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  1. #1
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    Xtracycle touring

    Hi guys,

    Sort of asked this question at the end of another thread, but thought it may be an interesting thread of its own.

    Have any of you toured with an xtracycle, for extended periods on corrugated / rough dirt roads? How did it perform?

    Simon Batten seemed to do well in the Victorian Alps, as seen here

    ...and it certainly seems to be able to carry some pretty big loads

    Just wondering if anyone else out there has toured with it, and, if so, would you tour that way again? Planning a 600 mile trip with about 100 pounds of gear / water, and wondering what sort of option the xtracycle is for such a tour.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  2. #2
    Senior Member pmseattle's Avatar
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    I have an Xtracycle which I use for day to day errands and hauling, although I have never used it for touring. It is very useful for things like grocery shopping, but would not be my first choice for touring. The panniers are fine for grocery bags, but would be awkward for carrying touring loads. They are just large envelopes, completely open to the weather, and without the numerous zippered compartments that touring panniers have. It's surprisingly hard to keep water out of the frame if you are exposed to rain, and since the frame is steel this can be a problem. If you are going to be riding on trails or unpaved, rough roads, especially with heavy loads, you should pay very careful attention to how well your particular bicycle frame is suited for use with the Xtracycle, especially the attachment at the chainstay bridge. The chain is very long and tends to beat up the frame, which it will be even more prone to do if you ride on unpaved surfaces. The Xtracycle frame tends to be quite flexy and actually acts pretty effectively as a rear suspension, but it also flexes noticeably when you pedal with moderate to high force which could be a drawback especially if you face a long climb.

    If it sounds like I am dissing the Xtracycle, that is not my intention. I don't drive, and my Xtracycle is a godsend. It would be difficult to find a more cost-effective solution for carrying moderately heavy loads short distances in the city.

  3. #3
    Senior Member pmseattle's Avatar
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    After expressing my reservations about Xtracycle touring ( above ), I found this:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...66#post2180766


    Scroll down about 1/3 of the page for a post about Xtracycle touring in the Australian Alps
    Last edited by pmseattle; 02-21-06 at 12:32 PM. Reason: left something out

  4. #4
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmseattle
    I have an Xtracycle which I use for day to day errands and hauling, although I have never used it for touring. It is very useful for things like grocery shopping, but would not be my first choice for touring. The panniers are fine for grocery bags, but would be awkward for carrying touring loads. They are just large envelopes, completely open to the weather, and without the numerous zippered compartments that touring panniers have. It's surprisingly hard to keep water out of the frame if you are exposed to rain, and since the frame is steel this can be a problem. If you are going to be riding on trails or unpaved, rough roads, especially with heavy loads, you should pay very careful attention to how well your particular bicycle frame is suited for use with the Xtracycle, especially the attachment at the chainstay bridge. The chain is very long and tends to beat up the frame, which it will be even more prone to do if you ride on unpaved surfaces. The Xtracycle frame tends to be quite flexy and actually acts pretty effectively as a rear suspension, but it also flexes noticeably when you pedal with moderate to high force which could be a drawback especially if you face a long climb.

    If it sounds like I am dissing the Xtracycle, that is not my intention. I don't drive, and my Xtracycle is a godsend. It would be difficult to find a more cost-effective solution for carrying moderately heavy loads short distances in the city.

    I don't think anyone would suggest just putting your stuff into the Freeloaders sans waterproof bags, etc. The Xtracycle is designed to be versatile, which includes using a system of smaller waterproofed bags inside the Freeloaders for touring. I can't count this as a negative; it's just proper use. If there were integrated zippers and bags, it would reduce the versatility. I'd have to disagree with the comment about groceries versus touring loads. I have carried groceries, hardware store supplies, soil, potted plants and ferns, etc., and sometimes that could be awkward. Packing for touring would be easier, IMO. Of course, you can just put most of your stuff into duffle bags and then into garbage bags and go really cheaply, or have special bags. i think you should still use a handlebar bag, maybe even your front bags, still. It might sound funny, but I like the idea of carrying some of that weight still in the front.

    The frame is made of steel; this is not a problem. I have not protected mine with anything special, but that could easily be done if you were concerned. But rust isn't really a issue at all. You would have to ride that sucker everday in the rain on salty roads to see a discernible effect within a reasonable span of time. The greater concern I would have is with the mud, etc. that accumulates on your drivetrain while riding in the rain. It's a bit harder to get at everything there with the frame and all the bags attached. Not a dealbreaker, just a little more work.

    The frame can feel flexy. I agree with Pmseattle, the bike you use will make a difference. I know you will use your Mongoose bike, which is probably perfect for it and a very rigid frame. I think you should call the company and make sure you talk to one of the designers. They are a small company. Tell them your concerns, and you will learn a great deal from them. I don't think they will try to fool you or pull a fast one on you. They ride their xtracycle bikes primarily off-road, BTW.

    The chain issue can be resolved many ways. The Xtracycle folks gave me the Avid Thingamajig for chain tension. I was far more frustrated with setting up my shifting with a greater chain length on a 8 or 9 speed cassette with indexed shifters. I swapped them for friction thumbshifters so I could finetune the chainline with ease.

    Props to Pmseattle for defeating the car. This invention sure helps out.

  5. #5
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    I did the tour in the Australian Alps you linked to in the first thread, Uncle Dave, so this isn't really a new source of info. Thanks for linking to it. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

    The tour wasn't as long as that which you are proposing, but it was through some really tough country. The xtracycle handled really well throughout it all, and was a pleasure to ride.

    If you use waterproof stuff sacks as for kayaking, the fact the 'panniers' are open doesn't present problems. Most people recommend that these are used inside waterproof panniers as well, so I don't see that as a drawback. It is easy to be well organised if you have multiple of these bags. The snap deck on the top is also useful for tying down anything you could think of. As long as things are packed well, you shouldn't have anything fall out.

    The length of the wheelbase would make it good for corrugated roads. You get a really nice smooth ride. Dust getting in to the frame can be overcome by sealing the joins with the fingers of latex gloves or sections of a 700c innertube.

    It is a valid point about chain tension- I used a tensioner and this worked well. There are a few ideas on the xtracycle support forum about other options to increase the tension.

    I also use the xtra for around town, and it really is incredibly versatile. It will carry big loads and will handle well.

    There is a small amount of wear on the chainbridge stay where the frame joins with the xtra. I don't really know what sort of long term problems could be created by this. At the moment it appears to be limited to scraping of paint off the frame.

    I would say go for it. I own both a bob-trailer (my mate used that on our Snowy Trip) and the xtra. I find the xtra is more versatile, has a better carrying capacity/setup and has a smoother ride.

  6. #6
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    Hi guys,

    Just thought I'd get back to you and say that I did have the xtracycle installed on my Mongoose and did a short week-long tour in the Blue Mountains last week. Although 90% of the tour was on paved roads, it was still great to get my first tour done on it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it handles over the Tanami Track come July.

    A report and a couple pics are here for anyone who's interested:

    http://www.davidcriniti.blogspot.com

    Cheers,

    Dave

  7. #7
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    I think there's a guy who rode across the US with an Xtracycle (and his dog). I think he has a journal on crazyguyonabike.com.

  8. #8
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    Can a normal freeloader hold a 70 liter backpack?

  9. #9
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Uncle Dave: Looks like a good trip. Haveyou checked out http://www.wildworks.co.nz/csr/route.php looks like even with his massive tyre he had the same problem as you. Side question I know but how did your charging system work for your gadgets? Did it out put 12v and then you pluged in seperate chargers in to each one?

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    Yeah, that guy is insane...in a good way! I'm actually looking into the possibility of getting a Surly Pugsley / xtracycle combination going with those massive tyres, for my next ride.

    I'm not sure what you mean re the charging system and my gadgets? Everything electronic (lights and camera) was battery powered and I just had a couple spare batteries. Only took the wall-charger for my mobile (which had no reception out there, and I just used as my alarm), and charged it before and after the trip when I had access to electricity.

  11. #11
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Sorry Uncle Dave compleatly confused you with the guy who did the CSR on the Pugsley. It was the last thing I read was stuck in my head. He had a solar pannel to charge his GPS sytem and cmmara.
    Your new route looks like a good adventure, it seems like there are a lot of areas in which you are not allowed to camp due to Aboriginal site and other reasons. Do you manage to avoid camping in those area or do you some times find yourself in the middle of one when it is time to setup camp? You are lucky to live in a place where such adventures are possible.
    Last edited by TheBrick; 10-23-06 at 05:12 AM.

  12. #12
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    I believe there are 4 permits required for the new route to camp on Aboriginal land, but I've yet to inquire about getting them.

    On the Tanami, I didn't need to, despite it passing through Aboriginal land, as the road was considered a corridor - You were permitted to camp within 50m of the centreline of the road.

    Funnily enough, I was woken by an Aboriginal one morning on my Tanami trip (from my diary):

    Saturday 8 July kicked off in a most eerie and unexpected fashion, which is best described verbatim from my diary:

    “Another nice camp last night until just before dawn when I heard some faint yells. I tried to tell myself I was dreaming, but no.
    Alone in the dark, in the bush, this was quite intimidating, & it seemed to be coming my way. Looking at my watch, I realised my alarm was about to go off, & not wanting to draw attention to myself, I held my finger near the button, ready to turn it off as soon as it did.
    I started getting dressed in the dark, not daring to put on my head torch, & still I heard the talking in some Aboriginal language.
    Pretty soon I heard footsteps too, & I froze as they seemed to near, then pass me. I peered through the trees at the road, which was not more than 10m away, but it was dark & I could not see anything. The footsteps and words went slowly into the distance, but I wanted to get out on the road as soon as possible, where I knew I’d feel safer.

    I did, and now that I was on my bike & in my element, & convinced this was not someone trying to hurt me (and of course fuelled by curiosity), I wanted to see who was making these sounds.


    Well it was still dark as I started riding & it wasn’t a couple minutes later that I came upon a figure standing still, robed in black, in the middle of the road. It was a very eerie feeling as I probed “are you alright?”

    In the dark, though I was very close (almost within striking distance if he so chose) I couldn’t make out whether he was facing me or not, and I was very surprised by his response: “is somebody there?”.
    “Yes”, I replied. “Are you alright?”
    “Help me” were his next words if I recall correctly. I’m unsure, as it was an eerie experience, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, where the last thing I expected was to see a man walking up the road, covered with what I could no make out to be a blanket for warmth.
    I gave him water and the use of my lighter to light his cigarette. He walked around my bike as I got these for him, touching parts that seemed of interest to him, but all the while talking to himself in a language seemingly made up of the y, a, m, b and perhaps occasional ‘l’ sounds. At points he would stare into the scrub, as if looking at someone, and talk with a loud, animated voice. With dawn yet to break, and not knowing if he was calling out to someone, or what he was saying, part of me was still scared, but I came to feel I was not in harms way.

    Upon lighting his cigarette & taking a final swig of water, he walked a few steps towards the southern side of the road where he continued his monologue.

    I’d offered him the bottle, but he didn’t seem interested, but thinking of how isolated we were, I ran over and gave him a muesli bar. I’m sure those who know my undying passion for ultra=running will not be surprised to hear the comically idiotic question that came from my mouth at this point:
    “How far do you cover in a day mate?”
    He stopped his monologue for a moment to offer a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and his response: “Not much. I’m just thinking, ya know”…
    At which he recommenced his monologue and I headed on my way and left him to his thoughts.

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