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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 10-15-10, 07:54 PM   #1
cracker7213
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Should I wait?

I would like to get a Surly Big Dummy in a year or two. I have a 2008 Raleigh Mojave Mountain bike that I was thinking about using as a cargo bike till then. I don't want to make the $300 Xtracycle investment in this bike. I think buying the Big dummy will be a better decision. I want to know what you all think I can do to this bike to use it as a cargoish bike. I built a front rack and I need to get a rear rack. I'm thinking about getting a rigid front fork to put the front rack on. Any cheap front for recommendations? Thanks for the help?
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Old 10-15-10, 08:06 PM   #2
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Get a trailer. You'll have a more versatile bike and a better hauler than a Big Dummy.
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Old 10-15-10, 11:12 PM   #3
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I'm with you on the fork but I'd get a rear rack and panniers first. You could even just start with a good messenger bag.

If you want a cheap fork, I'd check Nashbar first. Subscribe to their mailing list and wait for a sale or coupon code.
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Old 10-15-10, 11:52 PM   #4
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I have a rack and panniers. I like the simplicity of the Dummy. One strong good utility bike. Trailers are not easy to take on and of the bike. I like the pick up and go of the dummy. I think I might wait.
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Old 10-16-10, 04:16 AM   #5
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First, understand I know squat about MTB geometry.

On drop bar bikes, front loads can make the bike unstable unless the front end geometry is designed for it. Randonneur bikes, touring bikes and porteurs all have less trail for increased stability with a front load. Neutral and high trail front ends--racing geometry, cross bikes, century bikes and whatnot--are poor choices for front loading.

Where your MTB falls on the matter of trail, I haven't a clue. It's something to be aware of in your experimentation. It may turn out just fine, or it may make the bike unstable.

Where I do have experience is with rear end geometry and load carrying. Here again, the things typically seen in touring and rando bikes add stability under load. My primary bike has a longer rear end, like touring bikes. Loads just disappear on that bike. It's just as stable with 50 or 60 pounds in the panniers as it is unloaded. It doesn't feel tippy or sway, it doesn't fall into corners, and the tail doesn't wag the dog. I have another bike with a rear rack that's shorter in the rear, more towards racing geometry. That bike is nearly unrideable with more than 30 pounds or so in the panniers, and anything more than 15 or 20 is a challenge.

I certainly hope your experimentation is successful. If not, understand it's an issue of frame geometry and can't be fixed with simple adjustments or add-ons.
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Old 10-16-10, 06:52 AM   #6
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Sell the bike and get a Big Dummy. It can be your do it all bike. If you gotta keep one, keep the BD!
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Old 10-16-10, 12:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cracker7213 View Post
I have a rack and panniers. I like the simplicity of the Dummy. One strong good utility bike. Trailers are not easy to take on and of the bike. I like the pick up and go of the dummy. I think I might wait.
(I 'bolded' the words I'm responding to.) My trailer takes less than two seconds to attach or remove from it's hitch. One strong good utility bike without the trailer, it can also be a decent mountain bike with a change of tires. With the trailer attached, a stronger, better freight bike than a long bike is.

Storing a bike and trailer is easier too, especially if some carrying is involved getting to and from the storage spot.
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Old 10-16-10, 05:34 PM   #8
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Sell the bike and get a Big Dummy. It can be your do it all bike. If you gotta keep one, keep the BD!
+1
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Old 10-17-10, 06:36 AM   #9
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+1 on getting a trailer -
Or sell the bike and get the BD.

Still, anyone who does regular utility runs should have a trailer.
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Old 10-21-10, 01:58 PM   #10
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I paid $40 for a used kiddie trailer, but the Dummy does the job on grocery shopping, now.
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Old 10-21-10, 04:31 PM   #11
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I will dissent and say get the xtracycle now. Whatever accessories you buy will be used on the dummy if you are still sold on it in a couple years. Your bike looks like a good candidate for a conversion and you can figure out if a long bike works for you before dropping the couple grand that a dummy will put you back.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:51 PM   #12
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I'd also personally say that i'd consider the Xtracycle conversion kit - if you aren't planning expedition touring or very consistently fully loading your bike to capacity, the original xtracycle is absolutely great - I owned one for several years, and after the Big Dummy came out I personally felt very little inclination to make the switch, as the Xtracycle is very well built and fully capable of transforming the utility of your bicycle completely on its own. I'd carried lawnmowers on one side, 2 Raleigh Twentys and a Fuji 2 diamond MTB at once, groceries for 6, etc. The original Xtracycle gets you going for very little money compared to a BD, and it has the ability to be placed on different frame styles.

The Big Dummy is only a necessity for those with big wallets or big needs - I'd buy one for doing extreme long duration tours, but wouldn't personally bother otherwise.
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Old 10-21-10, 11:30 PM   #13
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You will find yourself using a cargo bike for more things than just hauling stuff. Going off trail.... carrying kids or passengers and bringing home groceries. If you really want, you can live car-free.
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Old 10-22-10, 09:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
Get a trailer. You'll have a more versatile bike and a better hauler than a Big Dummy.
I agree 110% !!! I run a bike trailer combo finding to be the best of both worlds when it comes to hauling anything beyond a tiny load.
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Old 10-22-10, 01:15 PM   #15
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I have not used a Big Dummy, but do have two trailers (one for touring, one for general cargo stuff), and have no problem getting the cargo trailer on/off in very little time. Have not used a stopwatch, but it seems like only a minute or so. Makes a very versatile setup.
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