Cargo bike / Xtracycle setup and accessories

winjim

✊🏻✊🏾 🌈 😷
The time has finally come. If anybody's been reading my posts over the last few months they'll know I've been hankering after a cargo bike, specifically a Surly Big Fat Dummy. Well the new credit card has arrived and I've booked Thursday morning off work to go to my LBS and get one ordered.

I think I'll actually end up going for the regular Big Dummy as the fat version is probably a bit over the top for my needs, plus the BD is compatible with all the Xtracycle accessories, which brings me to the point of my post. Cargo bike and Xtracycle riders, how have you set your bikes up? What do you use them for, which accessories have you found useful and which, if any, are best avoided?

My list so far, not all cargo bike specific:

Mudguards - a no-brainer for a bike you want to be able to use whatever the weather, and with passengers.
Dynamo lighting - I want to be able to just get on and go without worrying about batteries etc
Wide tyres - if not getting the fat version I still want to be able to do some light off-road and in any case the road surfaces round here are terrible.
Proper double centre stand - are they strong enough to hold the bike while you load it up with a small (or not so small) child?
Child seat pad and rails - was thinking Xtracycle hooptie but I see Surly have the kid corral. Anybody got experience with either? And would I need the extra rails for the footrests, or anything to stop small feet going into spokes?

That's all I can think of for now, but any input welcome. @Andy in Germany @Heltor Chasca I'm looking in your direction...
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
Get a decent bell and a C5 Gore shakedry jacket
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
Congrats @winjim It will be a life changer. I kid you not, cargo bikers are a ‘different’ type of human being. For the good. I’m excited for you. Importantly you will need to purchase some music by Captain Beefheart. The song to ease you into the craziness is...’I Love You my Big Dummy.’

I have LOADS of useful tips. Primarily my Dummy is used on the school run, weekend snorkelling; today a colour run and we have toured round the NL twice. My daughter who is my main customer is a very small 9 year old.

She has never needed a Hooptie which is the guard rail you mention. Another parent I know used there’s for about 5 minutes for their very small child before he ‘got it’ and stayed where he was meant to stay. I have fitted a QR hitch to tow her bike through any nasty towns (traffic we’re talking) or up day-spoiling-hills.

I made her a sheepskin seat for the deck rather than the proprietary cushion you can buy. I fitted swept back Stoker bars to my seat post and I used stumpy bar ends fitted to the front of the rack for foot rests.

I purchased the Xtracycle double stand. The supplied single one isn’t fit for purchase if you are hauling. Especially kids. With the double you can load the kids up and not have to support the bike. The single will fall over under load too.

I also bought some Wideloaders. I don’t use them much, but they are awesome for silly loads. I have to get through the workshop door and a garden gate. If I had a garage I would leave them on permanently. They are cool.

I fitted mudguards which are essential. This bike is harder to maintain so keeping it clean is a good idea.

What else? Where the rack slots into the frame, I used a 2” piece of inner tube over each join to seal off the join for water ingress. I applied Frame Saver. That was messy and hard work.

I don’t have one on the Dummy, but a dynamo is something I have on 2 other bikes and essential in my mind. Consider a USB charging light if you plan to tour.

Your life is just about to become a lot of fun. The bike evolves and changes as you adapt to it. I love ours. You will ~love~ live yours.

When you have it let me know and I can send you close up shots of the useful mods. There is also a Surly Big Dummy FB page for ideas on a multitude of mods.
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
Wiring the rear dynamo is always tricky. Modern front lamps ,best mounted on the fork bridge should have a terminal for wire to the rear. Route the wire perhaps along the rear brake cable then under the rear platform to a rear lamp mounted under the rear platform. Ensure it is not blocked by clothing or loads. I reinforced my wire with ducktape where needed.
Some people use small zip ties. Do you have an internal route? Esp through rear rack?
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
If I were to run a dynamo hub on my Dummy I probably would prefer a USB light for the rear. Not a rear light wired to the hub (as useful as they are on my other 2 bikes)

My reasons are that the rear end of this bike is much more vulnerable to bashing it into walls, doors, gates etc due to its 2 metre length. You can’t route the wire internally and even externally is a strategic nightmare. You have 3 triangles to negotiate. Almost all parts of the frame will have little feet, cargo and the Surly panniers fouling it. And I can’t think of a 100% perfect place to mount the light. I am constantly moving my USB lights around depending on loads at the time.

That said, if I had £300 spare I would get a wheel built using the supplied rim, a Shimano XT hub and a B&M USB front light.
 
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OP
winjim

winjim

✊🏻✊🏾 🌈 😷
The dynamo system is I think going to depend on budget and whether it's more sensible to but the complete bike or build it up from the frameset, which in turn might depend on what parts the LBS have knocking about at the moment.

Passenger is going to be a rather wriggly four year old so I think the hooptie / kid corral is probably a good idea.

I also have to navigate a narrow door and garden gate, at least until I get the garage fixed up so wideloaders can wait. Main job for now is going to be the school run.
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
The dynamo system is I think going to depend on budget and whether it's more sensible to but the complete bike or build it up from the frameset, which in turn might depend on what parts the LBS have knocking about at the moment...Passenger is going to be a rather wriggly four year old so I think the hooptie / kid corral is probably a good idea.L.
It is an easy frame to build around. I would buy the best that you can afford and definitely think about a triple and low gearage. (11-36) It is a beast loaded up. I would also get the strongest wheels you can (36 spoke) and rims that will run 2.3”. Schwalbe Big Apples or Big Bens. I also fit ice tyres in the winter for the school run.

A Hooptie sounds ideal for your situation. Chucking kids at traffic doesn’t make us responsible cyclists look good to the motons.

You will also need a beard, long hair and some sandals. Woolen cycling cap too.

And attitude.
 
The time has finally come. If anybody's been reading my posts over the last few months they'll know I've been hankering after a cargo bike, specifically a Surly Big Fat Dummy. Well the new credit card has arrived and I've booked Thursday morning off work to go to my LBS and get one ordered.

I think I'll actually end up going for the regular Big Dummy as the fat version is probably a bit over the top for my needs, plus the BD is compatible with all the Xtracycle accessories, which brings me to the point of my post. Cargo bike and Xtracycle riders, how have you set your bikes up? What do you use them for, which accessories have you found useful and which, if any, are best avoided?

My list so far, not all cargo bike specific:

Mudguards - a no-brainer for a bike you want to be able to use whatever the weather, and with passengers.
Dynamo lighting - I want to be able to just get on and go without worrying about batteries etc
Wide tyres - if not getting the fat version I still want to be able to do some light off-road and in any case the road surfaces round here are terrible.
Proper double centre stand - are they strong enough to hold the bike while you load it up with a small (or not so small) child?
Child seat pad and rails - was thinking Xtracycle hooptie but I see Surly have the kid corral. Anybody got experience with either? And would I need the extra rails for the footrests, or anything to stop small feet going into spokes?

That's all I can think of for now, but any input welcome. @Andy in Germany @Heltor Chasca I'm looking in your direction...
I'd agree on getting the Big Dummy: Those tyres look awesome, but normal sized wheels with Marathon Plus tyres are probably more practical for making sure the kids get to school on time.

My own Xtracycle setup is similar to what you describe (although it's based on an MTB frame with Xtracycle bolt on:

2019_06_15_Eyach_Century_01.JPG


The mudguards are metal, salvaged off old scrap bikes. They aren't that light and required a bit if ingenuity to fit, but I'd got through two sets of plastic mudguards and was fed up of trying to fix things with tape. I could also drill holes in them to take extra stays and put a mudflap on the front.

When we set the Xtracycle up we were essentially broke and we had to scrape about for the 'extras'. I ended up using a normal aheadset stem with a collar on the seat post, and a cut down set of heavily swept handlebars scrounged from my LBS scrap heap. The footrests aren't obvious here but were originally bar ends on a cheap and nasty supermarket special bike that we scrapped. I've never had a problem with feet getting stuck in the chain. The setup has worked very well for several years as a shopping/touring/errand runner and taxi and is now being used by the fourth child...
 
Oh, and the dynamo is a Shimano one salvaged from a scrapped bike (you notice a pattern here?)

Essentially weight isn't quite as much of an issue as with a normal bike because it's going to be heavier whatever you do. The bike is so incredibly useful for everyday stuff that it will inevitably take a lot of punishment: I tend towards sacrificing lightness for solidity.

(And I can still use it for touring)
 
OP
winjim

winjim

✊🏻✊🏾 🌈 😷
I think I may just have spent all my money...

LBS did point me in the direction of the Tern GSD, which looks very, very nice but it's rather spendy, being electric and all, and I didn't really like the look of the non electric Tern cargo bike. So Surly it is.
 
OP
winjim

winjim

✊🏻✊🏾 🌈 😷
What else? Where the rack slots into the frame, I used a 2” piece of inner tube over each join to seal off the join for water ingress. I applied Frame Saver. That was messy and hard work.
Did you just apply the frame saver around the rack area or did you do the whole frame? I'd rather do the whole frame but I don't want it gumming up the headset or bottom bracket and I don't have the time to strip it all down and do it properly.

Bike is currently at the LBS being built up (and most likely taken for a spin round the local park), so I just need to order the frame saver and a metric ton of Bike Shield for Thursday.
 
OP
winjim

winjim

✊🏻✊🏾 🌈 😷
@Heltor Chasca where did you get the frame saver from? I've searched and I can't find it for sale anywhere. I might have to try one of the alternatives mentioned on the waxoyl thread.
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
I found the frame saver on line but I can’t find the supplier. It wasn’t cheap.

I took the wheels and chain off and fired the frame saver in through any holes like bottle cages, bosses, top stem, etc. Then slowly ‘twirled’ the frame around ‘pouring’ the gunk around the frame as best as I saw fit. Sure it would have been better if I had done it when it was a bare frame but there you are life isn’t perfect.

Once frame saver was leaking all over the lounge carpet, I felt I had done all I could.
 
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