Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Utility Bike Dreams

It ain't much, but it gets the job done!
Here's my Xtracycled Schwinn Sierra circa 1987 or so rig that I use for errands. It really isn't anything all that amazing, excepting that it is maybe the most versatile bike I have in the stable. It hauls about anything I've a mind to try to strap to it, but that's not really what makes it so useful for me.

It is perhaps the only bike, aside from my rat-rod fixie Raleigh, that I would leave unlocked anywhere around here. The thing is too ungainly, ugly, and weird for most folks here, so it provides me with an easy solution to just hop on and go down and get some milk, a pint of beer, or whatever. I have Ergon pedals on it, which I've used barefooted, (although I don't recommend doing that regularly!), so no special footwear required here. I don't hardly ever wear a helmet when I ride it, so no special head gear required. It's got some minimalistic tail lights and a head light, so I can go out at night anytime I want to run and do something quick.

So why would I want to change that? Oh........I dunno! Maybe I'm just being a bike nerd. I really should just leave well enough alone. This thing is nearly maintenance free, I got the donor bike for free, and the Xtracycle kit I traded an old touring bike for. I bought some cables and housing, used my old rear wheel from my '92 Klein Attitude, and bought a rear tire for it for under $20.00. The front tire was a cast off from my buddy Jeff Kerkove, who was sponsored by WTB about ten years ago. It's an "EpicWolf" tire, by the way. The model that Specialized made WTB change to "ExiWolf".

Maybe someday.....
So, the old Xtracycle doesn't owe me a thing, and it just keeps on keepin' on. Still, there are times when I feel like a newer, slicker rig would get me to think about using a cargo bike more. Maybe a "real" cargo bike like the Big Dummy, which I could swap my stuff over to and what I don't have, I could source from the parts bin.

Would it really be "better"? I suppose it would function better, but then I would have a bike that I wouldn't feel comfortable just parking outside the convenience store unlocked either. Hmm.............maybe not so convenient? I would have a rig that would handle heavy loads better, with better brakes and better stiffness. But I don't hardly ever use my current rig in situations where those things come up. Maybe I don't need that level of bike?

And then if I do go with a Big Dummy, I have an old, unloved Schwinn Sierra. That's not a good thing, but you know......I suppose I could find a good home for it!


Tyler Loewens said...

Out of curiosity, why not a Trek Transport instead?

Doug said...

I have the exact same thoughts about my Xtracycle. The donor bike was a 1988 Specialized Rock Hopper my brother gave me in 1991. I commuted on it for years including winters when I moved to Northeastern Minnesota. I've had this bike longer than any other bike I own. In 2007 I bought a Xtracycle conversion and it's been my errand bike ever since. I'd love to upgrade to a Surly BD....but can't do it. The old Rockhopper/Xtracycle gets the job done. I feel bad that I secretly hope the frame fails on the Rockhopper and I'm forced to replace it. I can't imagine not having it as my errand bike.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Loewens: I looked VERY hard at getting a Trek Transport, and those are really cool, but.....You see, I already have Xtracycle bags and the Wideloaders that would plug right into a BD. It's kind of hard to get the Trek when it doesn't use accessories I already have. Besides, a Transport won't take my ultimate cargo bike wheel set, and a BD will....

@Doug: Yeah.....I feel the same. It is a shame that you feel like you want the frame to fail so you can get that BD! It almost makes me feel guilty......almost!