emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

A year of Xtracycle

2500 miles? Wow.

Categories: bicycling

I bought my Xtracycle last July, which means I’ve had it a year now. I think I gave a six-month progress report, which was favorable. And after a year? I still love it.

Near as I can tell, I’ve put at least 2300 miles on it since I first got it home. I have a bit over 1800 miles on the cyclometer, but I didn’t get that installed on the bike until September. Guesstimating July through September gets me 500 miles (50 miles a week times 10 weeks), assuming JUST commuting. I wouldn’t be surprised, if I went back to my journal from last summer, to discover that it was half again as much, what with all the rides to the river and around town. Nor does that include many trips of less than a mile for which I didn’t bother to pop in the cyclometer. So what, 2500 miles? How far is that, exactly? Really damn far.

And: A+++++ would ride again. That’s the short version, anyhow. In more length? I love love love being able to carry whatever around town. A change of clothes to work? No problem. A gallon of milk on the way home? Sure! A big bag of library books? But of course, and why not the laptop, too? My personal maneuverability limit is way less than the weight limit, so I’ve gotten nowhere near that so far as I can tell. But that leaves a hell of a lot of stuff that I can carry.

My personal favorite, of course, is taking all the stuff I need for a leisurely day at the river, and being able to go out to the river not in the car, but on the gorgeous trails. Which means: towel, water, snacks, ciders, cooler bag (with some of that stuff inside), change of clothes, book, camera. And not really that heavy, either.

People ask me if it’s heavy to ride, or cumbersome, and I don’t find it so. I’ve never been that nimble of a cyclist to begin with, so it suits my steady rambling style. It does mean that I find other bikes bogglingly light, though.

As for people asking: I would say that about every second or third time I go somewhere I get comments or questions. “What is that?” being the most common, alternatively: “Cool bike rack!” I’ve got a short spiel worked out by now: “it’s a kit that bolts onto the back of any normal bike. I like it because I can carry stuff. I bought mine pre-assembled.” Often followed by “It rides really well” or “Yeah, the deck does kinda look like a skateboard.”

As an aside: It seems that I have a flair for picking unusual ahead of the curve bikes. Six years ago when I got the Townie that style was really new and different around here, so I got lots of questions about that. Now with the cargo bike. For someone who’s not into cycling, it’s an interesting (micro-)trend. (I suppose I should credit C, who introduced me to both.)

And the drawbacks? It’s a pain to haul or store. We’re still working on a long-term storage solution, since now both of us have Xtracycles. (We make quite the pair riding around town, IMHO.) Dealing with the rear brakes or drivetrain can be frustrating and messy, which is probably why I let my rear brakes wear down way too much this spring. The edition of bag that I have doesn’t strap down very well so I never feel like I’ve got it quite right when I redo it after cleaning. And the big logo is fugly. (I gather that the last two are dealt with in the latest version.) There are a few issues with the front part of the bike, which aren’t really Xtracycle-specific. I still need to go get that new stem and/or handlebars!

The biggie, for me here in the Northwest, is dealing with the Xtracycle in the rain. It’s just not designed for the winter part of our climate. The bags aren’t waterproof, nor do they drain well, and the deck fades and peels. I’ve come up with a medium-term solution, something in the “good enough” category, namely draping a poncho over the deck and securing it with bungees. I’m sure it looks terribly ghetto, but damned if it doesn’t work. And since it’s bright purple, it helps with visibility. What I would *like* to do is to get the plastic version of the deck and a couple of waterproof dufflebags, but I don’t know when I’ll ever get around to it.

But all that said, I’m so glad I got my Xtracycle. I feel happy riding it, and happy looking at it.

Here’s some photos:

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