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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 04-30-07, 11:57 PM   #1
turtle77
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Xtracycle or Bikes At Work trailer?

I'm trying to decide between the two. The price is pretty close between the Xtra and the model of BAW (64") trailer that I want. I'm just not sure which one I'll like more. I'll probably be using it mostly to get supplies from my local hardware/lumber store to fix up my new apartment, for groceries, occasionally hauling some drum equipment and overall just general hauling (heh, I am moving soon!!!)

I feel like the trailer would be more stable and could potentially haul more stuff, which is appealing. But the Xtracyle looks kinda cool, and someone could potentially ride on the back (don't know if I'll ever use that feature, though).

Any experience with either of these two animals? Any comments positive or negative about either? Anyone actually own both??!?!?

There have been some threads about both individually, but not much has been said (with the searches I've conducted) about them comparatively.

Thanks.
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Old 05-01-07, 12:36 AM   #2
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I ride my Xtracycle almost daily. It's rugged, logical, practical, and amazingly wonderful.

I'd go with that. As fun as a trailer is, it just won't change your life. The Xtracycle will.

That said, if you're going to be hauling really wide or long loads, you're going to want the accessories to do so with the Xtra.
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Old 05-01-07, 01:31 AM   #3
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I think it depends on how often you have to haul a larger load (more than a backpack/pannier ish thing). If it were fairly frequent, xtracycle. Once or twice a month, trailer.
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Old 05-01-07, 09:36 AM   #4
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It also depends on how large and/or heavy are the loads you intend to carry. The Xtracycle is pretty good for small to medium sized loads, but you just aren't going to be able to carry a refrigerator or a spare bike on your Xtracycle like you could on a Bikes At Work trailer.
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Old 05-09-07, 03:20 PM   #5
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actually, you can... Look up the photos in the community section of xtracycle.com and you will see everything from car wheels,20' sections of lumber and several pics with an xtracycle carrying anywhere between 1-4 other bikes on the back... Near limitless carrying capacity. All about the imagination!
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Old 05-09-07, 10:48 PM   #6
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Bear in mind that the Xtracycle is a semi-permanent attachment to your bike. Installing and removing it takes some time so you might do it before a tour, for example, but not because you want to use the cargo capacity on mondays, wednesdays and fridays (for example).

Besides, you have more carrying capacity with a small trailer such as the Burley Nomad, let alone the Bikes at Work trailer. And with the 64" Bikes at Work trailer, you'll have enough support to carry easily 8' boards and planks.

So the decision is:
– The Xtracycle will always be there; but it will make your bike less interesting, less lively (not a real issue if you have other bikes) and you'll have to work a bit to attach whatever cargo you want to carry.
– The trailer is not always there and even when empty, it has a bit more drag and doesn't fit as easily onto winding trails. If your lumber yard is on your way to work, it means that on days you want to buy lumber supplies, you need to bring the trailer with you. But packing is downright fast and easy, and on days you don,t need it, you have a nimble bike.
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Old 05-09-07, 11:41 PM   #7
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Get one of each.

I'm building a Big Dummy (just waiting for the frame to go into production at this point) and I've got a 96" Bikes At Work trailer arriving in a few weeks to add to the stable. The Xtracycle is generally better suited to carrying things that are transported in bags or smaller boxes, like groceries, clothes, or camping gear. The BAW trailers can also do this, but they absolutely excel at transporting larger, bulkier, heavier things that are difficult to fit into or onto an Xtracycle. Imagine trying to transport a fridge or a mattress on an Xtracycle. I'm going to use the trailer mainly for my upcoming move, but I think I will have no problem finding other uses for it after the move is finished. I will probably use the Big Dummy more often than the trailer, since most of my day-to-day cargo needs are already fairly easily met with some big pannier bags. The Big Dummy will just make it easier and allow me to carry passengers or more than would normally fit in my panniers.
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Old 05-10-07, 12:00 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MacG
Get one of each.

I'm building a Big Dummy (just waiting for the frame to go into production at this point) and I've got a 96" Bikes At Work trailer arriving in a few weeks to add to the stable. The Xtracycle is generally better suited to carrying things that are transported in bags or smaller boxes, like groceries, clothes, or camping gear. The BAW trailers can also do this, but they absolutely excel at transporting larger, bulkier, heavier things that are difficult to fit into or onto an Xtracycle. Imagine trying to transport a fridge or a mattress on an Xtracycle. I'm going to use the trailer mainly for my upcoming move, but I think I will have no problem finding other uses for it after the move is finished. I will probably use the Big Dummy more often than the trailer, since most of my day-to-day cargo needs are already fairly easily met with some big pannier bags. The Big Dummy will just make it easier and allow me to carry passengers or more than would normally fit in my panniers.
You must post pics when you've got it all together.
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Old 05-10-07, 01:32 AM   #9
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xtracycle without a doubt. Possibly the coolest, most functional thing I've ever owned. We have 3

some photos

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Old 05-10-07, 03:33 AM   #10
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Personal decision...however I would vote for the xtracycle I am working my way towards getting one. I have had trailers in the past. They can be a pain in some cases and a great tool in others. I figure it is time to give the xtracycle a chance. I like the fact it is a complete unit and not something that I have to hitch, unhitch, store and maintain. YMMV FWIW I have multiple bikes if you only have one a trailer "might" be the better choice.

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Old 05-10-07, 07:22 AM   #11
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FWIW I have multiple bikes if you only have one a trailer "might" be the better choice.
Since I've never ridden an xtracycle I can only assume, but I think I would try to avoid using an xtracycle for daily commuting with nothing more than a lunch and a bike lock as cargo. Any xtracycle owners care to give an opinion on that?
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Old 05-10-07, 09:18 AM   #12
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I ride my Xtracycle to work everyday with nothing but my lunch (20 miles RT). I ride it to the store to pickup nothing but the newspaper. It's an everyday, anywhere bike. Just my opinion.

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Old 05-10-07, 10:17 AM   #13
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With Xtracycles, it's just too easy to load them up because of the all the cargo space, so if you're pressed for time commuting, you have to force yourself to be selective.

One thing I'm not fond of is that because the Xtracycle is an attachment, it will squeak and creak under heavy loads. It may be that I have a pre-2003 design, but I don't like the way there is just one bolt holding that oblong receiver over the chainstay bridge; I think that might be where the noise comes from. A better solution would seem to be the Big Dummy because of its integrated design, but that platform has yet to be tested thoroughly, publicly. I will say this in Xtracycle's favor though: their customer service is one of the best! When my kickstand plate broke off, I wrote them asking about an alternative kickstand solution because Free Radicals, imo, are useless without the kickstand. Xtracycle not only acknowledged this problem on pre-2003 iterations, but kindly warrantied my rig by sending out a kickstand solution (supposedly mailed today, actually) for these early models even though my rig was bought second-hand.

Although it's easy enough to connect a child trailer to an Xtracycle, a BAW hitch might not accommodate the Xtracycle chainstay (should you think you want both in the future) but you may want to double-check. I'd rather get a BAW if I were consistently hauling lumber or drums, but it looks to be overkill for small errands and groceries. Besides, it would seem to be a headache parking a bike + BAW at a local grocery store because of its length.
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Old 05-10-07, 10:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerewa
Since I've never ridden an xtracycle I can only assume, but I think I would try to avoid using an xtracycle for daily commuting with nothing more than a lunch and a bike lock as cargo. Any xtracycle owners care to give an opinion on that?
The thing is that once you've ridden an xtracycle around, it feels funny riding a regular bike I like riding mine even when I'm not carrying anything. It does nothing to subtract from your ride and in fact makes it more fun. Plus it's a great conversation starter. Everybody wants to check it out

When I first saw the xtracycle on the web, I was skeptical myself. I was interested enough to go up to Seattle and take a test ride. My wife sat on the back and we rode around streets and I was completely sold.

I think people that have used a trailer before and know the hassle and how uncomfortable it makes the ride are leery of putting anything on the back of their bike that is semi permanent but you really have to understand that if you don't turn around and look at it, you won't even know it's there. It truly is an awesome invention.
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Old 05-10-07, 08:53 PM   #15
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I'm no expert but I've faced lots of challenges when it comes to moving things, and have helped a number of people design & build trailers and load carrying bikes. I know that there are a lot of xtracycle fans here but I've ridden one and I'm not convinced that its the best option. Yes, they look great and have a certain 'cool' factor attached to them, but at the risk of getting flamed I think they're a relatively poor option when it comes to load hauling. Here's why...

I found that (for me) there are just too many compromises. When not hauling you're encumbered with all the extra weight and changed handling characteristics of the bike. The kit is a bolt-on which compromises the lateral stiffness of a frame which was never intended to be stressed the way an xtracycle kit allows it to be stressed. The big dummy goes a way to change this but then you have other far more cost-effective options.

The xtracycle just can't compete with a good trailer for carrying capacity or static stability. Most bikes, especially older 'beaters' are unsuitable for conversion simply because the components are not up to carrying the weight of an xtracycle loaded with all the cargo it allows you to carry.

If you're keen on building a load carrying bike like the xtracycle I would start with a 26" wheeled tandem then remove the stokers' pedals, handlebars, and seat. Use it as a base to build cargo carrying racks similar to the xtracycle around where the stoker would sit. You then have a solid homogenous frame and heavy duty components designed specifically for the weight and dynamics imposed by the sort of loads you could carry. It would be laterally stiffer than an xtracycle while capable of carrying longer and heavier loads. You could still ride it solo and even make it easily convertible to accomodate a stoker so when your load icludes another human being they can contribute to pedalling.

Otherwise, you can buy/build a trailer that will carry far more than an xtracycle (or converted tandem) without imposing anywhere near the loads on your bike, is statically stable, and when not needed your bike it totally unencumbered. I beleive a trailer is also the most cost effective solution, i.e. the maximum carrying capacity per dollar.

I would go with an xtracycle only if I was so pressed for bike parking space at home that I couldn't accomodate a cargo tandem or a trailer + bike.
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Old 05-12-07, 08:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacG
Get one of each.
Does anyone know if you can hook up a Bikes At Work trailer to an Xtracycle? That would be way cool.

I have an Xtracycle and absolutely love it. As far as the bother of carrying the Xtracycle around with you, I take mine out on club rides and I have a riding buddy who when we first started riding together (4 years?) he was the faster rider but now I am the faster rider. I am not sure if I am benefiting from resistance training (always having the X on my bike) or if he is just getting older and slower. We’ll need more studies to confirm.
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Old 05-12-07, 09:17 AM   #17
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Does anyone know if you can hook up a Bikes At Work trailer to an Xtracycle? That would be way cool.
Not natively, but you could easily weld up a hitch assembly to do so with about $10 worth of parts. The Bikes At Work hitch is designed to clamp around the left-side seatstay and chainstay, like a sandwich arrangement. The actual hitching component is a rod-end bearing of a certain size. You can get one at a good hardware store for less than $10. You would need to create a hitch that would attach to the back of the Xtracycle's frame tubing. I can't visualize a shape in my head that would do it, but it wouldn't be hard to make something.
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Old 05-12-07, 01:29 PM   #18
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This is a good point. I attach and detach my trailer in seconds, using the Burley alternative hitch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
Bear in mind that the Xtracycle is a semi-permanent attachment to your bike. Installing and removing it takes some time so you might do it before a tour, for example, but not because you want to use the cargo capacity on mondays, wednesdays and fridays (for example).

Besides, you have more carrying capacity with a small trailer such as the Burley Nomad, let alone the Bikes at Work trailer. And with the 64" Bikes at Work trailer, you'll have enough support to carry easily 8' boards and planks.

So the decision is:
– The Xtracycle will always be there; but it will make your bike less interesting, less lively (not a real issue if you have other bikes) and you'll have to work a bit to attach whatever cargo you want to carry.
– The trailer is not always there and even when empty, it has a bit more drag and doesn't fit as easily onto winding trails. If your lumber yard is on your way to work, it means that on days you want to buy lumber supplies, you need to bring the trailer with you. But packing is downright fast and easy, and on days you don,t need it, you have a nimble bike.
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Old 05-12-07, 10:45 PM   #19
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There's a cool picture on the Surly blog of a prototype Big Dummy (production Xtracycle frame) with a Bikes At Work trailer attached to it.
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Old 05-13-07, 09:34 AM   #20
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Since the OP is an apartment dweller, as I am, he may want to consider parking and storage issues as well.

I'm leaning towards a trailer, myself. I could never get an Xtra into my apartment. A regular bike is long enough to leave tire marks on the walls in the 180° turn on the stairwell, and once inside, I'm not sure I could reach the brakes to do the "tip it up on its back wheel to steer it around the furniture" trick.

Meanwhile, I could stash a trailer in the basement, (which has a ramp, but a 90° turn to get in the door, again a potential problem with the length of the Xtra) or even chain it to the fire escape. There's less to rust on a trailer left outside than there is on a bike. Lower theft factor too.

They each have their advantages, and ideally, I'd like one of each. But given the architectural limitations of apartment living, the trailer is probably the better bet for me.
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Old 05-14-07, 02:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
Bear in mind that the Xtracycle is a semi-permanent attachment to your bike. Installing and removing it takes some time so you might do it before a tour, for example, but not because you want to use the cargo capacity on mondays, wednesdays and fridays (for example).

Besides, you have more carrying capacity with a small trailer such as the Burley Nomad, let alone the Bikes at Work trailer. And with the 64" Bikes at Work trailer, you'll have enough support to carry easily 8' boards and planks.

So the decision is:
– The Xtracycle will always be there; but it will make your bike less interesting, less lively (not a real issue if you have other bikes) and you'll have to work a bit to attach whatever cargo you want to carry.
– The trailer is not always there and even when empty, it has a bit more drag and doesn't fit as easily onto winding trails. If your lumber yard is on your way to work, it means that on days you want to buy lumber supplies, you need to bring the trailer with you. But packing is downright fast and easy, and on days you don,t need it, you have a nimble bike.
If nimbleness is important I agree with you, in my case stability is important and from my admittedly limited experience the Xtra gives you that. The other thing is if you're using your bike for everything, with the Xtra attached full time, for a much lower penalty than hauling a trailer, the flexibility is unbeatable. If you come over for the Linuxfest again this year you can try mine out. I should have it in the next couple of weeks. (You stopped in here at VFX last time)
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Old 05-16-07, 09:29 AM   #22
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While there is value in discussions about making the right choice I also feel there is a progression that a lot of people go through.

#1 Using a kid trailer to haul groceries (wow, I can use my bike for useful stuff) (can be low cost easy entry to test the waters)
#2 A single wheel trailer (wow I don’t have to pay attention to where the trailer wheels are at.)
#3 An Xtracycle (wow my bike has changed my life.)

Just start somewhere and if it’s good enough for you to stay in that mode that’s cool.
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Old 05-16-07, 10:55 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
I'm no expert but I've faced lots of challenges when it comes to moving things, and have helped a number of people design & build trailers and load carrying bikes. I know that there are a lot of xtracycle fans here but I've ridden one and I'm not convinced that its the best option. Yes, they look great and have a certain 'cool' factor attached to them, but at the risk of getting flamed I think they're a relatively poor option when it comes to load hauling. Here's why...

I found that (for me) there are just too many compromises. When not hauling you're encumbered with all the extra weight and changed handling characteristics of the bike. The kit is a bolt-on which compromises the lateral stiffness of a frame which was never intended to be stressed the way an xtracycle kit allows it to be stressed. The big dummy goes a way to change this but then you have other far more cost-effective options.

The xtracycle just can't compete with a good trailer for carrying capacity or static stability. Most bikes, especially older 'beaters' are unsuitable for conversion simply because the components are not up to carrying the weight of an xtracycle loaded with all the cargo it allows you to carry.

If you're keen on building a load carrying bike like the xtracycle I would start with a 26" wheeled tandem then remove the stokers' pedals, handlebars, and seat. Use it as a base to build cargo carrying racks similar to the xtracycle around where the stoker would sit. You then have a solid homogenous frame and heavy duty components designed specifically for the weight and dynamics imposed by the sort of loads you could carry. It would be laterally stiffer than an xtracycle while capable of carrying longer and heavier loads. You could still ride it solo and even make it easily convertible to accomodate a stoker so when your load icludes another human being they can contribute to pedalling.

Otherwise, you can buy/build a trailer that will carry far more than an xtracycle (or converted tandem) without imposing anywhere near the loads on your bike, is statically stable, and when not needed your bike it totally unencumbered. I beleive a trailer is also the most cost effective solution, i.e. the maximum carrying capacity per dollar.

I would go with an xtracycle only if I was so pressed for bike parking space at home that I couldn't accomodate a cargo tandem or a trailer + bike.
Good idea. There are a lot of overbuilt tandems out there are pretty reasonable prices (for example, Worksman tandems).

Does a tandem manned by a single person handle similarly to an Xtracycle? Do you have any tips on doing such a conversion?
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Old 06-03-07, 10:56 PM   #24
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I've owned a B@W trailer for about a year and discovered the Xtracycle yesterday. It's probably only a matter of time until I get an Xtracycle (after the Big Dummy arrives).

The two products seem suited to very different tasks. The B@W trailer is great for moving big and/or heavy stuff. Mostly, I use mine for moving lumber, but I've also used it to move several tons of manure (for the garden), several tons of rocks (made for a long day), a flock of domestic ducks, and feed for the flock. For what I've used the B@W, with the possible exception of the duck feed, I seriously doubt the Xtracycle would have been appropriate. Possible perhaps, but not appropriate, at least not with a B@W sitting in the shed. Sure, there are pictures of Xtracycles loaded with 8' lengths (or longer) of lumber and other such stuff, but these would have been a serious PITA to load and probably made the bike downright dangerous to ride. On the B@W trailer, it would have taken seconds to load, and the ride would have been a piece of cake.

On the other side of the coin, the B@W's resistance is noticeable, even when empty. Hauling a typical trailer load (say 150 pounds) a long distance with the trailer easily doubles the time it would take me without the trailer. My typical run is 6 miles of pavement + 1.5 of gravel or .5 miles of pavement + 5.5 miles of gravel. The paved route is the easier but more dangerous due to traffic and narrow shoulders. Empty except for the plastic containers, the trailer still yields trips half-again what they'd be without the trailer. In no way do I think that this is a problem with the B@W trailer. It's just the nature of a mechanism meant for carrying large (for bikes) cargo.

The Xtracycle, or how I envision my use of one, would open up a lot of doors for spontaneous use of a bicycle for chores. The number of times I've wanted to pick up some groceries, miscellaneous items from the hardware store, bring something home from work, but couldn't because I just had my commuting bike with a single pannier not suited to much more than my lunch and a change of clothes. Never mind being able to take my son with me on outings without having to enlist a car. That would be huge. I would gladly pay the price of a slightly slower ride for the convenience of being able to haul moderate loads on a whim. I also get the impression that the Xtracycle would be less work (ie. faster) for appropriate cargo than the same cargo on a B@W. The bigger wheels and aerodynamic profile (narrower and mostly hidden behind the rider's legs) are what leads me in this direction.

Now, comparing the Xtracycle to something like the BOB trailer would be interesting as the two are in more similar niches. Still, I think the Xtracycle would have some major advantages (price wouldn't be one).
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Old 06-04-07, 04:51 AM   #25
bhtooefr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markus_mudd
There's a cool picture on the Surly blog of a prototype Big Dummy (production Xtracycle frame) with a Bikes At Work trailer attached to it.


From: http://www.surlybikes.com/2007_05_01_blog_archive.html
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