I have a bike (Surly Crosscheck) that is used for commuting and cyclocross. As it's a bit older and disc brakes were not legal for 'cross until recently, it has cantilever brakes for optimal mud clearance.

They also kind of suck for commuting in a rainy city with panniers.

I have been debating doing a conversion to discs for this bike, but I don't really know what I'd need to replace, so a list would be highly helpful, then I can price it out and decide whether or not I should just buy a new bike... Possibly I could also keep the cantilever on the rear and just go with a disc on the front for good stopping.

Presumably the wheels and front fork at the least would need to change. As would the brifters as those probably pull differently. What else would I need?

3 Answers 3


Hydraulics for your drop bar bike might be difficult to acquire. I believe that someone made a cable actuated hydraulic brake ... it was downright terrible.

The clamp on adaptors are in my experience a nightmare. They allow for greater vibration and therefore terrible noises.

First, check your bike for disc tabs. If it doesn't have them you could have them welded onto your frame by a local builder. As well this could be your opportunity to upgrade your bike. Haha. As well it might be cheaper to simply purchase a new fork rather than have tabs welded on. Who knows?

Second, check your wheels. Do you have disc hubs? If not you will minimum have to rebuild your wheels with a new hub. Ensure that you can build the wheels in a nice dependable 3 cross pattern to resist wind up. Again, this might be the time to get a nice new set of wheels. Or the opportunity you have been looking for to start building your own wheels.

Thirdly, what shifters do you have? Does your crosscheck have barcons w/ independent brake levers or STI style shifters? If you have STI style shifters then AVID makes a bb7 road disc caliper. This caliper has had the pull adjusted to accommodate road set ups. If your setup features independent brake levers for the calipers the road bb7 is your best choice as well.

That's about all I've got for you. If I can think of more ... I'll be back.


You'll need new hubs to mount the disc on (probably whole new wheel). They used to make clamp on adaptors for forks that didn't have disc mounts so you may just be able to get one of those and keep the fork you have.

You can go with cable discs (cheaper but not the same stopping power) or hydraulics (best stopping power but more $$).

  • 2
    A fork that's not designed for disc brakes might not hold up to the forces from disc braking well. In particular, it may twist and make the bike difficult to control when trying to stop fast.
    – freiheit
    Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 20:16

I have done this conversion with my 2006 Specialized Sequoia. However, I did only the front fork and wheel. Disk brakes do help a lot, but I think it's not worth the hassle that a retrofit on the rear wheel requires.

You don't need to change the Brifters. Avid makes a mechanical disk brake ( BB7 ) that has a road version that works with standard brifters. ( I use Shimano 105 on my bike ).


You will need a new front fork, wheel and the BB7 brake. Nashbar makes a low budget carbon Cross disk fork, I used a Winwood for my project.


On a Surly CrossCheck, the geometry might be tweaked a bit, but it should be pretty close to the original. I build my own wheels, but if you can find a "29'er" front wheel with 9mm QR that should work just fine.

www.blueskycycling.com has a easton front wheel that is pretty cheap.

You can buy bolt on adapters for the rear wheel, but IMHO it's just not worth the hassle and expense.

google site:www.bikemag.com braketherapy

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