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Current Bike vs. Big Dummy vs. Extracycle conversion

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Current Bike vs. Big Dummy vs. Extracycle conversion

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Old 02-08-08, 11:46 AM
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DogBoy
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Current Bike vs. Big Dummy vs. Extracycle conversion

I am looking at the idea for a long-tail, and I'm not sure which way to go. I'd like the opinions of those of you in the know. My options are: Standard (ie, use my current setup), Free-Radical (convert current bike) or Big Dummy (new bike).

My current setup: rigid mtn bike with rack/fenders and 21 spd (7x3) drivetrain. Seat-post clamp for tag-a-long and axle hitch for a Chariot 1-child trailer.

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Cost: Weight (20%)
Current setup: Free. Free Radical: $400? (kit + add'l stuff that you always seem to need) Big Dummy $1300 (using xtracycle site a guide, but redcing it a bit because I'll use current bike as a donor)

Passenger use: Weight (20%)
Right now, My daughter is almost 4, my son is 14 months. I've yet to put him in a trailer, but expect to do so this summer. My daughter does okay on a tag-a-long but only for very short rides. I see the conversion as providing a place for her to ride in lew of the trailer, and potentially being able to carry both kids on one bike for trips to the park etc.

Cargo use: Weight (10%)
Mostly I go to the grocery store. Occasional trips to the hardware store. Currently I use the trailer. I'd like to be able to take one child + carry stuff.

Primary (commuting) use: Weight (40%)
I carry clothing & toiletries and rarely boxes of papers and/or a laptop. I lock to a U-snake lock with a u-lock and cable lock the front wheel. I have a very short 10% grade as part of the commute, otherwise its essentially a flat 5 mile commute. With side trips to the Y, it is more like 7 miles, but usually 10-15 miles per day.

Other categories: Weight (10%)
I really like the idea of the stokemonkey (once they start selling again.) Many of the times when I don't ride are because of wind, fatigue etc. An electric boost could keep me in the game and not using the car. I won't use a hub motor because I fear I'd just ride. I rank this low on the weight because I would not want to use the motor most of the time, and the cost of the motor is significant, so I'm not sure I'd ever actually pull the trigger.

So, based on all this, what would you do if you were in my position? Hopefully you have a clear enough picture of my uses, if not, ask away.
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Old 02-08-08, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy View Post
I am looking at the idea for a long-tail, and I'm not sure which way to go. I'd like the opinions of those of you in the know. My options are: Standard (ie, use my current setup), Free-Radical (convert current bike) or Big Dummy (new bike).

My current setup: rigid mtn bike with rack/fenders and 21 spd (7x3) drivetrain. Seat-post clamp for tag-a-long and axle hitch for a Chariot 1-child trailer.

Categories:

Cost: Weight (20%)
Current setup: Free. Free Radical: $400? (kit + add'l stuff that you always seem to need) Big Dummy $1300 (using xtracycle site a guide, but redcing it a bit because I'll use current bike as a donor)

Passenger use: Weight (20%)
Right now, My daughter is almost 4, my son is 14 months. I've yet to put him in a trailer, but expect to do so this summer. My daughter does okay on a tag-a-long but only for very short rides. I see the conversion as providing a place for her to ride in lew of the trailer, and potentially being able to carry both kids on one bike for trips to the park etc.

Cargo use: Weight (10%)
Mostly I go to the grocery store. Occasional trips to the hardware store. Currently I use the trailer. I'd like to be able to take one child + carry stuff.

Primary (commuting) use: Weight (40%)
I carry clothing & toiletries and rarely boxes of papers and/or a laptop. I lock to a U-snake lock with a u-lock and cable lock the front wheel. I have a very short 10% grade as part of the commute, otherwise its essentially a flat 5 mile commute. With side trips to the Y, it is more like 7 miles, but usually 10-15 miles per day.

Other categories: Weight (10%)
I really like the idea of the stokemonkey (once they start selling again.) Many of the times when I don't ride are because of wind, fatigue etc. An electric boost could keep me in the game and not using the car. I won't use a hub motor because I fear I'd just ride. I rank this low on the weight because I would not want to use the motor most of the time, and the cost of the motor is significant, so I'm not sure I'd ever actually pull the trigger.

So, based on all this, what would you do if you were in my position? Hopefully you have a clear enough picture of my uses, if not, ask away.
Well, it doesn't sound like you are in need of any extreme solutions, the Freeradical is very good on its own, if you aren't planning expeditions or anything crazy then it will do very well. Do you know outright if your mountain bike is compatible with it? I initially thought that it would fit just about any bike, but it does not. You need to have a pretty "average" sort of bike design, with the 135mm spacing and a bit of space between the wheel and your bottom bracket (this is where the first potential conversion bike failed, the chainstays were too short)

Xtracycle design is really nice, simply because its *always* available, but if you don't need it at the moment it doesn't ruin your riding experience. Its wonderful to not have to plan your carrying trips ahead anymore. I used to use panniers, its a big upgrade. Not that panniers aren't nice, they are anything is better than carrying stuff on your back: But, used to have to carry my textbooks on my back because they would overweight one side of the rack, and afterwards it would be a pain to carry the pannier around. The X just takes the whole bag with lots of room and no trouble. The Freeradical is strong enough to carry my girlfriend, 3 bags of groceries and all of the usual bike stuff very well, kids would not be trouble. The only thing that really disappointed me about the Freeradical at all is that it isn't painted well enough for Canada

On the electric motors, the reasons you described are the exact reasons I stopped using mine. Unlike the Xtracycle, when you aren't using the electric motor it *is* a burden. If you were worried about using it all the time though, its easy enough to get a hub motor with a pedelec system which encourages you to still pedal (like stokemonkey), but I would really wait until Stokemonkey is out again if you are an avid cyclist: hub motors have noticeable drag and don't make your bike as fun to ride by itself anymore.
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Old 02-08-08, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
... kids would not be trouble.
Ah, clearly written by one without kids. This might be true, of course, if kids never complained, got tired, moved/horsed around, etc., but then they'd be less than kids.
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Old 02-08-08, 04:31 PM
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Kona Ute as option #4?
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Old 02-08-08, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
Ah, clearly written by one without kids. This might be true, of course, if kids never complained, got tired, moved/horsed around, etc., but then they'd be less than kids.
Well, kids are always trouble it seems

I just mean from a strength perspective on the Xtracycle.
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Old 02-08-08, 04:51 PM
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The Big Dummy would be the nicest solution as long as the money isn't an issue, but the adding an Xtracycle to your existing bike would be great and cheaper. I think it just comes down to money and which you'd prefer.





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Old 02-08-08, 07:29 PM
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The idea of a solid frame rather than an Xtracycle conversion is so appealing to me that I think that if it were me, I'd probably rule out the conversion. But then if it were me, the conversion is the only Xtracycle I could come close to affording. Still, if the money were there, it's hard to see the negatives of the Big Dummy. But then no one is riding one yet. If you have time, I'd wait and see what people think of it once it's actually on the road. But that's my 2 cents. I would like to hear what Xtracycle folks have to say about having an Xtracycle as their main/only ride. If you go with the conversion, it seems like you're giving up your current ride. When I've been considering what my new bike will be, I ruled out an Xtracycle just because my next bike will be my only bike, and I'm not sure I'd use the cargo benefits enough to balance out the weight and portability issues, but it'll really depend on your riding style, I think.

I'm also curious about the Stokemonkey. Looking at the weight, it seems like just having it on your bike would make you need to use it more. So it'd really be a question of how much you'd use it. Or on how easily it installs and uninstalls. There are a couple of hills I'd like some help on during my commute, but then I'm afraid that if I added a 30-40 pound motor to my bike, there's a couple more hills that I'd need help on.
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Old 02-08-08, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
The idea of a solid frame rather than an Xtracycle conversion is so appealing to me that I think that if it were me, I'd probably rule out the conversion. But then if it were me, the conversion is the only Xtracycle I could come close to affording. Still, if the money were there, it's hard to see the negatives of the Big Dummy. But then no one is riding one yet. If you have time, I'd wait and see what people think of it once it's actually on the road. But that's my 2 cents. I would like to hear what Xtracycle folks have to say about having an Xtracycle as their main/only ride. If you go with the conversion, it seems like you're giving up your current ride. When I've been considering what my new bike will be, I ruled out an Xtracycle just because my next bike will be my only bike, and I'm not sure I'd use the cargo benefits enough to balance out the weight and portability issues, but it'll really depend on your riding style, I think.

I'm also curious about the Stokemonkey. Looking at the weight, it seems like just having it on your bike would make you need to use it more. So it'd really be a question of how much you'd use it. Or on how easily it installs and uninstalls. There are a couple of hills I'd like some help on during my commute, but then I'm afraid that if I added a 30-40 pound motor to my bike, there's a couple more hills that I'd need help on.
As a "one bike", i'm not disappointed. I have a tougher bike, and I have a faster bike, but they're the ones that spend all the time in the garage, and its reached the point where the X is truly my "one bike". The 'X rides fast enough and handles varied terrain well enough that there are very few times when i'm left wanting for one of the other rides.

I suppose it would depend on what kind of rider you were really. People doing fast group rides would probably not appreciate it, nor would a boulder hopping chasm jumping MTB nut. But I can't think of a road bike that can jump chasms and still roll away, or an all mountain bike that could keep up to a guy on the drops, so its sort of the same story here with any other ride. The 'X puts your bike at a fairly happy medium.

So far as the weight is concerned, its about 9lbs. That gap shrinks a small amount if you're replacing your old rack + panniers, but its still more weight. The Big Dummy would be a bit lighter, being one piece, but overall the 9lbs of the 'X isn't bad: it also has something to counteract that weight on the hills, the fact that with the altered wheelbase you can pull yourself down on the pedals using the handlebars. I find that it climbs just as well as it did before, well.. Before putting 100lbs on the back

So far as Stokemonkey is concerned, it would be a *really* nice thing to have, for this particular kind of bike. I'm not sure how easy that particular design they've come up with is to remove, but from what I understand the Stokemonkey doesn't offer any rolling resistance while not in operation: something that a lot of other motors suffer from (some of them are like rolling with a flat). That statement about needing to use them once they're on is pretty true with a lot of motors, especially the dd hub motors which give that forementioned added resistance, but I don't think Stokemonkey would be too bad unless it was on the hills. The thing is, the design is quiet and pedelec-oriented, so it works with you as a cyclist, rather than encouraging you to ride the throttle and sound like a dremel like some of the other e-bikes out there do.
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Old 02-08-08, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
So far as Stokemonkey is concerned, it would be a *really* nice thing to have, for this particular kind of bike. I'm not sure how easy that particular design they've come up with is to remove, but from what I understand the Stokemonkey doesn't offer any rolling resistance while not in operation: something that a lot of other motors suffer from (some of them are like rolling with a flat). That statement about needing to use them once they're on is pretty true with a lot of motors, especially the dd hub motors which give that forementioned added resistance, but I don't think Stokemonkey would be too bad unless it was on the hills. The thing is, the design is quiet and pedelec-oriented, so it works with you as a cyclist, rather than encouraging you to ride the throttle and sound like a dremel like some of the other e-bikes out there do.
Well, when I was wondering about needing to use it just because you have it, I wasn't thinking about rolling resistance. It does look like the Stokemonkey handles that very well. I was more thinking about the times that hill would be perfectly manageable if only you weren't carrying an extra 40 pounds of Stokemonkey. But then the Xtracycle is made to carry more weight, and I used to be about 40 lbs heavier, so maybe it wouldn't be that big of a deal.
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Old 02-08-08, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Well, when I was wondering about needing to use it just because you have it, I wasn't thinking about rolling resistance. It does look like the Stokemonkey handles that very well. I was more thinking about the times that hill would be perfectly manageable if only you weren't carrying an extra 40 pounds of Stokemonkey. But then the Xtracycle is made to carry more weight, and I used to be about 40 lbs heavier, so maybe it wouldn't be that big of a deal.
Don't have a Stokemonkey but my Giant is close. No throttle (sensor in the bottom bracket), so you have to pedal for the motor to kick in, and the weight and drag are similar. I don't need the motor, especially on flats, but much of a hill or when I've got cargo on the bike, the motor is on. Pedaling effort is similar to a non motorized bike, and it makes large loads much more comfortable. And as a consequence I'm not reluctant to load my bike down. Without the motor heavy loads would kill me on the hills.




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Old 02-08-08, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Well, when I was wondering about needing to use it just because you have it, I wasn't thinking about rolling resistance. It does look like the Stokemonkey handles that very well. I was more thinking about the times that hill would be perfectly manageable if only you weren't carrying an extra 40 pounds of Stokemonkey. But then the Xtracycle is made to carry more weight, and I used to be about 40 lbs heavier, so maybe it wouldn't be that big of a deal.
Well, it wouldn't be too hard to remove the battery on any given day you knew you wouldn't need it, saving 13-19lbs. After having tried out the electric solutions which *do* have rolling resistance, I would find Stokemonkey to die for. I find it better to deal with 25-40lbs by yourself on occasion than be faced with 175lbs of cargo and a nice long hill, to handle by yourself.
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Old 02-09-08, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
Ah, clearly written by one without kids. This might be true, of course, if kids never complained, got tired, moved/horsed around, etc., but then they'd be less than kids.
I have done 40 & 60 mile rides with my kids and it really is no different then a long car ride, bring Ipods, video games and snacks and stop about every hour and you're set. (But don't forget to add extra cushions to the snap deck.)
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Old 02-09-08, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
I have done 40 & 60 mile rides with my kids and it really is no different then a long car ride, bring Ipods, video games and snacks and stop about every hour and you're set. (But don't forget to add extra cushions to the snap deck.)
How old are your kids?

That's the difference.
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Old 02-09-08, 12:17 PM
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I started doing long rides when they were 3 & 5 and stopped doing two at once when they were over the 200lb weight limit which I think was when they were 10 & 12. We still go out for long rides but now I bring the kid's bike along and we alternate time on my bike and time on their bike.
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Old 02-09-08, 06:33 PM
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For the types of cargo you mention, I think the BD is overkill. Sure, it would be nice and I lust for one, but I doubt you will experience frame flex using a freerad with those loads. Since you won't benefit much from the Big Dummys greatest advantage, why spend the money for it?

As for the "one bike" issue, I have a road bike in addition to the xtra. It very rarely gets used. The portability factor hasn't slowed me down, but I do think it can be an issue for some.

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Old 02-09-08, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
Don't have a Stokemonkey but my Giant is close. No throttle (sensor in the bottom bracket), so you have to pedal for the motor to kick in, and the weight and drag are similar. I don't need the motor, especially on flats, but much of a hill or when I've got cargo on the bike, the motor is on. Pedaling effort is similar to a non motorized bike, and it makes large loads much more comfortable. And as a consequence I'm not reluctant to load my bike down. Without the motor heavy loads would kill me on the hills.



Correct me if i'm wrong AllenG, but have you got a speaker on your handlebars? This is something i've been trying to figure out how to do well *forever*. I would kill to have a decent little sound system on my bike.
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Old 02-09-08, 09:59 PM
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nice pics vik.
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Old 02-09-08, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
Correct me if i'm wrong AllenG, but have you got a speaker on your handlebars? This is something i've been trying to figure out how to do well *forever*. I would kill to have a decent little sound system on my bike.
Yes it is. It's a powered speaker for my iPod.

Originally Posted by Old post from the Commuting section
Digital Concepts is the name on the front. I found this one in an airport Brookstone of all places, but they are carried by Walmart. They are in the $15-$20 ballpark.
It sounds ok, not great but good enough. I can't stand earphones, nothing to do with their being taboo on a bike but because the make my ears hurt after a short while.
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Old 02-10-08, 12:50 AM
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Hm.. I've got a Creative Zen, not an iPod, but it looks like that one in particular just plugs into the headphones. I've seen a few "bike stereos", but they all seem to be for iPod, and use the docking port. That one in particular looks like it might work, I should look at what other ones might be like it too. Thanks! Oh.. Do you know if that one can be rained on?
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Old 02-10-08, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by yes View Post
nice pics vik.
Thanks - just to be clear I did not take those pics - I just found them in Flickr and figured they'd illustrate some of the XTRAcycle possibilities for the OP.
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Old 02-10-08, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
Hm.. I've got a Creative Zen, not an iPod, but it looks like that one in particular just plugs into the headphones. I've seen a few "bike stereos", but they all seem to be for iPod, and use the docking port. That one in particular looks like it might work, I should look at what other ones might be like it too. Thanks! Oh.. Do you know if that one can be rained on?
I've taken it through light rains with no problem. Driving rains and it ends up in my truck bag.
Yep, it just plugs into the headphone jack, it'll work fine with your Creative Zen.
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Old 02-12-08, 06:36 PM
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Great pics, AllenG.
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Old 02-17-08, 01:45 PM
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Decided to go with the free radical. I just couldn't justify the additional money for the BD. Thanks for the input. It helped me make my decision.
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