So, when I first started planning the bike capable of carrying 2 kids plus groceries, it was between a Metrofiet, CETMA, and an Xtracycle Conversion. The CETMA was the most awesome, the Xtracycle the most reasonable. I settled on the Xtracycle. In Team Lope Junior Squad Project Version 1.0, I imagined building out of a mountain bike, specifically a 29er, giving me the option of breaking free and riding it if I wanted, in a conventional mountain biking scenario. I waffled a bit between the 29er and a 26" MTB standard, each offering advantages and disadvantages. Then, this past week, I started plotting the conversion of Rapscallion INTO the cargo bike. Sure, it’s a fixed gear, but why not? The Xtracycle has a derailleur mount, grab the extra parts needed, and run with it!
Over the last few days, though, I did more research. For one thing, I was really hot for using disc brakes on this project, for some added stopping power with that rear load on these hills, as I plan to ride said hills. Nay, I plan to RAHHHHDE them. That would require a fork with disc brake mounts, and a new front wheel. Plus disc brake system, front and rear. Next, I’d need a second brake and brake lever, both of which I have in the shop. Next, bigger tyres for stability, keeping within the size limitation of the Xtracycle Free Radical frame. Next, full drivetrain (front and rear deraiileurs, new rear wheel with cassette. So, basically, almost a full kit. Then, Lung advised I check rear dropout spacing, and sure enough, even with the 700c Free Radical kit, I’m 10-15mm short on the fixie frame.
So I did some more research, went and did some field checks, and I think I have the new solution, Version 2.0, which is basically Version 1.0. I gave it a new version number because technically Version 1.5, the fixed conversion, slipped in there. I think I still like the 29er configuration. Little bit less maneuverable at low speeds, but much higher rolling speed per gear and easier over rough terrain. I spend all my time on road and fixed bikes anyway, so the 29er (the MTB industry can’t say 700c because, you know…) is a comfortable size for me. I tested the bike I was interested in today, and it felt VERY comfortable. I did the math: using a new bike was cheaper than a conversion. By a mile. I found the bike I was interested in, in my size, on sale, and test rode it. THis never happens to me, mind you, because I haven’t bought a built bike at a shop since what… 2000? Wow.
So, the new-old plan is thus:
Cannondale Trail SL 29er 4 in ‘Saffron’
Disc brakes, front suspension, 21 speeds, wide rims.
Xtracycle Free Radical Family Kit, with 2 seats, flight deck board and side panniers.
(I’ll get one seat first, the second in later summer)
And for tyres, switch out for sweet sweet Schwalbe Kodiak slicks.
I need the narrower tyre for the Xtracycle clearance, and I’m generally not planning single-track off-road rides with the kids and a bag full of eggs.