BIG DUMMY DIARY
Paul Mallion reports on his experiences building up and riding a Surly Big Dummy longtail.
VELOVISION ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008
‘SURLY’ is defined as bad-tempered, unfriendly, rude, and somewhat threatening. So is the Surly Big Dummy a fair description for a utility bike? I shall investigate. The story starts with the Xtracycle Free Radical, an extension kit which attaches to the back of almost any bike, repositioning the rear wheel to allow more load space. The system is a good alternative to a trailer, and Xtracycle themselves describe it as a ‘hitchless trailer’. It has the advantages of better handling, being easier to manoeuvre in traffic, and easier to store.
Surly have worked with Xtracycle to create the Big Dummy, which is a complete frame with Xtracycle-style chassis built in. Onto it fits the Xtracycle Longtail kit, consisting of aluminium ‘V’ racks, ‘Freeloader’ pannier bags and plywood ‘Snap Deck’. This integrated design, weighing around 6.9 kg, is intended to be noticeably more rigid than a normal bike with the bolted-on extension. My interest in the Big Dummy arose from moving office. I run a practice with my wife, specialising in the design of sustainable and ecological buildings. For eight years we have operated from a home office on the outskirts of Canterbury, but when we expanded in 2007 we moved to a larger office in the centre of town. This proved to be more sustainable than working from home, as everything we need is on our doorstep: printers; stationers; post office; coffee shops etc. Previously we would have had to drive to these places as they are just beyond convenient cycling distance during a working day. Now we both cycle to work, only