A new member posted a couple questions to the RootsRadicals cargo bike group on Yahoo! that illicited some great responses from current Xtracycle users. Read and ride on!
So I’ve got a bike and I’m thinking of getting the Free Radical extension. I’ve got a seven year old and other kid-carrying options aren’t working that great (outgrew the trailer, trail-a-bike is awfully shaky). This xtracycle thing seems like a pretty great solution. However, I only have the kid and/or cargo about half the time. Is it easy to take off the long tail and make it a regular bike and then back again when you need it? Do you just ride the long tail with nothing in it? Do you have two bikes? — Karen
it's always fun and games on an xtracycle c/o boc
To answer Karen’s first query, “Is it easy to re-convert my Xtracycle back into a short bike, and vice versa? Rich lays down the steps involved:
Steps for FreeRadical removal & short bike reassembly:
- Remove long chain.
- Remove rear derailleur from FreeRadical.
- Remove rear wheel from FreeRadical.
- Remove FreeRadical from bike frame.
- Remove rear brakes from FreeRadical.
- Remove long rear shifter and rear brake cables.
- Install rear wheel in regular frame.
- Install rear brake on regular frame.
- Install rear derailleur.
- Install shorter chain.
- Install shorter cables and adjust shifting and brakes.
Basically reverse for reinstallation of the FreeRadical.
Even with the use of a good repair stand to hold the bike I would expect the job to be a greasy 45 minutes, with some experience. If you have the rear brakes left mounted on the original frame then the time could be reduced slightly. Probably considerably longer the first few times you do it. You can download the FreeRadical installation guide to see in detail what is involved in doing the installation.
The last couple questions deal with the actual experience riding an Xtracycle. “What’s it like riding with nothing in it? & Do you own two bikes?” to which the RootsRadical community responds:
I have four bikes, but I ride the longtail almost all the time, loaded or not.
What happened for me, was that it became my work commuter bike (my backpack is always heavy, no use pretending it will not be). So it got the good tires, because I ride it a lot. It got the good seat. It got the good lights. It got the chaincase and the IGH, so I could ride without my pants getting messy. Good fenders, too. It was the first bike to have an odometer, because I am trying to stick to a quota (50 miles/week, no matter what).
looking stylish AND getting things done c/o 4onaQuarter.com
You may well find that with a cargo bike as your regular ride you actually have more use for it than you currently assume. Options open up that you have not thought of previously. Let’s see, you are out for a ride and realize that you need a few groceries….voila! you have your longtail bike and can just drop those groceries in the freeloaders. You usually make a particular trip by car since you have stuff to carry…voila! You now have your longtail bike.
I have a road bike that I absolutely love. She is an older steel frame bike, very responsive to me. I rarely ride my road bike anymore. It seems so natural to get on the longtail.
I am really saying that you will likely fall in love with your longtail when you see how versatile it is.
I assure you…it is much faster to drop your grocery bags into the freeloaders than to deal with regular panniers. Add a child and you have the perfect non-motorized transport system.
custom child seat solution for an Xtracycle c/o M. Barroso
My story is similar to a lot of the others. I have three other bikes which haven’t seen the road in over a year because I enjoy riding the Xtracycle so much.
I’ve had my Xtra/Trek 950 for just over a year and I ride my Xtra almost always — loaded or not. I am almost always carrying something larger than my tools at some point in my trip. And even though I have a pretty nice rack/pannier system for my other bikes, and could do grocery shopping with that system, the Xtra has much more cargo capacity. I rarely have to think about capacity while out shopping. I would with panniers.
When I do think about capacity, I think about weight, and it’s my limit, not the Xtra’s. I also very much like the weight distribution better on the Xtra – lower and more stable as long as you pay attention to how you are loading the bike. The only time I have not used the Xtra for cargo is when I had one full 5 gallon bucket of sealer. I decided on the trailer for that load.
Oh yes, at this point I have one other bike in usable condition, and a road-bike a couple of hours away from being ready to ride. The road bike’s been in that state for about half a year (ouch – it’s feelings are now officially hurt).
Soph enjoying Kangaroo Island c/o eternitycycling
Actually, I have three bikes. … I ride the X. 99% of the time. why ride anything ELSE anyway? I am not a shill for Xtracycle. i just flat out LOVE the bike. I have ridden my Schwinn a bit this last year and the X not much to be honest, but that has more to do with my life and the changes therein than the bikes. If I ABSOLUTELY HAD to go to one bike. it would be the X.
Just wait till you have the Xtracycle attached – once you see how nice (read: normal) the bike rides, you won’t mind having it on at all. And you’ll probably realize you can use your Xtra-fied bike for a lot of the ’round-town errands you might currently be doing by car, because whatever you need to get (i.e. groceries, laundry, etc.) is “too big/bulky/etc” to fit on your current bike. For probably 90% of that stuff, that issue will no longer be an issue… :-)
I have a few bikes in addition to the Xtracycle, but it’s the one I would keep if I could only keep one. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my favorite (though it’s certainly tied for 1st place!!), but like the now less-used minivan in our driveway, it’s by far the most practical and useful.
In the year and a half we’ve had it, the return on investment in time spent with my wife and kids going out on the weekends, or in carrying packages to the mail (doing that tomorrow), or giving my friends a ride home, or whatever, is way into the positive. I’ve gotten (and will continue to get) far more use out of it than what it’s cost me, and so in that sense also, it’s easily the best bike I own.
Just installed a Kickback tonight – great addition! Makes it much more stable for my boys to get on & off the back, and should make loading cargo much easier, too.
family biking in Jakarta c/o Brunocerous
Another vote in favor of “your X will become your daily driver.” In theory, I might be a bit slower, it might be a bit heaver, but I don’t notice. My X is great around town, I never have to worry about extra room for hauling home groceries.
TerraCycle's CargoMonster hauling x-mas cheer! c/o bouvreuilp
I’m a car free guy…and I have a variety of bike[s]…I ride The Dummy a majority of the time.
recently, the one day I was sick and tired of riding the Dummy everywhere, I choose to hop on my Hunter 29er, and low and behold…on the way over to a buddy’s place…they call me and as to stop by Trader Joe’s…so there i am with my messenger bag…
a gallon of milk, dozen eggs, tortillas, tomato, bread, and some other things, plus my laptop and some clothing i already set out with.
gee… I should have started out on The Dummy…no wonder i use it every day.
it's fun to play in the snow with a long wheelbase c/o abneycat
A similar thing happened to me today. I decided to ride my neglected 1969 Raleigh Competition, just to see how it felt in comparison to my [Big Dummy (BD)], and if I got to my apt faster. I did get there 1 or 2 min faster, but one my way home plans changed, and I was asked to pick up my kids. Whoops! Couldn’t do it…I had the wrong bike. Bummer. Not being able to efficiently pick up the kids was *definitely* not worth the 2 minutes saved in either direction. I enjoyed riding the Raleigh. But I enjoy riding Xena, my BD, just as much, and can get so much more done.
I think Karen got the message, as she succinctly put it, “So the consensus seems to be you ride the long tail with nothing in it and it’s totally fine, not cumbersome or heavy at all, and even spontaneously pick up some cargo just cause you can. Any dissent?”
To which Steve replied, “None from me, you’ve got it exactly right.“
We couldn’t agree more. Happy trails and ride on!
gearing up for some snow sledding c/o fullhands