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Re: Surly Xtra-frame (Big Dummy)

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  • Michael Lemberger
    Hiya John, Tone, et al, First, just a word about where I m coming from. I m a hardcore bike freak. I wife and I own and use 2 Free Radical conversions. It s
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 8, 2006
      Hiya John, Tone, et al,

      First, just a word about where I'm coming from. I'm a hardcore bike
      freak. I wife and I own and use 2 Free Radical conversions. It's
      really a truly revolutionary idea and an ingenious product. Being
      able to convert just about any bike into something capable of hauling
      trailer-sized loads and still ride more or less like a regular bike
      sans trailer is fantastic.

      To me, the unified longtail frame is the next logical evolutionary
      step, but very much doubt that it will replace the Free Radical kit.
      I don't think the people who would buy a Big Dummy are necessarily
      the same people who would buy a Free Radical. My hope (and I'm sure
      Xtracycle's and Surly's) is that it will expand the market.

      As wonderful a product as the Free Radical is, it has issues that
      should be addressed. The first is the creak at the chainstay bridge-
      tongue attachment point. Next would be the poor torsional rigidity on
      certain donor bikes. Differences in height between donor bikes'
      chainstay bridge attachment point height can a pretty substantial
      effect on the bike's handling. One of our Free Radicals, based on an
      older GT mountain bike, handles pretty well. The other, based on a
      Trek 970, not so much. Either one will get pretty whippy near the
      upper end of the load weight limit.

      Then there's the overall improvisational homebuilt feel. I'm fine
      with riding a kit-built conversion around, but some people aren't.
      Also, in conversations with interested parties, I've had to contest
      the idea that the Free Radical was part of the donor bike brand's
      lineup. More than once, I've gotten the "oh, so that's a Trek?"
      question. An integrated longtail will finally give this class of
      bikes an identity of its very own. Kinda like when Joe Breeze, Tom
      Ritchie and their ilk took us from Clunker to Mountain Bike (not
      exactly, but I did say kinda.)

      Here's what I see as the benefits of having an integrated frame:

      -Reduction in torsional flex.
      -Improved strength behind the rear dropouts
      -Haven't confirmed this, but I think it resolves rear disk brake
      caliper-disk size difference
      -Improved handling
      -Lighter (not a big issue for me, but every little bit helps)
      -An identifiable, marketable cargo bike

      As for the cost, yes, it's expensive. But think about it--it's a
      completely new class of commercially-produced bicycle. It will
      require more materials to produce, larger shipping boxes and more
      shipping space. The market for it is currently pretty small, so
      there's also some risk that it won't sell enough to cover development
      costs. I don't know how the cost of a complete bike will compare to
      some other cargo bike like a Bakfiets or a Christiana, but I'm
      betting it would not be substantially different.

      Tone,

      I get where you're coming from and hear you on the cost issue, but I
      think Surly is going out on a limb. And look, Pugsley buyers pay a
      premium too ($550 or $600, I think. Anybody know what list price is
      on a Pugsley?)

      The Big Dummy does have vertical dropouts. John's white industries
      ENO hub suggestion is a good one. I've heard those are pretty bombproof.

      John,

      The riding you describe doesn't sound like it would justify a Big
      Dummy. Seems like there are and will continue to be plenty of Free
      Radical owners in that position. Like I say, I hope it expands the
      market for this type of bike. I'll be keeping one of mine and
      hopefully selling the other to the firefighter across the street. She
      commutes about a mile to the firehouse with about 60 pounds of gear.
      She's currently using a Chevy Suburban, but she loves the Free
      Radical. I'm aiming to create another convert... 8-)

      Cheers,

      Michael
      Madison, WI
      sconnyboy.blogspot.com
    • karpaydiem
      Well it s good to read that someone else is hard on the FreeRadical. I had one break a few months ago and replaced under warranty. I could see that the
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 15, 2006
        Well it's good to read that someone else is hard on the FreeRadical. I
        had one break a few months ago and replaced under warranty. I could
        see that the unsupported portion, to the rear of the dropouts, was not
        a strong design.

        I tried beefing it up by running aircraft cables from the back lower
        corners to turnbuckles attached to the upper forward corners of the
        bag frames, held on with hoseclamps. The other day at about 30 mph and
        carrying about 60 lbs I hit a huge pothole and the rear portion of the
        FreeRadical bent downward about 15 degrees, enough to wipe out my
        fender between the tire and the Snapdeck. So my cables didn't exactly
        work perfectly, but I can't help but think that without them, I'd have
        another snapped frame.

        So now, after straightening the frame (using 4x4's clamped above and
        below the bend with a length of 5/8" threaded rod) I've really gone
        all out in my beefing up, short of anything welded.

        First I ran a length of 3/4 x 1/8" flat steel bar on the outside of
        the tubes that support the dropouts, from the brake bosses to the rear
        cross bar. I clamped it to the FreeRadcial tubes with 7 hose clamps on
        each side. Looks like hell, but I figure it will add some stength.

        Next, I put some 1/2" thin wall electrical conduit tubes in
        triangulated postions, attached to the FreeRadical tubing with pieces
        of plumber's tape bolted through the conduit with stainless machine
        screws and nylock nuts. One runs from the rear upper corner of the bag
        frame to the dropout tube, just back of the fender boss. Then I ran a
        second tube from the middle of the first tube to the upper front
        corner of the bag frame.

        This all looks pretty much like a huge weird kludge, but I'm
        determined to not have any more bent/broken frames... until I can get
        a Big Dummy which seems to have worked out supporting that
        failure-prone rear portion.



        --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, "Tone" <Tone@...> wrote:
        >
        >...
        >
        > I am extremely excited about the potential Big Dummy. I work as
        > a messenger in NYC and I have been totally wearing down my Xtracycle.
        > Actually I should say Xtracycles because even though I have only one
        > bike, for over three years it has always been equipped with an
        > Xtracycle, but unfortunately the FreeRadical has needed replacing twice.
        > It always starts to crack directly behind the rear drop-outs, which is
        > the weakest point on the FreeRadical. Recently I also noticed a fresh
        > crack starting on one side this year. I guess for me the amount of
        > wear-and-tear of daily messenger work and my own personal loading seems
        > to result in FreeRadicals only lasting me about a year.
        ...
      • Devian Gilbert
        its all about the Big Dummy i wonder what Surly s initial run is gonna be? that is... how many are they gonna make?
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 15, 2006
          its all about the Big Dummy
          i wonder what Surly's initial run is gonna be?
          that is...
          how many are they gonna make?

          On Dec 15, 2006, at 12:01 AM, karpaydiem wrote:

          Well it's good to read that someone else is hard on the FreeRadical. I
          had one break a few months ago and replaced under warranty. I could
          see that the unsupported portion, to the rear of the dropouts, was not
          a strong design.

          I tried beefing it up by running aircraft cables from the back lower
          corners to turnbuckles attached to the upper forward corners of the
          bag frames, held on with hoseclamps. The other day at about 30 mph and
          carrying about 60 lbs I hit a huge pothole and the rear portion of the
          FreeRadical bent downward about 15 degrees, enough to wipe out my
          fender between the tire and the Snapdeck. So my cables didn't exactly
          work perfectly, but I can't help but think that without them, I'd have
          another snapped frame.

          So now, after straightening the frame (using 4x4's clamped above and
          below the bend with a length of 5/8" threaded rod) I've really gone
          all out in my beefing up, short of anything welded.

          First I ran a length of 3/4 x 1/8" flat steel bar on the outside of
          the tubes that support the dropouts, from the brake bosses to the rear
          cross bar. I clamped it to the FreeRadcial tubes with 7 hose clamps on
          each side. Looks like hell, but I figure it will add some stength.

          Next, I put some 1/2" thin wall electrical conduit tubes in
          triangulated postions, attached to the FreeRadical tubing with pieces
          of plumber's tape bolted through the conduit with stainless machine
          screws and nylock nuts. One runs from the rear upper corner of the bag
          frame to the dropout tube, just back of the fender boss. Then I ran a
          second tube from the middle of the first tube to the upper front
          corner of the bag frame.

          This all looks pretty much like a huge weird kludge, but I'm
          determined to not have any more bent/broken frames... until I can get
          a Big Dummy which seems to have worked out supporting that
          failure-prone rear portion.

          --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, "Tone" <Tone@...> wrote:
          >
          >...
          >
          > I am extremely excited about the potential Big Dummy. I work as
          > a messenger in NYC and I have been totally wearing down my Xtracycle.
          > Actually I should say Xtracycles because even though I have only one
          > bike, for over three years it has always been equipped with an
          > Xtracycle, but unfortunately the FreeRadical has needed replacing twice.
          > It always starts to crack directly behind the rear drop-outs, which is
          > the weakest point on the FreeRadical. Recently I also noticed a fresh
          > crack starting on one side this year. I guess for me the amount of
          > wear-and-tear of daily messenger work and my own personal loading seems
          > to result in FreeRadicals only lasting me about a year.
          ...


        • Tone
          Karpaydiem, It is funny you should mention your “patch job” of the FreeRadical today. Oddly enough the night before you wrote your post I spent a little
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 16, 2006

            Karpaydiem,

                        It is funny you should mention your “patch job” of the FreeRadical today. Oddly enough the night before you wrote your post I spent a little over two hours after work reinforcing my own FreeRadical to keep the left side tubing from cracking more than it already has just behind the dropouts.

                        I bought ¾” internal-diameter plumbing pipe at a length of 10” for about $2.00 and four hose clamps for about $0.59 each, then used my cordless grinder to cut the pipe in half lengthwise. I had to cut little triangles out of one half of the piping in various spots to keep the pipe flush against the FreeRadical tubing since the mudguard mounting bracket, my preferred rear-wheel quick-release position, and the disc-brake protector mount were somewhat in the way. Along the length of tubing on the inside of the FreeRadical (between the rear drop outs and disc-brake rotor) I then used the other half of the pipe, however I had to cut that lengthwise in half even further because the disc-brake mounts on the FreeRadical would also have gotten in the way. From there I sandwiched the two bars of cut-pipe with the FreeRadical tubing in between. Two hose clamps were run through the gaps between the disc-brake mount welds and the two other hose clamps were placed past the rear drop outs. Basically the whole thing looks like some kind of metal-splint.

                        Now I am just hoping this holds my Xtracycle up enough until June. Although I guess I should also hope Surly’s release date for the Big Dummy is on time. J

            _TONE_

             

             

          • karpaydiem
            Yeah, Tone, great minds think alike, or as my Dad used to say, Two minds with but a single thought - a half a thought apiece! I too saw my reinforcement as a
            Message 5 of 18 , Dec 16, 2006
              Yeah, Tone, great minds think alike, or as my Dad used to say, "Two
              minds with but a single thought - a half a thought apiece!"

              I too saw my reinforcement as a splint. Your pipe idea sounds
              stronger; I had thought of that, but went with the easier strip down
              the side in my lazy, minimalist approach. I sure hope it works.

              Maybe we'll inspire Xtracycle to put out a HD version, sort of an
              XtraXtracycle.

              As to the part of this thread adresssing the cost of the Big Dummy, my
              perspective is the same as when I built up the Instigator frame
              (bought used on eBay) into the Stokemonkey Frankenbike I now ride. And
              that perspective is that this is a car replacement. So my mantra was
              (and is): "It's not a car. Spend the money. It's not a car. Spend the
              money. It's not a car. Spend the money."

              From this viewpoint the projected cost of the Big Dummy frame is much
              less than a year's worth of basic liablity car insurance. Not to
              mention all the hidden costs of car ownership like killing 120 of us a
              day just in accidents and, oh yeah, cooking our only lovely planet.
              $600? Not a bad deal!



              --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, "Tone" <Tone@...> wrote:
              >
              > Karpaydiem,
              > It is funny you should mention your "patch job" of the
              > FreeRadical today. Oddly enough the night before you wrote your post I
              > spent a little over two hours after work reinforcing my own
              FreeRadical...<snip>
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