The Surly Big Fat Dummy



Back in September, I visited the QBP corporate campus in sunny Bloomington MN, for an opportunity to meet and talk with Surly’s product development team about a project that’s been in the pipeline for quite some time. I learned of the existence of the Big fat Dummy project about the time that the Ice Cream Truck debuted at Frostbike a few years ago. By now, many of you have probably read about Surly’s new Big Fat Dummy long tail fat-bike. There’s a neat story with all kinds of technical data over at their blog from the folks that designed, developed, tested the BFD. In addition to all of that information about the BFD, we were delighted to interview the very tall, Eric Sovern – aka Sov – who (once again) wears the Surly Marketing Crown (with matching jeweled scepter) on The Weekly Dose of Fat – Show #115, where we talked about riding the BFD among other things. You can cue Sov’s interview up at (8:16) right here.

The gnome's eye view of the structural bracing on the BFD

The gnome’s eye view of the structural bracing on the BFD

If you’ve sorted through all of that and you want to see more of Surly’s Big Fat Dummy, you’ve landed on the right web-site. Surly took a ‘new from the ground up’ mentality with the design of the BFD. This is not a Big Dummy with fat tires. Surly made a highly versatile and field service friendly surly-big-fat-dummyThru-Axle Dropout just for the BFD, to make rear wheel removal easier. The cross bracing on the long tail looks like a top fuel dragster from the sixties. The result is a much stiffer set up. Adam Scholtes related that with the stiffened rear cargo section of the BFD “the tail doesn’t wag the dog”. So lateral stiffness is maintained, while the frame naturally retains some vertical compliance, all while, rolling on large volume tires, grants the BFD real omni-terrain super powers. The BFD comes in Kromwell Green. (The Kromwell was a WW2 British Tank). The BFD is 5.05″ tire compatible and the bike that I test rode weighed in at about 50 pounds of heavenly joy. The BFD can carry up to 200 ponds of cargo with a max rider and cargo limit of 400 pounds.


We rode the River Bottoms and I have to say that the BFD was more at home on singletrack than I had ever imagined. I rode both down, and up and over things that really started the ball rolling in my head about the kind of adventures that a bike like this would facilitate. One of the real advantages of a longer wheelbase is it’s self correcting nature, that occurs, while descending steep trail. Surly Engineer, Andy Skoglund, told me that, during testing he would blast down steep embankments in the deepest snow drifts that he could find, to see what could possibly stop or endo his BFD prototype. He shared “the BFD just plows and destroys”. The front end of the BFD felt similar to the neutral handling of the Surly Wednesday or Surly’s B+ Karate Monkey. It just feels right. The BFD is also set up to run a Bluto or even the stiffer Wren Inverted Suspension fork or an RST.


Paul Zeigle getting ready to show me the ropes.

The BFD rolls over anything, in that 6-8 inch category and is as agile as any longtail that I’ve ever ridden. I was able to squeeze in an afternoon of riding on the BFD and came away more impressed than I had been, before the ride started. The bike exceeded my expectations as an off road omni-terrain fun machine. On my drive back from MPLS, I started to daydream about the adventures that the BFD and I would go on. Like Holiday tree cutting – a picnic with Samsquantch – Ice cave camping – Portable Pony Keg Micro-brewing – I think that the Surly Big Fat Dummy could be the ultimate snow storm, sub 24 hour overnight platform ever created.


We’re basically duty bound as bike scientists and fat-bike holy men to test these theories and report back with our findings. Till then, we hope this has inspired you to think of ways that you’d leverage this new adventure platform. Please feel free to share how you would utilize the unique capabilities of the bike that Surly named the Big Fat Dummy!


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4 Responses to The Surly Big Fat Dummy

  1. McColgan December 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    This is the first time I’ve seen a bike that tempts me to sell the ICT and tandem tag along. Then turn this into my ultimate kid hauling bike packing machine.

  2. JT December 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    My big dummies rear tire spun out on wet pavement going up a steep hill. This will happen a lot on dirt unless you really weight it down.

    • Gomez December 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

      It’s not going to be as easy to spin out a Lou our a Maxxis Minion, but I did spin out that Knard a few times while climbing that day (with no load in the back).

  3. thub December 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    I see the BFD being a great machine for trail building and maintenance. I’d have to test ride it to see if it meets my bike-packing needs. The best bike-packing routes in Alaska typically require some serious climbs, the BFD may be heavier than I would want. It looks like a fun ride, plenty of room for beers.

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