Thursday, August 14, 2008

XtraCycle Specs

To follow up Angela's introduction to our new cargo & kid bike, here are some details and thoughts for others who might like to try this set up.
  • I got advice from local xtracycle riders (including Cambridge City Counsilor Craig Kelley, who was a great resource) that disc brakes and 26" tires are preferable for easy maintenance and strength, and also because of some peculiarities of the xtracycle free radical kit. We also preferred a more upright posture, which is actually kind of hard to find in a 26" bike. We ended up settling on the Trek SU 2.0, which is sort of a cross between a mountain bike and a commuter bike.
  • The xtracycle conversion went on great, after some confusion over what was the proper disc brake rotor. The bike mechanics at Quad Bikes did a great job.
  • Unfortunately, the peapod seat (also known as the Bobike Maxi+ in Europe) did not fit perfectly, due to our small bike frame (Angela is very little 5' 1"). I think there are small frames that it would fit, but a little frame really restricts the number of installation options. I won't bore you with details, but the upshot is that we got the seat to fit....sort of. It is too reclined for my preferences, had to be mounted on the seat post, and only barely clears the extracycle snap deck. At first the seat post mounting made me nervous, but I've since gotten over it, since there are other seats actually designed to attach to the seat post. If the struts supporting the footrests were longer and/or the ATB bracket attached to the bike were just slightly shorter, it would fit perfectly. It works well enough to hang onto and use for now, but won't be as useful as H gets bigger, so I'm still on a quest for a way to fix the seat attachment or get a better seat. I'm rather enthralled with this DIY set up that I saw described on the rootsradicals group. I wonder if we could pull off something similar.
  • If I had it to do over, I would first purchase the peapod seat alone, take it to the bike shop, and make sure that whatever bike we were getting would fit the kid seat, since that turned out to be the most restrictive compatibility issue. We might have had to give up on either the disc brakes or the 26" tires to get it to work, though.
  • Despite my annoyance about the seat, this bike is great. H loves it. It handles amazingly well. Suddenly errands we just avoided or couldn't do with H in tow are easy and fun. I was doubtful when I first heard folks saying this bike would change our lives. Not anymore. Local folks who are interested should feel free to contact us for a test ride.


Jonathan Beck said...

Hello. Just found your blog, it's great so far. I just moved to boston in July (Charlestown/Somerville) and am interested in your Xtracycle. Did you build it yourself, or have it done at a shop? If so, which shop, and how much was it?

Thanks! Keep up the blog!


Dorea said...

Hi Jon!

We bought our bike at Ace Wheelworks in Porter, ordered the free radical kit directly from Xtracycle, and had it built out at Quad Bikes on the Harvard Campus, on the recommendation of another Xtra rider in the area. Ace was somewhat helpful, but really didn't know about xtracycles at all so couldn't help with compatibility issues (I was not able to locate a shop in the area that did, but would love to know if someone finds one). Quad Bikes did a really great job. Ours was the first bike they'd done with disc brakes, and it works great. The build from them was about $90, but would probably be less without brakes. They also went above and beyond the call of duty in working with us to get the peapod seat functional. For detailed compatibility questions, I highly recommend the rootsradicals yahoo group, and of course feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you'd like more details on what worked for us.

Jonathan Beck said...

Hi Dorea,

Thanks for the info. The only place I've heard of locally is in Salem, MA, they were listed on the Xtracycle website. I may give them a call to see if they can give me an estimate. I think I'd have to add rear disc brakes too. I thought it would cost more than $90 for labor for the Xtracycle alone, I'm surprised! I may jump into this thing, did you do the labor yourself at Quad Bikes with their help? Maybe I'll stop in one day and chat with them, it's not too far from my house.

Thanks for the info. Are you still offering "test rides"?

Dorea said...

We'd love to share our bike for a test ride...though you should know we are pretty short, so it may not be the best fit. E-mail me at doreavc at gmail.