Friday, October 12, 2007

Honey, I stretched my bicycle!

Last night I took my new Xtracycle out on the road (and to the supermarket!) for the first time. It was a blast!

The Xtracycle (see photo, below) is a kit that stretches your bicycle frame about 15 inches, making room for super-big bags on the side that allow you to carry much more cargo (eg, groceries) than you could otherwise. Buying one is part of my long-term dream to be kinder to the earth by becoming as car-free as possible.

After I loaded more groceries on it than I've ever put on a bike before, I was amazed last night by how stable the bike felt. It was just like the promotional materials had promised -- the Xtracyle bags allow you to carry your cargo unusually close to the ground. This means a lower center of gravity. The Xtracyle bags also center the weight laterally by keeping the cargo close to the wheels, and this adds further stability.

Something else stretched

But, it hasn't been all peaches and cream. The project of properly installing the kit has really stretched the limits of my bicycle-mechanic expertise (and my set of bicycle tools!). I still haven't managed to connect any of the rear cables, so I have no rear brakes (not as dangerous as most people seem to think; front brakes are more effective than rear brakes if you use proper technique) and only three working gears (on a bike designed for 27!). The lack of proper gearing has contributed to not one, but two chain breaks so far. The completion of this project will have to wait until I am back from Oraita.

I really hope that having this kind of bike available will help me to keep riding reliably throughout the fall and winter. I'm very excited about it! (#*#)


No comments: