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…
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!
Since the overnight bike camping trip, I have been putting in quite a few miles on the HaroX on all of the local roads here in the Cincy area, and I am starting to think that a road bike would fit the bill a whole lot better than the cargo bike for these type excursions. No way, am I talking about selling the HaroX. I am just starting to realize that putting in a bunch of miles on the cargo bike takes a lot out of you. It is amazing though, climbing on the HaroX, but I feel that I would have fresher legs for more miles at a time on a standard road bike. I guess I should not say a “standard” road bike, I have always fancied a Rivendell. Too bad they are WAY out of my price range. Some of the other bikes that I think would be pretty solid are:
Surly Pacer/Long Haul Trucker
Older Kona Honky Tonk (1st version if I remember right, powder blue w/down tube shifters)
See a common theme here? Steel. Clearance for wider tires. Mounts for racks and fenders. More upright riding stance. In no way am I looking for a racer type bike on skinny skinny tires. That is not how I get down.
Anyway, just thinking…
And here is a short video I did the other day of my cargo bike:
I have to admit, Cinco de Mayo was quite different for me before I had my daughter. I would have been a day full of drinking, doing something outdoors, and probably more drinking. Granted, I did have a few brews yesterday, but nothing to the proportions that have been consumed in the past. Here is basically a run down of what happened yesterday:
The day started off with Goose and I taking the XtraHaro down to the local doughnut shop, Ms. Cheri’s, to get a few pastries to start our day. Quite a few people were intrigued, and also confused with the entire family bike/van setup. Very comical to try to explain it to non cyclists, but at the end of the trip, I think most people got it. I guess that is the draw back to being only one of a few Xtracycles in the great Cincinnati area.
After spending the morning tooling around on the cargo bike, the afternoon brought some sitting on the patio, enjoying some Hudy Delight. This is a local Cincinnati beer, or was since it is now brewed in PA. I do believe that they will be producing it here in Ohio once again in the next couple of years. Anyway, just a light beer. Nothing fancy. Since the weather is getting warmer, it makes me want a lighter beer, and this one does the trick. Plus, it is cheap, and has more flavor than a Bud Light. Works for me.
Once the evening set in, I retired to my garage to work on a few bicycle related projects that I have needed to do. The first was to get Big Red back up and running. I ended up putting on a set of Maxxis Crossmark 26×2.1s front and back, and a new Wippermann single speed chain. The Crossmarks do fit in the back, and in the front there is a little bit of rubbing, but for this town cruiser, I do not mind. It was nice to take a little spin on it last night.
After that was finished, I started to add some protection to the Xtracycle frame. Basically, I just cut up some old tubes, and zip tied them to the frame, to act as a chain protector. It is not flashy, but it will do the trick. I think after all of the miles that I have put on, that gave me a decent idea where I am getting chain rub. Also, it was free. It pays to stockpile old tubes for this reason!
Since the V Racks were off of the HaroX, I decided to clean it up a bit. I don’t normally wash my bikes all that often, so I made sure that it count. Also cleaned up the Haro Mary SS, since she might be leaving this weekend. We shall see. All in all, a very productive, awesome day!
So I have kinda neglected my blogs for the time being. I basically had no motivation to do anything with them for the last couple months. Also work was being a little bit of a hassle. On the brighter side though, the XtraHaro has been performing beautifully! I have had quite a few rides on it. Basically, it is the only bike that I am riding now. I am riding it with my daughter, riding it to work, doing road rides on it, running errands, and hauling things. It is an amazing bike, and I wish that I would have converted my bike earlier. It has really made me realize some things though. It has made me aware that I should sell my mountain bike. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE mountain biking. But in this stage of life, it is very inconvenient. To get to any trail in the area, I am looking at a 30 minute drive. Gas is now $4 a gallon, and that is just not worth it to me. Especially when I can leave directly from my house on the XtraHaro, and get an awesome mixed surface ride, and spend zero cash on getting to the ride. Maybe I am getting older, but I feel it is streamlining my life a little bit. Just rambling…
By the way, shoot me an email if anyone is interested in a 29er SS…