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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 04-17-08, 11:29 AM   #1
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Question Xtracycle/BD Front Wheel Loads?

I understand that on a long bike like the Big Dummy the rider's weight is about 50/50 front to back. As you load the rear cargo part of your long tail you would be primarily loading up the rear wheel correct?

So I'm a bit confused by the fact many BD/Xtracycle folks are using super heavy duty front wheels - 36 - 40+ spokes on uber beefy rims. Assuming you weigh 200lbs about 100lbs is on the front wheel and that shouldn't be affected much by how much cargo you load up in the rear. A typical 32H XC mountain bike wheel should be more than strong enough to deal with this kind of loading - especially on the road.

Just wondering why the super strong front wheels then?
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Old 04-17-08, 02:29 PM   #2
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'Cause it's American to be bloated, over-the-top, and full of excess? (uh-oh, better don my flame-retardant suit...)

I dunno, Vik. I'm running 32 holes front and rear. Plan to run 'em 'til they're taco'd beyond repair.

I'll be adding a front rack, too. Small one—"Mark's Rack". But it's big enough for a loaf of bread, so...I'm thinking my 32-hole rim will work just fine.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:11 PM   #3
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A high spoke count wheel on the rear is a good thing. For the front I imagine the biggest reason to have a similarly high spoke count wheel is to have matching wheels.

My Dummy has a 36 spoke wheel on the back and a 32 spoke wheel on the front. I just mounted a Nice Rack on the front but I'm not too concerned about needing a stronger wheel up front.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:38 PM   #4
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Okay - sounds good..I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I plan on running a 32H XT hub with an XC MTB rim up front and can't see why that wouldn't be more than enough wheel, but all the beefy front wheels I was reading about were making me wonder if there was something I wasn't factoring in.

Due to my Rohloff my rear wheel is also 32H, but a dishless 32H rear wheel is supposedly as strong as a 36H or 40H dished wheel. I can't verify this, but it does seem logical.

As an example the BD complete from Xtracycle [the folks who should know what is needed and what is overkill] has a 36H front wheel using a beefy free ride rim:

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Old 04-17-08, 05:45 PM   #5
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Well for me, I plan on using the bike for an extended loaded tour (home-east coast-west coast-home) and will be using a front rack and panniers and of course a handlebar bag. Just because it's a long bike doesn't mean you have to only load the back.
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Old 04-17-08, 05:58 PM   #6
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Well for me, I plan on using the bike for an extended loaded tour (home-east coast-west coast-home) and will be using a front rack and panniers and of course a handlebar bag. Just because it's a long bike doesn't mean you have to only load the back.
I'm confused the handle bar bag makes sense as you want easy access to certain items, but why would you take a cargo bike designed to be loaded at the rear and carry anything up front? I am assuming you'd have enough capacity in the back for a lot more than a typical 4 pannier touring bike would carry?
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Old 04-17-08, 06:55 PM   #7
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I'm planning on using my Dummy for some camping this summer, too. As I said above, I just mounted a Nice Rack on the front and I plan on using panniers up there, too.

My thinking is that the big stuff like the tent, sleeping bag, pad, camp chair, go in the back while the little stuff goes in the panniers where it's more enclosed and secure and can be more easily taken off the bike.

After camping in different modes over the years, I think everybody comes up with their own little idiosyncratic ways of dividing up camping gear. Some just toss it all in there and others are incredibly anal about what goes where and with what. Just as there is no one proper way to organize your sock drawer, there is no one proper way to pack for camping.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by vik View Post
I'm confused the handle bar bag makes sense as you want easy access to certain items, but why would you take a cargo bike designed to be loaded at the rear and carry anything up front? I am assuming you'd have enough capacity in the back for a lot more than a typical 4 pannier touring bike would carry?
Balance.
My XtraCycle gets twitchy when I have it loaded with a lot of weight just on the back.
I have a huge front basket for it, and when I distribute the load my handling is much improved.


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Old 04-17-08, 07:16 PM   #9
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Balance.
My XtraCycle gets twitchy when I have it loaded with a lot of weight just on the back.
I have a huge front basket for it, and when I distribute the load my handling is much improved.
Allen hits the nail on the head, as usual. Balance. Just because I probably 'can' load everything I want in the rear, doesn't make it the best policy for a loaded tour.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:36 PM   #10
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I have 32H rims front and rear and haven't had any troubles at all. Hand build them, get some nice rims with eyelets, and check once in a while to make sure they stay true - mine have, your mileage may vary, but i'm finding 32H perfectly acceptable even in the rear if properly chosen and built.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:44 PM   #11
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I believe Rohloff's claim that a 32H non-dished wheel is as strong as a 40+ tandem wheel.
I've carried some big loads and never had a problem with my 32H wheels.




Thanks Chip.

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Old 04-17-08, 11:21 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the interesting comments. I'll have to play around with my BD and see how different load distributions affect handling.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:06 PM   #13
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Rear-only loading also makes my bike twitchier. I had a sub 100 lb girl hop on the back of my Free-rad, behind the rear wheel, and my front was so wobbly, I thought we'd crash every few feet we went! I want to put my Cetma rack on the front (8-rail), but I think I'll place it on my Monocog 29er and have another bike that can carry cargo.
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Old 05-06-08, 07:51 AM   #14
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Thumbs up

Well after riding my BD with a variety of rear only loads I see the point you guys were making. Having some weight on that lightly loaded front wheel would be a good idea. So I put a Old Man Mountain front rack on the beast.



You guys know what you are talking about...
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