Xtracycle Hackage (The Long Vehicle)

July 16, 2008

Victoria got her Xtracycle on Monday, and since today was her birthday, I thought I should get started on the conversion. We started with a simple (ha) plan to add two seats on top of the snapdeck. That turned out to be just plain impossible. The legs of the seats just wouldn’t fit over the snapdeck. Not a big deal, since attaching the seats to the snap deck was going to be a seriously daunting task anyway.

Next I looked at the option of installing the bike racks that came with the seats inside the xtracycle’s freeloader. This was a daunting task, made only slightly less daunting by the realization that I could remove the freeloader to do the work.

I installed the forward seat first, which was a pretty straight forward following of the directions type activity. Then I started looking at the rear seat, trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get it stable. The two feet had a logical resting point about 2″ behind the rear axel, but there was (seemingly) nowhere to secure it up top to keep it from pivoting back and forth.


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After a bit of head scratching, I realized that I was going to have a lot of extra hardware, and the bars that attached the forward seat to the bike, had the same size holes as the bike racks used for attaching the feet.

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So I was back in business. I attached the forward rack to the rear rack using the supplied hardware, and got down to the business of tightening everything down. As it turns out, this was the real work. Tight quarters, and odd angles combined with sprockets and bike frame, caused me no end of bruised and bloodied knuckles. In the end though, I was victorious!!

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I took the bike for a spin around the block, just to see if it was going to be stable, and noticed that it had a bit of lateral flex. This, I worried, was not good. I decided to wait until we had it loaded to make my call.

Fast forward to today…..

I came home at lunch time and we started right in on the tests. Vick took it for a spin and felt that it was weird, but probably doable. Then we loaded up Ruby in the front seat, and Vick took her for a spin. She reported the it was a little wobbly around corners but she could get used to it.

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Then we loaded Anika up, and I took them for a spin. I almost dumped the bike on takeoff, and after rounding my first corner, I was pretty certain that this was suicidal. Its not that the bike couldn’t carry the weight. Vertically, the bike is incredibly strong, but laterally, with weight behind the rear axle, its pretty sketchy when anything but forward pressure is exerted.

Coming around corners and fast breaks caused the tail of the bike to bow, laterally, and then slowly come back into alignment with the front of the bike. This could be mitigated in normal riding, but if Vick needed to swerve to avoid an obstacle or, heaven forbid, swerve and brake at the same time, the bike would definitely dump, and probably break in half.

I returned to the runway, and broke the bad news to the throwers. Lucky for all of us, I wasn’t out of ideas. I took the rear seat off and removed the rack. Then I hauled out the bike trailer, and hooked it up. It fit like a charm, and my test flight yielded very positive results. The bike still doesn’t like to be leaned way over at low speed, but handles the curves and shakes with something approaching grace. Its long, oh yes it is, but its not slow, and not completely unwieldy.

I can see many trips to the park and Whole Foods on this bad ass ride. I dub it, The Long Vehicle (after a fun song by Black Cat White Cat).

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