With the wind...
It's not the day after a holiday anymore, but the full moon effects are lingering far into the week.
In my "Xtracycle vs. Ute" blather I forgot to mention one other possibility: the Radish. Xtracycle makes a bike not just the frame extensions. But having discussed it (briefly) with Mandy, she likes the Ute and will go with it as long as she can successfully tame the giant beast. I don’t think she'll have a problem once she actually takes one for a spin.
For me I would pick the Ute over the Radish without much thought for two reasons: 1) The Ute is black, the Radish is white or off white. 2) The Radish does not have disc brakes and the Ute does.
And then there is the Surly Big Dummy. I knew you'd bring it up, so let me go ahead and shoot your idea in the food my minions…er, Dear Readers. Even if I could afford the Big Dummy it goes against my philosophy that an excessively expensive bike, no matter the purpose or utility, will cause me unwanted stress-related weight gain and therefore I will not own a bike that costs more than $2,000 to replace. In fact, I'm thinking about $1,200 is my hard and fast ceiling and for my first longtail I'm trying to keep it under a grand because we're going to be getting one for me and one for Mandy.
THIS JUST IN: I'm not sure where I saw the $2,000+ price tag (I know I saw it somewhere), but the Big Dummy is listed for $1,849.00 on Xtracycle's website. That's still a lot more than I want to spend on a new bike in the Year of the Longtails, but $1,850 is a lot easier to swallow than whatever exorbitant price I saw elsewhere. Still, it puts the BD lower in the running for my first longtail cargo bike, but if I were to find one closer to a grand I might seriously consider it.
Anyway, so the options as I see them in order from least to most preferred are:
Xtracycle Radish $999
Surly Big Dummy $1,850
Kona Ute $900-ish
Cannonball X (my early '90s Cannondale M300 with a Classic Cargo Free Radical) $438 + $80-ish for front disc fork + $100 (estimate) disc brakes = $618 (and possibly build costs unless I do it myself)
As I mentioned previously, I think going with the Cannonball X I will have a more versatile and satisfying longtail. I will be able to tour in more comfort and with some quick changes (i.e. flat bars and MTB tires) I could take it off road as well.
From a general utility standpoint I think the other three are all comparable for commuting and riding around town. The Big Dummy looks best for off road applications, but would definitely cause suffering for hard core road touring. It might be easy enough to swap out bars for a big trip. It would be good to ride the Ute and the Big Dummy for comparison.