Thursday, March 06, 2008

Surly Big Dummy Review, Part 1

The Dummy Has Landed

Ever since the first time I looked at an Xtracycle Free Radical up close, I thought that a one-piece frame would really be the best way to build one. I told the folks at Xtracycle so back in July of 2005. (I knew they were already working on something, but I thought a little encouragement couldn't hurt.)

So it took a while, but I got the call from Erik's today to pick up the manifestation of that idea, Surly's Big Dummy. I had really wanted to pull another cargo stunt and haul it home on the Xtrakoram, but street and path conditions are still terrible. So I drove. Just so anyone thinking of getting one of these things is forewarned, it comes in a really huge box—six by two by one feet. It is therefore expensive to ship and difficult to haul. Fortunately, it fit in our Subaru wagon, but only after folding down both back seats and sliding the passenger-side front seat most of the way forward.

The fit and finish are workmanlike, as good or better than the other two Surly bikes I own. The TIG welds are clean and the powder coat is uniform. Cost-effective and durable. I'm going to have my localler LBS face the head tube and clean up the crown race on the fork, but that's probably about it. The bottom bracket threads are very clean, so I won't have them chased, and I probably won't have the shell faced since I'll be using a sealed cartridge bottom bracket. I have taps for the smaller threads, so I could chase those myself. Again, the powdercoating job is so neat, it doesn't look like I'll have to do much.

I have to say, this thing has brazeons galore. It has stuff on it that I can't put a name to. Like here:

Two seatstay bridges, upper and lower, I suppose. Now, on the one closer to the axle, the brazeon is for the fender bracket. But what's the brazeon for on the upper seatstay bridge? I'm not complaining, it's just new and different. Same goes for the brazeons on the forward v-rack sockets.

Here are the rear dropouts. Semi-top routing and derailleur hanger on the drive side; ISO disk mounts, Rohloff tab on the non-drive side. The symmetrical eyelets are for fender stays.

All of the cable guides are the cable-tie (Ziptie) compatible type. I'm not sure yet whether I'll like having full-length housings for the derailleurs, but it will probably be fine. I'll be using hydraulic brakes, and this is the only way to go for those. I like the routes Surly has chosen. More on that later.

More on everything later....

PS—I've been writing about the Big Dummy since it was first announced:

Xtracycle's Big-Dummy 02-06-08
Waiting for Dummies 01-05-08
Early Big Dummy Reviews 09-30-07
Clever Big Dummy 03-27-07
New Dummy Photos 01-26-07
The Big Dummy 11-26-07

Update 05-21-2008 Part two.


Tarik Saleh said...

Huzzah! Yay! I was assuming some manner of Xtracycle crap could bolt to the random stuff on the rear triangle, but you should know that better than me as I have no extra cycle stuff yet nor have owned one in the past. That or they just used the exact same tube for the top and bottom seat bridges and it just happened to have a fender attachment point? Who knows! All I know is that there will be 5 pounds of unused metric stainless bolts on my bike for the time being. Sweeeet! Eager to see you kick my ass in getting it rolling too.

It barely fit in our Jetta wagon. I did violence to the box to get the trunk closed for the long journey home. Huzzah and huzzah!

Mauricio Babilonia said...

Yo T, Huzzah backatcha! I suspect that you are correct about using the same seatstay bridge part—prolly cuts back on confusion at the assembly stage, and maybe on cost too.

As for assembly speed, you may have noticed that the bike cave is undergoing some changes recently (the shot of the Moose in the stand from a couple weeks back was taken from almost the same spot.) and the missus really wants me to finish it so I can move all the displaced crap back out of her art studio. I suspect there will be more drywall muddin and painting going on this weekend than wrenching...

Tarik Saleh said...

Ooh I now know what the upper seatstay bridge boss is for. checkit

Doug said...

Looking forward to seeing the build and your reviews.

Hasty! said...

Glad to find another blog for someone building up a BD.

Man, in about a month I expect to see a bunch of pictures of more Big Dummies on the road.

Can't wait.