I really like the way the Surly Cross-Check feels and rides. I'm leaning towards it as a light touring and weekend back-roads bike. But I'm not totally thrilled with the gearing and don't know if it can be fixed inexpensively.
I currently ride a hybrid with MTB components. 26-36-48 triple in front and 11-34 or 11-36 9-speed in the back. That gives me a low gear-inch figure of somewhere in the very low 20s, I think. The exact number isn't that important but it's definitely down in granny-gear range. I like it that way. The rural area where I live has some short but nasty hills.
As listed on the Surly website, the Cross-Check has a 36-48 double in front and a 11-32 9-speed in the back. That gets me maybe into the lower to middle 30s for lowest gear-inches, I think. The bar-end shifters are capable of handling a triple (from the Shimano website). The front derailleur (Shimano Sora FD-3403) also appears to be able to handle a 3x9 combination. The technical documents on the website list it as being able to handle 27 gears with a 9 cog cassette so I'm drawing that conclusion. The crankset (Andel RSC6 36/48) appears to be available as a 26/36/48 (Andel website). And when you look at the Andel crankset on the Cross-Check, there are clearly a set of "empty" bolt holes that look like they're intended to hold a third chainring (the 26, I assume).
So ... I don't know much about these types of things but it APPEARS, based on what I'm seeing on a few websites, that I could possibly add a third ring to the crankset and get my 3x9 combination. Is it really that simple or am I deluding myself? The LBS guys said, without any hesitation, that I couldn't do that. Are they right or are they just spouting conventional wisdom? Or maybe they just don't know?
I know a lot of you build out your own bikes. I have neither the time, patience, nor money to do that. I'm going to basically buy "off the shelf" and tweak a few things. Many of you make extensive modifications and swap-outs on your bikes. I'm turning to you to enlighten me. If I can make these changes reasonably inexpensively, that would be cool. If I can't, I'm not ruling out the Cross-Check ... it just makes the decision a little more difficult.
The other bike I'm considering is the Salsa Casseroll which I have test-ridden and also like a lot (feels very much like the Cross-Check and the geometries are almost identical, thank you QBS). It already comes in a 3x9 combination but, quite honestly, the color scheme is pretty ugly, IMHO.
Thanks in advance.