Demo Ride: Surly Big Dummy

One of the more exciting bikes that was shown at Interbike 2006 was the Surly Big Dummy. However, a year later, the bike is still not available. Surly has spent the last year riding and tweaking the bike to make it exactly what they want and it will finally be released this December.

This bike was built to be a work horse and works perfectly with all the Xtracycle accessories. Their frame will fix some of the problems people have had with converting their bikes to the Xtracycle and, if they’re anything like the other Surly products, will be as strong as an ox.

Surly Big Dummy

My presuppositions on this bike was that it would tend to flop over if you load down one side of the panniers and that it would be hard to maneuver in tight space. I was wrong on both counts.

I took my messenger packed that was full of clothes, shoes, SLR camera, tools, etc and stuffed it in one side of the FreeLoader packs and started pedaling away. At extremely low speeds you can feel the bike pull to one side, however if you maintain any kind of speed you won’t feel a thing.

Surly Big Dummy

Once I spent some time riding around on some gravel and paved roads I took it into a parking lot to see how it handles in tight turns. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing really tight circles on my other commuter rigs and wanted to see how this would do. Surprisingly, it felt just as nimble as my other bikes.

Oh yeah, and the bonus feature of this bike… the long wheelbase and lower center of gravity from the extra weight in the packs makes this bike extremely easy to trackstand on. I’ve gotten decent at my trackstands but this bike made me look like a pro!

As I only spent about 45 minutes on this bike I can’t give a full review, but my initial impression is that the Surly Big Dummy will be a great bike to use on a daily basis. Whether it a trip to the grocery store, your ride to work or hauling trash, this bike may just be the perfect rig for a lot of people.

Surly Big Dummy

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0 thoughts on “Demo Ride: Surly Big Dummy”

  1. Kaz Kougar says:

    Any rough estimate as to what the retail price on this beast will be?

  2. L. M. Lloyd says:

    That is extremely cool. I’m not going to get rid of my Karate Monkey for it, but it is tempting. The only problem I see for a commuter, is there is no way you would get this in an elevator, and it would be a nightmare to get up stairs. Definitely not an apartment bike. I suppose it would be fantastic for a suburban commuter though.

  3. Leee says:

    Yeah, how much?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    As for apartment living, you’d have to try a winch system like in the current issue of MAKE magazine. Check it out. I’m not sure if i’d be able to stick it on my elevator or not.

  4. L. M. Lloyd says:

    I haven’t seen the latest issue of MAKE, but the problem I have with a winch system is that this isn’t exactly the most crime-free neighborhood in America, and I worry that I would winch the bike down, and then by the time I got down to it myself, it would be gone.

    As far as price, the last thing I saw from Surly on the Big Dummy was $810 for frame and fork.

  5. Tim Grahl says:

    It slipped my mind to get the MSRP on this thing… I’ll ask the Surly folks tomorrow and let you know.

  6. Choke says: has it listed at $820.

  7. Skewer says:

    My own Xtracycle equipped MTB is lighter (and easier to carry around) than most full suspension MTBs.
    I think you’ll be surprised how easy it will be to get up and down a stairway (as long as it is not too tight of course).
    I’ve even seen some adaptations putting inline skate wheels on the rear bar to allow the bike to be wheeled around in a vertical position.

    What I’d be looking for in the Big Dummy is the extra rigidity.
    The “try to fit all” design of the Xtracycle means that when you start to crank really hard, the frame and attachment points start moving at different rates causing various squeeks & groans. (The groans are usually from my fellow riders).

    $820 US will translate to $1000+ AUD so I’ll have to think hard about an upgrade.

  8. Choke says:

    I don’t know, the Kona Ute is looking pretty good, too.
    With the Kona, you get the whole bike for the same price as the Big Dummy frame.

  9. Leee says:

    Thanks for posting the Kona Ute. That’d be the way i’d go….

    if i could figure out what you’re supposed to mount back there. Do you see that measley pannier? That ain’t gonna work! Do you think the freeloader bag from xtracycle would work? Or will Kona make their own version?

  10. mark says:

    The Xtracycle itself is a fantastic item, the Big Dummy would have to be a step UP! In elevators, rock it back and stand it on end with the rear wheel down (of course!) and rest it on the rear of teh frame. I don’t know about the Dummy, but on the Xtracycle you can grab the sub frame near the bike drop outs and pick it up with ZERO trouble and carry it easily, EVEN LOADED! if you can pick up the whole load that is!

    I personally think the Xtracycle setup may be the single most useful bicycle accessory ever designed and the Big Dummy looks to be a step above that! If I had $800 laying around, I would go for it. NEAT bike! and FINALLY someone produces a bicycle that is actually USEFUL rather than a toy!


  11. dr2chase says:

    Regarding XCs, stairs, and elevators.

    It fits in a business elevator; I did that coming home today, with my stretched bike.

    It can be carried up stairs; I did that today, when I arrived at work, without removing my pack, wideloaders, or toolkit from the panniers.

  12. Todd says:

    I have a friend that rides an Xtracycle to work. He carries it up 3 flights of stairs to his office without any problems.

  13. L. M. Lloyd says:

    I am very interested to hear everyone say that it is so easy to get up stairs and elevators. I often have clearance issues with just my normal Karate Monkey. Maybe I have just had bad luck with tiny elevators and stairs. It does look like one hell of a useful bike though.

  14. BAW says:

    Is the $820 just for the frame or for the whole thing? It was my understanding that the BD was only the frame and that one could add whatever components one wanted to build up the bike.

  15. Leee says:

    i guess we’ll have to get a comparison of the Surly Big Dummy v. the Kona Ute v. the Yuba (is that the name?)

    Then we’d know what to get.

  16. brian says:

    the xtracycle is one of those things i think has to be experienced, if even for a test ride. as ezra said, “it changes lives.”

    i’m building a BD ASAP.

  17. […] this is what I want to replace my car with. This was written by stacia. Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007, at 8:31 pm. Filed under the […]

  18. Karl says:

    The expected price of $810 to $820 is for the frame and fork only. Surly is not planning to offer the Big Dummy as a complete bike, from what I have heard. The kind of people that are going to want something like this tend to be the type that are pretty picky about how they want a bike built up, so a prebuilt version would be more of a hindrance than it was worth.

    I live in south Minneapolis, and I’ve spotted Dave Gray riding his prototype Big Dummy around several times. We’ve stopped to talk a few of these times, and he told me that the last changes had been made, and they were finally putting in a production order. This was early August, I think, and he said that it would probably be November to December before we would have our hands on the mass-produced frames locally.

    I’ve got most of the parts for my BD build already stockpiled in my basement, so I’m just eagerly awaiting a frame.

    Here’s the current info about the frameset from the Surly website, which is showing a February availability:

  19. Sue says:

    When I got my Xtra I thought it wouldn’t change *my* life ’cause I already rode a lot, commuted a lot… welp, it took me up to the next level of commuting a lot and I’ve been “between cars” since the end of May simply because I was afraid I’d kill my car from lack of use (and my brother needed a new taxi).
    Yes, it fits in most elevators. Yes, it does stairs fairly easily (and I am not hercules, much less his-cules).
    Compared to the Ute… Yours Truly is horribly incompetent at assembling things. DIY Disaster here. Therefore, I heart heart heart how my Xtra is all set up and I can treat it like the back seat of a car. (Don’t ask about what people have found there ;)) It *does*, however, flop over on me on the non-kickstand side ;(
    You really do have to ride it to believe it. It’s an engineering masterpiece.

  20. […] will cost around $800. That’s what you’ll spend before you install the first component. I’ve ridden the Big Dummy and like it a lot, however the price tag could be a huge deterrent to many […]

  21. Has anyone notices from the link that Kona is offering the Ute only 1 size? WTF??? That seems to eliminate it from my RADAR screen. No way I’m throwing a leg over something sized for the 5′ folks and the 6′ folks at the same time. Not when my commute is over 20 miles one way.

  22. Photowhit says:

    I’ hear lots about the extra sorage room, but how well does it handle hills?

    I don’t mind the extra weight, Heck I have close to 10k of loaded touring with a B.O.B. but to climb hills with it you need weight over the front as well.

    The Kona doesn’t appear to have a brazing for front rack (or a standard fender setup for that matter, though it does come with….) It would be a very upright seating possition for me anywho at 6’2″ with the single size frame.

    Anyone get their hands on a Big Dummy frame yet? It also doesn’t appear to have front rack mounts.

    ANy thoughts on this replacing a touring bike, I have been touring on a converted mountain bike largely for the srtonger wheels, I’m rebuiling my rear now after hitting a curb (long story) and flattening my rhynolt xl rim building with a mammoth rim as I was encouraged by a mountain bike shop though I’m not sure if it’s really stronger after looking at a cut out. any opinions?

  23. Karl says:

    I got my 18″ Big Dummy frameset in late February, the day the first set of frames became available (and sold out in 4 hours). Since then, I’ve ridden it all over the place. My commute is 11 miles each way, and I usually use my touring bike. I’ve been taking the Dummy quite regularly, and it doesn’t take much longer overall. The Dummy rides smooth, handles predictably, and actually goes pretty fast if you put good slicks on it. I’m running Schwalbe Big Apple (26×2.35) for good weather, and Continental Spike Claw 240 (26×2.1) studded tires for the slippery weather as the spring thaw/freeze sets in.

    It handles hills quite nicely. Unlike with almost any kind of trailer, there is no pulsing or surging action fighting your progress as you pedal. The unusual weight distribution makes it somewhat easy to slip the rear wheel while accelerating hard from a stop or climbing a steep hill at low speed, but it hasn’t caused me any real problem. Gear it low and spin your way to the top comfortably.

    The fork does indeed have provisions for a front rack. There are eyelets at the dropouts, mid-blade, and near the crown. I don’t have a front rack on mine right now, but I’m thinking about it because I like to have a place to keep smaller things within reach while riding, like my GPS and cell phone.

    The racking system probably isn’t the absolute best replacement for racks and panniers, but it can definitely carry a lot more that a typical loaded touring bike without much hassle. I’ve taken mine camping once already, piling my Hennessey Hammock, winter sleeping bag, and insulated ground pad into one side and my clothes, tools, and cooking gear in the other side. I’ve carried people on the back for short distances as well, and that works surprisingly well.

    If you want some strong rims, look at the Velocity Cliffhanger (26″) or the Velocity Dyad (700c). They are both really beefy deep-section rims. I am running Dyads on my Long Haul Trucker touring bike, and Cliffhangers on my Big Dummy. Both work great and have built up into very strong, stiff wheels.

  24. snogroove says:

    i don’t want to be a spoilsport and adore the innovation, but wouldn’t this still fit huge panniers and be much more carryable if it were maybe 6-8 inches shorter?

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