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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 10-14-12, 07:45 PM   #1
74pbass
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LHT vs Big Dummy

Any thoughts on a LHT vs Big Dummy by Surly? I had decided on a LHT at a local bike shop. The owner told me it would be on sale at the end of the month. 30%off. Or I would have gotten it this weekend lol. Appreciated his honesty. My biking experience and level I would say are low intermediate.No road experience. All mt bike, single track and rail trails.My main goals are. 1. Fitness / lose weight 2. Do some runs to town for shopping. Not gettin rid of the car but would like to integrate some of the shopping to the bike. 3. Put a lot of miles on it on days off.
The big dummy looks like it would be more utilitarian. Easier to load and haul stuff on. But the chain is so long. Are there upkeep/maint. issues with it or other parts to the bike. The sale starts the 26th of oct so I have a little time to make up my mind. Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 10-14-12, 09:06 PM   #2
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LTH is a full on tour rig, would be kinda sluggish around town and over kill unless your shopping runs are gonna be 4 panniers worth of stuff . A Surley Cross Check might be a better idea
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Old 10-14-12, 09:35 PM   #3
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If you plan on riding it for fitness as well as lugging stuff, definitely get the LHT. The Big Dummy is really designed as a cargo bike and pretty much only a cargo bike; i'd only go that route if you plan on 90%+ of your rides to be hauling major cargo (not just groceries, etc).

The nice long chainstays on the LHT (compared to a traditional road bike) mean you can fit pretty big panniers on the back and not have to worry about heel strike, but it's still a "normal bike" and rides like one. It's not the snappiest, fastest thing in the universe, but it's crazy stable and handles loads really well.
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Old 10-15-12, 01:37 AM   #4
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I own both. I generally commute on the lht and ride the bd everywhere else. Groceries, laundry runs. or just to go for coffee. The bd has given me no trouble in the last 2.5 years. I had to adjust the shifter cable once. The lht is more efficient to pedal, but not as fun.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for the response. Still thinking the LHT is the way to go for me. Not interested in a fast bike. Just a tough comfortable all around bike. If shopping becomes a problem then will consider a bd later...again thanks.
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Old 10-15-12, 09:55 AM   #6
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I have a crosscheck, a big dummy, a juice 29er and a CETMA bakfiets and I constantly think which bike I'd keep if I had to keep just one. The answer? The big dummy. I don't think you lose that much speed with it, it doesn't handle that differently from a faster bike and has the capacity to really haul everything I need on errands. I love them all, but if the choice was forced the BD is an amazing bike.

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Thanks for the response. Still thinking the LHT is the way to go for me. Not interested in a fast bike. Just a tough comfortable all around bike. If shopping becomes a problem then will consider a bd later...again thanks.
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Old 10-15-12, 12:08 PM   #7
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I have a crosscheck, a big dummy, a juice 29er and a CETMA bakfiets and I constantly think which bike I'd keep if I had to keep just one. The answer? The big dummy. I don't think you lose that much speed with it, it doesn't handle that differently from a faster bike and has the capacity to really haul everything I need on errands. I love them all, but if the choice was forced the BD is an amazing bike.
What role does your Cetma play for you? If the BD is doing most of what you need, do you find your Cetma to be superfluous?
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Old 10-15-12, 02:12 PM   #8
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A superfluous CETMA!? Bite your tongue.

I have a 6 month old and a three year old, so carrying the infant is reserved only for the CETMA which I do daily to and from daycare. I really enjoy the CETMA for any ride that is family-centric rather than transportation-centric. It is a great bike and, I think, far more suited for riding/interacting with my kids than the big dummy - but I rarely take it out for a spin without them. So, given the choice of single bicycle that does as close to everything as it can, the Big Dummy is more flexible for some family, some utility and some recreational.

Does that make sense?


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What role does your Cetma play for you? If the BD is doing most of what you need, do you find your Cetma to be superfluous?
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Old 10-15-12, 04:02 PM   #9
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You're not mentioning carrying passengers so assuming that's not a use I'd go LHT.

I had a couple of long tails when I had a car (1st gen Yuba and Xtracycle conversion) and was never disciplined enough to use the bike when needing to carry a lot Now carfree and I used an Xtracycle for shopping and commuting a lot and am just replacing with a Yuba for more stable child carrying duties.

During this current gap between selling Xtracycle and building Yuba I've been using a standard solo bike for commuting / minor errands and adding a re-purposed child trailer for larger loads. Works great, but I'll be happy to have the Yuba built and be able to take my daughter along too.

You can get a fair bit into panniers, but I find packing them a bit of a chore compared to longtail or trailer where it's really easy.

Is the BD on sale with 30% off as well? If not then the price difference could be around $1,000?

If you have children / friends who might need/want a ride then no question it'd have to be the BD. If you are very well disciplined around car use then BD maybe.

When I have a long tail and standard bike at the same time I choose the standard bike if going for a dayride for fun. Some folk find the LHT a bit 'staid' for dayrides, I really liked mine as it was great for rides that mix road and easyish trails.
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Old 10-15-12, 06:35 PM   #10
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I'm thankfully blessed with both an LHT and BD (along with a cross check but it is still in the box not assembled yet). For ME the LHT is a wonderful bike. If running errands where I don't have to haul much(like going to the post office/bank) I usually am on the LHT. The BD is a great bike as well but the thing I keep forgetting is actually how long/heavy it is. It seems everytime I go to pick it up I forget all of the weight on the back end of it.
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Old 10-15-12, 06:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by davidmcowan View Post
A superfluous CETMA!? Bite your tongue.

I have a 6 month old and a three year old, so carrying the infant is reserved only for the CETMA which I do daily to and from daycare. I really enjoy the CETMA for any ride that is family-centric rather than transportation-centric. It is a great bike and, I think, far more suited for riding/interacting with my kids than the big dummy - but I rarely take it out for a spin without them. So, given the choice of single bicycle that does as close to everything as it can, the Big Dummy is more flexible for some family, some utility and some recreational.

Does that make sense?
I never thought I'd combine those two words in the same sentence either. I've been lusting after a Largo for some time now, precisely because I have a wee baby on the way. But if I didn't have kids I don't think I'd be able to justify owning both a BD and a Cetma. Thanks for the explanation.
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Old 10-15-12, 07:01 PM   #12
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You can carry a *lot* of stuff on a LHT, if you have the right racks and bags. Weight isn't the issue. If the items are long or bulky, then you will need a longtail or such... but speaking strictly weight, i.e. carrying 100 pounds of groceries, the LHT is ridiculously good.

*edit*
To add, I used my LHT as a commuter/shopper/everything bike. It's not really fast enough to keep up on quick group rides, but it's very comfy... and did I mention it's good at hauling stuff?

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Old 10-16-12, 12:51 PM   #13
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Keep in mind the bigger storage/carrying space needed for the Big Dummy, and it won't fit on a bus rack.
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Old 10-16-12, 01:11 PM   #14
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I do use all 4 panniers in some Grocery runs,
the shop I patronize gives me .05 off, for every new carry bag not used.
if I need 4 , thats $0.20...

Bene Sugg:
another plan ... get the 26" wheel LHT, and add an Xtracycle kit.
then when the longtail haulage is not needed, remove it ,
and restore the Trucker to original configuration.

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Old 10-17-12, 01:42 AM   #15
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Lots of good replies here. Though I said the bd was more fun to ride, 30% off a lht is a good deal.
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Old 10-17-12, 09:14 AM   #16
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I have an LHT and it makes a great grocery getter/commuter/tourer do all bike. It may not be the fastest bike but the ride is great loaded and unloaded, definitely worth having. I recently added a CETMA 7 Rail... along with 4 panniers makes a great shopping combo.
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Old 10-17-12, 02:49 PM   #17
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Thanks for the replies! The sale is only on in stock items. They do not have BD. So I can get the LHT with decent racks, pedals and computer for around 1k...Thats approaching my budget limit so it's gonna be the LHT. I ordered a spiderflex seat for it already, will get panniers later on. I will get some decent fenders too. Been looking at wooden fenders, but will prob opt for something else. All that said, the BD looks soooo cool!!! The room for storage is an issue too. That's a lot of bike.
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Old 10-17-12, 03:05 PM   #18
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I own and love an LHT, I picked it up second hand and it was like a gift from the cycling gods, the fit is perfect and it can do everything I ask of it. I have never owned a BD but I did own a Kona Ute for a short period of time and concur with the folks who are saying longtails are great for passenger transport or hauling plywood or the like but I would MUCH rather be on my LHT and found myself using the Ute so much less in reality than in my mind that it became not worthwhile to keep and I sold it off.
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Old 10-18-12, 10:13 PM   #19
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I own and love an LHT, I picked it up second hand and it was like a gift from the cycling gods, the fit is perfect and it can do everything I ask of it. I have never owned a BD but I did own a Kona Ute for a short period of time and concur with the folks who are saying longtails are great for passenger transport or hauling plywood or the like but I would MUCH rather be on my LHT and found myself using the Ute so much less in reality than in my mind that it became not worthwhile to keep and I sold it off.
I had a Kona Ute for a year but didn't like how it handled, had a 700c LHT which I replaced with a 26" wheel LHT. While the LHT can't carry as much as the Ute it could carry a substantial load with a LOT more control than the Ute and with an Extracycle trailer the combo is more than I'd want to push maxed out.
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Old 10-19-12, 02:54 PM   #20
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Any thoughts on a LHT vs Big Dummy by Surly?
I've got both bikes. They are quite different. If hauling cargo is your priority get the Dummy. If you want a more general purpose ride get the LHT. With dual racks and panniers or a trailer the LHT can carry a week's worth or groceries.

They are both fine bicycles.
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Old 10-20-12, 04:50 PM   #21
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Good for you. This may change your life. I'm slowly going car-light, hoping to be car-free one day. I do a lot of grocery runs on bike. Mostly, I tow a kiddie trailer rather than use a cargo bike. Sometimes I use panniers on a regular road bike. Whichever bike you choose will be fine. The more you ride, the more you'll know what you really need, so it might make sense to start with an inexpensive used bike. But 30% off a complete Surly sounds tempting.
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Old 10-26-12, 07:05 PM   #22
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Got my 2012 LHT today...Rode 15 miles with a friend this afternoon. Another ride on the schedule tomorrow. Feeling good about the purchase. Only pimped a little. Back generic rack, small bag that folds out into small panniers. Fenders. Pedals. Upgraded seat.3 water bottle racks. Kickstand. Triangle frame bag. Gonna use the computer off the mt bike for now. All less than the list price of the bike. Will fantisize over trailers this winter and drop the dough this spring....Thanks again for all the replies. Tried to upload a pic but no luck so far.
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Old 11-14-12, 10:25 PM   #23
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Sounds like you have a good bike. I was going to suggest the LHT as well if you hadn't made a decision. I have a touring frame bike pretty similar in geometry to the LHT. I use my tourer as my every day commuter as well as for small grocery runs. However, I wanted to be able to make much bigger cargo runs to the grocery store and beyond since I am trying to live as car-light as possible. So, having an older model mtb that I haven't ridden in years, I decided to convert it to a longtail cargo bike using an Xtracycle FreeRadical kit. If you end up deciding that you want to carry more gear than the LHT allows, you can always get a cheap older mtb and convert it for a fraction of the cost of buying a Big Dummy.
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Old 11-18-12, 09:04 PM   #24
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This is now after the fact and I believe that you made the correct choice. I bought the #2 grand touring bike of a manufacturers catalog in 1984. 28 years later, well, we just rode Fort Smith to Sherwood (arkansas) for a vacation last week. I have carried 85 pounds of grocs on the bike while pulling a Winchester loaded with 25 pounds of baby girl and 75 pounds of food. OK, it cannot haul what the BD can on frame, but it hauls a lot including ass. It is reasonably fast, too.
I bought my BD as a planned replacement for my (now) 28 year old Grand Touring bike. When I bought the BD, I did not know that Surly was about to present the LHT. *I would have bought an LHT had I had the knowledge.*
Hindsight being 20-20. I would have bought the LHT. However, I now have a BD. When the "Challenge" is forcibly retired, the BD can fill its tires for the most part. The BD can certainly haul a lot more then the Challenge", however, the BD won't:
fit on a normal car bike rack
fit on a local public transportation rack
fit in our VW Kombi
fit on my VW Karman rack.
It will and can do the job of the Challenge and the LHT for long distance use. It handles wonderfully. The cargo capacity is overwhelming compared to the Challenge and the LHT. It is a great bicycle, don't get me wrong. However, it is not a casual bike because some places and some vehicles just cannot handle it.
Thus, a complete replacement it is not.
I'm now planning to get a LHT (disk brake version) to (again) replace my 28 year old Challenge Grand Touring bicycle. I hope to relegate the BD to its proper role as a cargo bike and let the "Disk Trucker" become my LDx bike as the Challenge has been for the last 28 years.
A member of this forum who is one of my bicycling buddies from college (when floppy disks were carved from rocks) bought a (disk) LHT. He uses it as his daily commuter to and from work. It also tows a trailer at work carrying loads for the job. The LHT is a good buy.
In your case, the deal is done and it is too late for me to advise. I think that you made the correct descision.
For the next person, it may not have been so. I always tell wannabes to define your mission profile and to select your equipment according to that mission profile. You don't use B2s for air superiority and you don't use F15s as a heavy bomber. Select your equipment per your mission profile. It is your call.
Based upon what you wrote, I believe that the LHT fit your mision profile better than the BD.
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