Replacing Rohloff Hub Oil Seals…

9 05 2013
Leaky Rohloff...

Leaky Rohloff…

The Rohloff IGH in my Surly Big Dummy has been leaking oil for a while. This doesn’t really matter a whole lot as the Rohloff continued to work just fine, but I knew it was something I should sort out. So I collected the parts I needed and specialized Rohloff tools last year and finally got around to making it happen last week.

Most of what I needed...

Most of what I needed…

Here is what you need:

  • Hub oil seals x 2 = #8244
  • Tools for mounting hub seals = #8503
  • Paper gaskets = #8710
  • Loctite = #8347
  • Oil change kit = #8410
  • Sprocket removal tool = #8510
  • Rohloff instruction manual
  • Torx 20 driver
  • 3mm, 5mm & 8mm allen keys
  • large adjustable wrench
  • chain whip
  • paper towel
  • q-tips
  • rubbing alcohol
  • beer x 6
  • music

Before getting started wash your hub/rim/tire and let dry. You don’t want to have chunks of dirt fall into the open hub and it will be nicer to work with a clean wheel.

Axle side oil seal removed...

Axle side oil seal removed…

Like all Rohloff projects I’ve embarked on it was much easier than I had feared, but complicated enough that I ran into a couple glitches. Here are some instructions on how to replace the hub oil seals.

You will also need to read up on:

  • removing/installing the disc brake [assuming you have one]
  • removing/installing the shifting mechanism
  • removing/installing the drive sprocket
  • how to do an oil change

It’s worth reading all the way through so you can be sure you have all the parts and tools you need.

Staying organized...

Staying organized…

I started on the axle side where the shift box attaches. Pulling off the disc brake rotor and the shifting mechanism was easy. The hub oil seal was in pretty tight so it took me a few tries to get it out. It helps that you can destroy it in the process since it’s headed for the bin anyways.

New hub seal...

New hub seal…

With the Rohloff tool installing the new hub seal is dead easy. Just make sure you clean out the old seal mating surface before installing and don’t get crazy with the Loctite around the new seal. You don’t want to contaminate the hub.

Seal installed...

Seal installed…

Once the hub seal is installed just reassemble the axle side of the hub. It’s a bit fiddly so read the instructions first and then tackle it.

Paper gaskets...

Paper gaskets…

It was about this point that I realized I was missing 2 small paper gaskets I needed to reinstall my shift mechanism. I was a bit bummed because I didn’t think I’d be able to source them locally and figured I might be waiting 2 weeks for mail order parts to arrive. Happily I went down to the Fairfield Bicycle Shop and they had exactly what I needed in stock. Awesome! ūüôā

It’s really nice to have a LBS who services Rohloffs in town. If I ever have questions I can talk to them and they carry the parts I need for any projects.

The video above shows how to remove the sprocket from a Rohloff hub. These sprockets are threaded onto the hub and continuously tightened by your pedalling action. So they are a bitch to get off.

I tried....

I tried….

I tried to loosen the sprocket at home, but failed. So I carried the hub down to the kind folks at Cycles West my neighbourhood LBS. They used their bench vice to hold the hub and spin off the sprocket with a chain whip. Thanks guys – you rock! ūüôā

The video above shows how to replace the hub oil seal on the drive side of the hub.

SLX brake parts...

SLX brake parts…

I cleaned the brake rotor with rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of hub oil that may have gotten on to it. I sanded down the pads and then set them ablaze for a while in a pool of rubbing alcohol to clean them up as well. I probably need new pads, but I’m a bit lazy so I’ll use these for now until I get some freshies.

My Big Dummy repair stand... ;)

My Big Dummy repair stand… ūüėČ

With the hub back together I pumped some cleaning solution into it as the first part of an oil change.

The video above explains how to do an oil change.

Time to haul...

Time to haul…

I needed to work the cleaning solution all through the hub so I figured I might as well go get some groceries.

Checking everything out...

Checking everything out…

The ride let me check that the hub was working correctly in case I had goofed something during reassembly. As it turns out the IGH was purring like a kitten! ūüôā

My buddy Steve...

My buddy Steve…

I ran into my buddy Steve so we talked cargo bikes and he checked out the passenger deck.

Fresh oil...

Fresh oil…

Once home I let the dirty oil drain out and then I injected 25ml of the clean stuff and buttoned up the Rohloff.

See you in 5000kms...

See you in 5000kms…

Since my Big Dummy doesn’t see big mileage these days and lives inside I won’t be messing with this Rohloff for a few years.

Ready for summer...

Ready for summer…

Now that I have been through it all once I could replace a set of Rohloff hub seals in 1hr – assuming I had the parts and a bench vice at home. Sadly I’ll probably forget everything I just did by the time I need to do it again! ūüėČ

Big Dummy DIY Tail Wheels…

25 02 2012

Photo: Everyday Adventures Blog

Click on the image above to jump to the Everyday Adventures Blog and read about a DIY tail wheels project for enhanced Surly Big Dummy mobility. Even if you don’t own a Dummy you’ll¬†appreciate¬†how simple and smart this concept is.

Ode to the Surly Big Dummy

17 05 2011

Gett'n Surly with my Big Dummy...

A long load...

Heading to the LBS for some suspension maintenance...

Big Dummy Yukon touring…

Big Dummy surfing...

Loving the Dummy Life...

Getting loaded...

Torture testing the BD...

A loaded Big Dummy on tour...

Hauling a new bike for my friend Ursula...

Loading the Big Dummy....

Designed for versatility...

Here are links to Surly Big Dummy content I’ve posted online:

Off road Dummies...

Nice fender line on my BD...

Rolling Jackass Stand Goes Prime-time!

15 05 2011

Rolling Jackass for sale on the Xtracycle Store...

Val came up with this awesome centrestand for the Xtracycle/Big Dummy. You can read why I think it’s great in my previous posts about Big Dummy stands. ¬†I’m happy to see it for sale on the Xtracycle web shop. Good job Val and good job Xtracycle…=-)

The right Rohloff for your Big Dummy?

7 05 2011

A Big Dummy love a Rohloff!

This is is a repost from an old blog. I figured it would be useful to have here in case someone was searching for Surly Big Dummy Rohloff information.

One problem with buying a Rohloff hub is that there are a TON of options to navigate if you want to get the right hub. In this post I’ll run through the options to let you know what works and what I chose.


  • available in¬†red, black and silver
  • the anodized cases [black and red] should withstand salt and other elements a bit better than the polished aluminum case
  • cases are now laser engraved. If you see one with a sticker on the hub it is older stock.
  • I chose black for the stealth Big Dummy look
Internal or External Gear Mechanism:
  • the external gear mechanism is a box that attaches to your hub and your cables terminate there
  • this means you can easily detach it for removing the rear wheel
  • cables are run fully covered to the external gear mechanism so they are immune to the elements
  • it is easier to field service the external gear mechanism
  • the trade off is the shifting is slightly less smooth
  • you cannot use disc brakes with the internal gear mechanism
  • I went with the external gear mechanism for the ease of maintenance and so I could use disc brakes.
Disc Brakes:
  • you will need to use the external gear mechanism
  • you will need to specify disc brake use when ordering your hub
  • you will need a¬†Rohloff specific disc rotor
  • you can use a Rohloff disc hub on a rim brake bike as long as you use a rim with a braking surface
  • I went this route as I wanted to use Avid BB7 disc brakes on my Big Dummy
Torque Support:
  • without any torque support the hub will want to spin and will not drive the bike forward
  • you can get a Rohloff with the following torque support options:
  • you need to be sure you get the OEM2 axle plate
Accessories you’ll need:
  • chain tensioner¬†– you’ll need this as the Big Dummy has vertical drop outs. Keep in mind there is a standard and DH version. You want the standard version.
  • Tandem length cables – due to the length of the Big Dummy you’ll need the longer tandem length cables.
  • Rohloff specific disc rotor – you cannot use the rotor supplied with your brakes as it will have the wrong bolt pattern.
Accessories you may want:
  • chain guide¬†– keeps your chain on the front ring
  • oil change kit¬†– you’ll need one of these every 5,000kms so it migt be easiest to buy one or two when you get your hub.
  • Sprockets¬†-all hubs come with a 16T sprocket. You can also get 13T, 15T & 17T sprockets.
Non-Rohloff specific parts you’ll need:
  • 38T or larger front chain ring that will fit on the outside of your cranks – same position as big chain ring on a MTB triple. You want a ~54mmm chain line. This chain ring does not need to be pinned and ramped. You’ll be able to flip it around and use the other side when it wears out.
  • 2 chains – you’ll only use 1 and a bit, but you can save the extra portion and use it dnotw h road. You’ll also be able to flip your chain and rear cog around when things start to wear out and get more miles out of your drive train. I bought two 8 speed SRAM chains as they were cheap.
Rohloff Part Numbers

To make your life easier here are the part numbers you can use to ensure you are getting exactly what you need when you order your Rohloff hub:

  • Silver disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8025
  • Red disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8026
  • Black disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8027
  • Axle plate OEM2 [if you forgot to ask for it like I did and got an OEM hub] – #8227
  • Tandem Length cables – #8267
  • Chain Guide – #8290
  • Avid/Shimano 160mm disc rotor – #8281S
  • Hayes 160mm disc rotor – #8281H
  • Magura 160mm disc rotor – #8280
  • Oil Change Kit – #8410
  • 13T Sprocket – #8219
  • 15T Sprocket – #8220
  • 16T Sprocket – #8221
  • 17T Sprocket – #8222

Cargo bike day…

21 04 2011

Making the GF happy!

Sharon was getting cranky about my vast bottle collection that has been growing since 2010. I was holding out for a few more to justify my cargo bike run, but I decided it was time to get on with it. For loose bulky loads the CETMA is ideal. Just pile everything in it and roll. No boxes, no straps, no hassle – sweet!

Cycling to recycle...

Although the load was bulky it was light and the CETMA made short work of it.

Johnson St Bridge closed for good..=-(

My next bike mission was a multi-errand run into downtown. I didn’t need to ride the Big Dummy, but it’s a fun bike to cruise on and it’s easier to just grab this Surly than load up a lighter duty bike with panniers.

That blue bridge sticking straight up in the air was a key link for me to get from my house into downtown – in fact it was a key link for 4,000 cyclists and 3,000 pedestrians each day. Sadly structural damage has made it unsafe so they raised it and it will never be used again. The good news there is a $80M replacement bridge on its way with dedicated pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The bad news is that won’t be ready for 3 years. So for now there is a clumsy detour onto the main bridge deck. This will put cyclists in contact with cars a lot more on this key transportation link. I actually think that will be a good thing despite the minor hassles involved for both parties. Victoria will become very aware of its transportation cyclists.

That buckle should be attached to the bike...

I was disappointed that as I was loading up my Xtracycle Freeloader bags at home a key buckle popped off the bike. The velcro strap attaching it to the frame failed. Given that these bags have seen about a dozen uses since I installed them that’s not good. My old Freeloader bags seemed to be less durable than these new ones, but they never failed me in many years of hard use. In fact I¬†scavenged¬†a velcro strap from the old bags to get these ones back into service. I’ll have to carry a spare strap and hope this is not a sign of things to come. A utility bike has to be reliable or it doesn’t have a lot of utility!

My Surly Big Dummy hanging with his pals...

The Big Dummy was a blast to ride. I have fun overtaking people on a cargo bike and watching them do a double take as I pass…=-) The Rohloff hub is a pleasure to use as are the Porcelain Rocket frame bags my Dummy sports for storing small items.

When do IGHs make sense?

8 12 2010

The Gold Standard for IGHs...

I’m a fan of IGHs.¬† I’ve got 2 Rohloffs, 2 Nexus 8s and an Alfine 8 in service in addition to a number of derailleur equipped bikes.

There are a lot of things to like about IGHs:

  • low maintenance
  • hard to break in¬†accident¬†or during shipping/transport
  • clean looking drivetrain
  • easy to use sequential gearing
  • builds up into a strong dishless rear wheel
  • easy to adjust shifting when needed
  • IGH wheel can be shared easily between multiple bikes
  • can shift when stopped [say on a steep hill]
  • will work on almost any frame

There are also some things not to like about IGHs:

  • internals are not field serviceable
  • cost is higher than comparable quality derailleur setup
  • greater power loss than derailleurs
  • greater weight than derailleurs
  • gear range usually lower than a 3 x 9 setup
  • can’t tell what conditions internal mechanism is in without a tear down
  • limited selection of stock bikes sold with IGHs so you have to replace a stock derailleur setup or build custom from frame in most cases
  • drivetrain is in hub so if you have two wheel sets for a frame each needs its own IGH
  • limited shifter options for drop bars

When you consider these points it becomes clear that there is no slam dunk in favour of derailleurs or IGHs.¬† The optimal choice depends on what’s important to you.

Here are some things to consider:

  • a quality derailleur drivetrain that has been setup properly shouldn’t need a lot of attention if used on paved roads – especially if it doesn’t see much rain.¬† As you start to ride more in the rain and move onto mud, snow & sand derailleurs get messed up and need lots of love. This is where the IGH’s low maintenance can be a considerable benefit.¬† However, for a lot of people who ride for pleasure or are fair weather commuters they won’t see a lot of benefit, in terms of maintenance, between a derailleur and an IGH, but they will have to deal with the extra weight, extra cost and power loss of the IGH.
  • if you are having problems with your derailleurs and they are low end units replacing them with some middle of the road will probably solve your problems with less cost than an IGH and with less weight and power loss.
  • derailleur setup are more efficient in the larger cogs of the cassette which correspond to low gears.¬† A Rohloff is less efficient in the lower gears than the upper gears due to the way its planetary gears are setup. This means you’ll experience the most inefficiency with a Rohloff vs. a derailleur on a steep climb where a weaker rider can afford least to give up power.
  • An IGH can be shifted at a stop. For a cargo bike or some recumbents this can be a real benefit since unweighting the back wheel to shift to a lower gear isn’t easy.
  • An IGH rear wheel is very strong since there is little or no dish to the spokes and the resulting equal tension and wide base makes the wheel very robust.¬† Having said that a well tensioned cassette wheel is strong enough for adult men to use mtn biking so for many applications it’s more than adequate.¬† If you are not a clydesdale and/or you are not riding an overloaded bike, but still have wheel problems talk to an expert wheel builder – there is something wrong with your wheels.
  • I use a 3 x 9 derailleur setup in a simple way.¬† I ride in the middle ring 90% of the time and use the 9 cogs as a sequential gear box.¬† I use the bottom 3 gears and top 3 gears 10% of the time when I need them.¬† This is easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of thinking to get the right gear.
  • The only satisfactory drop bar IGH shifter I have come across is the JTek bar end shifter for the Nexus 8 /Alfine 8 hubs.¬† It’s a pleasure to use. JTek will be coming out with a bar end shifter for the Alfine 11, but it might be the end of 2011 before it hits the market. You can mount twist shifters and trigger shifters on or around drop bars and they work, but I have found them to be so poor to use that I won’t bother using such a setup.

Surly Cross Check in lovely Robin's Egg Blue...

Example #1 Sharon’s Cross Check

I’m going to build Sharon a Surly Cross Check using parts from her city bike.¬† The goal is to have a more efficient ride for her since she is not a powerful rider.¬† I considered whether or not to use the Nexus 8 IGH from her city bike or build her a custom 700c cassette wheel and use derailleurs.

I decided to use the Nexus 8:

  • the main benefits of the Nexus 8 for Sharon are 1) it’s paid for 2) it’s easy to use/maintain.
  • Sharon’s current commuter MTB has a cheap derailleur which needs monthly adjustment and she’d rather put a nail through her hand than learn how to tweak a derailleur [I don’t blame her!].¬† The Nexus 8 is dead easy to adjust since you simply align two yellow marks are you are done. Plus it doesn’t need frequent adjustment – maybe twice a year.
  • I am concerned that the extra weight and power loss are not ideal for Sharon since she isn’t a speed demon.
  • I think Sharon will like the simple aesthetic of the IGH chainline and how quiet it is.
  • for the initial build we’ll use swept back riser bars from her city bike and a twist shifter as well as the city bike’s v-brake levers – they are all paid for!

Looking forward I think when the Nexus 8 dies we’ll try a quality derailleur 1 x 9 or 2 x 9 setup:

  • I have lots of derailleur parts in my spares bin so cost will be low.
  • she can benefit from extra efficiency and lower weight.
  • a quality derailleur [LX,XT, 105 or Ultegra] won’t need lots of maintenance or adjustment given she rides only paved roads.
  • she would benefit from the aerodynamic position and multiple hand positions of a drop bar so we’ll use a bar end shifter.
  • she doesn’t need an uber strong back wheel since she is light and doesn’t carry lots of cargo.
  • with another few years of cycling under her belt she will figure out how to adjust a derailleur by ossmosis and it won’t be a big deal.
  • we’ll need drop bar v-brake levers, but by that time her current ones will be old and it makes sense to replace them.

If I was starting from scratch I’d build her bike with drop bars¬† and 1 x 9 derailleur setup mainly because as a weaker rider getting as much power to the road is a benefit she will realize every pedal stroke whereas the difference in maintenance is a smaller benefit realized only occasionally.¬† The drop bar aero position is a benefit when she wants to get more aggressive and increase her sped.

The muddy Dempster Highway...

Example #2 my Surly Big Dummy

My Surly Big Dummy was initially built up with a Rohloff hub and it’s a setup I continue to ride today.¬† If I was starting again I’d use the same hub:

  • having an uber strong rear wheel on the Dummy is critical.
  • this is a heavy bike so the incremental weight of the IGH isn’t a big penalty.
  • I use wide stiff tires [Marathon XRs] on this bike which cause a bigger performance hit than the Rohloff.
  • I generally ride this bike short distances at moderate speeds.
  • A lot of the folks I ride with regularly are weaker riders than me so the Dummy helps equalize things while being very useful if we run errands on the ride.
  • being able to shift while stopped is a big benefit when you stop in a high gear at the bottom of a hill and you have a passenger on the back.
  • I wanted to use Titec H-bars for this bike which work fine with the Rohloff twist shifter.
  • I have used this bike for dirt road/muddy road tours and the Rohloff’s imperiousness to mud was a major benefit.

Besides being a cargo bike this bike is my dirt road/expedition touring rig. The Rohloff’s strength and low maintenance are benefits in this role that out weigh the weight and power loss. I would not ride this bike across Canada on paved roads – it would be painful compared to my Surly LHT.

Trucking on the Bow Valley Parkway, Alberta...

Example #3 my Surly Long Haul Trucker

I built up this touring bike from parts using a 3 x 9 derailleur setup.¬† After several thousands of kms of touring and errand riding I’m on the same cassette/chainrings/derailleurs, but I have swapped in new chains as needed.¬† I love riding this bike.¬† If I were to start again I’d go with a similar build although I might simplify it by skipping the front derailleur and going with a 1 x 9 setup.

  • all my riding has been on paved roads [wet and dry, but mostly dry].
  • I haven’t had much maintenance hassle with this bike.
  • I really enjoy how the Shimano bar end shifters work and love using drop bars on this bike.
  • by touring standards by 32H wheels are light to medium duty yet I have had zero problems and they have not needed adjustment since built up.¬† I attribute this to sensible component selection and the skill of an expert wheel builder who tensioned the wheels.
  • this bike is fast and efficient by the standards of a touring bike and can still haul enough gear to cross the continent while camping/cooking my own meals.

I have considered using an IGH with this bike, but upon further thought it seems I have nothing to gain by that change and I would end up with a heavier less efficient bike.

Who needs gears?

Why not just fix the problem?

Many cyclists who are thinking of IGHs to get low maintenance trouble free drivetrains should take a close look at using a fixed gear bike.  By doing away with gears entirely a FG bike is lighter and more efficient than a derailleur bike while also being lower maintenance and more bombproof than an IGH.

There is this myth that FGs are slow and they are hard to climb.¬† Neither are true for even an average cyclists as long as you aren’t medically compromised and you don’t live in San Fran!¬† For a commuter, pleasure cyclist and even for light errands a FG offers a lot of benefits.

If the lack of coasting ability freaks you out a single speed setup adds a slight bit of weight and complexity, but lets you cost on the downhills.

Naturally for some applications [cargo biking, touring, recumbents, etc..] a FG or SS may not work, but that still leaves the majority of cyclists who could use one.

Sharon has checked out a FG/SS bike and expressed interest. What I may do for her CC is get her some 700c FG/SS wheels that she can swap in to see what she thinks. If she likes them we might skip gears entirely and go simple and light which would be to her advantage in many ways.

Surly Big Dummy Frame Bag #2

1 12 2010

My Big Dummy with a new Porcelain Rocket frame bag...

I’ve been using my triangular Porcelain Rocket Big Dummy frame bag [lower bag in photo above] since April and loving it. ¬†It fits my bike perfectly and provides a very useful amount of storage for smaller items I want to grab during the ride. ¬†The obvious question is do I really need more storage on a cargo bike? ¬†The answer is yes – for small items. ¬†The back end of a Big Dummy will swallow a huge box and another bicycle at the same time or 200lbs of dog food, but it’s not a great place to try and keep your cellphone, wallet and snacks.

Porcelain Rocket frame bag porn...

The new frame bag Scott [the man behind Porcelain Rocket] made for me attaches on top of the Big Dummy’s chainstays and only about half is visible when mounted. ¬†Looking at the photo above the left half of the bag is actually out of sight under the Xtracycle deck and the bag is internally divided in half. ¬†This gives you some semi-secret storage for valuable items or stuff you don’t need often. ¬†I’ll be using this¬†hidden¬†storage for tools, tubes, a $20 emergency bill and my Pinhead¬†locking¬†QR key. ¬†The upper compartment [to the right above] is a great place to stash stuff like a windbreaker, gloves, energy bars, etc…

A fully bagged Surly Big Dummy...

The bag mounts in seconds with generous velcro straps and fits the Dummy perfectly.  It looks like it belongs there and makes great use of otherwise wasted empty frame space without affecting my access to the cargo end of the bike.  The rear water bottle cage mounts are not obscured so you can carry a bottle back there.  My Big Dummy can still carry 3 water bottles with only the middle cage mount obscured by my triangular Porcelain Rocket frame bag.

Top notch construction...

Scott is a highly skilled craftsman and this bag exudes quality and robustness. It matches the lower frame bag perfectly using burly ripstop nylon and waterproof zippers with red pulls for a touch of flare. ¬†My previous bag looks like new after 7 months and I expect this bag will last as long as my Big Dummy is rolling. ¬†The fabric is waterproof as are the zippers. ¬†The bag ins’t¬†seam sealed¬†so in an extended downpour it might let some water in at the¬†stitching. ¬†The triangular bag hasn’t leaked yet, but it is a bit more protected from rain my the frame. ¬†I’m going to see what happens and if I get any water inside I’ll take the 30 minutes necessary to apply some seam sealant.

A peek inside...

The interior features a yellow lining so you can find stuff easily and a rigid plastic frame sheet for stiffness. There is a small mesh pocket on the right side of the bag to keep keys and coins from getting lost. The bag has an interior divider to keep the upper and lower contents separate.  The elastic loop on top will accept many brands of small pumps.

Upper velcro straps...

From the images above and below you can see that this bag isn’t going anywhere. ¬†The 3 underside velcro straps take some effort to¬†located¬†and undo which should stop a lazy snatch and grab thief. ¬†So far nobody has messed with my¬†triangular¬†frame bag on this bike when I have left it unattended.

Lower velcro straps under bag...

As you can tell I’m pretty stoked to have this new bag for my Big Dummy. ¬†I’m a fan of high quality gear and getting something custom made for my bikes is a real treat.

The business end of my Dummy...

Scott does fully custom bike bags so no matter what make/model of bike you ride or what your needs are he can make something beautiful and functional for you.  Contact him through his Porcelain Rocket website.

Big Dumb Security…

10 11 2010

Hose clamp = $1.40 front wheel security...

I followed a¬†suggestion¬†made in the comment section of one of my recent Surly Big Dummy posts and installed a hose clamp on the front QR of my Dummy. ¬†Because the OMM rack [which I love] requires a really long skewer up front I couldn’t use the Pinhead locking skewer I had [it will probably find a home on the front wheel of my Surly 1×1]. ¬†Rather than get a hold of a Pinhead rear wheel¬†locking¬†skewer coded to the same key I already have I figured this was a reasonable alternative. ¬†Although it can be opened it takes a lot more time/hassle than a QR and since the OMM rack requires the whole skewer be removed to take off the front wheel I think this is enough theft¬†deterrence¬†given the low cost of the wheel.

If you are looking for a bit more¬†security¬†for your wheels and don’t need a fort knox level setup this may be the best $3.00 that you spend.

Xtracycle Freeloaders [2010] and Flight Deck…

2 11 2010

My baby's got bling...

My Surly Big Dummy is one of my favourite bikes. ¬†It has not seen the kind of love it deserves from me. ¬†I ride it and put it away – wet, dirty, unmaintained. ¬†*sigh* ¬†=-( ¬†Well I decided to upgrade my Big Dummy a bit to show it that I care. Putting a kickstand a few days ago was step one. ¬†Then I went all out replacing the ratty Xtracycle Freeloader bags with a new set of the 2010 version. ¬†Not stopping there I also replaced the beat up Snap Deck with a 2010 Flight Deck. ¬†I don’t think my Big Dummy knew what hit it.


Here  is a rare naked shot of the rear of my Big Dummy.  I contemplated cleaning the filthy parts that were exposed for the first time in years, but the lazy side of me decided since I was just going to cover everything up again so why bother?!

Freeloaders buckle on...

The new Freeloaders buckle on. ¬†This works just fine. ¬†It makes them a bit¬†easier¬†to steal, but you’d have to know your way around an Xtracycle to know how to get them off.

I had to DIY the lower bag straps...

The lower bag straps [front and rear] are designed to work with the newer Big Dummy/Freeradical design that has some bolt on attachment points that mate with the plastic buckle shown above. ¬†My Big Dummy was one of the first made and it doesn’t have this feature so I used some zipties to DIY the buckles to my frame. ¬†This works fine and I don’t really see any need for quick or frequent removal of these bags – unless you are stealing them!

Big Dummy bagged...

The new Freeloaders are made of tougher waterproof material compared to the previous version. ¬†The quality of construction is excellent and the design remains similar which means they are still very functional. ¬†There is a large inner¬†pocket¬†in each bag that I use to store my tie down straps,Long Loader,¬†Footsies, Wideloaders, etc.. ¬†My only complaint with these bags is they are not available in black or woodland camo to go with my MASH 4077 theme. ¬†The grey colour I went with isn’t bad and you can also get them in blue and a burnt red colour.

Flight Deck upside down showing Super Hooks...

The 2010 Flight Deck is made of heavy duty plastic.  It comes with a set of Super Hooks.  Why are they super?  Well when tightened down they actually hold your deck to the bike without extra straps.  The old Snap Deck would pop off at the slightest bump unless you strapped it down.

New and old decks...

The Flight Deck bolts on easily and looks nice. ¬†It has handles at both ends which is useful for a passenger if your bike [like mine] doesn’t sport stoker bars. ¬†It has lots of holes pre-drilled so you can mount a kid’s seat securely or any other DIY project you have in mind. ¬†It should be a lot more¬†durable¬†than the wooden Snap Deck it replaces. ¬†It is also very secure once installed.

My Big Dummy looking spiffy...

Overall I’m quite pleased with both products. ¬†They represent clear upgrades to the items they replace. ¬†While not cheap they seem to be worth the asking price and should deliver years of service.

Good job Xtracycle!

PS – let me know when we can get the Freeloaders in woodland camo…=-)

PPS – I also finally took care of the awful bar tape on my Dummy’s H-bars. ¬†I can park my Dummy with other bikes and not be ashamed!

The best $7 I ever spent…

31 10 2010


Holding up a full touring load in the mud...

This $7 aluminum kickstand should have broken a long time a go. ¬†It shouldn’t be as useful as it is.

My amazing silver buddy is back for [hopefully] several more years of bike holding up service. ¬†After talking it off to try the Xtracycle Kickback¬†center-stand I used my Surly Big Dummy without a stand for a month or so. ¬†Until I put my¬†trusty¬†kickstand back on recently. ¬†It really is handy to be able to stand your bike without leaning it against something or laying it down. ¬†It’s also really handy to be able to swap in your Xtracycle attachements with a stand to hold up your bike rather than a stand that not only doesn’t hold up your bike it gets in the way.

I'm back!

Testing out lots of gear can sometimes be a PITA and can definitely be expensive, but one thing it does for sure is let you know what works and what doesn’t. ¬†Back to back¬†comparisons¬†don’t lie. I put this stand on my Big Dummy when I built it up as a stop gap measure until I got something better. ¬†As it turns out it has been a rock star bit of gear from me.

I didn’t fully appreciate this stand back when I installed it, but now I can’t give it enough praise.

Thanks little buddy!

Sup? No Problemo!

Bike Locking Case #1

28 10 2010

My Big Dummy locked during a coffee stop...

I use lots of different locking strategies with my bikes depending on the¬†circumstances¬†of each situation. ¬†I tend to be lazy so I carry and use as little locking equipment as I feel I can get away with. ¬†I haven’t had a bike stolen in years so I must be using¬†reasonable¬†precautions. ¬†I’ll be sharing my thoughts on specific locking situations over the next month or two.

In the photos above/below I was riding my Big Dummy around town picking up and dropping off various items in a big To Do List push. ¬†I stopped at a cafe for an¬†espresso¬†and muffin. ¬†Since I was only going to be inside for a few minutes I decided to just lock the frame to a¬†metal¬†railing next to the cafe. My wheels weren’t locked and the rear is a $1500+ Rohloff so that could be expensive, but trying to get the rear wheel out of a Big Dummy is a PITA if you know what you are doing because of the Xtracycle bags. ¬†I didn’t think anyone would even notice there was an expensive hub on the bike, care about a Rohloff and then go to the trouble of trying to steal it.

If I was going to leave the bike for a longer period I’d add in a heavy duty cable through both wheels that joins up with the chain lock. ¬†That would be reasonably secure given the threat in Victoria BC for bike theft. ¬†Someone could still steal my Brooks saddle or other components, but at least the bike itself would be secure.

Kryptonite chain and padlock...

One thing you can’t see in this picture is that there is a patio full of coffee drinkers sitting in view of the bike who saw me ride up on it and walk inside. ¬†I’m confident that if anyone tried messing with my bike someone would make a fuss on my behalf – especially in a bike friendly town like this.


Longloader 101

11 10 2010

Tanya and her shelving unit...

Sorry for the lack of posts….=-(¬† I have been and still am super busy in the far north!

Tanya needed a shelving unit picked up recently so I rode over on my Surly Big Dummy and strapped it on using a Xtracycle Longloader and a Wideloader to keep the front end of the box away from my left leg so I could pedal normally.¬† This works great and they are the same accessories I use when hauling a bike box or a SUP on my Big Dummy…very handy.

Room to pedal!

I keep my Wideloaders, Longloader and a bunch of tie down straps in the pockets of my Freeloader bags so I am always ready to roll on a cargo mission.  I keep a set of Footsies in there as well so I can collect passengers along the way!

Goodbye Sexy!

15 09 2010

I love the curve!

Gone is that sexy curved top tube on the Big Dummy…=-( ¬†The new version is no less practical and probably cheaper to manufacture, but not nearly as nice to look at. ¬†I’m glad my green beast is in good shape for many more years of cargo biking and other heavy duty mischief!

Straight edge!

Surly sez:

“No more swoopy top tube (come on, get over it.) New straight top tube increases torsional stiffness, reduces weight (a little), and is theoretically stronger. Standover is about the same.

New spec brings complete bike price down ‚Äď Deore, Truvativ, etc ‚Äď still Surly approved for durability.

Frameset MSRP: $950  Complete bike MSRP: $1840

ETA: Frames November, Bikes December”

Xtracycle Kickback Review

3 09 2010

Xtracycle Kickback center stand in action...

I’ve used the Xtracycle Kickback for over a month with mixed results.

The Good:

  • cost is reasonable for quality of product
  • installs easily
  • adjustable to many different bikes and tires that you might mount an Xtracycle on or Surly Big Dummy
  • deploys easily
  • holds the bike upright with a high degree of stability
  • when retracted it stows out of the way
  • seems durable

Kickback product porn...

The bad:

  • uses front mounting holes on Xtracycle and Big Dummy
  • this means Footsies can’t be used
  • this means every time you want to install/remove your Wideloaders you have to futz with the center stand
  • you can’t mount a cheap side kickstand at the same time as the Kickback [you want to use both as you can’t use the Kickback to hold the bike upright while you futz with installing the Wideloaders]
  • Rohloff chain rubs on Kickback when riding [I got the stand from Dylan who had added a rubber pad to protect the stand, but the noise drove me a little crazy]
  • reading the comments you’ll also see that the aluminum legs that slide into the steel body of this stand will corrode and fuse together in salty [ie. Canadian winter] environments
  • Other users have had issues with the return spring failing

$7 side kick stand in action...

The Ugly:

  • because I swap my Wideloaders in and out frequently the Kickback is a total pain in the ass
  • you can’t use the stand to hold up the bike while you install the Wideloaders and reinstall the Kickback so essentially at one of the times it would be most helpful to have a center stand you can’t even use it….not to mention you wouldn’t have to even be wasting your time removing parts, lining up holes and reinstalling everything if you didn’t have the Kickback on the bike in the first place – lame.
  • don’t even ask me about dealing with this in the dark, in the rain or when tired!
  • I would avoid riding it and drive rather than spend the time screwing around with the Kickback
  • I hate riding my Big Dummy with Wideloaders all the time because it becomes a pain to get it through any narrow openings [like the gate to my yard or the door to my bike storage]
  • my GF, who cares little about details of my bikes, noticed what a hassle the Kickback was and pronounced it a Fail [I agree]
  • if you are trying to understand what the problem is imagine if every time you wanted to use your computer you had to connect and disconnect the monitor and power cables…it’s not a huge task, but it is enough to make you less stoked to quickly jump online to do something
  • my $7 cheap side stand [images above and below] is far more useful than the Kickback since it doesn’t interfere with any Xtracycle accessories and holds the bike up for most loads [except the really heavy ones]

$7 side stand holding up a heavy touring load...

Who should get the Kickback?:

  • anyone who rarely or never uses Footsies or Wideloaders
  • anyone who uses Wideloaders, but leaves them on all the time
  • anyone who needs a center stand so bad that that the hassle involved is worth it

Dylan's Big Dummy resting on it's Wideloaders...

What am I going to do?:

  • remove Kickback and sell it!
  • reinstall my $7 side stand
  • use the side stand for all loads it can handle
  • for the uber heavy loads it can’t I’ll use the Wideloaders themselves as a sort of stand and just lay the bike over [see above] or lean it against a wall [see below]
  • sadly the approach above works so much better than the stand designed and sold by Xtracycle….hard to believe

Devo's Big Dummy leaning sans Kickback...

What do I wish Xtracycle would do?:

  • spend the time and $$$ to design a clamp mount for the Kickback so it doesn’t use the front mounting holes the rest of their accessories also need to use
  • have a look at the Rolling Jackass stand [image below] for a simple example of how the Kickback should mount [I may eventually throw $400 at this stand – it rocks, I’m just cheap]
  • I wish Xtracycle would build a better center stand for their own cargo cycles than a solo guy working on his own who needed something that actually work decently [aka the Rolling Jackass stand]

Hugger Industries Rolling Jackass photo....

If you want to see my previous  Kickback rants click here and here.

I’m selling this lightly used Kickback in perfect shape for $75USD [$139USD new] shipped anywhere in Canada/USA.

Sharon gets her Victoria SUP on…

23 07 2010

Two 11' SUPs and paddles....oh ya!

Sharon and I rode down to the Gorge with a couple stand up paddle boards. This was her first SUP session in Victoria and her first ever bike powered SUP session…=-)

Sharon paddling her pink SUP...

We cruised east towards the inner harbour…the opposite direction to my solo SUP paddle a couple of weeks ago.¬† This meant we headed into a moderate headwind which made for harder paddling, but an easy return trip.¬† Surprisingly the waterfront between the paddle club where we launched and the inner harbour was very very industrial.

Sharon SUPing with a cement factory in the background...

We paddled past a cement factory, a car wrecker, a couple of ship building yards and some construction sites.¬† It wasn’t too hard to make it to the dock below the Ocean River Kayak shop…which is also a handy place to access MEC and other downtown stores.¬† I’m hoping they’ll let me lock up my SUP on their dock so I can do some SUP powered errands instead of biking every time.

Sharon takes a break at the Ocean River docks...

We turned back before getting to the inner harbour since this was Sharon’s first SUP paddle in months we didn’t want to overdo it.¬† On a good day I should be able to paddle the whole Gorge.

Sharon doing some 70's themed SUPing...

Sharon had a great time, but we had a flat tire problem on my Surly Big Dummy when we rode home…=-(¬† *sigh*¬† It added a long hot delay into our return voyage.¬† I’ll be making sure I’m fully stocked for tools, pump and supplies in the future.

Sit down pedal boarding?

12 07 2010

Pretty in pink...

Two of the reasons I moved to Victoria were a better cycling environment and to be close to the ocean.  It was really hot here today and my office became uncomfortable due my computers putting out lots of BTUs.

Definitely the biggest single item I've haulled so far!

So I loaded up my Surly Big Dummy and stand up paddle board [SUP].  I live 4 blocks from the water and if I take a nearby mega-MUP I get a car free downhill ride right to a kayak/rowing club.

I'm sure I parked my bike around here??...=-)

The MUP route is a bit longer, but the ride is quite pleasant [old rail grade I think] and the bike parking at the paddle club is really secure so it’s worth it.

I locked my bike to the steel railing and launched from the dock in the background...

You have to pay to launch at the paddle club, but the small dock in the background of the pic above is free so naturally I carried my SUP over there.

I heart my SUP...=-)

I was hoping to have so pics to share from the water, but I forgot my camera in my bike’s frame bag….doh!¬† So it will have to wait until next time.¬† SUPing the Gorge is pretty awesome.¬† The water way is protected from ocean waves and a lot of the wind.¬† For the most part the current was minor with one major exception.¬†¬† The Gorge really narrows under one bridge to the west of my launch point accelerating the water 10x+ normal.¬† I went through the easy way without much problem other than a few nervous moments with turbulence trying to flip my board!¬† On the way back I nearly gave up as I was paddling 110% without making much progress against the current – especially as the turbulent water required lots of steering strokes on top of trying to drop the hammer.¬† I was ready to stop paddling and carry my board around this obstacle when I realized I had pushed past the worst of it and was finally getting somewhere.¬† As soon as I was 10′ beyond the bridge the water was slow moving again and I could make normal progress.

I won’t be taking Sharon past that bridge unless she is looking for some interval training!¬† If you go east from the paddle club you reach the inner harbour which is quite scenic.

Loading up on the dock for the ride home...

Right next to the paddle club is a nice restaurant.¬† So I can see a paddle “date” coming on…=-) Definitely a great way to cool off on a hot day and since it never gets really cold here I imagine I’ll be SUping in winter as well.

Shadows were getting long and my tummy rumbling!

The ride home was uphill, but since the MUP appears to be an old railway line the grade is very easy even with a load.  Overall it was a great bike/paddle mission that I will be repeating a couple times a week.

How many bikes do I have?

7 06 2010

Surly 1x1

Santa Cruz Nomad

Surly Pugsley

Bike Friday New World Tourist

Surly Big Dummy...

Bike Friday Tikit...

Surly Long Haul Trucker...

Click on any photo to see more images of that bike…

DIY Uber Stable Kickback

14 04 2010

Photo: Everryday Adventures

If you are an Xtracycle [or Big Dummy] owner with a Kickback center stand this wider more stable DIY mod may interest you.  I found it while reading the excellent Biking in a Big City Blog.

Big Dummy Frame Bag

8 04 2010

Porcelain Rocket BD Frame Bag

Scott from Porcelain Rocket made me this awesome frame bag for my Surly Big Dummy.¬† It fits in the triangle behind the seattube that previously was only used for a single waterbottle cage.¬† With 4 bottle cages on a Big Dummy I can certainly give up one to get some useful storage.¬† Now you might say with all the storage available on a Big Dummy why do you need more?¬† Well the storage options at the back are limited to pockets in the Xtracycle Freeloader bags. They work and are useful for items not needed a lot like extra tie down straps, pump, etc..¬† The problem is when you have your Freeloaders loaded up it’s hard to get access to these pockets without having to mess with your cargo.

Left side of bag with two pockets...

That’s where Scott’s bag comes in…by adding some easily accessible storage behind the seattube you can carry smaller items like your wallet, camera, snacks, cell phone and get to them anytime without messing with your cargo – that’s ideal.

The workmanship on this bag is top notch.  The materials used are very durable and essentially waterproof everywhere, but the stitching and zippers.  A bit of seam seal could make the bag virtually waterproof if I desire.  It fits perfectly and looks great on the bike.

Left side of bag with a single waterproof cellphone pocket...

The left side of the bag is reinforced with a removable stiff plastic insert so the bag doesn’t hit the chain.¬† There is also a small waterproof pocket for a cellphone or camera.

Inside the waterproof stash pocket...

Scott did such a nice job I’m getting a custom frame bag for my Santa Cruz Nomad so I can carry tools/pump/etc on the frame not on my back.

Scott personal bike with seatbag and barbag...

Scott will tackle custom jobs as well as making a production set of bike packing seat bags & bar bags like the ones shown above.

Xtracycle Hoodie & New Freeloaders

11 03 2010


Xtracycle has a new bag system out called the Hoodie – [shown above].¬† Priced at $125USD for the bag and 2 V-racks it will be cheaper than the standard Freeloader setup with a more streamlined aesthetic, but it’s not nearly as versatile for carrying odd loads.

It doesn’t have a top deck so you’ll be limited how much weight you put on top and how well it carry a passenger and it won’t fit your Surly Big Dummy.

Having a lower cost option makes sense and gives people choices – that’s a good thing.

2010 Freeloaders

New 2010 Freeloaders are also going to hit the streets.¬† They are shown above on a 2010 Radish, but specific details on what’s new with these bags have not been released yet.

Getting some Kickback!

11 03 2010

Xtracycle Kickback

My Surly Big Dummy hasn’t seen any upgrades for a long time. One thing I’ve wanted was a centre stand.¬† The one I want is Val’s uber sweet Rolling Jackass Stand, but at $350USD I just never seem to get it high enough on the priority list to pull the trigger. Xtracycle makes this Kickback stand shown above and at $140USD I’d be willing to buy one one if I didn’t consider the design seriously flawed.

What’s wrong with the Kickback?

  • you can’t use the Kickback with Footsies to support a passenger’s feet.
  • every time you want to install or remove the Wideloader side racks you have to remove and reinstall the Kickback.

As an apartment dweller I have to remove all my Xtracycle attachments every time I go in and out of the building.¬† Even if you have a garage do you really want to ride a 4’+ wide bike when you have no cargo load on board? So the Wideloaders really need to come off regularly.¬† The Footsies are a great way for passengers to feel more secure when riding on the back of your Big Dummy.¬† I use them a lot.¬† So you have to ask yourself why would Xtracycle build a product that makes one of their useful accessories impossible to use and another useful accessory a pain to install/remove?¬† I still haven’t figured that out!¬† Especially considering that Val’s design is totally compatible with the whole Xtracycle accessory line up.¬† Go figure!

So my Big Dummy has been rolling centre stand free for two years.¬† Its poor side mounted kickstand has taken a beating and it has fallen over a few times when loading/unloading. I was hoping Xtracycle would redesign their stand to mount like Val’s and allow for full compatibility with their other accessories.¬† However, it seems that hope was in vain.

Recently Dylan decided his Kickback stand was not particularly useful to him and was generous enough to let me have it for less than half price – thanks!

Why spend any money on a product I’m so down on?

  • I want to confirm that my assessment of the Kickback is accurate.
  • I want to confirm how useful a centre stand is so I can justify buying one of Val’s.
  • I’m hoping that 2010 will be the year of the garage for me.¬† If I don’t have to install/remove the Wideloaders twice per ride I think my ability to use the Kickback will be greatly improved.
  • Someone will take it off my hands for what I paid for it so it’s a risk free transaction.

Photo: Nathan Thompson

The photo above shows Val’s Rolling Jackass stand installed on Nathan Thompson’s Big Dummy. Notice the cunning design doesn’t mess with the attachment points for the Footsies or Wideloaders. Great job Val!

Rohloff vs. Mud

15 02 2010

#1 reason to run a Rohloff...

One of the things that’s great about running a Rohloff equipped bike is how impervious to mud/dirt it is.¬† The hub will shift as nicely clean as it will coated in mud and filth.¬† This photo came from a proud owner of a Thorn Raven Sport on the Thorn Forum.¬† I had a similar experience with my Rohloff equipped Surly Big Dummy on the Dempster Highway.

It’s not a question of the Rohloff still being able to manage a shift when covered in mud…the crazy thing is it shifts just as well dirty as it does sparkling clean.¬† When all the rest of your gear starts malfunctioning because of mud it will blow your mind that your bike still shifts perfectly.

Rohloff 1 - Mud 0

If you are not familiar with Rohloff hubs Thorn has a useful guide available here.

Xtracycle Side Rack Protection

18 01 2010

Using an old tire to protect your rig...

I found this idea posted on the Surly Blog and thought it was crafty enough to warrant reposting.¬† Not surprisingly it originally came from Devo.¬† If 2010 sees me change accommodations and get the garage I’ve being dreaming about I will definitely give this a shot since I will be able to leave my Surly Big Dummy all setup and ready to roll.

Big Dummy Frame Clearance

4 11 2009

Surly Big Dummy

Mike let me know that Tree Fort Bikes is clearing out Surly Big Dummy frames for just over $600USD. Their online store is showing all sizes in stock Рalthough that could be incorrect.  Anyways if you are looking to build up a Big Dummy this is a sweet deal.

Josh’s Big Dummy For Sale

3 11 2009

Josh's sweet Big Dummy

Josh is selling his gorgeous Surly Big Dummy cargo bike.  Details are below Рpls contact Josh directly about this sale as I am not involved in this transaction beyond helping a friend out with some coverage of his sale.

Surly Big Dummy 18″

Please contact Josh at joshmaus “at” gmail “dot” com if you are interested.¬† He is located in the Boise Idaho area.


Custom pianted Xtracycle parts look awesome.

Big Dumb Pugsley

29 09 2009
Photo: Mauricio Babilonia on Flickr

Photo: Mauricio Babilonia on Flickr

Although not the first custom longtail fatbike [check out the Chupacabra] this bad boy from Banjo Cycles is the most refined.¬† I don’t have much in the way of details yet, but thought I’d share these photos for the fat tire freaks out there.

Titec H-Bar Update

12 09 2009
Titec H-Bar on my Surly Pugsley

Titec H-Bar on my Surly Pugsley

I’ve got 3 Titec H-bars in play at the moment.¬† My Thorn Nomad S&S, Surly Pugsley and Surly Big Dummy all sport H-bars.¬† My initial setup on the Big Dummy was with just some rubber grips and the rest of the bar bare.¬† This worked fine for shorter rides in town, but proved uncomfortable on longer rides – particularly long cold rough rides that beat up my hands.¬† So I replaced the rubber MTB grips with Ergon Grips [shown above on my Pugsley] and wrapped the rest of the bar with a double layer of cork tape.¬† I liked this so much when I got my Pugsley I did it up the same way.¬† The only downside to this setup is that the brake levers are a bit far from the Ergon Grips when riding technical terrain.¬† My Big Dummy doesn’t see this sort of action so I’ll leave it alone.¬† My Pugsley does see some technical riding [although not a ton] so I think my long term solution will be to replace the current levers with some that have adjustable reach and maybe lever arms that are a bit longer.¬† It hasn’t bothered me enough to do anything about it yet, but occasionally I want my hands at the ends of the bars for more leverage and my hand firmly on the brakes at the same time.¬† I do have some SLX hydraulic brakes that are looking for a home so maybe these will find their way onto my Pugsley.

Titec H-Bar on my Thorn Nomad S&S

Titec H-Bar on my Thorn Nomad S&S

When I built up my Thorn Nomad S&S touring bike I wanted to try a different Titec H-bar setup.¬† Reading Jeff Jones’ comments, the designer of the H-bar, he recommends you have a seamless transition from the grips to the rest of the bar.¬† The idea being your hands can move around as you ride finding the optimal position for any given moment.¬† That made sense and Jeff Jones is clearly a switched on guy when it comes to bikes so I decided to give it a shot by wrapping the whole bar in a double layer of cork tape. I’ve had my bar setup as shown in the photo above since the spring.¬† I have to agree that there is something to be said for not having a specific “grip” position and I have enjoyed moving my hands around the whole H-bar as I ride.¬† Having said that I don’t find the H-bar without Ergon Grips as comfortable as with them. I’ve been using my Nomad for shorter around the town rides since there are no big tours on my agenda at the moment.¬† For this use the double wrapped tape is excellent, but after about 2hrs of riding I start to wish I had my hands on some big flat Egron Grips.¬† This is another one of those projects I’ll eventually get around to and I’ll swap in some Ergons…no major rush though.

Installing Watchamacollars on a Big Dummy

6 05 2009
Use a nickel to spread the lower portion of the clamp.

Use a nickel to spread the lower portion of the clamp.

Check out the Xtracycle Blog for a useful tip on installing Watchamacolars on a Big Dummy.  Since the tubing of the Surly Big Dummy is larger than the Xtracycle sub-frame the lower portion of the Watchamacollars is a very tight fit.  By using a nickel to spread the lower part of the clamp you can get it on much easier.

Good tip!…=-)

DIY Watchamacollars

5 05 2009
$4.50 V-rack clamps for your Big Dummy

$4.20 V-rack clamps for your Big Dummy

If $39 for 2 Watchamacollar V-rack clamps is too rich for your bank account you can’t get the seatpost clamps pictured above for $4.20 each after discount.¬† They are slightly larger than the tubing on the Big Dummy so you’ll need to wrap the area you are clamping with some tape to get the right fit.¬† A reasonable compromise given the cost savings.

$19.50 V-rack clamps from Xtracycle

$19.50 V-rack clamps from Xtracycle

Watchamacollars in action:

Watchamacollars securing V-racks to an Xtracycle

Watchamacollars securing V-racks to an Xtracycle

Note that the Xtracycle Watchamacollars have a built in o-ring to keep water out of the Big Dummy/Xtracycle sub-frame.¬† So if you use the DIY clamps and live in a wet area you’ll want to use something like some inner tube to keep water out.