Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Surly Big Dummy Baby Mods

Xtracycle Pea Pod III / Yepp Maxi Easyfit Installation & Review

We've been looking at different ways to get our baby out for a bike ride. Burley trailers seem to be the most popular way, but they just don't seem to be practical to pull any distance. I looked through the different options and thought the Pea Pod bike seat sold by to be the best option. Plus, it'll maximize my Surly Big Dummy's true potential.

Instead of taking the easy route and just ordering the seat from Xtracycle, I thought I'd try and save a few bucks by using my REI 20% off coupon and dividend check to buy the seat from REI, then separately purchase the flight deck "easyfit" adapter from xtracycle. I did some research and found that the Pea Pod is actually a Yepp Maxi seat imported by Gazelle Cycle Imports from europe. So, that information in hand, I ordered the Yepp Maxi from REI and the Easyfit adapter from Xtracycle. When they arrived I quickly learned that there are actually TWO types of Yepp Maxi seats- a "standard" model that clips on to your bike's seat tube, and a "easyfit" model that clips to the easyfit adapter. Unfortunately the model REI sells is the "standard" model which is totally incompatible with the easyfit adapter.

I contacted Gazelle with the hope that they could sell me a conversion kit to change the "standard" into the "easyfit". No such luck, but, they did volunteer to exchange seats and only charge shipping! Now that's service. A few days later the Yepp Maxi Easyfit showed  up at my door and I was in business.

The Easyfit adapter was a snap to bolt onto the Big Dummy's flightdeck. One thing about the Yepp seat- there is nothing flimsy about it. I think the adapter weighs a couple pounds- it's welded bent steel tubes. No aluminum here.

The Yepp Maxi seat seems very nice, solid, well built and thought out. It securely locks (with a key) to the Easyfit adapter, and easily removes when not needed. A+ all the way around.

Surly Big Dummy- pre Easyfit adapter
Easyfit Adapter on Flight Deck


Happy Customer! (helmet used during riding, of course)
Xtracycle Kickback Centerstand Installation & Review

The next order of business was to replace the stock kickstand with something a little safer- I didn't want to tip the bike over when loading the baby. I chose the KickBack centerstand, also from Xtracycle. They don't give away their products, but they are pretty heavy duty and I can't imagine the volumes are big enough to bring the cost down on their products. 

The Kickback is a nicely welded piece of kit. I was pleased at how easily it installed- until I discovered that it wouldn't fold up properly. The "stub" on the centerstand seemed to contact the stock kickstand mount too soon. That won't due for carving corners or riding off road!

Maximum retraction before trimming the "stub"
I contacted Xtracycle, and they immediately replied. They said they've never heard of this happening before, so there must be something unusual with my Big Dummy or the Kickback. They were able to also get me the contact information of Surly. But, at the end of the day, the real solution was to reduce the height of the stub. I did some initial measuring and estimated that 5mm needed to be removed from the stub height. I pulled off the plastic bumper, clamped the centerstand in my vice, and broke out the hacksaw.

Initial cut started- I don't do this to expensive bike parts every day!
 It turns out that removing 5mm from the stub seemed to do the trick. The centerstand isn't completely parallel with the chainstays now, but it's very close. I'll have to pick up some silver paint to cover the steel exposed in the cut.

The only cheesy thing about the Kickback is the retraction spring. It isn't some sort of coil that incorporated into the mechanism- as you'd expect from a premium priced product like this - it's a linear spring covered in a nylon bag. You attach a screw to your chainstay by the rear wheel, and the spring just runs from the centerstand to the attached screw. The supplied screw mount didn't fit the Big Dummy - the Dummy's chainstay tubes were too beefy. Luckily the screw itself fit with a locknut in a pre-cut slot in the rear dropout.

Spring attached to rear dropout

Attached to centerstand

 It seems to work well inside, but time will tell how well it works in the real world. The spring seems a little weak, I think it'll rattle when riding on rougher surfaces. But, it does securely hold the bike in place much better than the stock kickstand.

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