First big grocery haul by longtail

Today, I set out to test the Roadrunner’s cargo capacity, seeing if she was up to a grocery run.  We have a grocery store just over a mile away that I use for small, weekly needs, but I keep a running list of bulk items, as well as other groceries that are a particularly good buy at either Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

The two stores are near each other, and, if possible, I make the trip (which happens about every 1.5 months), when I’m already planning to be in that neck of the woods with the car.  I usually return with six (or more) very loaded grocery bags, something my regular bike was not up to, at least not without the trailer (and the trailer wouldn’t fit on MetroLink (our light rail system)).

With the reduced cargo capacity of our side-loader bags, due to the Yepp childseat, I wasn’t sure how Roadrunner would do on this trip, but it was time for a test.

The trip started with a nice 2.5 mile ride to the MetroLink station.  I wheeled Roadrunner up the ramp and onto the train . . .

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. . . and it was a perfect fit!  With the center kickstand deployed, the front wheel was hanging out over the stairwell, and she was pretty darn stable.

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I almost thought I could sit down and leave her there, but the movement of the train meant that she need a little bracing every now and then.  Ten minutes and four stops later, we de-trained at the Richmond Heights stop and cruised down Brentwood Blvd. to WF.

My biggest hurdle this trip was time, as I had under 2.5 hours for both transit and shopping.  Well, that, and not letting my eyes get bigger than my cargo space.  The need for speed forced me to stick to my shopping list, which minimized the size of my load.

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All appearances to the contrary, that trash can is not part of my cargo.

The WF haul consisted of bulk bin items and a couple of dairy products (those are in the insulated bag strapped into the child seat).  The bill (under $100!) confirmed that it was a rather light shopping trip, but I bought everything on my list.

Next stop, Trader Joe’s.  Next dilemma — leave my WF groceries on the bike, or carry everything in with me to TJ?  I compromised by bringing the insulated bag in with me, but leaving the two bags of dry goods in the side-loader bags with the bike.  Happily, they were there waiting for me when I returned with two more bags from TJ’s.

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I thought I would have more strapped onto the rack behind the Yepp seat, but my duffle bag was mostly empty.

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Verdict: Roadrunner hauled everything on my list, and had room for more, but perhaps not ALL that much more, with our current set-up.  A milk crate on the back would be convenient for grocery trips, but I would want a way to take it on and off easily, because the rack is convenient for some items.  The Yepp seat could be removed, but I really don’t want to take it on and off all of the time, and I can make use of the space in the seat.

The ride home, fully loaded, was not really all that different from an empty bike, and once again, everything went smoothly on MetroLink.  To be fair, my groceries probably weighed in under 50 pounds (or not much over), making the total cargo not that much more than carrying Sir on the bike, but there’s nothing wrong with starting small.  I also managed to make the trip in just under my 2.5 hour time limit, so success on all fronts!

Super bikey weekend (the best kind)

I kicked the weekend off with a bike shop date on Friday night, followed by a full day of CyclingSavvy on Saturday.  We wrapped things up with a Mother’s Day picnic by bike.

Bike shop date night
Matthew experienced significant knee pain during and after his first real ride on the Roadrunner.  Turns out, we hadn’t really taken time to get fit when we picked her up from the bike shop, and the maximum height on the seat post we started with was a good two inches lower than Matthew needed it.

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So on Friday night, we loaded Roadrunner on our trunk rack (drove it there rather than biking, for various logistical reasons).  Getting it on there was definitely a two-person job, but it wasn’t too bad.  As you can see, the bike is quite a bit longer than our car is wide, which made for some nervous driving, but we made it to The Hub and back with no problems.  We spent quite awhile there, but it was a good use of time and a decent way to spend our weekly date night.

There was that awkward moment during the fitting when I realized that I was surrounded by men (the bike shop mechanics, who, I guess, are all road riders) with hairless legs.  If nothing else, my decisions about body hair removal clearly mark me a non-roadie!

Anyhow, we now have an extra long seat post, with each of our positions etched into it, for easy swapping back and forth.  We are probably going to do something different with the handlebars, probably more of a flat bar, perhaps with an adjustable stem so we can quickly and easily customize that aspect for either of us as well.

CyclingSavvy
Saturday morning I was up and on my bike by twenty after seven, headed for a full day of teaching CyclingSavvy.  We had a small class (below our usual minimum of four students required to go ahead with the class), but it was completely worth it!

Photo credit: Karen Karabell
Photo credit: Karen Karabell

Two past CS grads joined us for the Road Tour portion as we trekked through U City, Clayton, and Brentwood.  You can read Rebecca’s wonderful recap of the experience on her blog, Fiets of STyLe, and there are more photos here.  This course is SO rewarding to teach!

By the time I reached home, I’d been out and about on the bike, in the sun and the heat for nine hours.  Not long after G’s bedtime, I was on the couch and it was pass-out-o’clock.

Mother’s Day
I wanted something simple and low-key for Mother’s Day, and a picnic lunch at a local park fit that bill perfectly.  We loaded up the Roadrunner and headed over early, to take advantage of cooler morning temps on what would be an almost 90-degree day.

Gabriel and I are clearly ready for careers as professional bike models, no?

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We wrapped things up by heading to Ted Drewes for some frozen custard, where the longtail got lots of attention.  Gabriel wanted to eat his mini cone in his bike seat.  After our frozen custard, we headed home to rest.

All-in-all, it was a very lovely weekend by bike!

 

Roadrunner specs and accessories

The folks at Xtracycle offer a few different build options for the Edgerunner, with different gearing and brakes, but once we decided we wanted an internal hub, it was cheapest to just buy the frame and build from there, rather than buy one of the stock bikes and swap parts.

First, a shout out to the Facebook group (R)Evolutions Per Minute: Cargo Bikes in the US.  Cargo bike owners and enthusiasts graciously answered questions and provided input throughout the entire longtail selection and building process, and their help was invaluable.  (R)Evolutions Per Minute is the Facebook group of the Less Car More Go cargo bike documentary project (learn more and check out the Kickstarter campaign).

Also, thanks again to The Hub (our LBS) for taking on this project (there are no official Xtracycle dealers in StL) and to the folks at Xtracycle, for taking time to answer our questions.

The Build

  • Edgerunner frameset w/ FSA Pig PRO headset
  • Alfine 11 Hub with parts kit and shifter
  • Alfine chain tensioner (needed on vertical dropout frame)
  • SRAM PC830 chains
  • 45 tooth front ring and an 18 tooth or 20 tooth cog on the rear (we asked The Hub for this build per the recommendation from Splendid Cycles; I’d actually have to go out and count the teeth to see whether or not this happened)
  • Avid BB7 Brakes Front and Rear, with Shimano centerlock adapter in rear
  • Brake levers: a longer city/hybrid style
  • Upgraded Avid Slickwire Brake Cable and housing to improve brake modulation and power (especially in rear)
  • Wheels: Shimano Rhyno Lite Rims, Butted Spokes, Brass nipples, Shimano XT front hub
  • Schwalbe Big Apples in black, front and rear.  26 x 2.15 with k-guard for front, and 20 x 2.15 with raceguard for rear
  • FSA Metropolis Cranks with Shimano UN-55 Bottom Bracket
  • Handlebar: Stock bar from a Kona Dew Delux that we tried and liked in the shop, similar to Civia Humbolt Handlebar
  • Kalloy UNO seatpost (will be swapping for a longer one, to accommodate Matthew’s height)
  • Dimension (or similar) stem
  • Hobson Easyseat noseless saddle — an extra one we already had
  • Shimano SPD pedals with SPD on one side, platform on the other

Xtracycle Accessories

  • FlightDeck [Two] rear deck: the new version has ports for the Yepp Easyfit seat built into the deck — this is both good and bad . . .
  • KickBack center kickstand
  • X2 cargo bags: We opted for the more expensive, waterproof X2 bags, rather than the X1 bags.  We were warned that they might not play nicely with the Yepp seat.  That is true, although we may not have fared much better with the X1 bags (more on that in a minute)
  • Standard Xtracycle racks: we liked the idea of the heavy duty P-racks, which also have the benefit of rails to accommodate any pannier, but the P-racks are taller than the standard racks, which would have meant a higher center of gravity for the rear load, so we stuck with the standard
  • Stock Edgerunner fenders (metal): Fenders are a must, and, with the different wheel sizes, it was easiest to order the set from Xtracycle, which comes with a 26″ front and a 20″ rear — the fenders provide great coverage and are very sturdy
Baby Jake on the left, Roadrunner on the right
Baby Jake on the left, Roadrunner on the right

Our Add-ons

  • Two brackets for use with our Planet Bike rear lights
  • One bracket for our Planet Bike “be seen” front headlight
  • This accessory mount for the handlebar
  • Mounting bracket for our Cygolite MityCross “see” headlights — for now, we moved the bracket from Matthew’s back-up bike, but at some point we may order an extra bracket
  • Water bottle cage (we had an extra sitting around)
  • Standard bike bell
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Front light mounts and bell
The FlightDeck doubled as a convenient tool stand while installing the rear light brackets
The FlightDeck doubled as a convenient tool stand while installing the rear light brackets

Child seat and bag compatibility issue

We were warned by Xtracycle that the Yepp Child Seat might not play nicely with the X2 cargo bags — specifically, that we would not be able to use the lids that are an integral part of making the X2 bags waterproof.  Thinking long-term, we opted for the X2 bags anyway — in a couple of years, G will have outgrown the child seat, and we’ll have fully-functional bags — until then, we’ll just have to make sure cargo is protected from rain some other way.

Unfortunately, the compatibility issue seems to be exacerbated by the new FlightDeck design.  The previous design required the use of the Yepp Easyfit adapter, which meant the Yepp seat was mounted a couple of inches above the cargo deck.  While the new design, with the Yepp Easyfit ports built right into the cargo deck, is an improvement in terms of keeping the child’s weight lower and not having to buy the adapter, those extra vertical inches may have been key to the seat and the cargo bags playing nicely together.

The footrests on the Yepp seat, which straddle the cargo deck, do not fir over both the deck and the inside layer of the cargo bag when the seat is in the front port.  For our initial test ride, we had to use the rear port for the Yepp seat, which put G’s weight further back on the bike, creating more balance issues.

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The following morning, we came to the above compromise: we returned the Yepp seat to the front port and scrunched the bags toward the back of the rack, so the front of the cargo bag is behind the Yepp footrest.  Not ideal, but seemingly our best option.

A note on the frame color

Though you can’t see much of the frame, what you can see in the pictures in this post actually come close to depicting the actual color.  I did a little digging on the Crayola website, trying to find a way to describe our frame color, and found . . .

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. . . robin’s egg blue!  I think that is the closest color match I’ve seen.

 

 

 

 

She’s heeeeeeeere!

After over a year of planning and research (I clearly need to go back and add the Edgerunner to that comparison chart!), and many months of waiting, we have our new bike!

We picked her up from the bike shop last night (shout out to the guys and gals at The Hub, especially Greg, who helped us price, order, and build our bike — there are a number of local bike shop (LBS) options in St. Louis, but we’re partial to these guys, for their knowledgeable staff and great customer service!).

My first thought upon seeing the bike was that none of the online images accurately captured the frame color.  Based on what I’d seen, I expected a bright light blue.  My best description of the real-life color?  Aquamarine.*

My second thought was, “Those are some big-a** tires (and fenders)!”

We’d driven our car, complete with trunk bike rack, to The Hub, and we briefly considered trying to wrangle the thing onto the rack.  I decided that we’d waste so much time in the [perhaps impossible] attempt, that it’d be better to cut our losses and ride it home.

But first, food!  After Matthew and I each took the bike for a quick spin, sans passenger, to make sure there weren’t any glaring issues for the bicycle mechanics to address, we loaded Sir in his new ride for the three block trip to Dewey’s Pizza.

Post pizza, I geared up for the four mile ride home, while Matthew helped Gabriel into the car.  We already had Matthew’s bike on the rack, since I had picked him up from work to go to the bike shop, and he commented, “If not for this darn car, we could all bike home together.”  Indeed!

I was quite happy with how the bike handled on the way home.  The 11-gear internal hub seemed to have plenty of range, and for a big bike, she’s pretty zippy.  Matthew only beat me home by seven minutes!

While I was the first one to get to ride the bike any distance, Matthew had the honor of the first “real” trip with Sir on board.

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This is Sir’s second week at preschool, and he went in style this morning!  He’s very excited about our “new blue bike.”  There was a slight delay in departure, as we fussed with the seat and bag combination (more on that in a later post, but using the Yepp seat with full-sized longtail cargo bags is a bit tricky), but soon enough they were ready to roll!

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We still need to add light mounts, and we’re planning to swap the old-school pedals with clips for SPD pedals that have a regular platform on one side.  I’ll write another post with full specs/build details for any of you gear-heads (specs/build post here).

All-in-all, I think we made a good purchase and are going to be very happy with this bike (and wishing we had one for each of us!).  While I’ll miss having Sir in front of me, I know we’ll have a lot of great adventures on our new ride (name still TBD).

*Neither of these pictures accurately captures the color of the bike, either, at least not the way the photos display on my computer.

What’s in a bicycle name?

We heard on Monday that Xtracycle will start shipping out the new batch of Edgerunners mid-month.  Since we’re just getting the frame, it will likely be at least another week beyond that before our bike is ready, but it should be road-worthy by the end of April.  I have to admit that when they pushed back the date from March to “early to mid-April,” I was hoping for more on the “early” side, but at least this is better than another delay.

My least favorite thing about the Edgerunner (and I say this having never seen one in person, much less ridden one) is the name.  It conjures up images of scooting along on the very far right side of the road, absolutely the last place you ever want to operate a bicycle.

Riding far to the right (i.e., at the edge of the road) makes you invisible and irrelevant to other road users.  It is also the place you encounter many of the dangers that cause the most common kind of bike crash (a solo fall) like debris, grates, pavement imperfections, wet leaves, sand, etc.  This is not how I ride and this is not what I teach.

So I am less than excited about the implications of the model name of this bike, but I’m also not huge on naming bikes.

I oh-so-creatively dubbed my Kona Jake, “Baby Jake.”  BUB (short for Back-Up Bike, my Schwinn Voyager) never really had a name, until I needed a way to distinguish between Baby Jake and BUB when writing here.  Before that, I may have also referred to BUB as “Baby.”

At any rate, I don’t really use the names I give my bicycles.  I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “Hmm, which bike will I ride today?  I think I’ll take BUB.”

I may just end up referring to the Edgerunner as “the longtail,” which easily distinguishes it from any of our other bikes.  I could also rename it “Roadrunner,” which deals with my main objection to the name, although I’m also not sure “runner” is terribly appropriate, as cargo bikes are not really built for speed (maybe it would deserve that name if I had electric assist!).  Another option, in a continuation of my not-so-creative names, would be “Blue.”

We’ll probably wait to settle on a name, if any, until we actually have the bike, so we can get a feel for her (his?) personality, but it’s not too early to start brainstorming.

So, what do you call your bike?  And, any suggestions for a good name for a blue Xtracycle Edgerunner longtail?