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  1. #1
    Beer-fueled
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    Xtacycle + Instigator - seeking suggestions parts-wise

    I've been thinking of building a light-loaded touring/utility bike for a while and finally bought a frame for it this weekend. I dropped into Recycled Cycles while I was down in Seattle this weekend and saw a few frames that I liked, but decided it's time to build this. I ended up with a Surly Instigator frame (including a seatpost and collar) for a song. I'm also going to attach an Xtracycle Freeradical to it. My budget isn't all-the-world big, so I'm not going for the touring equivalents of Dura-Ace or XTR, just stuff that lasts.

    Yes, there are reasons for wanting the Xtracycle. I'd like to move away from car ownership for some years, at least until I am financially stable - cars are expensive to own/operate! Having an Xtracycle would help with larger loads and ferrying people around (bike-cool friends rock). I'm actually planning my first 'tour' to be a credit-card tour with a friend on the Snapdeck in a couple months. We're going to ride down Chuckanut Drive to Skagit Valley, see the tulips and spend a night or two down there in a cabin. I'm planning on going solo-camping six or seven times this summer.

    Okay, okay, on with the build details:
    The first list is of items I have purchased or will definitely be purchasing.


    Second, parts I am looking for suggestions for and ideas I have.
    • Fork: Surly Instigator fork (rigid, disc tabs, canti posts)
    • Fenders: Full-coverage Planet Bike fenders of some sort
    • Front brake: possibly Avid BB7
    • Stem: Not sure
    • Handlebars: WTB Dirt drops or On-One Midge bars
    • Brake levers: Avid Speed Dial 7
    • Shifters: Shimano 9spd bar-cons (similar to these, but Harris Cyclery carries a 9spd version).
    • Handlebar tape: Not sure.
    • Saddle: A Brooks would be dandy but I live in the PNW and this bike needs to be year-round. Need ideas.
    • Front derailleur: No clue.
    • Chainrings: No clue besides go low.
    • Cranks: Bontrageer Selects. Triple-compatible, fits 113mm ISIS bottom brackets, can pick a pair up for $25 locally.
    • Bottom bracket: If I pick up the Bonty cranks, I'd go with a 113mm ISIS, obviously.
    • Pedals: Shimano SPDs or SPD-SLs (SLs aren't walkable, but I have shoes for them already)
    • Chain: No clue
    • Cassette: No clue besides go low
    • Rear wheel: Handbuild myself a Shimano Deore 9spd hub to another Rhyno Lite rim
    • Rear brake: Avid Single Digit 7
    • Tires: No clue. Heard good things about the Schwalbe Marathon on here.


    I know the list is missing some things, please let me know if I've made a glaringly blond mistake.

    Please feel free to chime in on any item with your advice and knowledge (opinions with supporting arguments and facts are great, too).
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    Last edited by Corcis; 02-21-08 at 07:30 PM. Reason: changed title to be less generic.

  2. #2
    Beer-fueled
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    ba-dump.

  3. #3
    Slowpoach
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    I'd suggest you ask in utility cycling where there are many people with experience with extracycles. The frame seems suitable. Uses 26" wheels dosen't it? Have a look at the stokemonkey website for some build ideas, as well as the xtracycle site.

    Can you use disc brake levers on road bars?

    Get walkable shoes if you want to do utility or touring cycling; road shoes are for sport (or racing) rides.

    For bar tape go to your favourite bike shop and have a look in their bargains bin. There will be some very good quality bar tape in very untrendy colours (yellow and red leopard print? bleah!) for a very low price.

    Won't a Brooks be fine if you dubbin it and cover it with a plastic bag if there is a real downpour? BTW the "standard" B17 is a really, really wide saddle; prob. fine if sitting fairly upright as you will be on a cargo bike with a load, but I find I either get pushed forward on the saddle, or if I tip the nose up a bit I can't really cycle in a flat position, I have to sit up a bit.

    SKS mudguards are great but I'm sure any mudguard with a decent mounting system will be fine. Forget about cheapie plastic mudguards that just clip on.

  4. #4
    Beer-fueled
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cave View Post
    I'd suggest you ask in utility cycling where there are many people with experience with extracycles. The frame seems suitable. Uses 26" wheels dosen't it? Have a look at the stokemonkey website for some build ideas, as well as the xtracycle site.

    Can you use disc brake levers on road bars?

    Get walkable shoes if you want to do utility or touring cycling; road shoes are for sport (or racing) rides.

    For bar tape go to your favourite bike shop and have a look in their bargains bin. There will be some very good quality bar tape in very untrendy colours (yellow and red leopard print? bleah!) for a very low price.

    Won't a Brooks be fine if you dubbin it and cover it with a plastic bag if there is a real downpour? BTW the "standard" B17 is a really, really wide saddle; prob. fine if sitting fairly upright as you will be on a cargo bike with a load, but I find I either get pushed forward on the saddle, or if I tip the nose up a bit I can't really cycle in a flat position, I have to sit up a bit.

    SKS mudguards are great but I'm sure any mudguard with a decent mounting system will be fine. Forget about cheapie plastic mudguards that just clip on.
    Thanks for the advice. The Instigator does tun 26" wheels.

    Disc levers can be mounted on one version of WTB's bars, but I took for granted that they might not on the Midges. Checking the On-one site shows they take road levers, so I'm assuming they're 28.6mm diameter bars or whatever is road standard.

    Actually, a Brooks would be fine, I think. I rarely get it in me to go out when it's a downpour, so I think it'd be fine to just bag it while I'm off of it. I looked at Wallingford Bikes' site, seems like the B17 Narrow is what I'd like - not too wide nor too skinny.

    Some good mudguards are definitely in the works for it, none of that clip-on business. Extra-long buddy flaps, too.

  5. #5
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    Road levers work fine on the BB7 road caliper and not on the MTB caliper, just get the right one.

    I have midge bars, and the bars look cool, but don't provide the comfort of normal drops. I don't know who thinks a Moustache bar is the way to go here. The idea of a wide drop for better control off-road is a good idea, a moustache seems relatively insane to me. I;m not anti moustache, but I just don't know that many people who prefer them for touring. From my perspective they lack some ergonomic hand positions you get on regular drops.

    B-17, I agree on the wax it and cover it idea. Afterall it is a UK saddle, it's not like it was developed in Phoenix. I don't think the B17 is that wide. Lots of people are just fine with it on bikes with drops. Keep in mind that wide and thin are relative to sitbones, not how big a given ass is. There are neat little things with narrow or wide bones. Just try delivering babies and you will know what I mean.

  6. #6
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    Moustache bars are awesome! I used a Nashbar set on an old Cannondale. They actually give you multiple hand positions. The big plus is that they absorb road buzz very effectively. You also get lots of leverage for off road control.

    But... I'm not sure I'd swap my cow-catcher 46cm drop bars for touring...

  7. #7
    Beer-fueled
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    Road levers work fine on the BB7 road caliper and not on the MTB caliper, just get the right one.

    I have midge bars, and the bars look cool, but don't provide the comfort of normal drops. I don't know who thinks a Moustache bar is the way to go here. The idea of a wide drop for better control off-road is a good idea, a moustache seems relatively insane to me. I;m not anti moustache, but I just don't know that many people who prefer them for touring. From my perspective they lack some ergonomic hand positions you get on regular drops.

    B-17, I agree on the wax it and cover it idea. Afterall it is a UK saddle, it's not like it was developed in Phoenix. I don't think the B17 is that wide. Lots of people are just fine with it on bikes with drops. Keep in mind that wide and thin are relative to sitbones, not how big a given ass is. There are neat little things with narrow or wide bones. Just try delivering babies and you will know what I mean.
    Brake levers bit - duly noted. Midge bars info - cross-referenced (utility bike forum has posts about drops + xtracycle being a no-go, but possibly okay with midges) and noted. Brooks bit - will definitely look into.

  8. #8
    Beer-fueled
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    Progress: Got my tax refund, apportioned out my bike-building monies and got a pricing list from the LBS. LBS lost first sheet, told me to e-mail them the list. I e-mailed and waited...and waited...and went in, yesterday. The owner, who I had been dealing with, pulled it up and had the parts-ordering-guy get the list done. I got the list back this morning and made a few quick decisions, handed it back and he'll have the order in on Monday.

    Still up in the air: Handlebars, headset, stem, saddle, rear wheel, and pedals.

    The updated list!

    The first list is of items I have purchased or will definitely be purchasing.


    Second, parts I am looking for suggestions for and ideas I have.



    Also need to call back to the LBS and remind them to order me a pair of brake levers and tires. Because that's what happens when you're blond like me. I might see if they can order the Schwalbe Marathons, otherwise I know they can stock Kendas and the 26"x2.00" is exactly what I want. I would love some 2.1s or 2.3s, but that's a tad overkill. Still need to pick out a rear wheel. I might end up buying a pair from the shop, but I might call around to the other LBSes to see if they have any single rear wheels to sell. Maybe a rear version of my Ditch Witch/disc hub is out there...Maybe.

  9. #9
    Newbie sounds about right
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    You may not need a 200mm rotor out back. A lot of mountain bikes use smaller rotors in the rear compared to the front. Titec H bars are another handlebar you should consider. I know tektro has a road style brake that works with a mountain disc brakes if you need one. TL520 and they are cheap. Are your shifters going to be dependant on what kind of bars you decide on?

    The new Deore 532 crankset with external bearing BB might be a good choice. That crankset you picked is very similar to this one, and I know it comes with 170mm or 175mm crankarms. There should be only one size in the bottom bracket and 3 shims for spacing. So it's not too hard for you to pick one out if you want to.

    I hope you don't plan on doing too many large jumps with that frame after you turn it into a longtail. I threw out some more ideas for you, but I don't think I actually helped you narrow anything down.

  10. #10
    Beer-fueled
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    I did read the Xtra only fits a 203mm rotor in the rear, but I can't seem to find it on their website. Their 404 page's links lead me to more...404s! Woohoo!

    No way I will be planning on jumps with this, mainly bought the Instigator frame because it was available and definitely capable of handling an Xtracycle's added stresses. I'd really love to build the Instigator as a hardtail, but the Xtra is my current idea.

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