Utility Cycling - Make a cargo bike from a tandem?
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09-24-07, 09:10 AM
Hello all, this is my first post on this forum. I admire the folks on this one very much.
Thought I'd bring this subject here.
Anyone ever done, seen, heard converting a tandem bicycle into a cargo hauler?
I mean removing the rear seat and stoker bars - maybe cranks - and then mounting baskets and/or racks.
I have seen tandem bicycles listed on Craigslist for less than $200. I figure people buy them, rarely ride them and then sell them.
09-24-07, 12:53 PM
I think what you are refering to is called an xtracycle:
It's an extension that bolts to the rear triangle of a bicycle.
I have seen home-made wersions of this. Back in the 1960's, Ho Chi Minh had a fleet of them, and he and his troops used them to carry motars and explosives to shell American troops every night during the conflict in Viet Nam.
Here, the extracycle kit is available for $399.00
I guess if you could get a tandem for two hundred, it would cost less. The problem with the tandem is it will still have the rear triangle and seat tube. The xtra cycle would have a lower center of gravity.
I have an xtracycle and a tandem trike, and I think yours is a great idea. I hope you live on flat land or somewhere where all paths are down hill, because once you get your 50 lb tandem loaded with the 10 wire baskets you'll probably be able to fit on it, and load each basket with a bag of groceries, you'll have a challenging ride.
Uh, if all paths are downhill you better upgrade the breaks.
09-24-07, 06:48 PM
I've actually considered this too, but as Redrom said the tandem rig you'd end up with would be really heavy. Also, if you wanted to haul serious loads there'd likely be a decent amount of fabrication and welding involved, which of course is no problem if you have access to tools and a lot of free time. Then again, a tandem conversion would be cheaper and, if done right, would probably be sturdier than an xtracycle kit.
You might try posting this in the utility cycling forum, I'm sure some people there have seen or tried this.
09-24-07, 08:39 PM
I agree, good post for the utility forum. However this is an interesting idea, it could be much cheaper than an xtracycle or bike trailer combo. IT would also be heavier but might be a bit stronger. I definetly think it is worth taking a shot at.
note to self, look for tandems at garage sales
09-24-07, 10:38 PM
Yup . . . saw a tandem with solo rider that had removed stoker bars/seat and installed a solar panel that converted sunlight to power to a small motor to rear wheel!
P.S.: don't remove rear cranks as you'll need front chainring to transfer power to rear chainring hence to cog in rear.
09-25-07, 09:36 PM
There are some pretty cheap tandems and some single-speed tandems around, I think- don't just assume that $200 gets you top quality.
09-26-07, 03:43 AM
Believe me, if you live anywhere with any grades at all, you do not want a single speed tandem. I have a 3 speed, and it's fine riding it on my own, or on relatively flat ground with a stoker, but I loaded it up for cycle camping, and my ten year old son and I rode 15 miles of rolling terrain and nearly died.
09-26-07, 11:25 AM
Let me rephrase my post: Beware, the $200 used tandems might be single speed or cheapo bikes to begin with.
09-26-07, 06:03 PM
Buying a single speed wouldn't be all that bad.You can always convert it to a 3speed easy enough.As for a "cheapo" tandem.I don't think they made any.Even the dep't store tandems are good sturdy bikes.They weigh quite a bit but they're still well made.Just remember to look for cracks in any of the tubes.Bikes DO get abused.Here's a picture of my 1971 CCM tandem.It was a single speed and I put a 71 Sturmey Archer AW hub.The stoker has control of the gears and rear brake.Can't find cables long enoughto reach the front.I ride it solo now and then and it moves along pretty good with the 3speed hub.Loaded up with groceries would be a good work out but I think it's doable.I had a 300+ lb stoker on it once and it didn't bend(flexed a bit though).
Worksman has tandems (21 speed) on closeout now for $400.00
09-27-07, 05:46 AM
Here's mine. It's a very servicable bike, but it has it's limitations. I got it for about $160, give or take, and it has steel rims, so doesn't brake too well, and a Pletscher rack, which I need to get rid off (slopping into the spokes is killing my panniers). It's also pretty flexy. All that said, I don't regret buying it for a moment, and have had a lot of fun on it.
09-27-07, 06:24 PM
This would be a good application for an electric hub motor on the front wheel. I use a 24 tooth sprocket on my Sachs two speed hub on my electric assisted tricycle and the good news is that the same sproket will fit a Sturmey Archer hub as well. I gear low so that 1st gear will start anything moving and then the electric hub can take the load. On my trike high gear is just right for helping the hub along as needed.
Instead of cutting it to pieces, have you thought about making a box hat would fix over the back seat and on the sides?
09-28-07, 01:12 AM
My wife and I just got back from Interbike. 760 mile drive to Vegas, one day on the convention floor, 760 mile drive home. Good times.
Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. Our shop is actually set up as an Xtracyle dealer, although for now I have just purchased one for myself and display my bike at the shop for promotional purposes. We live in a tiny mountain town in Idaho, so we have to be very careful about what we try to sell.
I am very excited about advancing cargo solutions for cycling. I don't have much money, but I am mechanically inclined and a free thinker. I imagined using an angle grinder to saw off the drive-side crank arm (barbaric, I know). That would clear the way to mount storage devices low on the frame and avoid tippy-ness. I believe with some careful creativity baskets, crates, racks could be fastened handily on most tandem frames.
But as Redrom pointed out the weight consequence is unavoidable. So a $200 used tandem and some milk crates would bring the fantasy to life, but with leg torturing success. Much could be loaded onto it, propelling it anywhere would be challenging.
So unless you are very strong, or employ motor-assistance, travel would be slow and tiring. But it would be faster than walking, and hauling more than you could without the bike. I'm not talking about converting tandems for solo mega-touring. I'm not talking about 20 mile round trip commutes. I'm talking about riding to the grocery store a few miles away. Nothing too ambitious. Just experimenting.
Maybe someday I'll luck my way into a super cheap or free tandem, and then the experiment will come to life. And I will post photos, success or failure.
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