Mon, Nov 16, 2009
When looking a donor bicycle for the conversion to an Xtracycle long tailed bike, here are some key things to look for to make sure your bike is up to the task of supporting you and your load:
- A Heavy-duty Steel Frame: You can’t break or crack it, and it supports your weight plus just about any load you can add. A prime candidate, the Zize A New Leaf (ANL for short), was specifically designed for heavier riders making it an ideal for the Xtracycle conversion. To be fair you can use an aluminum frame as well and what would ride like a truck as a mountain bike is ideal for the conversion because you want the front triangle stiffer than normal anyway. Still, for my use, this Zize bike is perfect.
- Strong rims and spokes: Thick, wide rims and 36 spokes. If you are consistently carrying more of a load than just you then you will appreciate the durability of strong wheels.
- Wide tires: Wide with a high thread count for a good ride and durability.
- Wide, metal pedals: Broad, sturdy and strong pedals with a good platform are great for riding in just about any type of shoe.
- Comfortable Saddle: You are going to be using this bike a lot so make sure you are comfortable on the thing.
The conversion from a stock ANL to the finished Xtracycle was pretty easy. Here are some highlights:
The main FreeRadical unit, the part that does the extending, went on easily. The only slight modification I made was too the front attachment to accommodate the larger than normal chainstays. (Check out those reflective sidewalls on the Schwalbe tires!)
The ANL uses a Shimano Nexus Internal 8-speed rear hub so it was a cinch to relocate the rear wheel. I bolted the roller brake arm to one of the holes that is provided on the FreeRadical fro use with disc brakes and when I do another conversion I will likely use the Shimano Alfine hub so that will allow the use of a disc brake.
Because the FreeRadical uses a vertical rear drop, I went with a chain tensioner so that I would not have to monkey around with multiple bolts in the event of a flat although the ANL is great because it has a rear-facing horizontal drop so, in theory, you could simple tension the chain by pulling the whole FreeRadical unit rearward.
Stem and Saddle
I swapped out the stock high-rise stem for a longer, flatter unit and replaced the super-cush saddle with a CODA for now although when the re-issued Selle Italia Turbo is available that will be my permanent perch.
Here are some of the beginning specs from the donor Zize A New Leaf bike:
- Weight Limit: 550 pounds
- Frame: Chromoly steel
- Saddle: Currently an old CODA but I will be putting a Selle Italia Turbo on very soon
- Tires: Schwalbe Marathon with great flat protection
- Tubes: Slimed for additional flat protection
- Brakes: Shimano Disc in the front and Nexus roller in the rear
- Rims: Alex DP24 – Mondo Strong!
- 8 Speed Internal Nexus Rear Hub: Shimano
- Size: Medium = about an 18-inch bike (5’6″ to 5’11″, inseam to 33)
- Color: Black
More on this sweet ride as I use it!