I didn’t realize I wanted an electric-assist bike until I started using one. Since elementary school, riding bicycles for transportation has always been an integral part of my life. It makes sense for many reasons, but mostly I ride for my physical/mental health and the environment. Having spent many years hauling gear and kids with the Big Dummy and then pushing new boundaries on the Big Fat Dummy, I was eager to explore what was possible with an assist version.
We received the first-generation prototype frames of the Big Easy back in April of 2018, the day before Surly’s annual spring campout. Thor quickly assembled one of the frames the morning of our roll-out. He also rigged up a hitch for my canoe trailer so we could add some paddling to our trip. It was an eye opener observing how well the bike integrated with our group — divvying up the beer at the refuel stop was much quicker than in the past.
The following week I had a medium built up and readied for ride evaluation. My wife Tricia and I share our cargo bike so I decided to use a dropper post and a Surly Open Bar. The dropper post makes adjusting fit a non-issue and the open bars help with reach for her.
Adding the Big Easy to the bike stable increased my time on the bike while my car sat neglected in the driveway. I enjoy many silent sports including cross-country skiing, trail running and canoeing. Having access to an electric-assist bike gave me more time and energy for my commute and increased the amount of time I had for those other activities. In the past I would drive to work during ski season, but the Big Easy afforded me the opportunity to double up without being exhausted at the end of the day.
Another benefit is commuting on the Big Easy during a Minnesota winter. Riding to work in very cold and snowy weather is taxing and requires a bigger time commitment. Having electric assist allows me to maintain similar commute times and keeps me fresh on days I want to ride my other bikes for fun. On heavy snow days, I often get to work faster than driving. It is a great feeling passing long lines of cars stuck in traffic due to snowy roads.
Many of the ways I use the Big Easy are very doable on a Big Dummy or Big Fat Dummy. It just takes more effort and time. The assist makes it a reasonable alternative to driving a car, and it’s much easier to find parking for a bike in most places. We live near the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis. Loading and hauling a canoe or paddleboard on a car and then finding parking near the lake is a pain in the ass. It takes much less effort to put the canoe on the bike trailer than on top of a car. The ride time is equivalent to drive time. The biggest advantage is parking right next to the water, making sneaking out for an evening fishing session a no-brainer.
So, what else do I pull with the Big Easy? Cold malted beverages are my favorite energy drink. Need to haul a keg to a party downtown? No problem for the Big Easy with a Surly Ted trailer in tow.
Five cases of beer needed to be picked up for the Homie Fall Fest and stashed in the woods. Riding loaded on the Big Easy is a breeze.
How about transporting an extra bike to work? You got this.
Maybe you stumble upon a dead tree across the bike path on your commute home. Do some trail maintenance and gather firewood for the pizza oven. You know what goes great with beer? Wood-fired pizza!
And occasionally you just need to have a little fun. Warning: Do not try this at home. Stunts performed by unprofessionals.
Thinking of ditching the car? Or maybe you just want to drive less. The Big Easy may be the answer you are looking for.