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  1. #1
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    Anyone do an extended tour on a cargo style bike?

    I'm planning on doing my first serious bike tour next spring and was looking at bikes to get. I can't really decide if I want to convert my custom cyclocross bike into a tourer (no rack and fender mounts but it is steel so I could go back to the builder who made it and have him add them on. This bike is the most comfortable bike I've ever been on and it would be a joy to tour on) or buy a dedicated tourer, or a cargo bike, or to take my 29er(suspension fork locks out and I could bring a change in tires and ride trails along the way). The one option that I'm leaning towards is the cargo bike. I think that the handling of the cargo bike under load would be alot more stable than my other choices. Not to mention the large capacity. I have no experience touring, however, and no experience riding a cargo bike. If anyone has any food for thought on what my best option would be I would very much appreciate the advice. thanks

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    I have no experience with it, check out "riding the spine" blog. These guys rode from Canada down to Chile with xtracycles and a big dummy, I believe. Vik, a bf member has some experience with taking the big dummy on tour.
    "harder" is not a very good safeword.

  3. #3
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    What kind of tour are you considering? Assuming it is road touring in a developed nation, I'd say stick with your cyclocross bike and pack lightly. You probably don't need a huge capacity. Thirty or so pounds of stuff in four smallish panniers is enough for even extended 3 season touring. Better to keep the load light and the ride pleasant IMO.

    Then again some folks like to carry a lot of stuff. If that is you then disregard this post.

  4. #4
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    I havent seen posts by him in a while, but that guy with the Asana Cycles website tours a lot on a Surly Big Dummy. It may move slow but he seems to camp in style.

  5. #5
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    Borrow or rent a trailer (e.g. B.O.B.)...no mods required for your CX. And as cool as Big Dummys are, cargo bikes are overkill for touring unless you're hauling half of someone else's gear...or you just can't say no to that espresso maker. Vik was hauling half of his SO's (?) gear.

  6. #6
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    So far I haven't had the time off work to do more than a 1 week tour on my Big Dummy...but it was enough to tell me that I made the right decision using it for that purpose rather than my old touring bike (now relegated to commuting). It's definitely not "overkill"...rather it makes packing and unpacking much less of a chore, which is a biggie for a naturally lazy and unorganized SOB like me.

    Granted, I could be just as lazy with a trailer, but the ride feels so much nicer with only two wheels instead of 3 or 4.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    Borrow or rent a trailer (e.g. B.O.B.)...no mods required for your CX. And as cool as Big Dummys are, cargo bikes are overkill for touring unless you're hauling half of someone else's gear...or you just can't say no to that espresso maker. Vik was hauling half of his SO's (?) gear.
    thank you for the feedback. It is definately appreciated but having done one trip with a bob with negative results and considering that this will be a one way tour with a train/plane trip back, I've ruled out the trailer. I want something that I can easily haul back across the us in one parcel. Please, guys keep the post coming. The more info I have the better

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    Quote Originally Posted by danthebiker View Post
    ...This bike is the most comfortable bike I've ever been on and it would be a joy to tour on

    ...I think that the handling of the cargo bike under load would be alot more stable than my other choices. Not to mention the large capacity.
    i'd go with comfort above all. any bike you can ride for hours every day is a fine choice. depending where you go, hardtail niner or cross bike might give you some more offroad options. cargo bikes are just freaking awesome for doing stuff around town and not having to drive, and i don't think anyone could do wrong to have one of these.

    i have toured with front+rear bags, rear only, bob yak trailer (a lot), and xtracycle free radical (just a little, but i like what i have done so far). i like them all, and i don't think there is a clear winner. it mostly depends where you are going and what you wanna do, and to some extent, whether you want to use planes, trains, and automobiles.

    on handling, i find that handling and stability is mostly a function of how your load is distributed and how well it is fastened to your bike. if you get close to a 50/50 right/left distribution, with the load mass being as low as possible and between your axles, you will mostly just be riding a heavy bike. with a unevenly distributed bob, sometimes the tail wags the dog, especially when bombing downhill. it can be a bit scary.

    to hijack the thread a bit, i wonder how many of you who tour on xtracycles/big dummies/etc use or bring your wideloaders? i have seen a few setups where people pack a bob bag or other waterproof duffel and fasten it on a wideloader. what are peoples' thoughts on this? i brought my wideloaders on a short trip a couple weeks ago, but i didn't use them and was a bit conscious of my slightly wider road footprint on narrow shoulders and such.

  9. #9
    One legged rider
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    The thing about cargo bikes, as cool as they are, is something of a versatility thing. You can haul nearly anything...not just touring, but firewood, furniture, groceries, etc, and they are designed for it.
    I don't have one, and don't have a desire to get one, but most everyone I know that does loves them and is always finding a use for it.

  10. #10
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Lots of folks incl me have toured with cargo bikes. They obviously have the ability to carry your touring load with ease. They do tend to be a bit heavier [although not nec terribly heavier than a touring bike w/ racks] and not all of them are designed to climb well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikappr...th/2697155039/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikappr...7606024805655/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikappr...7605156694532/



    If you are starting from scratch and trying to decide one whether to get a cargo bike to tour on vs. a touring bike I'd say the following should guide you:

    1. do want/need a cargo bike for my day to day life? - if yes get the cargo bike and tour on it, if no don't bother

    2. am I touring with an unusual load? - if you need to haul a tuba on tour go for the cargo bike

    3. can the cargo bike I'm looking at climb okay and cover 100kms/per day - if no stick with a touring bike

    The great thing about a versatile cargo bike like the Surly Big Dummy is you can commute on it, tour on it, pick up a month's worth of groceries, haul a small freezer on it, mtn bike on it with a swap of tires and plugging in an accessory or two. It rides and climbs well and is very stable under load.

    If the Riding the Spine crew were okay on cargo bikes then they will likely handle anything you can throw at them on less demanding tour without any problem.

    If you aren't very familiar with the Surly Big Dummy here is my review.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by danthebiker View Post
    If anyone has any food for thought on what my best option would be I would very much appreciate the advice. thanks
    1. if you're going to spend most of your time riding I'd suggest putting together the lightest total package that provides necessary comfort when not riding.
    2. if you're going to spend most of your time at camp it would be worthwhile to have a bike that can carry stuff you'd like while not riding.

    So figure out how much you want/need to carry and see if the bike fits that need. I don't see the need for a cargo bike if you're carrying 20-30lbs. while packing 50lbs on your cyclocross bike is likely to exceed it's capabilities. All this leaves out your weight, it makes a difference if you're 150lbs or 225lbs whether your wheels/frame are up to heavy loads.

    If you're 225lbs and thinking of carrying 50lbs I'd be more inclined to look at a bike like a Surly LHT with 26" wheels than a cargo bike or taking your cyclocross bike to heavy loads.
    Last edited by LeeG; 08-31-10 at 07:44 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    1. if you're going to spend most of your time riding I'd suggest putting together the lightest total package that provides necessary comfort when not riding.
    2. if you're going to spend most of your time at camp it would be worthwhile to have a bike that can carry stuff you'd like while not riding.

    So figure out how much you want/need to carry and see if the bike fits that need. I don't see the need for a cargo bike if you're carrying 20-30lbs. while packing 50lbs on your cyclocross bike is likely to exceed it's capabilities. All this leaves out your weight, it makes a difference if you're 150lbs or 225lbs whether your wheels/frame are up to heavy loads.

    If you're 225lbs and thinking of carrying 50lbs I'd be more inclined to look at a bike like a Surly LHT with 26" wheels than a cargo bike or taking your cyclocross bike to heavy loads.
    I will more than likely cary a bit over 50lbs. I am ok with a little extra wieght, I'm an experienced and very fit cyclist. I'm also a pack rat. I want to take fly fishing equipment as well as camera equipment and of course camping gear. The cargo bike that I was looking at was the Kona Ute. From the reviews that I have read, this bike may be a bit underbuilt? Does anybody have any experience with this particular bike? I have sturdier wheels and drivetrain that will get swapped out on it so I'm hoping that this would be an ok option.

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    the Ute has more than sturdy enough wheels/frame and people have toured with it. My $.02 after owning one for a couple years is that it has weird handling, it's top tube length is short if you're tall. I haven't toured with it but carried lots of groceries on it. Does fishing gear and camera equip weight 20lbs? I would rather pedal my 26" wheeled LHT with 50lbs than a Ute.

  14. #14
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danthebiker View Post
    I will more than likely cary a bit over 50lbs. I am ok with a little extra wieght, I'm an experienced and very fit cyclist. I'm also a pack rat. I want to take fly fishing equipment as well as camera equipment and of course camping gear. The cargo bike that I was looking at was the Kona Ute. From the reviews that I have read, this bike may be a bit underbuilt? Does anybody have any experience with this particular bike? I have sturdier wheels and drivetrain that will get swapped out on it so I'm hoping that this would be an ok option.
    As LeeG points out above some folks have issues with the Kona Ute's handling. I haven't owned one so I can't comment either way other than to suggest a long test ride with the sort of weight you plan to tour with. I haven't checked the spec of the Ute out recently, but unless you go totally nuts with the kitchen sink packing any cargo bike should be fine out of the box to carry the weight you need on tour. I wouldn't expect wheel upgrades are needed and it's not under built for touring.

    I sat on one at my LBS and remember thinking it looked pretty good for the $$, but with a Big Dummy in the garage I didn't take the speculation any further.
    safe riding - Vik
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    I've got a Kona Ute, which is a great bike (though heavy).

    http://reallyusefulbikes.wordpress.c...as-in-utility/

    Due to its gearing, though, it handles moderate hill and even shorter steepish hills about as well as my mountain bike. It's even okay with school bags and a couple of kids on the back.
    If I were camping and touring in my own country, or could us a ferry to cross to the continent, I'd certainly consider it. The room at the back is excellent for storing things. The only downside is that the tubing on the rack is bigger than most panniers, so you'd have to use the Kona bags. The older ones are not that good, as there are only two, and they are like buckets - no tops. I suppose if you got another couple, you could always just put your panniers in them. Or if you were of a mind, you could make normal panniers fit by putting some new hooks on them.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    It sounds like you have lots of options. Often the first choice is whether to spend money on a new bike or take one of the ones you own. If you make do with what you already have you can spend the extra money on equipment, motels, food, etc.

    My opinion is that for "normal" loaded touring, a dedicated tourer is best, though other options will work fine. If you have unusual needs - wanting to spend some time off-road, taking unusually huge loads - then a different option might be better.

    If I was you I'd take some shorter tours on the bikes I have - take the cyclocross bike; take the 29er. See what works, what kind of touring you lean towards, etc. Before I really got into touring I had visions of taking major hikes along the way, bringing a kayak (?), etc. It turned out I really enjoy the ride during the day, but once I arrive at the campground I just like to sit and relax - read, drink coffee, nap, etc. On a tour down the west coast I usually wouldn't even take a short hike to the ocean. I was pooped, and I'd been looking at the ocean all day!

    One of these days I'd like to try off-road touring - like the Great Divide route. Would I love it, or discover it's not my thing? I don't know. I wouldn't invest a ton of money until I tried it and found out. The first time I'd probably do something shorter, and use the equipment I already own.

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    i am getting rid of my free radical as we speak because it is too heavy for long distance touring. i took it on a ten day tour and struggled. I am leaving on a 2+ year tour around central and south america and had the chance to feel again what a surly LHT feels like without the darned thing on the back of it and i love it. why add the extra weight? every ounce counts. looks like many above and even my friend currently on a bigdummy tour around the US have great success! thats awesome, i wish i could love it for long distance tours as much as they do. one reason might possibly be because they are larger men, and i am a smaller woman...

    i could get stronger, yes... but my objective is to ride lite as possible (yours might not be :-) and i must constantly fight the temptation to bring the whole house.... (unless you really want to load yourself down with more stuff..... which is okay in some cases and certainly okay for those that don't struggle with the weight as much).... more space means more temptation and opportunity to bring the whole house. i have made that mistake twice and have kicked myself both times.

    its a great extension, the freeradical, and the bigdummy, but for me, id rather be carting groceries or children around town. i also toured with a trailer last year and wouldn't do it again. im sticking with the bike racks and 2 sets of panniers from now on. :-)

  18. #18
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottiethomas View Post
    i am getting rid of my free radical as we speak because it is too heavy for long distance touring. i took it on a ten day tour and struggled. I am leaving on a 2+ year tour around central and south america and had the chance to feel again what a surly LHT feels like without the darned thing on the back of it and i love it. why add the extra weight? every ounce counts. looks like many above and even my friend currently on a bigdummy tour around the US have great success! thats awesome, i wish i could love it for long distance tours as much as they do. one reason might possibly be because they are larger men, and i am a smaller woman...

    i could get stronger, yes... but my objective is to ride lite as possible (yours might not be :-) and i must constantly fight the temptation to bring the whole house.... (unless you really want to load yourself down with more stuff..... which is okay in some cases and certainly okay for those that don't struggle with the weight as much).... more space means more temptation and opportunity to bring the whole house. i have made that mistake twice and have kicked myself both times.

    its a great extension, the freeradical, and the bigdummy, but for me, id rather be carting groceries or children around town. i also toured with a trailer last year and wouldn't do it again. im sticking with the bike racks and 2 sets of panniers from now on. :-)
    If you are a lighter rider [man or woman] and have no particular need to carry an unusual amount of stuff on tour and have no desire for a cargo bike for use off tour than you don't have any reason to bother with the extra weight/cost/hassle of a cargo bike. I think the best reason to buy a cargo bike for touring is that most people tour for 1-3 weeks a year and the rest of the time they are local bike commuters or utility cargo bikers. In that case a cargo bike might get used for it's real purpose 50 weeks a year and tour for 3 weeks.

    Have a great time on your tour...
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  19. #19
    Senior Member ollin's Avatar
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    Returning this thread to life! Everyone has given reasons for and against cargo bikes, but let's say I've already decided I do want one and that touring is one of the activities i'll use it for. I would like to steer this conversation to ask: LHT + Free radical or Big Dummy? The LHT + free radical setup is evidently more versatile, but does it really hold up to the task? Won't it bend your chainstay bridge over long routes? Wont it break? Any experiences on that?

  20. #20
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ollin View Post
    Returning this thread to life! Everyone has given reasons for and against cargo bikes, but let's say I've already decided I do want one and that touring is one of the activities i'll use it for. I would like to steer this conversation to ask: LHT + Free radical or Big Dummy? The LHT + free radical setup is evidently more versatile, but does it really hold up to the task? Won't it bend your chainstay bridge over long routes? Wont it break? Any experiences on that?
    I had an Xtracycle mounted to a Surly Troll and really beat on it hard, I have carried a couple hundred pounds on it, mountain biked (not at the same time...) on it, have even learned how to bunny hop it without clipless and after a couple thousand miles everything was still in great shape other than one of the little plastic buckles breaking but they are only a couple bucks from Xtracycle.

    With that being said I have heard stories of people breaking their Xtracycle if they carry a lot of weight often so that may be something to consider. If it was me I would go the big dummy route, it will have a good bit more lateral stiffness, less likely to break, and you can carry an absurd amount of water bottles.

    Here is the best collection of random dummy awesomeness I have found and from a pretty friendly guy who occasionally posts here so he may chime in. http://forums.mtbr.com/cargo-bikes/d...my-391518.html

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by danthebiker View Post
    I'm planning on doing my first serious bike tour next spring and was looking at bikes to get. I can't really decide if I want to convert my custom cyclocross bike into a tourer (no rack and fender mounts but it is steel so I could go back to the builder who made it and have him add them on. This bike is the most comfortable bike I've ever been on and it would be a joy to tour on) or buy a dedicated tourer, or a cargo bike, or to take my 29er(suspension fork locks out and I could bring a change in tires and ride trails along the way). The one option that I'm leaning towards is the cargo bike. I think that the handling of the cargo bike under load would be alot more stable than my other choices. Not to mention the large capacity. I have no experience touring, however, and no experience riding a cargo bike. If anyone has any food for thought on what my best option would be I would very much appreciate the advice. thanks
    I would lean to a dedicated touring bike but many folks tour on cyclocross bikes, mountain bikes etc. Haven't toured or even ridden on a cargo bike though I live next to a big bike path & have seen a couple of guys on Big Dummy-type bikes & they've been whizzing along at a nice clip (unloaded commuting). IMHO the option for comfortable riding on rough surfaces should be included for any touring bike but that's not the case, perhaps the 29er is a good choice since you already own one. I've ridden a friend's Trek city/hybrid bike with aluminum frame & front suspension on local short rides & thought the suspension was pretty sweet at smoothing out bumps & reducing fatigue. My touring bike is a Novara Randonee (soon to be replaced by a Surly Disc Trucker) & after 30 miles one gets tired of jarring bumps from curb cuts & the like.

  22. #22
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    You could use P-clamps on your present bike to fit racks or fenders. See how it handles before having eyelets brazed on.

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