Installing an Xtracycle Hooptie on a 2012 Surly Big Dummy


I pre-ordered a 1st generation Xtracycle Hooptie months ago that I found happily waiting for me when I arrived at home last week. I installed it that night so it would be ready to go in the morning — the kids have been waiting for the Hooptie for a long time.

Installation of the Hooptie on the Big Dummy was generally straightforward but I thought I’d walk through the process and point out a few things. I’ll point out where getting the Hooptie from the “wide” to the “narrow” setting was a complete pain in the rear for me at least (My sample size of two suggests that this may not be a unique experience.)

Most importantly let’s hold up a second before digging into the nuts & bolts — the Hooptie is super cool and my kids love it. We’ve outgrown our iBert and while my cheaply rigged stoker bar setup on the Big Dummy worked for one five-to-six-year old kid without having additional support it is hard to offer to help other less-cargo-friendly kids (school, playdates, etc.) The Hooptie allows me to carry up to three kids on my Xtracycle Flight Deck, provides some nice visibility around the kids, and should give most parents some peace of mind about their safety.

What comes in the box

Just like it says: 2 steel brackets, 2 U-Tubes, Screws, Nuts. You’ll need a 4mm hex wrench and, as you’ll see later, something to use on the nuts for tighten them down to the FlightDeck. I used an adjustable wrench; I’m sure someone who uses tools more regularly than me would have a better idea.

Xtracycle doesn’t ship any paper instructions but they do provide a Hooptie Installation video on YouTube that seems sufficient for most purposes.

Installation

Install the two steel brackets. There’s no suggested order in the instructions. I started with the one closest to the saddle. At least on the Big Dummy this ended up being a decent approach as it was easy to tighten down the screws & nuts and there’s plenty of clearance underneath the FlightDeck in this area.

When I started on the bracket for the rear of the deck I realized I wouldn’t be able to tighten the screws & nuts the same way as I had for the front bracket. I needed to unmount the FlightDeck from the Xtracycle frame. It is quite possible I should’ve unmounted the FlightDeck entirely and installed the Hooptie to it and then remounted the FlightDeck. The instructions don’t suggest doing this but it probably makes it easier to work on. Either way, you now have two brackets installed and ready for the U-Tubes.

Now install the U-Tubes. This requires a lot of patience as the fittings are extremely tight. I scratched up the U-Tubes installing them into the brackets. I had another bike shop tell me the Hooptie’s U-Tubes were difficult to adjust as well. I assume this is just a production issue, perhaps related to the paint coating.

Generally moving the U-Tubes into the “Wide” setting was more or less straight-forward so long as you installed them into the front and rear brackets equally — That is, don’t shove the U-Tube into the rear bracket all the way and then the front. No, instead you want to insert them into the brackets equally, sliding them in a bit at a time on each side.

Switching the U-Tubes from the “Wide” setting to the “Narrow” setting required applying intense amounts of force, flipping the U-Tubes around, switching which side they were on and a magic dance in-order to get them into the “Narrow” holes. Julie and I both dug in our heals and managed to force the U-Tubes into the brackets’ narrow setting. I later applied some light grease to the U-Tubes and now I can alternate between “Narrow” and “Wide” with somewhat less difficulty.

Now what?

Well, as the box says, it is a party on wheels once you add kids:

Julie was a bit more cautious than I was with our littlest kid and suggested we add a seatbelt to prevent him from sliding underneath the Hooptie’s U-Tubes and on to the street. This seemed reasonable. For the moment we’ve borrowed a seatbelt from our Madsen but just about any buckle would do:

I also added some reflective tape around the rear of Hooptie mostly because I could and I thought it might prevent some folks from banging into it (though all-in-all the tubes seem very sturdy):

And that’s how I installed an Xtracycle Hooptie on my Big Dummy. My youngest kid has let me know that the Hooptie is “his best” and there’s a huge smile all over his face when riding in it. I don’t think much has changed for my older kid but I do look forward to carting some of his friends around now. It is a bit weird to be riding a bike around without a front-mounted kids seat after 5 years of an iBert being a permanent fixture in our daily commute. I’ll miss talking to the kid in the front but I know my boys will enjoy hanging out with each other on the back.