Before being annexed by Seattle in 1910, Georgetown was a wide-open saloon town with its own horse racing track, leading a local preacher to dub it œthe cesspool of Seattle. Built up by workers at Boeing and the Rainier Brewing Company, the neighborhood, just south of downtown, faltered in the postwar era. Interstate 5 drove a concrete and rebar stake through its heart.
As I described it, Adobe killed Fremont and it was reborn in Georgetown. The article doesn’t mention the bike piles, tall bikes, scooter shop, artist lofts, or biker clubhouses you find in Georgetown as well.
- Stand Over Height – Fully loaded, with kids, a spouse, or Clip-n-Seals, the stand-over height of Bettie is always a concern and difficult. You’re balancing a hundred pounds or so, then stepping up, and over to get onto Bettie. The top tube of a cargo Bettie would need to be as low as possible or made like a factory worker’s cruiser bike with a basket in front or back.
- The curve in the Big Dummy is nice, but I hit it each time with my foot. It’s a balance between lots of ground clearance and stand-over. It’s manageable and Val has a stand you can pull the Bettie up on – like a motorcycle – to park it; instead of balancing it fully loaded.
- Whippiness – Bettie is a whip machine. Some cyclist may like that sensation, I most certainly do not. While I understand why Bettie whips under load and deal with it, standing up is scary, and a Bettie 2.0, Surly, or custom frame should address that problem.
- No more whip! You can stand up!
- We built this version of Bettie sans Monkey. Maybe it’ll come back for 2.5x.
- Slow Ride – Over time with Bettie, I learned to just slow down.
- And it’s even slower with Bettie 2.0! Like a Bootsie Collins, slow, funky bass line. No rush, just pedal.
- Bettie Delivers – Check the Bettie Delivers movie.
- Bettie 2.0 delivers, but at a more deliberate pace.
Ever since we broke the Big Dummy story during a visit to Interbike, we’ve been anticipating it and the bikesphere has already posted and uploaded photos of their Big Dummies. The bike addresses our biggest concerns and it’s like riding around on a big mtn bike v. a cargo bike and that’s a good thing.
A Surly Big Dummy with Redline Spec
For the build, we enlisted the master-mechanic talent of Val Kleitz. Technically, Bettie 2.0 is a Surly Big Dummy with Redline Spec and sponsored in part by Seattle Bike Supply. Besides the tech, there’s a lot of love going into the spec and the lengthy parts list includes
- NuVinci Continuously Variable Transmission rear hub for total cadence control and ease of shifting in high torque situations
- Phil Wood front hub
- Redline 2 bolt seat post for positive adjustment
- Ergon small grips for extreme comfort, even for riders with smaller hands
- Redline sealed bearing platform pedals with Power Grips and custom profiled pegs
- Air Zound 90db audible warning device
- Slime tire sealant
- Planet Bike Cascadia 29" fenders for perfect clearance with Schwalbe 26" X 2.35" street tires
- Pryme TAT2 2 ply grips on the passenger bars * Avid Code 5 brakeset (custom long hose for rear) with 8" rotors for extreme stopping power, fade resistance, and modulation
- Truvativ Hussefelt 175mm crankset, 36/24t, with bash guard
- Truvativ Howitzer BB
- Custom chain tensioner with sealed bearing pulleys (by Rolling Jackass) so that dual chainrings can be used with the NuVinci hub
- Vintage Redline decals
- Bike Hugger Decals.
The magic of the new Bettie is the Nuvinvi hub. Val spent lots of time lobbying me on Nuvinci and his dogged convincing got me to first agree to it and then finally appreciate it (see his review here). In my first review of the gear-less drivetrain, I wasn’t down with it at all and that’s because I didn’t know how to use it. You’ve got to unthink how you shift now when riding Nuvinci and learn all over again. The twist-shift visual indicator is a good analogy. It looks like an inchworm and that’s how you should think about shifting. Instead of gears, it’s minor adjustments. You nudge it either easier or harder and maintain a continuous cadence. Once you get it, it’s very much appreciated and works very well on a cargo bike.
From my quick review
The bike is remarkably quiet. All I hear is the tires. Old Bettie was a cacophony of sound with the StokeMonkey, two chain rings and gears. It’s also like I went from driving a beat-up old truck to an Escalade. It’s smooth. Now that I understand how Nuvinci shifts, it’s a thing of drivetrain beauty. Also slow. Smooth and slow.
I’m sticking with that. I’ll update again later this summer after many more mail dispatch runs. For the loads I’m carrying Bettie works. For lighter loads and commuting, we’re big fans of the Kona Ute.
Photos & Videos
Photos of Bettie 2.0 are up on Flickr and videos are on the way.
What’s your name?
Writing Looking for a Sport-Utility Bike last year, I considered the whole cargo bike subculture, the niche market, and what the bikes are called. There are longtails, cargo bikes, xTracycles, and sport-utility bikes. When asked by motorist or just interested bystanders, I tell them, “it’s Bettie, a sport-utility bike and it replaces a car.”
Local Bike Shops
The Bettie 2.0 frame and parts are available via your local bike shop, ‘cept for the decals.
Both Bettie revs were built with help and lots of work from
Note: the Bettie 1.0 frame and xTracycle has been donated to BikeWorks.
Tip: Bettie 2.1x will feature a retrofit bag option.
Readers sent us the Mexican Crash photo and article and I noticed it on CNN’s most popular last night. It’s gruesome and a reminder to me and the other Huggas how dangerous racing and riding bikes is. I added it to our link blog and others in the bikesphere are picking it up.
That’s a helmet flying through the air and one of the cyclists died. They arrested the driver.
These bags are designed and fabricated in Portland to meet the needs of urban cyclists. Eli, a one man operation, has focused on spacious, practical, backpacks. He’s been providing city dwelling bikers an alternative to the standard messenger bag. When he’s not stitching, you might catch Eli about town on his fixed Kogswell Porteur.
Have you experimented with backpacks or other alternatives for lugging your daily haul? What works best for you?