Basically a bike extension designed to give greater load carrying capacity to your existing bike, will hold up to 100kg according to Xtracycle, including fat dogs….
I’ve owned one of these for about 8 years and it’s my urban van, courier vehicle and, more recently, my occasional touring bike. More fun and more versatile than any trailer I’ve used, my Xtracycle has carried bikes, food, magazines, people, fat dogs, sacks of dog food, 12 ft long planks of wood, armchairs, thin dogs and me…. plus lots of other stuff I’ve forgotten about. I recently used to it move house. Genuinely life changing.
Charity shop run with two Xtracycles
My Xtracycle frame snapped just behind the bottom bracket a couple of years ago and I had it welded, although Xtracycle offered to send me a replacement frame free of charge. Instead I got some new add-ons. Load your stuff in the freeloaders (rear panniers) carefully, because they can rub on the spokes with bulky loads, causing them to rip. If you can get hold of the old freeloaders with the rubberised backing, I reckon they’re a better choice because they’re stronger than the new all cordura affairs.
I also have to mention the price, because it’s taken such a hike in recent times. Plus the accessories are pretty pricey as well.
One final niggle, before I move on and that’s the 700c version of the Xtracycle. Janyis has just got one and attached it to a Kona Smoke. Rear tyre clearance is appalling – it’ll accept no more than a 35mm tyre. She’s also fitted a ‘kickback’ stand which rubs on the tyre. We remedied this by fixing a piece of rubber on the base of the Xtracycle frame which stops it springing fully back. It’s worked, but bearing in mind the price of the stand, this is poor.
How to build a cheap Xtracycle>>
Build your own
Xtracycle have now made the main frame ‘open source’ to try and expand the volume of them out on the streets, so if you know (or are) a welder, worth having a look here>>
Alternatively, there are plenty of interesting projects going on, often needing no welding and using scrap bikes. Here’s a fascinating thread on Bike Forums showing various projects on the go.
Using a cheap donor bike
The frame on my Xtracycle is an old Kona steel frame from the early 90s and cost me £10. There are loads of decent options in the 2nd hand steel market – in recent years I’ve picked up an old Orange P7 and Clockwork for £50 each and a Specialized Hardrock and Rockhopper for similar amounts, all of which are great bikes and perfect donors for an Xtracycle. Add this to the price of an Xtracycle – £400 (Jan 10) and you’ve got a great cargo bike for less than £500. Personally, I think this option is still the best value for a quality cargo bike unless you build your own.
Making your own Xtracycle accessories
It’s easy to make your own snapdeck (see pics below), using a piece of ply cut to size. The plastic clips to attach it to the v racks are for copper pipes and came from the local plumbing shop – cost around £1.20 for all four. Really snug fit and good tyre clearance.
The Xtracycle is pretty much a ‘fit and forget’ affair from my experience , with no moving parts other than what normally moves on a bike. This is a dependable, eye catching and amazingly practical alternative to urban gridlock. I haven’t owned a car for a good few years and the Xtracycle has played no small part in making the decision to move the light side very easy indeed. That said, I’d recommend giving the 700c version a wide berth.
The Xtracycle as a tourer…
There’s a review worth reading here from the guys in the video below about touring with an Xtracycle and the likely problems.
Manufacturer’s website: www.xtracycle.com
Variations on the Xtracycle design
The Xtracycle has become pretty popular as a concept and with this popularity has come a whole range of variations on the original spec. Here are a few of the latest options available….
Read more about this development here >>
Custom Snapdecks being made….
some images from the Xtracycle flickr group