Just finished boxing up the Xtracycle Freeradical for it’s long journey to Minnesota. Shipping this piece off it bittersweet. I really enjoyed the cargo option, it was very useful. But it was not as versatile as I needed it to be. Hence the sale. So, the end for the X, but the beginning for the Troll. The X’s departure will keep the Troll ball rolling. After dropping off the X at the post office, I will be heading over to my local shop to have them install my headset to further along this process.
So goodbye Xtracycle, you were fun. But your replacement is going to be even better…
Just keep spinning…
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…
It’s funny how things change a bit once you start getting older. Granted, I am no old man by any means, but things are WAY different now at thirty than when I was twenty. My life has made a complete 180 degrees in those ten years. But I am starting to get off track, that is a totally different topic altogether.
Let’s just think about bicycle time at thirty rather than twenty. Gone are the days of thirty mile epic mountain bike rides that last all afternoon. Gone are the road rides that last all morning from coffee shop to coffee shop. But in their place are new rides, that for me are just as exciting. Rides with my daughter to the playground, or just around the block are a couple new rides that I find absolutely amazing. Another interesting ride that I have been doing more and more of is the grocery ride:
Thanks to the Xtracycle, I am able to squeeze in a ride to our local grocery to pickup a weeks worth of “life supplies.” Tonight was one of those nights, a nice little jaunt to pick up a few of the daily essentials that we so desperately needed. Not a long ride by any means, but fulfilling nonetheless. These are the types of rides that I am starting to enjoy more and more as I get older.
By doing this type of cycling though, you are spending more time on the bike, and that is what it is all about.
Every now and again I get to fit into my schedule an epic ride, but the grocery run has become a staple in our household.
Just some thoughts, just riding along…
When you think of bicycles, normally you think of them as something that you would use for exercise, or possibly recreation, or maybe even for transportation. Would you think of them for hauling cargo? Thankfully, there is a shift in cycling culture in the US. More and more people are starting to use their bicycle as a tool to accomplish tasks that you would normally use a car for. The bicycle is no longer just something to burn off a few calories, it is now your mini van, or your pickup truck. It is used to drop off the kids at school, or to pick up a weeks worth of groceries. It is used to take a week long vacation, or just to ride to work. What is the meaning of all of this random text? I stumbled upon this video, and thought it needed to be reposted:
This is a pretty awesome summary of what it is like to have/ride a cargo bike. It is life changing. It is epic. It is exercise. It is environmentally friendly.
Everyone wants to help save the planet. Not many people however seem to mention how practical and environmentally safe it is to use a bicycle. Want to save the world? Ride a bicycle. Want to do even more, like carry a lot of stuff that normally you would need a car for? Ride a cargo bike.
Much love to the companies and folks who are out there doing this very thing. I am so glad I converted my old MTB to a cargo bike. Want to know how? This is a good start: Xtracycle
Some other links that might be of interest:
Trek Transport Sale price here in the Cincinnati area, 20″ frame with a small ding in the down tube for $840! Normal MSRP $1259.99! That’s a deal!
Surly Big Dummy
Black Sheep Bicycles Very pricey custom cargo bikes among other beautiful bicycles.