FYXO is back with another e-bike conversion: meet the Surly Big Fat Dummy e-cargo bike, aka the Lane Cruiser Turbo. Andy White had to look high and low for this frame before finding one on the other side of the globe. From there, he got to work making this truly unique—and endlessly functional—Surly Big Fat Dummy build. Check out how the Lane Cruiser Turbo came out!
This might be one of the biggest cargo bikes you can throw a leg over. The Surly Big Fat Dummy is the bigger tire’d brother of the Surly Big Dummy. While the latter was available in a 26 x 2.3″ wheel size, the FATTER version was made to accommodate a 26 x 4-5″ or 29+ configuration. Sadly, no matter how much you might be lusting after one, Surly is no longer making the BFD, though it could be argued they helped pave the way for what the big three and others like them are now offering in their longtail cargo lines,
I’d been on the hunt to track one of these down locally with little luck. There was an overpriced and abused one in Torquay—looked like it had been dragged under a truck. I found another super sweet one in Sydney but the owner wasn’t ready to part with it yet as his kids were still small enough to warrant it. And, then, the one you are looking at. It was in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA – a very long way from Plenty Gorge, Australia! Fortunately, the owner was happy to ship, and did a great job of it. With some assistance from a friend in shipping, it landed down under in a very short space of time. It came superbly spec’d with Hope hubs, Shimano XT stoppers, a Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor with upgraded Lekkie Buzz Bar cranks, and the SRAM EX1 8 speed I’d used on previous builds.
Unfortunately, the battery could not be shipped and it’s still in the owner’s cupboard. If you’re a Charlotte local, it’s going cheap! I bought another Surly Big Dummy with a Rolling Jack Ass stand for purging purposes – and then rolled that over. Without the heavy-duty stand, this bike is far less user-friendly, and the stock stand is borderline useless.
Next on the upgrade list was the seat post to a 150mm dropper, which makes boarding a breeze, and opens up options for multiple partners wanting to ride the same bike. Other SUV essentials are full fenders for year-round riding, a ‘vanity’ plate, integrated lights, and the 24-pack front rack which will easily carry a case of wine or a 35kg child – possibly even both though its maximum weight rating listed by the manufacturer is 14kg. There was a recall of these due to possibly some consumer installation error, hence the double HD zip-ties for insurance purposes.
The rear pannier bags are great – and expand to a massive volume should it be required. Even when I’ve ridden it loaded AND with a kid it feels very stable and rides ‘like a bike’. I’ve transported heavier humans in the 90kg range and though I wouldn’t do it daily the bike did carry the load with ease. The Blackburn Outpost Pro frame bag is something I’ve been using for years on these kind of builds for extra protection from moisture and so it looks less like an e-bike.
The gearing is 36t upfront with an aftermarket Lekkie chainring. The stock steel chainring belongs in the ‘round file’. The Bafang electric motors prefer to spin (up to 120RPM) rather than grind out their torque. Higher RPM also puts less strain on everything when there is more power at your disposal than just your legs. The 8s EX1 SRAM cassette is 11-48t and is available in both XD and HG splines. That is enough to climb the steepest of hills with a heavy load.
Is it even a Lane Cruiser without obscene driving lights?! Having a 48V battery opens up your lighting options, as well as charging devices and whatever your imagination comes up with. The light bar and rear light are on a separate toggle switch and are in the ballpark of the brightness of cars/motorbikes. All wiring plugs are XT60s and without heat shrink and a soldering iron to shorten wiring, you’re going to have a mountain of spaghetti in that frame bag.
Another add-on or what I’d consider a ‘must have’ is the gear sensor. The derailleur cable runs through this sensor, and when it detects movement it stops power to the motor. This makes for much smoother shifts. Once the PAS (Power Assist Setting) is above 3 (of 5) there is a great risk of crunching the drivetrain into a mess when shifting, shearing cassettes, and sending derailleurs into the spokes. Speaking from others experience.
The kiddie bars were also sourced from another Big Dummy bike, and I can’t tell you how much fun this bike is as a parent with your kid(s) in tow. I’ve used this thing daily, for long haul errands into the city, route marking for Melburn Roobaix, school runs with compulsory stops to pat the horses and echidnas on the way home, not forgetting emergency trips to Dan Murphy’s for boxes of red wine. Lil FYXO is going to miss this bike BUT don’t worry, the next one is always better.
Yes, it’s an e-bike but it doesn’t need a Tesla-sized display with a separate cable to toggle assist levels. I’d go so far as to say as the speed display is unnecessary, which is why I hunted high and low for the most discrete display I could find. This little DZ40 has a display and rocker switch combine to change assist levels. I’ve used the SW102 in the past and also rate it – this one is just a little neater.
Last but not least: the Quad Lock mount is usually the first thing I put on a new bike. How did I live without one?! The out-front mount is secure and much easier to use than the entry-level mount. Another amazing thing to come out of Melbourne. Pair that with a nice bike bell for alerting other lane users to use presence and you’re good to go!
If you see this bike getting around G-troit, say hello to its new owner.
Frame: Surly Big Fat Dummy – Large
Headset: Cane Creek
Rims: Stans Alloy
Hubs: Hope FATSNO
Shifters: SRAM EX1 8s
Crankset: Lekkie Buzz Bars
Motor: Bafang BBSHD, 1,000W mid-drive
Battery: 48 V / 17 AH battery, Bafang DZ40 display
Chainring: Lekkie 36t
Rear derailleur: SRAM EX1
Cassette: SRAM, 11-48T
Chain: SRAM 10-speed x 2
Brakes: Shimano XT hydraulic, 180 mm Hope rotors
Tires: 29 x 3.0 Surly / Bontrager – tubeless
Handlebar: Raceface 31.8
Stem: Selcof 50mm
Seatpost: Brand X Ascend II 150mm
Grips: ODI Lock-on Grips
Saddle: San Marco
Pedals: Crank Bros
Extras: Blackburn Outpost Frame bag, Surly 24-pack Rack, Quad Lock, Fenders, Lights.
Got Bafang mid-drive conversion questions – just ask!