more about loads


  Today I took the whole rig out for a few hours.  At first the day was still very windy, and rainy, as the tail end of a big storm passed thru.  So it was out with rain gear, and pretty much a full load.  I can see that the Xtracycle is capable of hauling much more.  The real story is, whether or not you want to carry it.

  Not only can the Xtra haul it, but it quickly comes down to what you can pedal up, over what kind of terrain.  Suddenly the concept of keeping things modular is that much more at the forefront.  

  The concept being to pack things in an order.  An order of priority, modular to be able to adjust to varying terrain, capability, and safety to both myself and equipment.  

  Right away, I notice that the loaded rig is good in the big winds.  the load is heavy, and packed well.  On pavement it proves to be somewhat aerodynamic the rig's heft keeps me from blowing around in gusts.  The rain is not too much of a deal, rolling on a set of Maxxis HolyRoller 2.4" Urban MTB tyres, the water simply parts.

  These tyres have a a knobby pattern them, but really its a square pattern, and its more like a set of groves cut into a tyre.  That is, the tread pattern is more like an inverted tread compared to a bumpy knobby tyre.  In reality the tyre is designed for street ruckus, more like urban assault messenger style, or aggressive street use. 

  In the world of Cargo bikes, bicycle tyre development is still in catch up mode.  With cargo bikes the added weight wears on typical bicycles tyres more, and the extra rigors of off-road duty, I'm pushing the current limits in State of Bicycle Design and Use.  However, with the anticipation of Surly's Big Dummy, I think all the little issues I've come to know, are worked out in their design.  We all know how pleased I am with The Pug.

  I have found that hauling things up pavement is much easier than the dirt.  Especially muddy fireroads, with clay, and wet single track.  The heft of the rig is an amazing thing.  The weight on the rear wheel really gives you a ton of traction, but that too has its limits, as i discovered.  

  Riding a longtail cargo bike with a 100lb payload, on and off road, in the rain, wind, and mud, thru Ft. Ord, is my backyard testing environment.  I know the area well, and i know bikes well.  so its the perfect testing grounds.

  A big issue I've had with my particular Xtracycle conversion has been the chainline.  That is...the chain like to rub, and that is not good.  It likes to rub on the seatstay when I use the last 3 cogs.  I have already worn thru a few pieces of plastic I placed to offset the rubbing, but ultimately the plastic wears thru fast, and i have actually cut into the chainstay with the chain.  its a bummer.  for now i have some metal put in place as a kind of sacrifice piece of metal.  

  On the other side of the spectrum, the chain rubs on the rear tyre when i use the biggest cog and the granny gear, but only when I use this Maxxis 2.4" tyre.

  I hope The Big Dummy is not like this.


  Today's mud was a bit of a challenge.  The tyres clogged up, as they are not really designed for muddy conditions, but I will say they did really well.  I would hope for a better lugged tyre for these conditions.  When it comes to a lugged type knobby tire, I have some reservations when it comes to putting my 180lbs + another 100lbs of cargo, onto those lugs.  its just that the current State of Design in bicycle tyres is aimed at sport, either light weight Cross Country Racing or Down Hill.  Eventually I will find a wide dirt tyre I like.  The issue is reliability.  It will be a real bummer to have tyre failure on a multi-day back country jaunt.

  I think the key will be to swap back to the Conti Town and Country tyre set when rolling on the pavement and save the knobbies for only dirt.  The issue is the added weight, and most bicycle tyres are not designed for it.


  The rear wheel I pretty much had the same problem, the clay in the mud gunks things up.  The chainline is too close to the tyre, and the chain rubs on the tyre.  When the mud collects, the chain cuts thru the mud, which results in a now muddy chain, which makes shifting a bit chunky at times, and churning the cranks round and round, really is churning, as the grit grinds away.

  The amount of change in pitch, that I was riding on in the dirt, made for a busy set of hands, constantly shifting the front and rear derailleurs at the same time, trying to keep momentum and yet not mess up a shift going into a steep pitched short climb.  I found myself wondering how luxurious a Rohloff 14-speed internal geared hub would be.  Suddenly I envision the chain being perfectly straight, nothing rubs, the whole drive train is steel, gone are light weight XC aluminum chainrings and the simplicity of no cogset and much cleaner..right?  so the story goes.  

  Knowing what I what I know of owning a Single Speed MTB and the years I rode it off and on, I can attest to the advantages. would be better.  Arggghhh...but the CASH!  Rohloff hubs are not exactly cheap.  So for now...I'll be eating up standard drivetrain parts, and I'll be dealing with the charm of it all...gee..sounds fun.

  The packing job I was so pleased with, has shown its downside.  That being, the duffle bags are basically hanging from the tops of the V-racks on the Xtracycle.  That allows the payload to swing a little bit.  Not matter how much adjusting, tying, roping, tightening, etc, no matter how much you do, it all starts to wiggle around once you get going.

  This is where I've come to think using the Wideloaders is better.  So I will be trying that setup very soon.  What I noticed is that the duffle bags had a tendency to bounce, and swing out, when I went off of little drops, or hit bumps a bit too hard.

  The whole of the situation really makes me wonder about using a 24" LargeMarge rim, like what is used on The Pug.  But then you sacrifice the convenience of finding 26" MTB tyres all over the place.  Oh well...things will work out.


  This was a cool shot from today.  You can see the rain drops in the sunlight.Page_2_2

this is another trippy shot too.


  While on Ft. Ord I came across all these sheep.


the sheepherders said it was 300 head of sheep and that was just part of flock.  The other flock was over on Gidotti road.  I think they said there were about 1000 sheep in total.