Update 01-05-2008 More Big Dummy news here.
Update 03-06-2008 Part one of my review here.
Wow, what can I say? Surly has decided to produce an integrated Xtracycle-compatible frame. A true longtail:
I count about 7 or 8 trusses in this frame. (click for a bigger version)
And a photo of the same bike with the Xtracycle bits and a Stokemonkey installed.
Early reports (November 1) from one of Surly's test riders sound promising:
We currently have one single sample for us to testride and I just got done with my three weeks of testing on it. Here are the results, mainly in comparison to my Instigator frame with the Xtracycle Free Radical bolt-on.
During city commutes with a normal load, the bike is noticeably quicker and more nimble in handling. It's about 1 1/2 pounds lighter just in the frame and fork, yet it's torsionally stiffer and does not fishtail like the Insti/FreeRad. The nice vertical compliance that is inherent in long frames is still there, but it has lessened a bit. With the slight bouncing feeling I got when I'd hit small bumps on my Insti/FreeRad virtually eliminated, it rides much more like a normal bike.
One day I loaded it down with two 5-gallon kegs of beer, a soundsystem and another 40 pounds of stuff. All total the load was about 200 pounds in addition to myself, right around the intended weight limit. This size load would've truly kicked my butt on the Insti/FreeRad, but on the Big Dummy I was able to ride it like a bike without the load dominating my every move. My lower back wasn't forced to sit on the seat to stabilize the load the whole day and I ended up putting about 30 miles on it, both on and off road. Sure, my legs were cooked, but it was nice to know was the Dummy was capable of whatever I was capable of.
Day by day I found myself more comfortable with the geometry and was darting through traffic without having to manhandle it. I never once thought I was at a disadvantage in tight situations while at speed. I even ripped a small section of singletrack much faster on the Dummy than the Insti/FreeRad, proving the off road capabilities are improved. Seriously folks, getting a long-wheelbased bike through a corner and occasionally getting a two-wheel drift is a total blast. Imagine having the your weight loaded equally on both front and back wheels without the real threat of endo-ing, and you'll get yourself going faster than you'd ever think you could go.
Overall, I'm extremely happy so far with this preliminary version of the Big Dummy. We still have some things to tweak and more prototypes coming to test this winter, but the results will only get better.
Gotta give the folks at Surly a lot of credit for going out on a limb for this concept, but it has a whole lot of potential if they do it right. And they're known for getting things right.
Me? I can hardly wait.