I'm looking to build up a bike, and while I have certain characteristics in mind I'm not familiar enough with the frame market to know what to look at.

This would be my daily commuter/grocery runner. I live in San Francisco, so I want something that's appropriate for traffic and hills. As far as subjective feel, I want something that's nimble but not overly aggressive.

As for the specifics, I'd like

  • Steel
  • 54 or 55cm frame size
  • Road geometry, although probably on the relaxed side (see above)
  • Rack mounts
  • Horizontal dropouts (I'm considering an internal hub)

Can you recommend some frames that would fit this description?

  • 2
    Specific product recommendations usually aren't a good fit for the Stack Exchange question-and-answer format because of their limited lifespan. Could you adapt your question to be more about issues than specific products? – amcnabb Aug 27 '12 at 23:17
  • @amcnabb Frames tend to change very little from year to year, especially when we are talking about steel frames. The Surly Cross-Check I pointed out in my answer has been sold for almost a decade. I think this question could be quite useful to others, and has a good chance of still being relevant for at least 5 more years. – Kibbee Aug 28 '12 at 0:33
  • 2
    Other than the horizontal dropouts you're basically describing a touring frame. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 28 '12 at 1:15
  • @DanielRHicks is spot on. Additionally, there are a couple of ways to run an internal hub without horzontal dropouts. I.e., eccentric hub, eccentric bottom bracket, or a good ol' fashioned chain tensioner. – jimchristie Sep 25 '12 at 20:33

I think that something like the Surly Cross-Check would suit your needs. They also have a few other models that you might want to consider. Although most others don't have horizontal dropouts. You could always get a chain tensioner if you wanted to use and IGH with a bike with vertical dropouts.


Surly Cross Check - Geared Cross bike with bar end shifters and canti brakes
All City Space Horse - Geared road / light touring bike with canti brakes and STI shifters.
Salsa Casserole - Geared road / touring / city bike with STI Shifters
Raleigh Roper - Geared Cross bike with Disc Brakes and STI shifters (no horizontal dropouts)

I personally own an all city space horse and find it very versatile. I have rode it off road (Hilly billy roubaix in West Virginia), for a short 4 day bike tour, for commuting, and hilly road rides around town.

I like the cross check (and have one of those too), but the default setup leaves something to be desired (I'd prefer STI shifters). However, If you're willing to tweak it yourself, it's also a great multi-purpose bike. There is a reason I see these things everywhere.

I know people who ride the other two bikes and can vouch for them as well. Any of these would be a great choice and they are all around a similar price point. It's hard to go wrong with any of them.

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