a Surly Cross-Check as a dream commuter.

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