Cargo bike day…

21 04 2011

Making the GF happy!

Sharon was getting cranky about my vast bottle collection that has been growing since 2010. I was holding out for a few more to justify my cargo bike run, but I decided it was time to get on with it. For loose bulky loads the CETMA is ideal. Just pile everything in it and roll. No boxes, no straps, no hassle – sweet!

Cycling to recycle...

Although the load was bulky it was light and the CETMA made short work of it.

Johnson St Bridge closed for good..=-(

My next bike mission was a multi-errand run into downtown. I didn’t need to ride the Big Dummy, but it’s a fun bike to cruise on and it’s easier to just grab this Surly than load up a lighter duty bike with panniers.

That blue bridge sticking straight up in the air was a key link for me to get from my house into downtown – in fact it was a key link for 4,000 cyclists and 3,000 pedestrians each day. Sadly structural damage has made it unsafe so they raised it and it will never be used again. The good news there is a $80M replacement bridge on its way with dedicated pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The bad news is that won’t be ready for 3 years. So for now there is a clumsy detour onto the main bridge deck. This will put cyclists in contact with cars a lot more on this key transportation link. I actually think that will be a good thing despite the minor hassles involved for both parties. Victoria will become very aware of its transportation cyclists.

That buckle should be attached to the bike...

I was disappointed that as I was loading up my Xtracycle Freeloader bags at home a key buckle popped off the bike. The velcro strap attaching it to the frame failed. Given that these bags have seen about a dozen uses since I installed them that’s not good. My old Freeloader bags seemed to be less durable than these new ones, but they never failed me in many years of hard use. In fact I scavenged a velcro strap from the old bags to get these ones back into service. I’ll have to carry a spare strap and hope this is not a sign of things to come. A utility bike has to be reliable or it doesn’t have a lot of utility!

My Surly Big Dummy hanging with his pals...

The Big Dummy was a blast to ride. I have fun overtaking people on a cargo bike and watching them do a double take as I pass…=-) The Rohloff hub is a pleasure to use as are the Porcelain Rocket frame bags my Dummy sports for storing small items.



11 responses

21 04 2011
Chris Emerson

Yep, I got the new Freeloaders (black not grey) when they first came out and the exact same stitching failed on mine on about the second time I cinched it up. Luckily it broke in my hands and didn’t make it to a bumpy road with a load where there might have been consequences. At about the same time one of the draw strings pulled out also! Xtracycle needs to look into “morebadasser” stitching. The fabric itself is heavy duty, or at least heavy, but it would be good if their gear had that same lightweight, bombproof build quality and attention to detail that you get with some of the core outdoor equipment makers. I remember you making a similar comment once.

I have also gone back to my old Freeloaders for the time being. For me at this point I think the ultimate Freeloader would be a very light but very abrasion/tear resistant sling. Not water proofed and I’d even ditch the inner pocket. The Freeloaders are only there to hold my waterproof bags which have pockets, a few tossed in odds and ends that can get wet or an occasional strange, oversized item that could be wrapped in a tarp if it also just happened to be damp on that odd day. The old Freeloader mesh ends are too flimsy though and the toggle doesn’t hold tension in the cord, so good to see that go in the new design. I do like the way the new Freeloader can clip onto the adventure rack and clip onto the buttons on the frame.

As with the new Freeloaders I was a little shocked how heavy my new Flight deck was, so after a trial I am leaving it off for the moment and getting by ok. Similarly, I am working out techniques for getting by without the heavy Kickback stand (even for kid loading) that I was trying for a while. A brake lever strap (park brake) is a good start here. Weight doesn’t matter for just bumbling around town, but my ride to work is a 45km round trip on the highway usually with only light-moderate load. Also I’m working toward bigger recreation km’s on this bike. While I want it to be able to carry most anything I can throw at it on occasion, I am finding the convenience that some of these accessories offer is outweighed by their burden when I am trying to get along quickly. I’m currently running a global off road expedition worthy front wheel with SON28 which is cool, but I am thinking a well built 32 spoke cross county racing wheel with SONdelux and slimmer tyres will do just fine for the vast majority of my riding. I’m clinging to my silly ideal of creating one bike that I love riding everywhere for anything.

Related to the above, I was pretty unimpressed also by the PeaPod LT. It has all these heavy, rudimentary over built bracket bits, but then the key point where all this actually bolts to the seat, the plastic is very thin. There is a button headed bolt (low profile for kids bottom I guess) with a square lug underneath that is supposed to sit inside a square hole in the plastic, but when you do up the nut on the underside the plastic struggles to stop the bolt from turning and begins to round out. At the same time the underside of this area of plastic is not supported by the bracket so the downward pressure of the bolt head causes the plastic to deform downwards causing cracking around the circumference of the bolt head. The new seats that have just appeared on their website look quite different. Photos give the impression of a solid build, but lots of clunky, heavy layers of interface going on there. I’d like to see a really simple, elegant, solid design where the seats can mount directly to the racks without the deck.

But having said all that, I have also been disappointed with the plastic mounting bracket for my Ortlieb handlebar bag. Ortlieb, the supposed masters of design and manufacture with these materials! When tensioned to the point of keeping the bag in place the plastic bracket buckles and distorts as a result of the compression from the wire rope. Then when you screw down the locking bolts onto the wire rope the protective outer breaks and the wire gets mashed so that it is very difficult to repeat the procedure. It still works, but is wonky and fiddly.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong I do really love Xtracycle, I just hate them a bit also.

By the way, someone finally flashed me while using my E3 Triple on the road, I better make that shield to cut out the stray light.

21 04 2011

The bit of stitching that failed you is generic to both new and old Freeloader bags – during my trip so far (8 months/11000km mostly dirt or off-road) I’ve not noticed any difference between the ones from my old bags and the new ones.

I did reinforce the stitching that attaches the buckle straps to the bags themselves which I think was a good idea. All in all I find the new bags mildly over-engineered – too many plastic buckles. The heavier duty material is fine by me – mine get bounced off rocks and bushes at lot with the type of riding I do.

The newer material also bleaches significantly in the sun.

Overall, for my uses, an improvement, but could be better for the money.


21 04 2011

Here is how much I love my new Big Dummy (got it in January):
The draw string on one of the freeloaders pulled right out the first time I tightened it – it was never sewn in. I contacted xtracycle, and they said shipping was too $$ for me to send it in for repair (I’m in Hawaii), but they’d foot the bill if I took it to a local tailor for repair. A fair offer – but I haven’t been able to justify the “shop time”. The idea of taking the freeloader off, and driving my car around town for the few days it would take to get fixed is something I just can’t seem to come to teams with. I need my daily big dummy fix!
Seriously, though, I do love the freeloaders – I just think Xtracycle needs to tighten up their quality control – this wan’t a gear failure, it was a fit/finishing failure. And I love the inner pockets – perfect size for notebooks/magazines, and the like.

22 04 2011
Chris Emerson

Boy, I should really not start writing anything in the middle of the night after 12 and a half hours at work. The quibbles I mentioned don’t bother me as much as I might have portrayed. Mostly I just enjoy thinking about how my gear works, the good and the bad, and trying new things. My idea of what is good or bad changes every other week anyway. These learning experiences are all part of the fun… expensive fun.

22 04 2011
Chris Cullum

You have a front loading cargo bike and a Big Dummy, wow!

On a note related to the replacement of the Johnson st bridge, I just read in the paper that it will not include tracks to bring the train downtown. This just about kills the chance of passenger rail returning from Victoria to up Island on the E&N line. That’s a shame, especially with the rapid population growth on the island and the bad traffic gridlock developing. They could have even used the portion from Langford to downtown as a commuter train. When will we ever get our priorities straight…

22 04 2011

Damn! That’s a shame about the Blue Bridge! I really loved that thing. Are they going to tear down the old bridge now? What about the train station–are they just stopping the train short of the bridge?

22 04 2011

Adventure!, Stephen Rees has an excellent blog on transportation and he has posted an entry about the Vancouver Island railway:

I spent last year in Victoria and I was amazed at the amount of hostility towards sustainable transportation in what is essentially a retirement town with no industry. There is now a proposal to turn part of the Lochside bike route into a truck route. I am glad that Vik is now in Victoria so he can make it turn into the sustainable transportation model town that I hoped it would be by this time.

23 04 2011

@Randobarf – if I was going to spend my free time being a bike advocacy guy I’d spend it repealing BC’s mandatory helmet law.

23 04 2011

I remember when we tried to stop that helmet law. Now I have lowered my standards. I think British Columbia cyclists are so lucky that cycling isn’t outlawed altogether. The Provincial Government (and I mean provincial) is doing everything possible to discourage cycling. After all, cyclists are a terrible public safety hazard responsible for a plague of death and destruction on the roads of British Columbia.

3 05 2011
Tucson Velo

I just ordered my CETMA yesterday and am trying to figure out where the Big Dummy will now fit into the picture. I know I won’t part with it, but also no the CETMA will be our child hauler for years to come.

3 05 2011

@TV – hard to say. You may not use it that much.

Congrats on the CETMA. It’s an ideal kidlet transporter!

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