Hey, all you Xtracycle folks out there! Give me a couple of minutes of your time?
As you know from my exquisite oversharing, I’m on a quest for a wonderful commuter bike. As a mom of three young kids who lives and bikes in a hilly, non-urban area, I have a few specific needs.
- A bike that can haul. Kids, gear, kids’ gear, groceries, etc.
- A bike that has gears. Because I have to handle hills and four seasons. And wind.
- A bike that’s tough. I’m known for choosing quality but being hard on things. (Yep, my husband too, unfortunately.) It’s gotta be durable to deal with my life.
- A bike with style. Given that I’m the only female in my household, apart from the critters, I need stuff that has a feminine flair. I’m sick of making do with boys’ stuff.
- A bike that’s upright. In traffic, I need my head up and my ride steady. Being hunched over straight handlebars with my weight forward doesn’t help.
I’ve been looking at vintage mixtes ‘cuz they’re so good-looking, but they lack the gears that I need, plus I’d have to spend a lot of time and coin getting a decent cargo configuration on them. My ancient Jamis Durango is tough and has the gears, but has straight handlebars and no panniers or baskets. To haul Monkey Boy and anything we need for the day, I’ve had to hook the bike trailer to his Trail-a-Bike. It mostly works.
Xtracycle Cargo Bike
After I tweeted about this cool concept bike on Bicycle Design, an online biking friend responded that her Xtracycle was her station wagon. I’ve passed on the Xtracycles in the past because they just looked like brawny mountain bikes–neither upright nor stylish–and I was worried about pedaling a heavy frame with a load up hills.
Then I saw the Radish. Upright. Ugly color (Orange and brown? Really?), but good-looking bones. Lotsa space for stuff. Pannier options. Fenders. Room for a kid to ride if he got a flat. Hmmm . . .
Now to the questions: How do the Xtracycles handle? Can the gearing handle hills? How do they deal with winter? And how do you like the panniers? I’ve been worried that the cargo systems wouldn’t be flexible enough for all the stuff I would have to carry, from heavy library books to groceries to bulky towels for swimming. I just don’t want to spend a lot of time fussing to get the load just right or freaking out as I try to keep the bike balanced.
Riding should be fun. Bliss, even.
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