Big Dummy

Earlier this morning, at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, Surly took the wraps off a new bike, the Big Dummy. Not sure if that’s a final name (from Sanford & Son, starring Redd Foxx). Big Dummy is the first production longtail bike built around Xtracycle’s modular rack system. To use Xtracycle’s racks presently, you need to bolt Xtracycle’s FreeRadical product to your regular bike. This works really well, but soon you can buy a purpose-built frame for the job:

Scot Dion, maker of sweet custom longtails, sent more detailed photos.

Introduced to great acclaim at Interbike five years ago, Xtracycles have earned their renown as the only passenger and cargo hauling rigs that ride nearly as nimbly as ordinary bikes, and that you can still hoist up stairs, fit into elevators or onto a bus rack. Xtracycles are inch for inch, pound for pound, hands-down the most practical way to carry lots of stuff on a bike. They certainly changed our lives. Still, the radicalism of the idea — bolting a wheelbase extension onto your bike — has somewhat limited its acceptance. With its credibility and distribution in virtually every bike shop in America, Surly introducing this bike delivers a huge load of validation that should nudge the longtail bike concept truly into the mainstream.

Yes, it will be Stokemonkey-compatible. I haven’t ridden Big Dummy, nor seen more than these pictures at the moment, but I sent Surly a Stokemonkey a ways back in a blind bid to learn what I needed to do. There are lots of unanswered questions (like when will it be available and for how much? [rumor: next spring, $820 frame/fork]), but something tells me I’ll be equipping a whole lot of these things with assist over the next years.

Surly’s bike should offer a better strength-to-weight ratio and more torsional stiffness than the bolt-together approach. It should also offer more deliberately tuned handling than comes about with the retrofit path. While retrofit Xtracycles perform a whole lot better than people suppose before they try, both of these considerations, along with aesthetics, are what inspired my Xtravois project in 2003, and similar independent efforts now tagged “longtails” on this here blog.

One of the handling fine points is steering geometry. As I’ve at least begun to explain elsewhere (1, 2, 3), I’ve found that bikes with poofy tires and a weighted front wheel (the rider’s weight in the longtail case) benefit from uncommonly low geometric trail. Surly’s Big Dummy has a steeper head angle than the 71 degrees more typical of bikes with 26ââ?¬Â³ wheels. They’re also testing unusually high fork rakes, the highest of which brings trail down into the 50′s (mm) with even the fattest of tires. A lot of these ideas about steering geometry are presented lucidly by Jan Heine in his study of old French tandem and porteur bikes, both of which I think bear on longtail designs, too. The Kogswell Porteur is an explicit embodiment of Heine’s work.

The Bike Hugger people posted a glimpse before 6 am today, scooping me! Check their ongoing Interbike coverage for more detail; I know I’ll be!

Initial reactions are positive (DUH!):
* BikeForums

* Craigslist

* Point83

Where else are people talking?

22 thoughts on “Big Dummy”

  • uroburro

    Where do I collect my prize for correctly guessing what was heretofor an unknown manufacturer?

    The bike looks like it makes a lot of sense. I hope the team thoroughly addresses the amount of flex that can be induced: by carrying big loads behind the BB, and the amount of power that can be applied at the BB. With a 408 Stokemonkey and a strong rider, 500+ watts can be applied for long periods of time. Combine that wattage with an additional 75-100 lbs of weight, and you have a recipe for one heck of a squirrelly bike. Ask me how I know.

    From other posts, the Surly folks certainly look very adventurous in their X/SM applications. If anyone can pull this off, it should be them.

    If the Surly team is looking for a worst-case scenario beta-tester, please let me know. I’ll put Big Rig (name suggestion) through its paces. :-)

    PS: would definitely prefer to see a 203 front disc.

  • Evan Hanson

    I want one so bad I can taste it.

  • Daner

    I had a nice talk with Swervy while he was over for SSWC06. I was on my Xtracycle and we were talking in general about how one of these should be designed. My point then (as now) is that the need to pay more attention to lateral and torsional rigidity goes up very quickly when adding that much extra wheelbase. The Xtravois addresses that rather elegantly with the twin lateral tubes, but I suspect that a different approach might result in a more favorable stiffness/weight/cost ratio. I’d go with a onepointfive headset standard headtube but combine it with very large diameter main tubes like Dave Boehm uses with his Bohemian Tandem.
    Every extra mm of width from the HT all the way back through the BB and on to the dropouts will help to counter the significant bending and twisting forces that riding this kind of bicycle loaded will induce. Configure that extra material wisely and it does not need to weigh or cost a ton. Of course, going with a tandem-width, zero-dish, bolt-on or some form of through-axle rear hub wouldn’t hurt either, and if you really wanted to get serious you could specify a dedicated rigid fork with some sort of through-axle arrangement and a 1.5 steerer.

  • Frank

    It may not be too long before we’re talking like tandem enthusiasts about different long-bike frame configurations. I’m going to think of the Big Dummy as a “triple triangle” frame, with the addition of the “reverse seat tube” making triangle number 3.

    So is this going to be sold as a frame or a complete bike?

  • [...] This will be the first widely available longtail bike with an integrated hitchless trailer. I won’t go into the physics of how and why this bike is going to feel good to ride. The retrofit Xtracycles already feel good to ride. I won’t attempt to describe in words how this new integrated longtail bike can change your life. The retrofit Xtracycle can already change your life. [...]

  • Bike lust…

    According to BikeHugger and Cleverchimp, Surly introduced at longtail bike at Interbike today designed to take Xtracycle accessories. That is, it’s a frame purpose-built to take the cargo racks and accessories Xtracycle makes, without requiring t…

  • phaedrus

    How soon can I get one.

    I haven’t been able to focus on working today because I’m so agitated about getting this frame as soon as I possibly can.

  • Ambrose

    I found this “Big Dummy Line Drawing” after a search on the Surly site.

  • Ian Hopper

    Crap. Now that I’ve finally “finished” (though I’m still not done with the installation) building up my X/SM, this is calling to have me pull it all apart and install it all on a dedicated longtail. Grrr… progress is hell on the checkbook.

  • phaedrus

    Whimper Whine.

    Turns out that I can’t get one until “late spring/summer”.


  • Chalo

    Gawd, I hope they make this thing in size “humongous”.

    You know– my size.


  • derek

    Very nice. But who can wait that long for xtracycle goodness!!??? I recommend not waiting a second more if you are in the market. I’m so in love with mine

  • [...] The ride home was more grueling than I though it would be- mostly due to the fact that my bike wouldn’t shift down to the small chainring- excellent time to discover that. So I cranked it out in the lowest gear of my middle chainring- and it burned. But I have to say, the fact that I was able to even do it at all is definitely due to riding a singlespeed- I’m stronger for it for sure. The initial climb, up the classic Old Volcano Highway out of Royal Hawaiian Estates, is a lonely mile and a half section of cracked old road that feels a lot like the remaining original sections of Route 66. I just put my head down so the water would drip of of my forehead without running into my eyes and just watched the cracks go by. Counting them down in my head, I started chanting “…one less crack, one less car, (feeling a bit full of myself) one less crack, one less car, two less cracks (they were close together), one less car…” You get the idea. By the time I looked up, I was passing a guy parked on the side of the road with a big smile on his face as he watched me spin by. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was the one with the big smile. I had been frustrated with not being able to bike to work, like so many of the other blog writers I read get to do, so this is good step. This may be a good winter for it too; as an El Nino year, we supposedly have cooler weather in Hawaii, but with about half as much rain as usual. It may be time to start saving up for the new Surly Big Dummy, but for now, I’ll be the guy on Volcano Highway around 8:10am on the old Barracuda with a tattered old Burley. [...]

  • [...] There’s been a lot of buzz lately about Xtracycle, the company that sells kits to convert bikes into longtail, cargo-hauling machines. Besides besides a great company with a solid product, much of the recent excitement has revolved around the news from Interbike that Surly now makes the first Xtracycle-equipped bike, their new Big Dummy model. [...]

  • [...] Believe it or not, cargo bikes have started the march toward mainstream; Surly’s got a stock Xtracycle long-bike, and a U.S.-based importer of Dutch bikes told me that one of his bakfiets models will be featured in an upcoming issue of Cookie Magazine, a glossy mag for well-to-do American mommies. [...]

  • Phelps Holloway
    Phelps Holloway October 28, 2006 at 2:13 am

    I wonder if a small 20″ rear wheel was considered. They’re stonger and would allow more room for freight. The gearing issue would be irrelevant, as this bike would be ridden slower than a conventional bike.

  • [...] Sneak yourself some more big dummy action here and some long wheelbase antics here. [...]

  • [...] resumed sales later this summer. We especially want to be shipping again by the time Surly’s Big Dummy frameset is available. The issue is not only the temporary lack of human resources to respond to [...]

  • mass transit

    a few years ago, i designed a cheaper homemade version by cutting and welding old bikes together... good for non profits... for more info... m/t/b/i/k/e/s/at/r/i/s/e/u/p/./n/e/t -joe

  • [...] For folks who are looking to reduce their automobile dependency, but still need to transport 100-pound sacks of dog food, 100-pound dogs or 100-pound sacks of people food, the FreeRadical is a terrific option for transforming a normal bicycle into a very useful hauler. For those who don’t want to fuss with the installation, complete bikes are available from Xtracycle and at least one other vendor.  [...]

  • Charlie The Bikemonger

    Here is something that may be of interest to you...
    It’s a small web community for surly big dummy owners, a bit like fixed gear gallery but for hefty haulin’ bikes... a bit like an owners club (but that sounds too lame).
    Have a look, and send in some pictures and words for the gallery page. Join in, contribute.
    Its early days, the website is about 3 hours old, but in time we will have a glorious collection of pics, movies, tips and tales of adventure.
    I do sell Surly bikes, but this is not about that... this is about bringing the DB community together.
    All the best, please feel free to email if you need anything.

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