Just a little update, this bike was destroyed in July 2021 when a driver travelling far too fast for the road crossed the white lines and hit me. Luckily I escaped with relatively minor injuries, albeit ones that are still causing problems 8 months later. The heavy space frame absorbed much of the impact and, it seems likely, saved me from worse. The bike, sadly, is a non-recoverable wreck.
It took a whole year of procrastination and the opportunity to acquire one at a somewhat reduced price, but on reflection I think it was inevitable that it would happen; the possibilities for grin-inducing adventures aboard a fat-tyred, off-road cargo bike, not to mention just not having to use a car, were just too great to ignore. Initially I had been thinking about it purely from the point of view of whether I really did enough hauling of stuff to need such a bicycle, a perfectly valid approach but one that ignores the fun potential… as well as reducing still further any reliance on cars. At first glance for most the Surly Big Fat Dummy wouldn’t meet expectations of an everyday bicycle but really it is when you think of what it can do from taking kids to school (the rear deck will take seats and is rated for loads of something like 250lbs) to picking up groceries, shifting furniture, farm work, taking a kayak to the beach….
Having lived it with for a couple of months now I’m very happy; it is a very fun bike to ride whether I need to carry a lot of crap or not, and as well as finding unexpected reasons to use it I find myself making excuses to take it rather than a normal bike on occasions when I don’t need to carry much stuff at all. It’s a big bit to stick on a plane but a mate is building one too and we’ve been bouncing around ideas around for some winter expeditiony type stuff in Scotland.. something at which it will excel with all the carrying capacity for bulky warm clothing, bottles of fortifying whisky and so on.
Cars, the relationships people have with them, and the way they’re promoted as a panacea for that which might seem wrong with life, not to mention the continuous financial drain, all feel a bit toxic in the context of living a low stress, satisfying, sustainable life.
It is also a terrific machine for challenging people’s preconceptions of what is possible by bike. Drivers mostly seem to think it’s a stupid idea judging by the looks on their faces, something I find perfectly ironic, while other folk seem utterly baffled by it and either want to know where the engine is or what the point of a tandem without a second seat is… or simply can’t wrap their heads around it at all… although one woman did stop me on the beach one evening to tell me how pretty it was… sentences involving beauty, eyes and beholders spring to mind perhaps. Hauling a huge load of garden waste to the recycling center recently was a delight if only for the baffled looks and attempts by others not to stare too hard… I also managed to pass a couple of cyclists on ‘proper bikes’ enroute which was even better… The only downside of the thing, if indeed it is one, is that the less I have to use a car in every day life the less I want to; a pretty typical monthly milage for my piece of crap old car is 100-150 miles/month – mostly to do with carting an 18ft sea kayak (I don’t yet have a pedal solution for that – not in such a spread out rural context as Cornwall). Cars, the relationships people have with them, and the way they’re promoted as a panacea for that which might seem wrong with life, not to mention the continuous financial drain, all feel a bit toxic in the context of living a low stress, satisfying, sustainable life.