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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 06-07-10, 06:09 PM   #1
WillJL
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Our Surly Big Dummy / Stokemonkey Build:

I'm diving into the world of cargo bicycles and building a Surly Big Dummy to serve my family's local transportation and hauling needs. My wife is pregnant with our first, so my build will obviously have an emphasis on kid hauling, but its also going to be used for carrying building materials, chicken feed, kegs, groceries, bulk grain bags, etc.

Due to the hilly nature of the area in which we live (The Cascade foothills in Western Washington), I've decided to augment my own power with a Stokemonkey Electric assist. I've also opted for the "ballooniest" possible tires and a sprung saddle to cope with the gravel roads that are the most car-free around our home. We got the medium 18" frame so that both my wife and I could share the bicycle. I'm 6'1" and she is 5'7".

Take a look at the build details below and let me know what you think. I'd definitely like feedback from other Big Dummy and Stokemonkey users. Please also post pictures of your builds!

Frame: Surly Big Dummy, 18", Military Green (planning to remove the hideous Surly decals)
Wheels: I'll handbuild Sun Rhyno Lite 36H 26" rims laced to Shimano XT (M756) rear and DH-3N71 Dynamo front w/Problem Solvers centerlock to 6-bolt adapter. DT spokes.
Handlebars: Titec H-bar with Fizik Microfiber black bar tape + black cork grips (Jeff Jones wrapping style). Dimension 80mm x 125 degree stem, black.
Headset: Cane Creek S3 w/alternating black/silver spacers.
Saddle: Brooks Flyer Special, Black w/ Kalloy Uno silver seatpost
Drivetrain: Sugino XD triple-ring with tandem right arm for Stokemonkey, SRAM X.7 derailleurs (both black), SRAM PG850 8-speed cassette, SRAM Chain x 2, UN-54 square BB.
Brakes: Avid BB7 Mech. Disc, rotors: 185mm front, 203mm rear.
Levers/Shifters: Avid Speed Dial 7 + Paul Thumbies + Shimano 8-speed bar-end shifters.
Lights: Supernova E3 Pro, black, fork crown mounted + "Cherry Bomb" battery LED taillight on the rearmost horizontal part of the frame.
Tires: Schwalbe Big Dummy 26" x 2.35"
Fenders: Axiom Rain-Runner
Pedals: Shimano "double-sided" SPD and Platform #M324
Centerstand: Val's Rolling Jackass, powder coated grey (the trigger release and bomber stability were the selling points)
Xtracycle components: Longtail Kit, Wideloaders, Whatchamacollars, caliper protector, straps
Kid Seat: Xtracycle Pea Pod
Electric Assist: Stokemonkey Human/Electric Hybrid Drive + Ping LiFePO4 36V 10Ah Battery

Looking forward to hearing back from ya'll.

(my other bikes: http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2009/cc...iller0309.html AND http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2010/cc...iller0510.html)

Last edited by WillJL; 06-08-10 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 06-07-10, 06:26 PM   #2
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I'm stoked to see your stokemonkey build...I'd love to have one for my BD...the price is enough that it never gets high enough on my priority list though. I've used my BD on gravel/dirt roads and I find the long wheelbase makes for a very plush ride all by itself. If you are riding gravel a lot I'd get some Marathon Extremes over the Big Apples as they will give you better grip and are more flat proof. As I noted above you don't need the BAs to get a plush ride...same for the Champion Flyer...your position in the middle of the bike vs. over the rear wheel takes out a lot of road shock that is normally transmitted to the saddle. Nothing wrong with a Flyer, but I doubt it will be an improvement over a standard B17.

Have fun with your BD...it's a great bike - very versatile...=-)
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Old 06-07-10, 06:42 PM   #3
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Looks like a great build kit , but with one eensy teensy problem. The X.7 rear derailleur won't index with the Shimano shifter unless you plan to run it in friction mode. Better to go with a Shimano derailleur.
Good pick on the rims. Those are bomb proof.
Looking forward to your pictures.
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Old 06-07-10, 07:34 PM   #4
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@vik: Thanks for the advice. I considered the Marathon Extremes, but their smaller diameter and high price turned me away. Also, the gravel roads I'll be riding on are by no means technical or demanding, and about 50% of the riding will be on pavement. As for the diameter issue, I plan to be pushing the cargo capacity of this bike to the max on a regular basis, so I'll need all the "plush" I can get. You've got a great point about the saddle; one that I hadn't considered before. I suppose I'll install the Flyer I've already bought and see how it goes. About the Stokemonkey: You're right about the high price! I've justified it to myself by saying that my alternative to spending on the Stokemonkey is purchasing a small truck, insurance, gasoline, a car seat for the kid, etc, which makes about $1500 dollars not seem so bad. Also we live in a really hilly area, so every time I can take care of hauling errands that I couldn't really do with my LHT alone, and that would otherwise need a car, I'll be glad I spent on the 'monkey. By the way, looking at all of your photos on your Flickr page was a real help in deciding on the sizing and handlebar setup for my rig. Thanks!

@Dan Burkhart: You're right about the indexing, but I always run friction-shifting on my bikes! Plus, given the length of cables needed for the BD, indexing might be problematic. That said, if I decide I want indexed shifting, or if a problem does come up, I've got an extra long cage LX der. lying around somewhere. Thanks for your comments! I'll post pictures ASAP, but it will be a bit before I get started on the build.

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Old 06-08-10, 07:58 AM   #5
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About the Stokemonkey: You're right about the high price! I've justified it to myself by saying that my alternative to spending on the Stokemonkey is purchasing a small truck, insurance, gasoline, a car seat for the kid, etc, which makes about $1500 dollars not seem so bad. Also we live in a really hilly area, so every time I can take care of hauling errands that I couldn't really do with my LHT alone, and that would otherwise need a car, I'll be glad I spent on the 'monkey. By the way, looking at all of your photos on your Flickr page was a real help in deciding on the sizing and handlebar setup for my rig. Thanks!
Ya if you can go carless with a stokemonkey then it pays for itself pretty fast. I've been lucky to always live in relatively flat places so I can pedal my Big Dummy around with a heavy load in a decent range from my house. I also have a truck for work so I have a back up for those situations where I would be maxing out the possibilities of my cargo bike.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:18 AM   #6
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Awesome picture vic.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:31 AM   #7
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What is the plans for hauling the upcoming munchkin?


this is the area where it seems to me the baksfiet style has advantage, but as my munchkin is riding I have no direct experience.
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Old 06-08-10, 08:17 PM   #8
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@squirtdad: Well, while the child is an infant and too small to ride in the Peapod child seat, kiddo will probably be strapped to mom's chest and mom will ride on the snapdeck (just for short rides to town, etc). Once the kid is big enough for the Peapod, I imagine that will serve our needs well. When kiddo can ride by themselves, I'll have to consider a tag-along setup or something.

As for the Bakfiets, the area we live in is to hilly and rough. I think the Bakfiets, being of Dutch design, is meant primarily for flattish, smooth-surfaced, urban environments. Even if a Stokemonkey could mitigate the intensity of the hills for the far-heavier Bakfiets, its small front wheel would magnify every bump on the gravel roads that are all around us. Its not that I didn't consider a Bakfiets, its just that its downsides outweigh its upsides for our situation, and the Big Dummy is just more versatile.

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Old 06-08-10, 08:39 PM   #9
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ok; so when I get to my next career/home/commute and it's over hills and 15 miles plus --I get a Stokemonkey
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Old 06-08-10, 08:42 PM   #10
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@bugly64: Glad I could give you some motivation!
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Old 06-13-10, 03:08 PM   #11
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Well, apart from wishing I had your budget, i can only confirm that Vik's BD felt plenty plush. Of course i didn't do more than ride it round the car park, still, it felt very smooth. I have one earmarked for me at the local dealer, and hope to pick it up soon. The plan is to eletrify it before Winter. I will probably go with a front hub motor, for cost reasons, and to give effectively, "2 wheel drive" for lumpy snow.
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Old 06-13-10, 06:23 PM   #12
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I retired to the far northern US Rockies and nothing is flat here. My old runner's knees were giving me heck when I'd cycle. As a result, I wasn't riding much until I added electric power assist last summer. It's the best thing I could have done for myself. bugly64, I'm west of Glacier National Park, I didn't think Great Falls was that flat.
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Old 06-13-10, 09:57 PM   #13
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It's not the hills or climbs that bother me in Great Falls; it's the winds that make it hard.
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Old 06-14-10, 02:00 AM   #14
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@coldfeet: I totally agree that 2 inch tires are probably adequate for most situations, but I'd like to assure that my tires will be able to safely handle some ridiculously heavy loads, and the more volume and surface contact I can get, the better. (That and I think that the fat Big Apples look pretty cool!) I really like your "two-wheel-drive" idea! I'd love to know which hub motor and battery combo you decide on, and to see some pictures of your completed build. Seems like "lumpy snow" is a good reason for you to go nuts with your tires as well...I've seen Big Dummies with Pugsley tires and rims...just sayin!

@nwmtnbkr: I'm definitely excited to feel the empowerment that an extra 5-600 watts of geared power will provide. Our home is in the Cascade foothills, and there is about 400ft of elevation gain between town and home. Being a strapping young buck, I'm sure that I could grind and grunt my way home unassisted with hundreds of pounds of stuff once or twice before my patellas burst free of the muscle and cartilage, but I reckon I'll be better off with the tractor-like powers of the Stokemonkey. It will help me maintain my youthful exuberance and enthusiasm for being a rural, car-minimal farm boy.
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Old 06-14-10, 02:23 AM   #15
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UPDATE: In finishing my shopping for the build, I've opted for the following changes and additions:

-36v 20Ah Lithium Iron Polymer "Ping" battery pack, to be mounted in a Planet Bike "Escape Pod" rack-top box that I'll mount on the Snapdeck. I realize this will steal some of my passenger space, but given the alternatives I've looked at and our current needs, its a sacrifice I'm willing to make, especially considering that I'll be able to lock the battery in a waterproof, padded case that will still have extra space for storage inside it. I'd originally intended to get a 10Ah battery, but after scouring the internet for performance data on the Stokemonkey, and thinking more about how much functional hauling range I'd like to have, I decided to double up on the electrons. I'm guessing that with a 20Ah battery, if I bust ass on the pedals like normal (not just sit back and let the motor do the work), I'll be able to eek out about 30-50 moderately-loaded miles in the hilly terrain around our home. I'd be really interested to hear about how other electrified BD or xtracycle owners have mounted their batteries and what the ups and downs are of your setup. Better yet, I'd like to hear your range capability too! I'll likely have my own data set to share in this regard by mid-August.

-Handlebars for a passenger: The aforementioned "Escape Pod" battery box will be mounted at the aft of the Snapdeck, leaving a good amount of space for a single passenger up front, and eventually a Peapod LT child seat. I really liked this setup for passenger bars, so I'll be emulating it with the following components:
-Problem solvers 27.2 to 28.6 shim
-Dimension 130mm x 107 degree, 25.4 dia. stem
-hacksaw-shortened mountain flat bars
-Titec "L-bend" bar-ends (these will serve as the handles, wrapped with any extra Fizik Microfiber tape I've got left over after the h-bars.)

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Old 06-14-10, 07:09 AM   #16
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UPDATE: In finishing my shopping for the build, I've opted for the following changes and additions:

-36v 20Ah Lithium Iron Polymer "Ping" battery pack, to be mounted in a Planet Bike "Escape Pod" rack-top box that I'll mount on the Snapdeck. I realize this will steal some of my passenger space, but given the alternatives I've looked at and our current needs, its a sacrifice I'm willing to make, especially considering that I'll be able to lock the battery in a waterproof, padded case that will still have extra space for storage inside it. I'd originally intended to get a 10Ah battery, but after scouring the internet for performance data on the Stokemonkey, and thinking more about how much functional hauling range I'd like to have, I decided to double up on the electrons. I'm guessing that with a 20Ah battery, if I bust ass on the pedals like normal (not just sit back and let the motor do the work), I'll be able to eek out about 30-50 moderately-loaded miles in the hilly terrain around our home. I'd be really interested to hear about how other electrified BD or xtracycle owners have mounted their batteries and what the ups and downs are of your setup. Better yet, I'd like to hear your range capability too! I'll likely have my own data set to share in this regard by mid-August.
Not sure this will work, but there is some wasted space on top of the seatstays behind the seat sloping down below the front of the snap deck. I have plans to get Scott at Porcelain Rocket Works to build me a custom bag to sit there...looks like it can be quite large. I've seen folks carry a large MSR dromedary bag in that location on a touring BD. I'm not sure ho big the battery is you need, but if that works it would use otherwise wasted space and the location is partially concealed by the Xtracycle bags.

Here is some of his work...

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ummy-Frame-Bag

You could also get a frame bag made for the main triangle that would be quite large and get the weight up front to keep as much of the 200lb cargo weight on the back end for your load.
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Old 06-14-10, 04:16 PM   #17
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@vik: I really like your ideas and had considered both of those to some extent. Mounting the battery atop the seatstays in gap under the front of the snapdeck was option number one for me, but locking the battery was my biggest concern there. I'd also be using the space that is typically reserved for the brushless motor controller for the Stokemonkey, so I'd have to find another place to put it. After seeing those Porcelain Rocket Frame Bags, I considered contacting them or Revelate Designs to order a triangular frame bag, but the weight and rectangular shape of the battery would necessitate a heavily padded bag with custom velcro straps on the inside and probably extra velcro straps for the top tube. I'd also need to have the bag be as waterproof as possible, so it just looked like the price of the custom bag would get out of hand. Locking would be less of a concern because I could use a luggage zipper lock as a deterrent, but it still wouldn't be ideal.

Another option I'd considered was Clever Cycles' (the makers of Stokemonkey) recommendation that the battery be stored in the inner pocket of one of the Xtracycle Freeloader bags. Again, locking and waterproofing were concerns (the "Ping" battery I'm buying does not have a protective, water-resistant metal case like the smaller capacity, extremely overpriced batteries that E-Bike kit sell for the Stokemonkey), but there was the added issue of bag space being taken up and there being a constant imbalance of weight to one side.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:11 PM   #18
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I thought Aaron's Bike shop's Modified Shimano Tandem hubs ..with a cut down screw-on to disc adapter so as to offer a 48 spoke rear wheel.. a good bit of kit,
Made for hauling significant amount of stuff on the back of those. the hubs are threaded for Arai Drag brakes , Tandem axles much longer than the 135 in the BD.
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Old 07-11-10, 03:13 AM   #19
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I thought Aaron's Bike shop's Modified Shimano Tandem hubs ..with a cut down screw-on to disc adapter so as to offer a 48 spoke rear wheel.. a good bit of kit,
Made for hauling significant amount of stuff on the back of those. the hubs are threaded for Arai Drag brakes , Tandem axles much longer than the 135 in the BD.
Sounds interesting. I'm not really sold on needed anything more than a well built, 36 spoke, 4 cross, 26" wheel with good hubs though. We'd be hearing about all the broken wheels on Big Dummys if that were at all inadequate.
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Old 07-11-10, 06:20 AM   #20
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Sounds interesting. I'm not really sold on needed anything more than a well built, 36 spoke, 4 cross, 26" wheel with good hubs though. We'd be hearing about all the broken wheels on Big Dummys if that were at all inadequate.
Yeah, and those of us with Rohloff hubs are doing it with 32 spokes. The symetrical wheel that results with a gearhub helps a lot too.
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Old 07-12-10, 02:21 AM   #21
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I thought Aaron's Bike shop's Modified Shimano Tandem hubs ..with a cut down screw-on to disc adapter so as to offer a 48 spoke rear wheel.. a good bit of kit,
Made for hauling significant amount of stuff on the back of those. the hubs are threaded for Arai Drag brakes , Tandem axles much longer than the 135 in the BD.
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Yeah, and those of us with Rohloff hubs are doing it with 32 spokes. The symetrical wheel that results with a gearhub helps a lot too.
Plus, I'm not really interested in giving Aaron's my business. I've been less than impressed with his attitude the few times I've given them my money, and I'll likely never go back. Its a shame, really, because they've got the nicest stock of parts in Seattle (albeit, with about a 40% up-charge on everything over net retailer prices).

Furthermore, the complication and expense of a heavily modified hub does not strike me as being something I want to throw my money at. Bye-bye warranty, etc...
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Old 07-12-10, 02:23 AM   #22
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Update:

The Stokemonkey kit and Ping Battery are in the mail. I'll be posting comprehensive build shots either here or on my flickr account as I get started at the beginning of August.
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Old 08-20-10, 09:34 AM   #23
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The Completed Build!
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