Are mountain bikes the SUV’s of Urban Bikes?

Moe in Aliso
This question was posed yesterday to Gary Fisher at the LA Bicycle Film Festival. Gary didn’t quite hear the question so we didn’t get a concrete answer. I will attempt to answer this question.

First, lets start with the definition of an SUV per Wikipedia:

An SUV is a passenger vehicle which combines the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or station wagon together with all or off road ability

Since most bikes have the same towing capacity and passenger carrying space, we’ll focus on the off road ability of SUV’s.

The ironic part is that SUV’s hardly ever see the dirt but are more of a “social status symbol”, have you ever seen an Escalade or a Navigator off road??? Heck, most H2 and H3 Hummers never see the dirt. Within this context and without counting the Big Box “Mountain Bikes” (they never see the dirt, nor would I recommend it), I would not consider Mountain Bikes to be the SUV’s of Urban Bikes.


However, Xtracycle is a company that strives to duplicate some of the SUV’s passenger and carrying space abilities. Xtracycle’s freeradical attaches to most types of bikes and has the ability to carry a passenger, a load of 150lbs and to go off-road. The Freeradical IS the SUV of Urban bikes.


  1. Noah

    When I want to or need to go offroad, or carry large amounts of stuff, I use my Explorer. Sure, it’s the puny V6 Flex-Fuel model, but it has automatic 4-wheel-drive as well as the ability to manually engage it.

    The mountain bike fits the bill for off-roading and all-terrain for sure. My trusty hardtail gets me through pretty much anything that mother nature can throw at me including ice, snow, hills, mud, gravel, sand and whatnot.

    While an Xtracycle Free Radical add-on is a nice start towards SUV-ing a bicycle, keep in mind that SUVs also have more ground clearance and typically aim for a shorter wheelbase — not longer — to make it harder to get high-centered.

    So, my ideal “Sport Utility Bike” would be a 29er with big old mud tires and an Xtracycle conversion. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have one for 29er yet. I’d probably have to break out the torch and weld my own.

  2. Moe (Post author)

    Well, Xtracycle has a freeradical for 700cc bikes… I would think that it may fit a 29er bike…

  3. RL Policar

    Just this past weekend, I loaded up my Xtracycle with chairs, fruit bowls and my two kids. I was hauling at least 135lbs of stuff and kids.

  4. Prescott

    Xtracycles are much like SUVs in their carrying capacity, however like people have commented of above, they do NOT necessarily have off road capability.

    Turning a road/touring bike to an Xtracycle doesn’t give it offroad capability.

    Turning a “general mtb” that has reasonable clearance and suspension (like 3+ inches) into an Xtracycle must actually DECREASE the offroading capability.

    Also, what does a “big box” bike mean? Is it a bike from WalMart? If it is, I am in complete agreement that nearly all of those are NOT meant to go offroading.

  5. Prescott

    PS – thanks for the interesting blogs 🙂

  6. Moe (Post author)

    RL has taken the Xtracycle off-road, he can elaborate on that further. As far as “Big Box” bike, I meant “Big Box Retailer”, thanks for the clarification.

  7. RL Policar


    I beg to differ on your thoughts on the Xtracycle’s “DECREASE the offroading capability.”

    My current Xtracycle set up has a 100mm fork on the mtb frame that I have. It also rides very smooth on the trails. Sure I can’t take jumps, but for the most part it works. If we ever wanted a trail party, this is the vehicle that can haul up all the goodies.

    Handling does get affected since I’m longer, but you do more leaning than steering in order to manuever the single track.

    I actually enjoy taking my Xtracycle on the trails, its pretty fun. Gets tons of attention!

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