Cargo Machines, Gear

Mike and his Surly Big Fat Dummy, Cornwall, UK

Problems parking? In an ongoing plight to go car-light and inject some fun into his day to day commutes, Cornishman Mike Hayes shares thoughts on his new investment, Surly’s off road cargo bike, the Big Fat Dummy.

Mike Hayes Surly Big Fat Dummy

IT took a whole year of procrastination and the opportunity to acquire a Big Fat Dummy 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.

Mike Hayes Surly Big Fat Dummy

Initially, I’d thought about it purely from the point of view of whether I really did enough hauling to need such a bicycle. It’s a perfectly valid approach but one that ignores the fun potential. At first glance, for most the Surly Big Fat Dummy wouldn’t meet the 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) to picking up groceries, shifting furniture, farm work, taking a kayak to the beach….

Mike Hayes Surly Big Fat Dummy

Mike Hayes Surly Big Fat Dummy

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 stuff or not. As well as finding unexpected reasons to use it, I find make excuses to take it rather than a normal bike on occasions, even when I don’t need to carry much at all.

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 ridiculous idea judging by the looks on their faces, something I find perfectly ironic. 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.

The only downside of the thing, if indeed it is one, is that the less I have to use a car in everyday life the less I want to; for the last 12 months my piece of crap old car averaged just 200 miles/month.

Hauling a huge load of garden waste to the recycling centre 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’ en route 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 everyday life the less I want to; for the last 12 months, my piece of crap old car averaged just 200 miles/month. I expect that to drop even further now. 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, are increasingly feeling at odds in the context of living a low stress, satisfying, sustainable life.

Mike Hayes Surly Big Fat Dummy

Images and words by Mike Hayes This post originally appeared on Mike’s blog, seasurfdirt.

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