The Bettie 2.0 Download

After my quick review, I wanted to spend a few weeks on Bettie 2.0 and report. To start, I read through my long term Bettie 1.0 review and have these updates:

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.

Related posts

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.


Very interested in Val’s stand for my Big Dummy…but I need to know that my chainline will work underneath the stand…

It works like a motorcycle stand—pull the bike up onto it and off.

I rode Bettie 2.0 last night!  Having ridden 1.0 there were a couple huge improvements:
- Standing up to climb actually felt like a single bike.  When you stood on the 1.0, it felt like you had a separate trailer attached with a mind of its own.  The 2.0 is solid, real solid.
- I love the horn and bell (so does my 21 month old).
- The big platform pedals give me plenty of confidence.
- The Avid hydraulic brakes kick ass

What was weird for me:
- Like Byron and Pam said, it’s a slow bike.  Even in the “big” ring it’s not a speedster.  You’re appreciative of that climbing back up to Hugger HQ, but something you can ride 20mph it is not.
- NuVinci took some getting used to, and I’m still not convinced that I was doing it right.

It’s a serious utility bike.  Very cool.


A technote on that horn is TO NOT test it by leaning towards it and pushing the button! My right ear rang for a week after that stupid move. Val told me that the Avid brakes had been tested on motorcycles. I believe it. They’re work exceptionally well and smooth.

I’ve been joking that I’m working on a cargo bike fitness video (like Tai Boi, ya know, but Cargo Workouts) and what I had to do is stop spinning at 80+, but just slow it all down to 50+ and relax.

I’m convinced that humans are programmed for speed and horsepower (Todd @ CleverCycles told me that last year). On Bettie 1.0, I’d blow right through the battery blasting around at 20 mph everywhere I went. I had the power and wanted more. Admittedly, the new Bettie was a letdown without the power, but I’m used to it now and appreciate the slow aesthetic.

I hope I explained the Nuvinci well enough. Once you get it, it’s like, “ok.” Similiar to learning how to corner with no brakes in crit; one day it just works. What happens is when the pedaling is too easy or hard, let up, twist the shifter until the next notch and stop. Repeat. My problem in the early test was I was twisting the shifter like a geared drivetrain and it didn’t work at all. There was like three stupid shift points. You’re moving ball thingys (that’s the technical terms Nuvinci told me) in fluid v. a chain up and down a cassette.

Considering Bettie 2.5 we want the power back and are waiting to see what develops in the e-bike market and powered options.

If there are e-bike builders reading, pitch us your ideas. We’re listening.

Can you define “whippiness?”  I’m looking into a cargo bike and have seen you use the term a number of times in reference to Bettie.  I don’t get it.


Whippiness is when you can whip a bike about. It’s the opposite of stiffness or steadiness. A bike feels whippy, when the front and rear end move opposite of each other, like a whip snapping around. While the xTracycle is a massive improvement in the center of gravity and the way it attaches to the frame, it’s still a trailer. Also note in my reviews, that I’m an old-school roadie who expects a bike—any bike urban, road or mtn—to perform.  Cargo bike afficiandoes may or may not have the same expectation I do and I recommend trying one out at your local bike shop.

Also, the hugga usage was lots of weight and lots of hills. Riding with a surfboard and cooler of beer to the beach and back is different that delivering goods up and down big hills in Seattle. We spec’d the Magura brakes first and then the Avid Juicys cause we’re coming down a 13% grade with 300 pounds on the bike. You may never need that power and can do just fine with Shimano’s mechanical disc.

Nice post, much enjoyed the Nuvinci review. How well it holds up and performs on a cargo bike is of big interest. I look forward to reading more.

I see you use slime… I’m not a huge fan myself… though the newer slime protective strips do intrigue me. I’m curious as to what you think of them.

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