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Surly Big Fat Dummy or Regular Big Dummy Inquiry

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.

Surly Big Fat Dummy or Regular Big Dummy Inquiry

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Old 02-17-19, 12:24 PM
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yuoil 
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Surly Big Fat Dummy or Regular Big Dummy Inquiry

Hi Utility Cycling forum!

Over the last couple years I've been desiring a longtail cargo bike. I was considering an Xtracycle but while researching I came to the conclusion that a Big Dummy would be a really good fit, and I have most of the parts I'd need to build it if I got the frame. Recently I've noticed the Big Fat Dummy and I'm starting to wonder if it provides enough utility improvements over the basic dummy to make me choose it instead. I'm pretty sure once I get one I won't be getting the other! I've tried to find user reviews of the BFD but I haven't been able to find much. Mostly lots of interesting pictures with little text. I think it might be the cost and that it's a newish model or so niche specific. Maybe someone here has some experience with the Big Fat Dummy or the Salsa Mukluk and can give some insight.

Basically, I would be using the future cargo bike to go to local stores and maybe yardsales or something of that nature. I would like to be able to carry cat litter, bird seed, mulch, other bikes, building supplies, etc. I have fantasies of using the bike to go to the local dump (with all the household trash/recycle), commute if something big needs to go to or come from work, carry children/camping gear, and maybe some sort of touring but I am not confident that will happen I am currently in a suburban area with poor cycling infrastructure. Narrow to no shoulders, lots of blind turns and many drivers in a hurry, etc. There are many small bogs that are open to riding nearby and I do cut through them often when I have a bike that is capable but even with an ideal route bogs wouldn't exceed 30% of the riding distance with the rest being pavement. I do ride year round.

I am leaning towards the Big Dummy because of price, mostly standard parts, xtracycle accessory compatibility and seemingly superior kickstand. I'm not in a rush so I want to make sure I don't wish I had bought the other one later! I've read that the BFD is supposed to be better triangulated and have a stronger frame, even though it has the same load rating as the BD. I think the wider deck has a lot to offer even if it doesn't have much aftermarket support. And obviously the fat tires would allow transport over sand better, but is it worth the trade off? I would be able to have more than one wheelset with either bike eventually, but the Big Fat Dummy seems to be designed only for bigger diameter wheels which I imagine would make the bike's center of gravity higher than the BD and that seems undesirable. It also only comes in three sizes and that seems confusing too.

Sorry for all the text. I'm still doing research about cargo biking (which I'm enjoying!) and I'm hoping to find someone who uses a fat cargo bike to give real world feedback. Thank you for your time!
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Old 02-17-19, 12:55 PM
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Search & read ? https://fat-bike.com/2018/02/surly-b...-by-seth-bell/








...

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-19-19 at 02:01 PM. Reason: i dont have a garage for one
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Old 02-18-19, 08:41 PM
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I own both, and ride them both regularly!

I currently have the Big Dummy set up with a 29" front wheel and a 26" rear, both with Schwalbe Big Apples, 2.35". It is more of my "road" cargo bike. It's my around town grocery getter, utility hauler, tourer, and commuter. Before I got the BFD, it also saw plenty of time on dirt, collecting wood, hauling trail tools, and camping. I've had it over 8 years, and it is my most reliable bike.

The BFD is mostly the stock setup from Surly, with Jones H bars replacing the stock bars. It is my off-road RV and trail maintenance tool hauler now, and more and more a fun alternative to a "short" mountain bike if I know I want to take singletrack home from the store. It is also my winter cargo bike. I've had it almost a year, and have yet to have a problem with it yet.

As far as cargo goes, they are almost equally capable. The BFD is noticeably stiffer with heavier loads, I think I would trust it with more weight than the BD. But, we are talking about 150+ pound loads. But, if you load either one poorly, you pay the price with poor handling, just like any bike. If you are looking at hauling loads off road, the BFD adds a lot of peace of mind. The big tires soak up a lot of bump, cushioning you and the cargo. I've found the BFD handles any bumpy trails when loaded better than the BD, though the BD does just fine on smoother gravel, and has seen plenty of singletrack before I got the BFD. Both have been airborne a few times now, though the BFD handles loaded landings better than the BD.

The BD will always roll faster and be less fatiguing, loaded or not, but if you air up the tires on a BFD, it isn't much slower. I typically keep 10PSI front and 15 rear, unless I'm hauling anything heavy. even aired up, the ride is noticeably smoother on the BFD. The BFD has the same "weird" handling characteristics as a normal fatbike, though they are a tad muted by the long wheelbase.

Overall, by the sound of it, and in my opinion, a Big Dummy would do you just fine. It'll easily haul everything you want to carry, it can handle a fair bit of offroad, and it'll last forever if you take care of it. It uses pretty standard parts, and is about 10 pounds lighter. However, keep in mind, you can build a fat wheelset and a 29" wheelset for the BFD, which, combined with a stronger frame, makes it much more versatile. It'll do everything a Big Dummy does, and then some. Fatbike parts are getting more common. Plus, while a Big Dummy gets some attention, the Fat Dummy takes it to a whole new level!

If I had to chose one? I would pick the BFD. If I broke the frame on my Big Dummy, I would probably rebuild it around a BFD frame, with 29" wheels.

Hope that helps!
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Old 02-22-19, 08:45 AM
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Thank you for both of your responses!

fietsbob, I did see Seth Bell's review and it was one of the ones that made me consider that maybe I wanted a BFD at all. I think his use is more rugged and offroad than mine would be and he compared it to a xtracycle as opposed to the BD. I do think it was very helpful and thank you for pointing it out. I was posting here in the off chance we have a forumite that has both and would take the time to reply, and I'm amazed to see we do!

rednek426 your response was exactly what I was hoping to find! It sounds like if you only had one you'd stick with the BFD, right? Do you find it much taller than the BD? Do you do much on pavement with it or mostly only offroad?

Thanks again
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Old 02-22-19, 04:03 PM
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Bottom bracket height is a tad taller on the BFD than the Big Dummy, which makes sense, considering its intention. Standover height is similar between the two, with the Big Dummy being an XL and the BFD a large. With the exception of the fat tires, and the Big Dummy being set up with a Rohloff, I have them set up similarly, and sometimes can't tell a difference between the two, fit wise. The BFD is set up to take an internal dropper seatpost, which given its taller bottom bracket height, is something I'm considering doing.

The bags and platform/deck sit higher on the BFD by 3 inches or so, and sit further forward in relation to the rear axle by 1.5 inches. So, you lose some stability with a higher center of gravity, but get it back with it being further forward between the wheels. I've had over 30 pounds of trail tools on the deck on single track, and didn't have a problem.

I'm car free, so the BFD sees about 50/50 road and dirt. If I know I'm going to be doing a lot of pavement pounding with it, I'll throw some extra air in the tires, or adjust as I go, as I keep a pump with me. I've found 12-15 PSI front and rear is a reasonable compromise for good dirt traction and reasonable rolling resistance. With the tires up around 18 PSI, it rolls pretty quick and handles sharp, though you lose some traction, float, and suspension compared to lower pressures, just like any fatbike. I will say, it handles dirt better than the Big Dummy, even with the tires pumped up hard, and it does even better with some weight on the back wheel! I've actually gotten so used to riding the BFD on dirt, I have a hard time going back to a "normal" mountain bike.

Yeah, if I had to choose just one, even if I were doing mostly pavement I would have to pick the BFD, as I feel it's a more versatile, stronger frame. (My Big Dummy is an older one, but I've ridden a new style with a load, it doesn't feel much different.) But I've got some sentimental attachment to the Big Dummy, and won't let it go, and it makes a great roadie cargo bike.


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Old 02-26-19, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rednek426 View Post
Bottom bracket height is a tad taller on the BFD than the Big Dummy, which makes sense, considering its intention. Standover height is similar between the two, with the Big Dummy being an XL and the BFD a large. With the exception of the fat tires, and the Big Dummy being set up with a Rohloff, I have them set up similarly, and sometimes can't tell a difference between the two, fit wise. The BFD is set up to take an internal dropper seatpost, which given its taller bottom bracket height, is something I'm considering doing.

The bags and platform/deck sit higher on the BFD by 3 inches or so, and sit further forward in relation to the rear axle by 1.5 inches. So, you lose some stability with a higher center of gravity, but get it back with it being further forward between the wheels. I've had over 30 pounds of trail tools on the deck on single track, and didn't have a problem.

I'm car free, so the BFD sees about 50/50 road and dirt. If I know I'm going to be doing a lot of pavement pounding with it, I'll throw some extra air in the tires, or adjust as I go, as I keep a pump with me. I've found 12-15 PSI front and rear is a reasonable compromise for good dirt traction and reasonable rolling resistance. With the tires up around 18 PSI, it rolls pretty quick and handles sharp, though you lose some traction, float, and suspension compared to lower pressures, just like any fatbike. I will say, it handles dirt better than the Big Dummy, even with the tires pumped up hard, and it does even better with some weight on the back wheel! I've actually gotten so used to riding the BFD on dirt, I have a hard time going back to a "normal" mountain bike.

Yeah, if I had to choose just one, even if I were doing mostly pavement I would have to pick the BFD, as I feel it's a more versatile, stronger frame. (My Big Dummy is an older one, but I've ridden a new style with a load, it doesn't feel much different.) But I've got some sentimental attachment to the Big Dummy, and won't let it go, and it makes a great roadie cargo bike.
That is the same frame type as my BD with the swoopy top tube.
I'm interested in knowing more detail about that idler in the chain.
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Old 02-26-19, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
That is the same frame type as my BD with the swoopy top tube.
I'm interested in knowing more detail about that idler in the chain.
That's my chain tensioner for the Rohloff. It slides up and down the tube to adjust tension. They make it for derailleurs as well as IGH's to help avoid dragging the chain in the dirt, or slapping it against the frame.

They don't make one for the Big Fat Dummy, so I made one of these for it.
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Old 02-26-19, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by rednek426 View Post
That's my chain tensioner for the Rohloff. It slides up and down the tube to adjust tension. They make it for derailleurs as well as IGH's to help avoid dragging the chain in the dirt, or slapping it against the frame.

They don't make one for the Big Fat Dummy, so I made one of these for it.
Interesting, thanks. I have a Rohloff in my Big Dummy, and I have the Rohloff tensioner. Getting the wheel out of the dropouts is a bit of a pain.I'm thinking the idler would make that simpler.
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