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Last week, we presented the first part of an Xtracycle build…and left off with the attachment of the rear wheel. The rest of the assembly is fairly easy, as long as you are comfortable measuring, cutting and running new cables and casings and adjusting brakes and shifting systems. Otherwise, a trip to your local bike shop might be in order for professional assistance.
Let’s finish this thing up, shall we?
For those of you running disc brakes with your Xtracycle, the FreeRadical kit requires an 203mm/8″ rotor on the back wheel. So, a disc swap is needed if your rotor is smaller than the requirement. Pop the back wheel out of the FreeRadical and replace the disc with a larger one.
Whatever you do, DON’T do what I did — in my excitement, I didn’t seat the Torx T25 wrench deeply enough in one of the rotor bolts and rounded it off. So, I spent an extra hour trying to remove the bolt…first with a slightly larger Torx key, then a drill and a “screw out” bit. Finally, after nothing else worked, I cut a large screwdriver slot in the remains of the bolt head and eased it out with a hammer-powered impact driver.
Ok, with that out of the way, place the rear wheel back in the FreeRadical’s dropouts. Now, if you have a repair stand, suspend your bike to give you a better position to complete the build. The next three steps are easy:
1) Bolt on the rear brake body (or V-brake/cantilever arms) and the rear derailleur, greasing all bolts with lube or antiseize as you go:
2) Bolt on the rear fender, if you’re using one:
3) Bolt on the supplied kickstand to the mounting plate welded to the FreeRadical frame:
Now, it’s time to string some new cables. First, measure and cut an appropriate length of casing for the rear brake. Install it using the bike frame’s cable guides and extra zipties if needed. Run the cable through the casing and attach it to the rear brake. If there’s a way, see if you can keep the casing one continuous piece — that lessens water intrusion and the inner cable will last longer because of it. This isn’t an option on all bikes, but with a few extra zipties, you might be able to pull it off.
On the other side of the bike, measure and cut appropriate lengths of derailleur cable housing and run them back to the rear derailleur. Thread the inner shifter cable through and attach to the derailleur. Most of the time, the cable housing will be cut into several pieces to run between cable stops on the bike’s and the Xtracycle’s frames. You may need a couple zipties to keep the casing secure as it travels back to the derailleur. Finally, be sure to use “linear” housing for the derailleur to ensure crisp shifting…it’s a long run of cable and any slop will be magnified if you just use brake casing. Xtracycle supplies lengths of the appropriate casings for each application in the build kit, though, so don’t worry!
Next, add the Xtracycle-supplied piece of chain to your bike’s existing chain and size the chain for your application. If you’re not familiar with proper chain sizing technique, the folks over at Park Tool have an excellent tutorial. I wound up using all but one complete link of the extra piece of chain for my build.
Guess what? All the tricky building steps are behind you! We’re in the home stretch now, so take a break, crack open another beer if that’s your thing and relax for a few minutes.
Ok, now it’s time to adjust the brakes and rear shifting mechanism. Again, if you’re not familiar with these tasks, Park Tool comes to the rescue again with a derailleur/shifter adjusting tutorial and a good series of brake tutorials.
Here’s a completely optional step — get your “house elf” to doublecheck the drivetrain for smooth performance. Despite his lack of clothing, he gave the drivetrain a thumb’s up. It worked flawlessly!
Make sure the rear derailleur shifts cleanly and the brakes do what they’re supposed to do, then pull the bike out of the stand and rest the assembly on the kickstand you installed a little while ago. Now, slip the V-racks into the upright sockets of the FreeRadical frame, strap the attachment straps in their appropriate places (consult the Xtracycle assembly instructions for specifics — it’s not as intuitive as it sounds, and proper strapping is crucial to a long bag life), snap on the Snapdeck and voila! You have just completed your Xtracycle build — congratulations!!!
All that’s left now is to go for a spin. If you’re anything like me, you’ll return from your shakedown cruise with a huge grin on your face!