Surly has a new e-bike, and it’s actually pretty cool. Granted, those are words that I never expected to type, but it’s true. When you consider the purpose of the newest Surly, the addition of pedal-assist not only makes sense, but it seems like a perfect fit. That’s because the Big Easy is, you guessed it, an e-cargo bike. Essentially a Big Dummy (Big Dumm-E?) with a motor, the Big Easy does add a few important changes to make for an even more capable and comfortable mega cargo carrier.
You might have read in the news yesterday that QBP is now the Official Service Partner for Bosch e-Bike Systems. Naturally, that announcement comes just before the launch of the Big Easy which is equipped to use the Bosch Performance CX mid-drive system. The chromoly steel frame has been updated with a lower standover height but a substantially taller head tube with the goal of making it easier to get the handlebars higher. The frames also add the ability to run an internal dropper post which makes getting on and off a loaded cargo bike easier, but also allows for riders of different heights to easily share a bike – handy if you plan to use a bike like this to replace a car with other members of your family.
The bikes will ship with a single Bosch Powerpack 500 wh battery mounted to the downtube, but they’ll also include the mount and the wiring harness to add a second battery to the bottom of the frame. The addition of the second battery will drastically increase the range, which will vary substantially based on the amount of cargo you’re carrying, terrain, assist level, and pedaling style. Due to the extreme variables involved, giving a realistic range number is nearly impossible without a lot of information – which is why Bosch has put together this handy range calculator. The calculator will base the range off of factors like total bike weight, cadence, average speed, and more to give you an idea of potential range.
If you want to add the second battery, you’ll have to buy it yourself – with an expected retail price of $800-1,000 depending on the size. The good news though is that the Bosch downtube batteries are the same across many bikes, so they should be easy to find.
Surly wanted this to be classified as a bicycle rather than an S-Pedalec, so it is limited to 20 mph which puts it in the Class 1 category of e-bikes. Control of the modes is offered through the Bosch Purion display which shows whether you’re in Eco, Tour, Turbo, or E-MTB mode. The top button turns the system on, and the plus or minus buttons cycle through the modes. The bottom button allows you to access Walk Mode, which then by holding down the plus button will advance the bike without pedaling at a slow speed. However, in our test rides, Walk Mode didn’t really want to work – which could have been related to how heavy the bikes were, or the mix of cold and snow.
Speaking of weight, it wouldn’t really be a test of a cargo bike without appropriately heavy cargo. So at the start of the ride we made a detour to the liquor store to pick up some Frostbike supplies. Before I knew it, my bike was loaded down with two 24 packs of Coors, a few ciders for myself, water, a bunch of camera equipment, and a few other bits for good measure.
Between the pedal assist and the bike’s geometry, the substantial amount of weight was really only noticeable during quick changes in direction – and over speed bumps, potholes, etc. But even then, it was hard to appreciate just how heavy the entire bike was until you had to pick it up to maneuver it around deep snow banks in tight u-turns. Surly states that the bike itself checks in at about 80lbs unloaded (but with bags and rack). Add in a few hundred pounds of cargo, and you’ll probably be happy to have that motor when it comes to stop and go traffic. In terms of the rack itself, it has a maximum weight capacity of 200lbs of cargo. The weight limit for the bike, rider, and all racks is 400lbs total.
Who is this bike for?
Obviously, the Big Easy is for anyone looking to carry bulky or heavy cargo, and does so in a way that’s a bit easier/faster/more convenient than a traditional cargo bike. For Adam Scholtes and his family, that means dropping the kids off at school, riding to work across town, and then dropping it off at home where his wife may hook up one of their Surly Bill and Ted trailers to ferry furniture, deer heads, and other oddly shaped items across town (or vice versa).
Or… you can just as easily hook up a tow rope and give your friends a tow into jumps on skis, while carrying an adult human on the back to capture it on a GoPro (video coming soon). Like most e-bikes that I’ve ridden, the Big Easy is an absurd amount of fun. This one just happens to be able to carry 300 beers (apparently a true story).
While the bikes we rode during pre-Frostbike activities had a bit different spec with tires for the conditions and various accessories, the complete bikes will be built as shown above and will sell for $5,000 – in the USA only. That includes a cargo worthy build kit with things like four piston Tektro Orion brakes, a Cane Creek Viscoset upper damping headset tuned for the Big Easy, a SRAM GX/NX 1x drivetrain, and WTB i29 TCS rims built to Shimano 525 hubs with 32 spokes and Surly ExtraTerrestrial 26 x 2.5″ tubeless ready tires. It also includes the bag, rack, and kickstand.
The Big Easy will be sold in three sizes, each with 26″ wheels. As usual, I was on a medium bike which ended up with a substantial amount of exposed seat post for a 690mm saddle to BB measurement. That should make these frames pretty flexible as far as the fit – and easier to straddle at a stop light.