Some days, it just happens to be your day. Every thing is going smoothly, and things effortlessly fall into place. Today was that day. After randomly searching Craigslist for bikes, which I have not done in a while, I stumbled onto a bike posting that got my attention. After a few emails, I ended the day with this:
This is a first generation Kona Ute cargo bike. You might be thinking, “Didn’t you just sell an Xtracycle cargo bike kit this year?” Yes. I moved the Xtracycle, and regretted it after it was gone. That thought, paired with the idea of a different cargo bike to haul the kiddos around, ended up with this strange twist of fate of finding this bike at complete random. Timing is everything right?
This bike is from 2008 I believe, and it has the newer style Ute cargo bags that are super large, and very heavy duty. Drivetrain is set up as a 2×8, which is surprisingly low geared. After a little tweaking this afternoon, and a small ride around the neighborhood, this bike is going to be in the stable for some time. Or at least a year or so…
Just keep spinning…
Now that the Xtracycle has been disassembled, I am back to square one with my old friend, the Haro V3. This bike was my very first “real” mountain bike, from 2003 I believe. This bike has gone through some changes over the years.
For a while it was my MTB, geared with a Manitou suspension fork, and V brakes. That phase traveled from Ohio to Southern California and continued on for a bit. Then, after the Gary Fisher Rig showed up, it turned into a geared commuter with 1.5 inch slicks, then switching back to trail duty as a second single speed. Moved back East, and it found it’s way back to the streets, as a single speed commuter, this time with a Salsa steel rigid fork and disc brakes. It hung on the wall of the garage for a time, patiently waiting for parts once again. Finally came the cargo bike phase, via Xtracycle. Now, we are here:
Back to just a frame. What form should it take now?
I have to say, this bike has lasted far longer than I ever would have guessed. I couldn’t even begin to estimate how many miles it has logged over the 9 years or so that I have owned it. I am thinking I could piece together a cheap single speed again, but this time run some Schwalbe Big Apples just for fun. Anyway, whatever form this bike takes on, it has been the best $400 that I have ever spent. Thanks Haro!
This month marks a full year on the Xtracycle conversion. I have ridden the crap out of this bike, and now I feel like I can make an honest comment on what I like/dislike about it. So that said:
The Xtracycle Freeradical kit is a well packaged, all in one “hitch-less trailer” than makes any bicycle a useful tool for carrying stuff. And by stuff I mean a lot of stuff. The kit is rated for 200lbs or so of cargo, which I did not get up to that weight, but if you can pedal it, it will probably work. Weight is balanced nicely, say for example, if you load a six pack on one side and a load of firewood on the other. Getting started pedaling is a little awkward, but once you are moving you do not notice the vast difference in weight for the left and right side freeloaders(bags). If the weight is balanced somewhat evenly between the two sides, you do not notice the weight at all for the most part. Let’s be honest though, with around 75lbs on the back, you can tell there is some weight, but mostly only on climbs. With all of the extra weight, once you are moving, momentum is your friend.
I used the HaroX for commuting to work, going to the grocery, riding with my daughter, bike camping, road riding, and just about everything else you can think of. Only a little bit of off roading, but with it’s extended wheel base, what little bit that I did was quite fun. Not a fast off road machine, but a nice and slow, easy pace to enjoy being in the woods. I would say in total, I have around 1000 miles on the Xtracycle. It rode smoothly with a set of 1.5 slicks, but also very comfortably with a knobby set of 2.1s. I did enjoy it a little more with the larger tires, just because it gave you the option to hit the dirt if the occasion arose.
So with all of the good things said, here is what I was not so fond of:
Right out of the box, it is implied that the Freeradical kit includes everything that you need to get the bike rolling. That is true, but only if you are planning on using rim brakes, and an 8 speed drive train. Since I was using disc brakes, and a 9 speed system, I needed to buy extra cables and two new chains. It would have been helpful to know that from the start. Also, the disc mount of the Freeradical requires a 203mm disc brake rotor, something that I did not think of, since I was planning on using a normal 160mm rotor. All of these were a minor, but more pricey inconveniences that I did not expect. Once that was all taken care of though, it was mostly smooth sailing.
The only other downside for me with this project was the weight. The all steel frame of the Xtracycle adds quite a bit of weight to your bike. Weight that is needed, of course, when you are planning on hauling things. But still, it is damn heavy. Once you are moving it is not as noticeable, but if you need to lift the bike for any reason, or stopping and starting, wow, is it heavy. Honestly though, this is a downside that is also a positive, because it makes your legs strong. But on some rides, I was wishing for a lighter ride.
Add that weight to anything that you might be carrying, and you start to get the commonly observed, “Xtracycle shimmy.” Just a slight, annoying wobble that happens from time to time when carrying weight. I have read that using Xtracycle’s Whatcamacollars helps fix that a bit, but that adds another expense to an already expensive package.
So, would I buy the kit again? You bet. It has been a game changer. Cycling has gone from a sport, to more of a way of living. The bicycle has become a practical tool to use for day to day things. This has probably been one of the best cycling moves that I have made in my cycling life. Very cool product.
That said, I am disassembling the bike, and planning on selling the Xtracycle. I know, lots of praise, then sell it? What the hell? Yeah, a little contradictory. But, I am planning on building a new bike, more of a “do-it-all” bicycle. I love the Xtracycle, but for mountain biking on it, that is not going to happen. My cycling life is needing a lighter, more versatile bike, so the plan is to pull all of the parts, place on a new frame, and sell the Xtracycle and Haro frame as one. Someday, I will build another one…
As for the next bike, I am really excited for it, but I will wait before I let the cat out of the bag…
Along the Little Miami scenic path.
Perfect weather today in SW Ohio, very unusual for this time of year. Normally, this would be the start of clearing away snow from the sidewalks, but today was around 60 degrees. Perfect day for a bike ride.
This afternoon, I started out on the T500 to get in a good ride through nearby Indian Hill to tackle some hills. After about 3 miles, I realized that I had a flat rear tire, and no spare tube, tools or pump. Luckily, I had briefly chatted with a friend at the trailhead parking lot, who graciously picked me up to spare me the torture of walking back to the house. Moral of the story: Be prepared.
After being dropped off at home, I switched out my Magicshine from the T500 to the HaroX and took off once again. Determined to take advantage of this great weather, I once again started off into Indian Hill. Not a long ride by any means, but still a bit of climbing, and one long descent which really makes the ride. After the long cruise out of Indian Hill, it was home for dinner.
Racing the sunset in Indian Hill.
After dinner, I received a call from my brother-in-law who had the urge to test out his new Cannondale for the first time, and asked if I felt like a night ride. For sure. So, once again, on the bike path for another round, this time again on the HaroX. Unfortunately, something was amiss in the rear wheel, which ended up being another flat tire. Luckily, this time, I had a spare, and the proper tools to fix the problem, and ride home without issue. Seriously, two flats in the same day? That has not happened in a while, and I cannot remember the last time that I had a flat. But at least I was prepared.
Almost the half way point for the month, here are the maps of today’s rides, minus the 1st ride:
All in all, such a great time today on the bike. Even thought there were a couple flat tires, I was still out enjoying the weather, and enjoying the spin. That is what it is all about, and now this is starting to become a habit. I am cool with that. Hope you got out and enjoyed this great weather!
While surfing the web for bicycle parts tonight, I stumbled onto this:
All in one, handlebar and front basket combo, all made out of one piece. It appears to be a comfortable riding position, and also two mounting points for the stem, to dial in the perfect handlebar height. That is pretty clever. I am sure it is pretty heavy as well. Could not find a weight or price on the bars, but I am sure they will be out in the near future. Props to Origin 8 for making something cargo related! Be sure to check out their site at the above link!
Photo from Origin 8’s site.
So fresh out of the rumor mill is that Surly has a few tricks up it’s sleeve that will be coming out in the next couple of months. There is lots of speculation from lots of folks like myself, but the consensus seems that Surly will be releasing a larger version of their Larry tire, at a whopping 26×4.5. Yes, I said 4.5. As in four and a half inches! That is crazy. And supposedly there will be a frame to handle such a beast. That frame will be called the Moonlander so they say. Now I would like to believe that it will just be a larger version of their famous Pugsley, but Surly likes to be a little different with things. So after looking at a few pictures of some lunar rovers throughout history, it got me wondering if they are going to throw out something completely unexpected. Lets look at some photos:
This picture got me thinking of a four wheel bicycle that I saw not too long ago, can’t remember the name of it, but it basically was a four wheeled mountain bike. Independent suspension all around, disc brakes all around, a very interesting dual rear derailleur gear setup, and shod all around in Surly’s Larry 26×3.8″ tires. It was quite an interesting setup, and I feel like that could be a possibility for the Moonlander. One can dream right? Anyway, I wish I could remember the name of that company, I would like to check out their website again and give them the proper credit…
This picture is of the Soviet unmanned moon lander. I am not sure how Surly feels about communist Russia, but you never know, this could very well be the inspiration for their new bike. What would that bike be? Possibly an off road, fat tired recumbent? My only reasoning for that is due to the weird frame shapes of recumbents, compare that to some of the weird shapes of different moonlanders out there, and there you have it. I am sure I am way off base with that one, but that would definitely be unexpected.
Another guess that I would love to see, is a fat tired cargo bike, based off of the Big Dummy. That would be amazing, and if you look at the first picture in this post, it might make some sense, then again, it might not.
So what is Surly going to do? Probably just make us wait. I will definitely be watching though, because I am sure it will be an amazing bicycle. And probably a little off of the “norm.” Rock on Surly…
Nice commute today on the HaroX. I will be the first to admit, that it is WAY overkill for my daily commute. All I ever really carry is one of my SealLine dry bags loaded with my clothes, toiletries, phone charger, and lunch. I could easily fit one of those bags on the rear rack of a “normal” bike. But seriously, what fun would that be? It is pretty amazing how nice it is to know that I am ready for whatever. Find something cool being thrown out? Strap it down to the back of the bike. Need to stop for groceries? Roll on in. Give a lift to a homeless person? No problem. It is an amazing setup, and I really wish that I would have done it sooner. Just an example of how it is ready for whatever: I get home from my 15.5 mile (one way) commute, and my wife needs some things from the grocery. So, I unload my dry bag, and head on over to the grocer. Good stuff. Thank you Xtracycle!
If you haven’t checked out their site,check it!