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  1. #1
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    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me

    Where to begin?

    I've owned my Surly Big Dummy since September 2010. Since that time I've put about 1,500 miles on it, riding it almost every day. The Dummy is my primary form of transportation. It serves as my daily commuter, my around-town bike, my touring rig, and even as my road bike.

    I couldn't be happier with this bike. It puts a smile on my face every time I ride it. The ride is very smooth, very stable, and very predictable. The Dummy is extremely versatile and handles and pedals well unloaded, fully loaded, and anywhere in-between. The bike is capable, comfortable, and versatile. It is a magnificent machine.

    I bought the bike as a complete model and haven't had a single issue with any of the components. In fact, I haven't even had a flat tire yet. I've made a few minor upgrades (fenders, grips, saddle, etc), but have been very happy with the overall build.

    I love this bike.

    I figured it was time to start documenting my adventures and undertakings with the Dummy. I'll be posting pictures from my outings as well as my ongoing thoughts about the bike.

    Enjoy.

    My Dummy, today:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0148.jpg  


  2. #2
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    What can you carry with a Big Dummy?

    How about two 29er wheels? No problem!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0155.jpg  

    Last edited by mattbryant2; 04-18-2011 at 03:05 PM.

  3. #3
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    Open Bar!

    After riding the Dummy with the stock Surly Torsion Bar for about six months, I decided I wanted a handlebar with more sweep for long rides. I decided to try the Surly Open Bar. I've been riding with it for 4 days now, and although I haven't logged any serious mileage, I like it so far. The hand position is comfortable and steering feels smooth. I'm hoping this handlebar will keep my hands from getting numb after 20+ miles -- should have an opportunity to put it to the test early this week.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0154.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0158.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0161.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0160.jpg  


  4. #4
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    Nice ride! Thanks for sharing.

    Love the new bars on that bike.

  5. #5
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    What can you carry with a Big Dummy?

    How about a whole 29er? Easy! I think I could pull two!

    (This simple setup actually works surprisingly well for towing a bicycle.)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0227.jpg  


  6. #6
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    Okay, no more pictures of the Dummy hauling bikes after this.

    At least not for a little while. I just find it amusing, and quite convenient!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0233.jpg  


  7. #7
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    So dumb question... if you ride to the ride towing your MTB with your BD, do you chain up the BD while out on trail? I'd be concerned that my rides ride would be gone when I got back to the trail head.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Bob
    So dumb question... if you ride to the ride towing your MTB with your BD, do you chain up the BD while out on trail? I'd be concerned that my rides ride would be gone when I got back to the trail head.
    I am fortunate enough to live close to the local mountain bike trails, so I'm able to just ride my mountain bike from my house. I've only used the Dummy to tow bikes to the shop. However, if I did use the Dummy to tow my mountain bike to a trailhead, I would certainly lock it up! I think I would sob like a child if the Dummy was stolen.

  9. #9
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    Lopez Island, WA

    Had a proper Dummy adventure this weekend. 40ish miles each way of road and path along Bellingham Bay, Samish Bay, and Padilla Bay from Bellingham to Anacortes, with a 45-minute ferry ride to Lopez Island with 5 miles of pedaling on the island. Accompanied by my lady. Great weather on the way down Friday, bit of rain on the way back, but no big deal. Lots of beautiful landscape to ride through. The Dummy rode very well, although I did discover a flat after I had set up camp -- no big deal.

    Enjoy the pictures. There's a packing list, the Dummy with its counterpart (Cross-check), a well-packed and secure load, camp, ride pics, a tight squeeze through the entrance to a path, etc. More on my blog -- link in my signature.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0237.jpg  

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    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0238.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0243.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0248.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0254.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0257.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0275.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0285.jpg  

    Last edited by mattbryant2; 05-21-2011 at 01:37 AM.

  10. #10
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    Map.

    Forgot to attach this one.

  11. #11
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    Loving the open bar! As of now I am running Mary bars on my X, will probably go to these eventually! Great looking bike!

  12. #12
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    What can you carry with a Big Dummy?

    Lots of groceries, and in only one Freeloader bag. This large reusable shopping bag fits perfectly into a Freeloader pocket. It'd be nice to balance the load out with an identical bag on the other side, but the bike handles fine with the weight on one side (I can easily ride without hands), and two people only need so much food. Perhaps next time I should just load the other side up with beer?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0288.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0290.jpg  


  13. #13
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    Awesome! I'm green with envy!

  14. #14
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    FlightDeck + Whatchamacollars

    I wanted to stiffen up the V-Racks on the Dummy so I ordered a FlightDeck with SuperHooks and two sets of Whatchamacollars. After installation, the rear end feels very solid. I anticipate no more cargo sway with heavy loads.

    I also took the opportunity to remove the last of the decals and the head "badge" (a glorified sticker), because I like the clean look.

    UPDATE: Took my lady out to dinner last night on the Dummy. With the new hardware I barely noticed her back there. The combination of the collars and bolt-on hooks makes for a very stiff setup.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0301.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0302.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0305.jpg  

    Last edited by mattbryant2; 05-05-2011 at 07:01 PM.

  15. #15
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    Glad you are enjoying your BD...
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  16. #16
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    Dummy Lite

    With the addition of the Whatchamacollars, I now have the option of running one V-Rack or both V-Racks without a deck. Since I commute on the Dummy every day and usually only bring a backpack with me, I've got it configured as pictured until the next time I need to carry cargo or a passenger. Having the weight on one side really doesn't bother me, and the bike definitely feels lighter with only one rack.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0322.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0321.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0320.jpg  


  17. #17
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    I could never be bothered to modify my bags/racks to save the 1-2lbs it would change for each ride. I keep all manner of suff in my bags like Footsies, wideloaders and straps. A lot of my cargo loads are unplanned as I end up somewhere and need to haul something that I didn't anticipate.

    OTOH - if this works for you awesome! I like the fact that BD's are so versatile.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  18. #18
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    Big Dummy = Fishing Rig

    Afternoon fishing expedition. Put some knobby tires on the Dummy for its maiden singletrack voyage. It handled the trail very well.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0330.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0338.jpg  

    Last edited by mattbryant2; 05-20-2011 at 05:29 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb
    I could never be bothered to modify my bags/racks to save the 1-2lbs it would change for each ride.
    I don't find it to be a bother at all. It takes just a minute or two to slip the v-racks in, tighten the straps, tighten the Whatchamacollar bolts, and tighten the deck bolts. It takes even less time if going from no racks to one rack, or one rack to two. I bring what I know I'll need for a ride and allow enough space for anything I'll pick up along the way, and configure the bike accordingly. The bike rides very well without the racks, and it's nice to save some weight and wind resistance and increase my clearances if I don't need the extra cargo capacity.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikb
    I like the fact that BD's are so versatile.
    Me too: I went with this configuration the other night on a 35-mile dirt road/gravel road/trail adventure. Handled the different terrain and some very steep climbs easily.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0375.jpg  


  20. #20
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    What was climbing like? I imagine it's really easy to keep the front end down even when hammering up a hill...but on the other hand, how hard was it to keep weight on the rear end, to keep traction when climbing?

    What about the breakover angle/bb clearance? Was that an issue at all (or was it not gnarly enough to be an issue?)

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawfarm
    What was climbing like? I imagine it's really easy to keep the front end down even when hammering up a hill...but on the other hand, how hard was it to keep weight on the rear end, to keep traction when climbing?

    What about the breakover angle/bb clearance? Was that an issue at all (or was it not gnarly enough to be an issue?)
    I can't imagine having an issue with keeping the front end planted while climbing on the Dummy, but I also can't imagine endoing the Dummy, although I suppose it is possible. Keeping the rear end planted on a climb is a little more difficult while standing, especially without a load back there, but doable with some body english. I tend to climb seated most of the time, and traction hasn't been an issue with seated climbing except steep inclines with loose gravel, on which I've stood up and leaned back. Didn't seem to take long to get accustomed to climbing in this fashion.

    In response to your other question, I have hit my chainring a few times, but it's big, so I suppose that is to be expected. My Dummy isn't really configured to ride a few of the trails I've taken it on, and the bike is a bit too long to float down some rolls other mountain bikes could handle fairly easily. These are inherent drawbacks of the design, I suppose. However, I will say unless dealing with lots of logs or steep rock rollers, the Dummy handles trails quite well.

  22. #22
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    Baker Lake, WA

    Did 65 miles each way of pavement, gravel, and dirt this weekend. Long ride loaded down with gear, but I enjoyed it. The Dummy handled the load well, except for a bit of speed wobble riding without hands (I suppose that is to be expected with 40 lbs of gear on the back and no weight up front).

    My hands went numb on both rides, and I was wishing for another hand position. I'm considering a Jones H-Bar, but we'll see.

    The Big Apple tires are amazing on pavement but I will probably switch to some Marathons (of one flavor or another) for a longer upcoming dirt/gravel tour.

    I've been very happy with the Brooks B-17 until this last ride, during which I felt all of the rivets on the saddle pressing into my backside. I'm going to tension the saddle a bit and see if that makes any difference, but the WTB SST may go back on.

    More pictures from this weekend on my blog (link in signature).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0431.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0439.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0429.jpg  


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattbryant2 View Post
    Did 65 miles each way of pavement, gravel, and dirt this weekend. Long ride loaded down with gear, but I enjoyed it. The Dummy handled the load well, except for a bit of speed wobble riding without hands (I suppose that is to be expected with 40 lbs of gear on the back and no weight up front)..
    What's the "tube" in the top pic? Very nice. Hope to share my pix from my trip this week, camping and riding. I leave in an hour.

  24. #24
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    The tube is just a cardboard mailer I covered with duct tape to weatherproof. In it I carry my fishing and tent poles. Quite useful.

  25. #25
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    What can you carry with a Big Dummy?

    How about 3 scavenged pallets for a backyard blaze?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0444.jpg  


  26. #26
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    That is fantastic. I'm going to have to start carrying bigger bungee cords!

  27. #27
    No longer a hardtailkid.
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    I love this thread!!! It makes me want to save up for a Dummy.
    Quote Originally Posted by anthonys
    Its still just the push of a button away...
    I am no longer a hardtailkid. 2012 Trek Remedy 9!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardtailkid View Post
    I love this thread!!! It makes me want to save up for a Dummy.
    you won't regret it!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardtailkid View Post
    I love this thread!!! It makes me want to save up for a Dummy.
    In terms of how much use I get out of my Dummy in relation to its cost, it's probably the best investment I've made in my 26 years.

  30. #30
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    i love your big dummy, it makes me want to build one up. Maybe i will if i can't carrying enough stuff on my new project bike. A "Torker Graduate" bike with a big front basket and a rear rack with to side basket for the grocery
    Last edited by rollinlegend; 06-10-2011 at 12:53 AM. Reason: want to add more to it

  31. #31
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    Wtf?

    Although I liked the Open Bar, I wanted more hand positions, so I bought a used H-Bar to try. I like the way it feels, but I had to get creative to mount my shifters in a position I could reach that was out of the way. I've got the shifters upside down and reversed and this configuration seems to work well, although it took a bit of getting used to!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0447.jpg  

    Last edited by mattbryant2; 06-12-2011 at 05:23 PM.

  32. #32
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    Arlington, WA

    Rode the Big Dummy to my hometown for a party this weekend, 60 miles each way. Camped on the beach.

    I tensioned the saddle a bit and it felt better this ride. I liked the H-Bar, too. I put on some Marathon Extreme tires, which are maybe more aggressive than I really need, but they seemed to roll fine on the road.

    I've included some packing pictures this time. More pictures on my blog.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0450.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0451.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0452.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0469.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0477.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0467.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0459.jpg  


  33. #33
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    Matthew, if the H-Bar's become a full time thing, look into a set of paul thumbies and some ultegra 9 spd barcon shifters. Much more elegant and work great IMO. Used them on a couple of bar set ups and really dig the set up. Great trip BTW and nice documentation as always

  34. #34
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    Fatbob is right, the best setup I've used (and am still using) is a thumbie setup on the jones bars. I have them setup that way on my dummy, and my tandem was setup that way until recently (just converted to a flared drop setup, so if you want to try a set of thumbie mounts, PM me).

    The other shifter setup I liked on the h-bars was a set of shimano flip/flop all in one shifter/brake setups. I used a set of XTR's for cables (not hydros) with BB7's, and everything was convenient and comfortable. The shifters themselves are a little vague, but if you can deal with that (and you're not a SRAM guy) then it's not a bad way to go.

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good eh!

  35. #35
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    Today's Load

    From running errands around town.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0481.jpg  


  36. #36
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    I like how you truly live on your bike! It's not just a toy, if you make practical use of it regularly.

    On that note, eventually you may need to cave and get an internally geared hub like the Rohloff. For a fulltime use bike in the pacific northwest, it is a pretty nice setup. (I'm just ~50k north of you in Langley, BC, Canada)

    As a long time lurker, just became active forum member, I had to make it to 10 posts before I could post my own build thread with images/links, so watch for my big dummy thread coming soon!

    - Ben

  37. #37
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    Matt, what's your take on those Marathon Extreme's? Looking at those for my dummy, in the 2.25 size. I would go with apples, but i like to have a little more tread that that, but am finding that full knobbies are overkill.

    Currently running a wtb moto-raptor (2.4) front and a continental cross country rear (2.1). The 2.4 is larger than I need, and the 2.1 is smaller than I'd like, given the inability to unweight it going up and down curbs and such. Plus, lately I've been feeling the outer knobs on the front folding over during cornering, which is a little unnerving at best.

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good eh!

  38. #38
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    In a way, I miss the Big Apples. On pavement they are unbelievable, and my Dummy sees a lot of road miles. However, I try to avoid cars whenever possible, and find myself on lots of dirt and gravel roads and trails, and while the Big Apples are mostly fine on these terrains in good conditions, anything loose or wet was sketchy if I had to brake even moderately.

    The Extremes handle the rough stuff very well (I've done pavement, dirt, gravel, sand, loose rocks, etc., all under load), but still roll fairly nicely on pavement. They're not quite as smooth in terms of ride and resistance as the Big Apples, but more confidence inspiring. I miss the seamless grip of the Big Apples while cornering on pavement, but cornering on anything else feels better on the Extremes.

    So far I'm finding the Extremes to be worth the trade-off.

  39. #39
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    Matt:
    I've been testing out the newer Super Moto tires which are derived from the Big Apple. The tread pattern appears visually almost identical, but the rubber compound is a bit different. Its supposed to offer more grip/speed on pavement and loose sand/gravel at the cost of less protection and durability when compared to the Big Apple. (softer rubber??)

    I just starting riding these for the end of spring/beginning of summer here, so I can't truly comment on the really ugly weather. But I've found the grip to be great and breaking in the rain and/or on a gravel trail is no problem with a >300lbs combined bicycle+me+cargo weight.

    I might consider something else when the fall rolls around, but for summer these are looking great! And yes, the cornering is unbelievable.

  40. #40
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    400-Mile Big Dummy Tour!

    200 miles each way from Bellingham, WA to Cle Elum, WA and back. 50% pavement, 50% gravel. Managed 200 miles in less than 48 hours. New Big Dummy record? More pictures on my blog.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0671.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0698.jpg  

    A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-img_0717.jpg  


  41. #41
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    Map.

    Overall, a nice route.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Magnificent Machine: My Dummy and Me-lljmap.png  


  42. #42
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    I like the look of the Surly Open Bar the best and I wanted to use it on my build but it would not let me install a set of Velo-Orange friction shifters bar end.So I went with the Nitto B352 North Road Handlebar 55cm CrMo. You have a great bike for sure.I hope to post pics of my trip start date 10/09/2011 ending ?Not sure maybe three or four days at the most wife does not want me to go but I'm going anyway.Will be lots of fun I get to fish out on the river right next to the camp ground.

  43. #43
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    Hey MB2, somehow I never took a close look at this thread, it's great. I like your blog also, keep the photos and updates coming.

    --leaf
    All good expeditions should be simple in concept, difficult in their execution and satisfying to remember--Alastair Humphreys

  44. #44
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    This is an awesome thread. I'm gonna bump it and see what happens.

  45. #45
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    Thanks for bumping it PScal. It definitely deserves it. Great thread. May have pushed me over the edge of finally getting a BD.

  46. #46
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    Where did you get those collars for the back of your rack? I've had the back bars on my rack pop out over bumps and those collars look like a great fix for that.

    Glad to see you making the most of your Dummy. I've had mine for about three months now and I absolutely adore it. It has quickly become my go-to bike for commuting, errands to the store, trips to pick up the kids.... Last week my teenage daughter jumped on the back rack and I gave her a ride home. She thought that was the best thing ever! Anytime you can get a teenage girl excited about a bike, that's a good day (and a good bike).

    Winter is fast approaching here in Minnesota and I plan to just keep riding it right through the winter.

    Everything about this bike makes sense, and its so worth the money!

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by minte View Post
    Where did you get those collars for the back of your rack? I've had the back bars on my rack pop out over bumps and those collars look like a great fix for that.
    minte - They're Whatchamcollars from xtracycle.

    Whatchamacollar by Xtracycle | Xtracycle, Inc.

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