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  1. #1
    when come back, bring pie
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    I'm looking at some bikes which I like, knowing that in a few weeks I'll (finally) get to bring one home. I still like the Specialized HardRock, but that's way too much for what I do. The Trek 7300 (or possibly T80) is more like what I'll need for transportation.

    However, the Trek bikes both have 700Cx35mm tires. This concerns me slightly, as I'm a bigger guy with some weight to lose and I'm afraid I'm going to mess something up due to my weight. Would it be a better idea to swap those out for 38mms or just stick with 26"?

    How do 700C's handle in the winter? I'm going to be car-free year-round, with little public transportation available. I can get rides when needed and I can schedule a ride on our paratransit "busses" 24 hours in advance, but I'd rather not. Most of the time it's pretty clear, and we only rarely get snow -- and then it's not more than a few inches deep. Most of the time it's just ice patches, which I'll be buying studded tires for.

    I'm finding contradictory reports regarding the Xtracycle in winter; some things say it's impossible, some say it's better than a "regular" bike, and still come say it's only better than a "regular" bike with some load. Normally I won't be carrying a heavy load, so how much ballast will I need to keep things stable? I'm also a little concerned with some hills we have around here... they're not steep for the most part, just kind of long. There's one I have to go up no matter which way I leave my apartment to get to either the store or the university.

    So many choices, so many things I want, so many questions... *sigh*

    EDIT: Another possibility I'm looking at is getting the 7300 or T80 and panniers in the next few weeks, and a low-end/used hardtail and rack for winter riding. That would probably be the best of both worlds, but it might mean no Xtracycle because I couldn't afford both it and quality panniers. Also, I wouldn't be able to get the hardtail until January, meaning I'll be using the hybrid for November, December, and likely half of January unless I can get an awesome deal at the university's surplus auction.
    Last edited by fallstorm; 07-23-05 at 06:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member geeklpc1985's Avatar
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    I would not go for the Xtracycles inless your rich and going to buy a $2000 bike. I am car-free year-round I have a 2004 Marin Novato w/ 2004 Burley Nomad. I use studs in the winter time, I now use painners, mostly. If you don't have a lot of money, get a descent bike and slowly upgrade. If you don't have the money to buy it bulid it. I have been slowly building a utitaly cycle. My Homepage Here is my site, I am slowly adding pics.

    Good luck,
    GEEK
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    2004 Martin Novato: 10613 miles, Ride in Peace (DOD: 12/05/06)
    Max Speed: 40 mph

  3. #3
    File Not Found Pampusik's Avatar
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    The 700x35mm tires are actually fairly fat. As long as you keep them inflated and away from things like pot holes, you shouldn't be able to mess them up. In my experience, I've had more problems with pinch flats with a 26" setup.

  4. #4
    Year-round cyclist
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    I'm not a heavyweight, but ride often with a fully loaded bike and a daughter on a Piccolo trailercycle, so my rear wheel has often endured quite a load. I rode my touring bike with 700x32 tires a lot, but preferred 700x37 on the rear wheel for loaded self-contained touring with my daughter in tow. Tire size is as much related to road condition than it is to the weight carried, and I'm aware that some heavy riders ride their tandems with 700x23 or 25... except they ride on smooth Georgia roads, not on pothole-infested Montréal streets and highways.

    So should you have the tires swapped? I think it depends mostly on how good your roads are. You will increase your comfort, but at the expanse of (a little) speed. If you weigh more than 250 lb, the most important factor to check is wheel built. A good store should even out spoke tension, and if they offer you a "free tune-up after 30 days", ride heavily in the first month and notice if your wheels are out of true.

    Winter ? I commute year round in Montréal; usually with knobbies rather than studded tires, because I deal with snow, slush and dry pavement, not bare ice. I use the studded tires only when we have a long period under -20 to -25 C, when de-icing salts don't work (and then, they don't sand either). Knobbies are available in 700x37 and (sometimes) in 700x32. For studded tires, the only one really worth consideration is the Nokian Hakkapelliita (see http://peterwhitecycles.com), available in 700x37 and 700x45. For on-street riding, you don't need anything wider. It's for people who ride on packed trails that 2" wide tires are useful.

    As for winter riding, make sure your bike can handle fenders with the above tires.
    Fenders with a mudflap on the front fender (see here are not only great to keep your feet dry, but they also help a lot to keep your drivetrain clear of road grime, which is a worst problem in Winter than in Summer.

    Xtracycle in Winter?
    I don't have one and I'm not fond of the concept, except maybe for short distances. But I ride a touring bike and a tandem which have fairly similar behaviours (which means they don't have the same front-end geometry), and I ride the tandem either with my 9-year-old dauther or by myself, so I am used to little weight on the rear wheel.
    And that's indeed where lies the problem. The Xtracycle puts your rear wheel back by 40 cm (much less than on a tandem, where it is back by some 75 cm), so instead of having a 40/60 weight split (front/rear), the Xtracycle has a 60/40 weight split (front-rear). So if you ride on ice – especially without a rear studded tire – , climb hills with a very smooth rythm or your rear tire will skid. And don't brake too hard... for the same reason.

    Another option if you don't plan to carry large loads often.
    Why not bicycle and panniers? Then check garage sales or university sales for a used children trailer. That way, you keep your bike lightweight and nimble most of the time, and add a trailer when you really need it.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  5. #5
    killer goldfish svwagner's Avatar
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    i recently went through this whole decision myself -- and i ended up with the 26" xtracycle mated to a cannondale 50/50.

    initially, i thought that i would buy the 700c version, but the 700c freeradical just doesn't have enough tire clearance for big tires and fenders. sure, you can run 38s or something like that, but that's nothing compared to the plush shock-absorbing quality of a good 2-2.5" 26" tire.

    perhaps if you're a lightweight (and i'm not) and you don't plan on carrying anything heavy (and then i'd have to wonder why you'd bother with the xtracycle anyway), you could get away with a 700x38/40.

    but i'm not a lightweight. and i use my xtracycle as a truck. i carry anything from my normal commuting load of clothes, a few books, and a laptop to full on grocery trips, other bikes, building supplies, etc.

    today i hauled home 30lbs of vegetables on one side and about 50 lbs of books on the other. i was mighty glad, for my own comfort as well as for the sake of durability, that i'm running the 2.35" 26" balloon tires.

    i haven't ridden it in the winter yet, but i foresee no problems. if anything, the longer wheelbase will add stability -- at least when it's not loaded with 100lbs of stuff. still, i'll probably mount a studded tire for the worse of the winter glob (as i have done for the last several years).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by svwagner
    i recently went through this whole decision myself -- and i ended up with the 26" xtracycle mated to a cannondale 50/50.

    initially, i thought that i would buy the 700c version, but the 700c freeradical just doesn't have enough tire clearance for big tires and fenders. sure, you can run 38s or something like that, but that's nothing compared to the plush shock-absorbing quality of a good 2-2.5" 26" tire.

    perhaps if you're a lightweight (and i'm not) and you don't plan on carrying anything heavy (and then i'd have to wonder why you'd bother with the xtracycle anyway), you could get away with a 700x38/40.

    but i'm not a lightweight. and i use my xtracycle as a truck. i carry anything from my normal commuting load of clothes, a few books, and a laptop to full on grocery trips, other bikes, building supplies, etc.

    today i hauled home 30lbs of vegetables on one side and about 50 lbs of books on the other. i was mighty glad, for my own comfort as well as for the sake of durability, that i'm running the 2.35" 26" balloon tires.

    i haven't ridden it in the winter yet, but i foresee no problems. if anything, the longer wheelbase will add stability -- at least when it's not loaded with 100lbs of stuff. still, i'll probably mount a studded tire for the worse of the winter glob (as i have done for the last several years).
    I really want one of those and can think of twice this year it would have saved me from having to rent a car. OH WELL..

  7. #7
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Hey..I paired my xtracycle with a used Haro mtb. My used bike set me back $150.
    I'd go with 26' bike rather than 700, but I ride a smaller bike. If you ride a larger bike 700 should be cool. Xtracycle handle well in the snow..longer wheel base keeps things stable.
    Higher ground for the apocalypse!

  8. #8
    when come back, bring pie
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    Thanks everyone for your responses! I had to go to the LBS for a repair yesterday and asked them what they thought, and they said a hybrid would be a very bad idea for me. They said that hybrids come with weaker wheels and frames and I just might have a problem. They're still pushing me towards the Specialized HardRock or Kona Smoke... but then again, they're not a Trek dealer and can't get either of the bikes I mentioned. I guess I don't even know what bike I want yet!

    I don't haul large loads often... I'm a single guy with no dependents. I'm used to going to the store at least twice a week for food, so I know panniers would work for me most of the time. I was considering building a bike trailer for the few, rare times I do need to carry larger loads. I wanted the Xtracycle because it's just so cool... it's got that awesomeness factor. However, I am still extremely concerned about the winter issue. The Xtracycle isn't exactly something I can easily undo either physically or financially, so I think I'm going to get a set of Novara Explorer or Keystone panniers and just use those. And if I do need to haul a large load, I'll have my trailer for that.

  9. #9
    killer goldfish svwagner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallstorm
    I don't haul large loads often... I'm a single guy with no dependents. I'm used to going to the store at least twice a week for food, so I know panniers would work for me most of the time. I was considering building a bike trailer for the few, rare times I do need to carry larger loads. I wanted the Xtracycle because it's just so cool... it's got that awesomeness factor.
    a couple of things to consider, in favor of the xtracycle.

    1. if you don't want to remain single, the xtracycle is a great way to meet people. the first day i had it on the road, i was approached by at least a half-dozen people (in less than 3 hours). every time that i take it out, i end up talking to at least one person and usually several. and i'm not the ebullient, garrulous type.

    2. also, if you aren't interested in remaining single, you can give them rides (but get the footsies so that they have someplace to put their feet. i went to a friend's cookout last weekend and ended up spending most of the evening giving rides to people. i'd give a couple rides, have a beer, and repeat. i must have carried about 12-15 people. and most of them seemed to be women. luckily, my wife doesn't mind (as long as she's the one that gets the ride home).

    3. if by winter, you're talking snow and ice, you'll be able to carry larger loads more effectively with the xtracycle than with a trailer. i've spent the last several years towing one trailer or another around in the winter, and it was bad enough to make me consider driving. a trailer and 10 inches of slushy half-plowed snow in the road do not get on well. if anything, the xtracycle with a load will actually be better in this sort of thing than a regular bicycle because of the long wheelbase and the load over the rear wheel.

  10. #10
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    You should also look for an older motorcycle seat, the double dip kind for sport bikes. Clamp it onto the snapdeck and you can give a pair of ladies rides round town... and be my hero.

  11. #11
    killer goldfish svwagner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    ... you can give a pair of ladies rides round town... and be my hero.
    can i be your hero?

    i carry a pair of ladies pretty frequently...though they are my nieces, aged 7 and 9.

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