I've been obsessing about getting a SUB since I saw my first Xtracycle online. I currently don't have a bike so originally I thought I'd buy a decent bike and add the FreeRadical kit to it. Then I'd mod it to carry a passenger (stoker bar, some kind of seat on the snapdeck) so I could more easily drop my 6yr old off at school in the Fall. We live in a hilly area so I was looking at a hybrid or MTB with plenty of gears and disc brakes...thought I had found one that was workable and put it on order (about $300 on clearance- last year's model). I still have to test drive it when it comes in, as they didn't have my frame size (small)...if it doesn't fit, I won't be buying it. If the bike does work out, I was gonna order the FreeRadical kit ASAP so DH could install it for me.
Then I went up to Portland on a vacation last week and realized that Clevercycles is based up there and they have Big Dummies. So off I went to take a test ride and my o my, is the BD ride SWEEEET. Ummm...but it's also out of stock and the next batch will be costing about $1800. *sigh* What did I love about the Big Dummy? Big balloon tires that smoothed out all the road bumps. Freeloaders that will swallow small children whole. Albatross style handle bars. Twist shifters (fun! never used those before). We threw some weight onto the bike and I didn't even notice (about 50lbs worth). Sadly, the BD is about $700 more than I wanted to spend on a SUB.
So I came home and raved about the BD to anyone who would listen, but just kept waiting patiently for my special-order bike to come in. Today I went by another LBS and they actually had a Kona Ute!!! I jumped right on and had a very enjoyable ride. I'm not a bike fanatic, but IMO it rode a lot like the BD. Almost no flex on the frame (we loaded it down just for fun)...The position was about the same, with a similiar albatross-ish handlebar, and similar styled seat.
Things I liked about the Ute vs the BD: price (shop had it for $899, but I'm sure we can work with them). More gears (prolly work better on our hills). Plastic 'snapdeck' as opposed to wood.
Things I didn't like: 700c/29er tires. They were Continentals 'no flat'(?). I'm short so I generally prefer 26inch tires. The 700c tires made me feel a bit 'perched' on the bike. Plus I do a *bit* of light offroad with DH and the kids, which I thought 700c tires weren't very suitable for. Does anyone know if they make balloon-style tires for 700c/29ers?
Also, some people have complained about the panniers....I think they'd work fine for my useage (mostly grocery shopping. I wish the bike came with 4 panniers instead of two. I'd have to get two more panniers for sure. They are pretty big and will fit a paper grocery bag perfectly. For my uses, they will prolly work just as well as the Freeloaders.
Things that were different but didn't make a difference to me: BD: disc brakes front and rear. All steel. Brooks saddle.
Ute: disc brakes only on the front (v brake rear). Al frame (but steel fork?).
Dh and I will be going back to the LBS to check out the Ute together, and so he can ride it. The Ute may be a good alternative to the bike+Freeradical we were thinking of putting together. The cost of the bike + FR would be about $700, but I'd have to add disc brakes so another $200ish?
Anyone with any input on other things I should consider?