Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surly Big Dummy Complete Bikes

Photo: Xtracycle

Surly announced that they will be selling a complete Big Dummy for those folks who don't want to build one from scratch. No word yet on the parts/spec or cost, but you can be sure it will be a lot cheaper than building the same bike a la carte. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the complete Big Dummy being sold by Xtracycle. Hopefully Surly will make some different parts choices just so folks can pick from two different flavours of Big Dummy.

Updated Specification:

Here's the specs.
Headset- Richy Logic Comp
Handlebar- Surly Torsion Bar
Brake levers- Avid Speed Dial 7
Brakes - Avid BB7
Crankset/BB - Surly Mr. Whirly 48/36/26
Saddle - WTB SST
Cassette- LX-M580 9 sp 11-34
Hubs - Surly front, XT rear
Rims- Salsa Gordo 36 hole
Front der.- LX
Rear der. - LX
Shifters - LX
Spokes DT Swiss 14g
Tires -Schwalbe Big Apple 26 X 2.0
Pedals - not included
Xtracycle kit, Snapdeck, left and right V-racks left and right freeloader bags.
Price- TBA

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rohloff Trigger Shifter

Apparently a trigger shifter is in the works from Rohloff. I'm guessing it won't be made with wood triggers...=-) Personally I like the twist shifter because you can dump several gears at once, but I welcome some choice in shifters.

Tune Aftermarket Rohloff Shifter

Rohloff 100,000 hubs and counting...

Rohloff Equivalent MTB Gear Ratios

Click on the image above to see the equivalent MTB gear ratios for a particular Rohloff chainring/cog combination. This will help you choose the chainring you'll drive your Rohloff with. Remember the Rohloff will ship with a 16T stock cog and they won't warranty a hub used on a single bike with a chainring smaller than 38T.

Thorn's "Living with a Rohloff" PDF
also shows some MTB drivetrain equivalency info on the last page.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Big Dummy Project

Jim is riding across the US on a Big Dummy towing his dog Elke in a trailer. He has a nice site called The Big Dummy Project and he is trying to raise awareness about diabetes. Drop in and post an encouraging note if you have a moment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RANS Hammer Truck PT2

I've got a bit more info on the new RANS Hammer Truck. It will haul up to 500lbs - which is 2.5 times the capacity of the Xtracycle/Big Dummy and more than even some of the serious heavy duty cargo cargo bikes like the Yuba Mundo. The accessories you see that are similar to the v-racks and wide loaders from Xtracycle are not compatible with the Freeradical of Big Dummy.

RANS has suggested that a future version of the Hammer Truck may be compatible with the Xtracycle/Big Dummy or at least that RANS may develop some accessories for the Xtracycle/Big Dummy.

Given RANS' track record for high quality innovative products it will be very interesting to see what comes out from this new player in the cargo bike market.

The RANS Hammer Truck should be available for delivery around January 2009.

Xtracycle Bling @ Interbike

Thursday, September 25, 2008

RANS Hammer Truck

Some info on the new RANS Hammer Truck from the Commute by Bike Blog:

"Rans is known for their recumbents and low seat upright bikes. Rans designer Randy Schlitter schleps around Hays, KS but he didn’t the cargo capacity he needed, so designed the Rans Hammer Truck.

The Rans Hammer Truck is the Rans unique take on longtail cargo bike. The 35 lb bike can carry up to 500 lbs of rider and cargo, with huge bags to carry cargo and optional running boards to support the weight. The Rans Hammer Truck will retail for $1895 beginning in November."

Not sure yet about the details, but it looks good. I hope it will compatible with all the Xtracycle accessories so you'll have loads of flexibility.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Small Wheels + Big Rubber

Todd Fahrner of Clever Cycles in Portland posted the info below on Bike Forums and I thought it was worth capturing here for those of you with cargo bike builds on the go. I haven't tried using small wheels with large tires, but it's a concept which makes a lot of sense and Todd has loads of experience with cargo bikes. I'd be keen on hearing some feedback from anyone who tries it.

"For Xtracycles including Big Dummy, I greatly prefer 24" wheels with 2.35" Big Apples to 26" wheels with either high or low volume tires. High volume tires provide the only suspension to be had for the dead weight of your cargo, and improve braking and comfort. 24" lets you have it while still keeping the bottom bracket in the range of road bikes, so you can get a foot down to stabilize at stops, and mount/dismount easily without leaning the bike. This matters with a heavily loaded bike, particularly if your load is precious and mounted high, like a kid. You need disc or drum brakes to swap wheel sizes like this.

A similar trick is to start with a so-called "two-niner" frame (designed for 700c rims with poofy tires) and fit 26" wheels; e.g., http://clevercycles.com/?p=136 .

This advice doesn't apply if you intend actually to jump logs and so on with your cargo bike, or if you insist on pedaling through high speed sharp turns, such that you risk striking a pedal. Both Xtracycle and Surly do tend to promote the concept of these bikes being MTBs, and optimize ground clearance accordingly. I'm more urban/pavement oriented, excluding curb-hopping."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adios Taifun

I sold my Challenge Taifun recumbent and had to get it to the UPS Store to ship it. Naturally I didn't use my pick up truck.

Using a wide loader combined with a long loader I was able to easily strap the box to the side of my Surly Big Dummy. The weight being all on one side unbalanced the bike a bit when riding. Not terribly, but I should have picked up a couple cases of beer to balance out the right side of the bike...=-)

My cheap kickstand took a beating when I was loading the box. I'm actually surprised it didn't break. I'll be shopping around for a centre stand over the winter. The Xtracycle stand is the front runner at the moment.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rohloff Hub - The Inside Story

Jay's Big Dummy

Wow - you can tell the new batch of Surly Big Dummy frames is in stock at QBP with all the cool Big Dummy builds hitting the street. Jay got his Big Dummy rolling with the help of the fine folks at Revolution Bike Repair in Arcata, CA. Sweet ride Jay - congrats! Click here to see more photos of Jay's ride.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sean's Big Woody

Sean Ralph's Big Dummy looks stunning with custom Woody fenders and matching Snapdeck & Footsies. It almost looks too nice to ride..=-) Great work.

Simply amazing.

Cut out on right side of fenders for chain clearance.

Dirk Leas' Big Dummy

Dirk's been wanting a Big Dummy for a while now and finally got his baby rolling and hauling. Congrats Dirk...enjoy your Big Dummy.

Xtracycle Dealer Agreement

Photo: Xtracycle

The message below was posted on the Roots Radical Yahoo Group. Apparently there are some changes happening with how Xtracycle products are distributed. Not sure what the ramifications will be, but if you were planning on getting one you might want to either pull the trigger now or confirm with your supplier what impact these changes may have on your particular situation.

"As of now, the new Xtracycle Dealer Agreement will not allow bike
shops to sell you a Free Radical Kit. The agreement states that all
bike shops that stock Xtracycles must install it and cannot sell you
a FR kit otherwise.

You must either have the shop order it from Quality Bicycle Products
in order to avoid the requirement. QBP sells at a much higher price
than Xtracycle does, Don't ask me why!

Also, the new Xtracycle Dealer agreement is designed to only favor
the highest volume shops. (Performance anyone?) In fact, they have
even put their highest volume dealers out of the loop. I sell many,
many, many per year but cannot come close to the number they expect!
It is crazy. Xtracycle was founded on the small guy. Now you can
enjoy you going dealer direct as I do not expect many IBDs
(Independent Bicycle Dealers) to be able to stock them at a price
that is competative with Xtracycle direct.

Good luck!

Signing off, Aaron's Bicycle Repair, the former #1, now apparently #3
Xtracycle Dealer in the USA.

Not Feeling the Flavor of the Freedom....."

Rohloff - Bent EX Gear Mech

Photos: Mugtree

These photos were posted on the Thorn Rohloff Forum. They show how the external gear mechanism can be bent inwards and rub against the disc rotor. Since this is the same position the external gear mechanism would be in on a Big Dummy it's something to be aware of. Not a huge risk and not something I'd lose any sleep over, but at the same time you want to keep this in mind when riding/transporting/storing your Big Dummy if it has a Rohloff.

BTW - the hub still shifted okay like this and the external gear mechanism could likely be bent back somewhat until it could be replaced.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2009 Xtracycle Catalogue

Photo: Xtracycle

The 2009 Xtracycle catalogue is available for viewing online. There are a number of new products shown - some of which I've talked about in previous posts. One that I hadn't mentioned is a centre stand [see page 12/13] for sale at $139.00. I'm doing okay so far with my $10 kickstand, but I'll be giving this new centre stand some thought. I can see how it could prove quite useful. If you get one let me know what you think about it.

Nonconform Cycling Blog

Dennis over at the Nonconform Cycling Blog has a very cool gas-assist Xtracycle rig and a nice DIY centre-stand.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Xtracycle talks about pricing and going open source...

I rec'd the comment below from Xtracycle and thought it deserved to be a post on its own rather than buried in the comments section. It's great that the company has taken the time to talk about important issues like pricing and I'm excited that they are going open source with their cargo system standard.

"Greetings from Xtracycle.

Wev'e gotten some feedback lately regarding the raised pricing on several of our products, as well as a window into some of your inspired discussions about this. First and foremost, we want to say, thanks for your thoughts. We definitely strive to balance all the factors that go into the pricing of goods: materials and manufacturing costs; buying in huge quantity to drive down price vs. managing cash flow and keeping quantities low; compensating our suppliers and our team well; building in opportunities for distributors/dealers to make a living selling our stuff as well.

Perhaps you've heard the adage from the bicycle industry: "What's the best way to end up with a million dollars selling bikes? Start with two million." Bicycles, like most commodities, suffer from a great deal of externalized pricing, whether it's the artificially low (now rising) cost of fuel, the artificially low (now rising) cost of Chinese labor, the artificially low (now greatly rising) cost of raw materials, or the fact that the bike industry has never had enough self respect to ask for what the products are worth to grow the market share of bicycles to cars. Seeding a revolution in transportation and quality of life won't be free. It will however, be way cheaper than owning a car.

Todd's right that we've put nearly 10 years into carving out the niche for longbikes in the broader bicycle market. It's been a wonderful, if at times, fiscally challenging journey, and we're not making a profit yet. Never fear, no one's getting rich off of Whatchamacollars (or FreeLoaders or Footsees or Pea Pods). We're not opposed to making money, mind you, but it's been proven out over 10 years that the reason we do this is because we love the product, the lifestyle, and the opportunity to present a true transportation alternative to the world. It has been our number one goal to keep the Xtracycle as affordable as possible while making sure that our products are well built, long lasting, well designed, and attractive.

What I'm clear about from some of the latests discussions is that our customers need more information about why our new products are useful and what value they offer. We trust that each person will decide for themselves what products will help to expand their Xtracycle lifestyle. We'll be adding that content to our webstore in the weeks to come.

Furthermore, we're excited to announce that we are officially open-sourcing the Xtracycle Long Tail Standard to encourage other players to make Xtracycle-compatible platforms and accessories. Surly has been a fantastic lead partner, and has aptly demonstrated a concept not altogether understood by the bike industry at large: that collaboration and partnership, built on trust and passion, lead to great solutions and a shift in the bike industry at large.

By "open source," we mean that you don't have to pay licensing fees or royalties, or get permission to make a product that works with our system. We want to lift those barriers to encourage a fertile environment for ideas, innovation, and partnership.

We're looking at sharing our standard right now with independent US fabricators of Xtracycle compatible SnapDecks, fabric bags, new Footsies, etc. Wanna play along? We welcome your input, your products, and your thoughts about pricing. We will publicize the Xtracycle LT Standard developer kit on our website and within our online communities (Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Rootsradicals Yahoo group, etc.) in early October, so keep an eye out.

Will these items be Walmart cheap? No way. Likely they'll be competitively priced with our products, but in buying them you can feel great about supporting creative individuals and a movement dedicated to innovating something truly new and valuable within the bike industry.

Will there be Xtracycle knock offs in years to come, competing with us on price and quality? More than likely. Such is the way our economic system works. We feel that competition will only help us to refine our offerings and to better meet your needs, so as nice as it feels sometimes to have built an amazing platform and community, we realize that in order to be truly excellent at this, we have to give it away."

A Long Walk to Green

A Long Walk to Green is a great blog with such cool Surly Big Dummy tidbits as a custom centre stand and the dual custom kid's seats shown above. I wish I had 25% of the DIY skills this family has!

Update: if you thought the kid's seats pictured above were cool they are going into production soon and will be available as kits. Click here and here to get more info.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adventure Racks

All Photos: Xtracycle Inc.

The Xtracycle Adventure Rack allows you to attach two standard bicycle panniers per side instead of your v-racks and Freeloaders. That's a nice option, but the cost is on the high at $75 each - plus you also seem to need a $39.99 set of Whatchamacollars for each side. That's $229.98 for both sides plus the cost of any panniers.

Being able to attach regular bike panniers to your Xtracycle is a nice idea. Given the cost though I'd stick with the stock v-racks/Freeloaders and use some sort of dry bags to haul your cargo.

I'm trying to figure out where the bottom hook on my Ortliebs will clip into? Hopefuly there is some allowance for this as having the panniers just hanging from the top hooks swinging around wouldn't be ideal.


All Photos: Xtracycle Inc.

Another new Xtracycle product is the TekDek - an aluminum Snapdeck replacement. It looks sweet and I'd appreciate having the built in tie down slots. It's a bit pricey at $89.99 compared to say a Tubus rack that seems to require more effort to fabricate.

Price not withstanding it looks like an improvement over the old wooden Snapdeck and should be quite durable.


All photos: Xtracycle Inc.

This new product from Xtracycle called the Whatchamacollar sells for $39.99 a pair and they are supposed to hold your v-racks to your Freeradical/Big Dummy. The part I don't get is that a set of 4 will cost you $79.98 and as far as I can tell aren't really needed. Besides gravity and friction my v-racks and Big Dummy are held together because I have a strap at each end of my Freeloaders that securely connect the v-rack to the Big Dummy frame. People have lifted the back end of my Big Dummy by grabbing the v-racks and they haven't budged.

Update: seems like these may be needed for use with the Adventure Rack since the Freeloader bag isn't used to hold the v-rack in place.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Monkey Bone

Not needed for a Big Dummy, but this Monkey Bone adapter is a cool work around for a frame that has ISO 160mm disc mounts that you'd like to put a Rohloff on. Normally you'd need an OEM2 axle plate and Speedbone.

The Monkey Bone replaces your 160mm disc caliper mount and aligns the OEM2 axe plate so that wheel can easily be removed from dropouts.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nivea's first Big Dummy ride...

Checking out the Big Dummy at the park near the weir along the Bow River, Calgary, Alberta.