Here is a sneak peak at a new bike build that I have going on at the moment. Without going into too much detail, this is going to be a budget build, single speed road bike. Or, at least my version of a road bike. Still a ways to go, but progress nonetheless.
And in case you are wondering, those are Big Apple 26×2.35, and they fit in the frame just fine.
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…
Today’s ride was of a different pace. I have been putting in some miles here lately, and my tires have taken the brunt of it all. Yesterday’s rides both had flats, on both the T500 and the HaroX. So for today’s ride, Big Red got the call from the bullpen.
Not much on the mileage today, just had enough time to run a couple errands on Big Red. It has been a month or two since Big Red has seen any action, but as usual, pull the bike off of the rack and ride. Nothing ever really needs fixed or tuned, just pick it up and ride. Maybe since it is a beater bike, I just don’t care to fix it up, but it sometimes is the most reliable bike in my stable. But it always is one piece away from a total catastrophe. That is part of the appeal though.
Today’s errands had me down to the local bike shop, Bishop’s Bicycles. Picked up a couple tubes for the busted bikes, and chatted a bit about the allure of a Brooks saddle. I can see a B-17 in my future for sure. From there, it was off to pick up some photos and then back home. Only around 3 miles today, but it was still time on the bike. Tomorrow morning, back at it. Half way down…
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!
New route for day four. Pleasant, unusually warm temperature at around 47 degrees this morning, I would bet that not too many of these days are left. Checking the forecast for the next few days solidifies that thought. Thankfully, I am starting to figure out my clothing situation a little bit better.
While out on early morning rides, your mind starts to wander. No traffic at 5am, so you can go from thought to thought without much thinking about what you are doing. Not that I would suggest zoning out while riding, but sometimes it just happens. Horrible songs get stuck in your head. Christmas songs are sung to the tempo of your cadence. Lots and lots of thoughts dance in and out of my mind while riding, which almost clears my head out completely. I admit, it is a nice way to start the day.
Today had me thinking bikes. What are my future bike plans? How do I plan on riding in 2012? This is what I came up with:
First, move all my Xtracycle parts over to the T500. I enjoy the bike, and by making it a cargo bike, it would be used even more. I like the idea of having a front rack along with the Xtracycle, and the fork on the T500 is just begging for a front rack. Problem solved. Now what to do with the HaroX?
All of the parts will be pulled off of the Haro, and placed on one of these:
I have been contemplating a Surly Troll for quite some time now. Click here for my last thoughts on the Troll. But now, I feel is the time for the Troll. I like the idea of buying the complete bike from Surly, but I really enjoy the parts that I picked out for my Xtracycle conversion. They work well together. I feel that they will do a great job on the Troll frame, possibly a bit better than the stock Troll. Maybe not, but I am really comfortable on the bike with it’s specific parts, so that is what I am leaning towards. Also, the complete bike is around $900 more than the frame. I think that settles it. I probably will not finalize any bike ideas until 2012 hits though, so for now this is the plan. Let’s just see for how long! It will probably change while out tomorrow morning.
Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, it’s time to get back into a cycling routine. November was an off month for me exercise wise. Which who really stays in a routine during the holidays? I sure didn’t.
Time to get back into a regular cycling routine though. I am not the most motivated person out there, so I need to set a goal, and make it public. That keeps me honest, and opens myself up to ridicule if I fail. That’s a great motivating factor. Anyway, here is the plan:
My plan for the month of December is to bike or run every single day.
Yeah, I said it, every day. This will be tough, with the colder temperatures, less sunlight, and more holiday time coming up, but I think it is doable. Scratch that, it is doable. No thinking about it, just do it. (Enter cheesy Nike commercial)
So to start it off, this morning I was out before the sun on the HaroX. Air temperature was in the mid 20s, and lots of fog out. Just a quick ride to warm up the lungs. I have to say, it was a great way to start my morning. I am looking forward to this.
Keep checking back to see some progress, or check on Twitter @codsow. I will be tagging the posts with #monthofbiking, and posting up the Map My Ride ride/run reports daily.
Only 30 more days to go…