Re: Surly Xtra-frame (Big Dummy)
- 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
-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.
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.
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-)
- 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 email@example.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.
- its all about the Big Dummyi 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:
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
- 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, "Tone" <Tone@...> wrote:
> 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