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Tag Archive: grocery getter

Bikes That Work

I’m cleaning out my email inbox again, and I’ve got a pair of bikes to share with you. The first comes from my friend Ken, who snapped photos of this bike at the Design Museum of London:

Aqueduct

From the design team responsible for the bike:

The Aquaduct is a pedal-powered concept vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water for the developing world. The functional model was designed and constructed over a three-week period for the Innovate or Die contest hosted by Specialized Bicycles, Google, and Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

More information on this concept can be found by visiting the Aqueduct website.

The next bike comes from Fixed Gear Gallery’s recent “Grocery Getter Contest“. While there were many creative entries, the hands-down winner was crafted by David Mahan. Fixed Gear Gallery and David graciously allowed us to use photos of this amazing machine:

David started by taking this…:
Getter
(photo courtesy Fixed Gear Gallery/ David Mahan)

…and applied some heat, metalworking skill and general wizardry to come up with this:
getter2
(photo courtesy Fixed Gear Gallery/ David Mahan)

What’s best about this bike is that the “cargo” part of the cargo bike removes to become a shopping cart…how cool is this?!?

getter3
(photo courtesy Fixed Gear Gallery/ David Mahan)

Check out the rest of the Grocery Getter contest entries by clicking here. For a more detailed start-to-finish look at David’s creation, please check this out.

Green Tuesday: Birth of an Xtracycle, Part Two

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.

disc swap

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:

brake and derailleur on

2) Bolt on the rear fender, if you’re using one:

fender

3) Bolt on the supplied kickstand to the mounting plate welded to the FreeRadical frame:

kickstand

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.

cable and casing

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!

derailleur casing

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.

chain

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!

naked house elf

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!!!

the complete rig

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!

Green Tuesday: Birth of an Xtracycle, Part One

The staff here at Bikecommuters.com strongly advocate bike commuting as one of many ways of reducing our impact on the environment, but we also really encourage utilitarian cycling such as grocery shopping, errand-running, date nights, etc. We feel that the amazing Xtracycle facilitates such a lifestyle…this baby is designed to do just about everything a car can do — hauling people and packages in a friendly, healthful, low-environmental-impact sort of way.

That being said, we’ve gotten a few questions submitted to us in the past couple months along the lines of “you know, I’m really interested in getting an Xtracycle…how hard are they to put together?” So, we figured we’d do a (mostly) step-by-step photo tutorial with tips and tricks for getting one of these beauties up and running. And, because this tutorial is photo-intensive, we also figured that it would be better as a two-part article.

Xtracycle kits come with a well-prepared and clear assembly instruction booklet, but it is always nice to see some additional photos and hear about some of the “ins and outs” of such an assembly. So, let’s get down to it!

How difficult is it to take this:
bare bike

and a box full of Xtracycle parts:
parts

and combine them to be a fully-functioning utility bicycle? It’s not as hard as you think…if I was pressed, I’d rate it as no more than an intermediate-level mechanical endeavor. If you’re comfortable replacing cables, adjusting brakes and shifting systems on your bike, the rest of this setup will be a piece of cake. However, if you’re not comfortable with such things, leaving it in the hands of a professional might be a better course of action — after all, you won’t ride it if it doesn’t work well, right?

Right off the bat, please let me recommend that you visit your local bike shop and purchase a “tandem-length” (3000 mm) brake cable with the appropriate leaded end for the type of brakes you’ll be using on your build. Although the good folks at Xtracycle include a long brake cable in the build kit, it was over 4″ too short for my application, resulting in a mid-build trip to a faraway bike shop that had tandem cables in stock. If for some reason you don’t actually need such a long cable for your build, rest assured that it wasn’t a wasted trip; you can use it next year when it is time to replace your cables.

Also, you may strongly consider prepping the interior of the FreeRadical frame with Boeshield, FrameSaver or plain boiled linseed oil — there are some tubes that could potentially collect rainwater, and you don’t want this great machine rusting from the inside out. Simply plug all the welding vent holes with tape, pull out the Xtracycle-provided tubing plugs and pour your rustproofing inside, allowing it to coat the insides of the tubes. Pour out the excess, let it “cure” for a day or two and get ready to build.

Tools you will need for assembly:
— 4, 5, 6 and 8mm allen wrenches
— Torx T25 wrench (only if disc brakes are used)
— 10mm box/open-ended wrench
— adjustable wrench
— cable/casing cutter (I used a Dremel-type tool with a cutoff wheel)
— grease/assembly lube/anti-seize paste to lubricate all mounting bolts
— small screwdriver to adjust rear derailleur
— chain breaker tool

First step in the build is to remove the saddle and seatpost, rear wheel, chain, rear brakes and rear derailleur from the “donor” bike. Flip the remainder of the donor bike upside down, resting the handlebars and the top of the seatpost on the ground. Trust me, this is the most convenient way to continue with the assembly as the Xtracycle’s “FreeRadical” frame gets bolted on.

parts
Rear brake body and rear derailleur removed from the donor.

Next, thread the long bolts and “special nuts” into the receiving holes on the front of the FreeRadical frame. Xtracycle provides spacer washers to use if the donor bike’s rear dropout thickness is less than 7mm, but I didn’t need to use them…the donor KHS Alite 1000 has really thick dropouts. Squeezing the bike’s dropouts together, carefully seat the “special nuts” into the dropouts and screw in the long bolts (leave them loose for now). In the below photo, you’ll be able to see how this is all oriented — arrows point to the T-shaped stainless steel “special nuts”.

special nuts

Make sure that the front tongue of the FreeRadical frame is above the chainstay bridge (if present) of the donor bike. Now, “sandwich” the bike’s chainstays with the FreeRadical frame on top and the Xtracycle-provided “front attachment plate” (with rubber pad) below. Run the long bolt and appropriate washers through the “sandwich” and tighten the bolt and nut, ensuring that the tongue is centered between the chainstays. Here’s a photo that illustrates this:

tongue over chainstay

And a view from the underside:

FAP

Now go to the special nuts and bike’s dropouts and snug those bolts up. Xtracycle provides torque values for both sets of bolts in their instruction manual. You may need to hold the T-shaped portion of the special nuts with an adjustable wrench to keep them from rotating while you tighten the bolts with your allen wrench.

The last step for this part of the build process is to place the rear wheel into the dropouts welded to the FreeRadical frame. Now we can roll this beauty outside and can complete the build outdoors with the assembly firmly grasped by a bike repair stand.

rear wheel in

Ok, take a break; you’ve earned a cold drink — and just as the instruction manual states, we’re over halfway there! Tune in next Tuesday when we complete the build…bolting on a new brake disc, the rear brake body and rear derailleur and running new cables and casings. Finally, we’ll put the V-racks and Snapdeck on, stuff the Footsies in their receiving holes and take this baby for a spin!

Grocery Getter Completed

Over the weekend, I was able to complete my take on the European-style utility bike — what I’ve been calling “Jack’s Patented Grocery Gitter”.

Using an actual European city bike frame (an old Belgian-made French Astra), I was able to salvage enough parts to make this project a winner. Heck, I even salvaged an old chain from another bike! The total parts cost to me was about $30 — $15.00 of which went towards a chrome Wald front basket . The rest went to cables and to a neat little adapter I needed to make a gearie out of this old frame.

For those of you out there who have an old, low-grade frame you might want to convert into a geared machine…you might discover that there is no place to hang a derailleur from. Sunrace to the rescue! Here’s a handy bolt-on derailleur hanger adapter that works perfectly for my application:

Sunrace derailleur adapter

These adapters are available from a variety of sources. I got mine from Bike Tools, Etc.

Once the adapter was bolted on, I was able to cobble together a 1 x 6 drivetrain using a collection of old parts: a six-speed Suntour 14-28 freewheel, a first-generation Shimano 105 derailleur, old Shimano LX cranks, a grimy Sachs PG chain and a Salsa 40T chainring. I need to include a special shout out to our own Russ Roca, who provided great insight into appropriate gearing for a cargo bike.The whole thing is pushed around with a left-side Shimano friction thumbshifter (designed for a front derailleur…I couldn’t find the right side!). It works, and is surprisingly smooth considering that all the parts are pretty well used.

The drivetrain:

1x6

Once I got the front basket and rear folding wire “panniers” on, I realized that this bike can really haul a load. I estimate that this setup will easily hold 3 full bags of groceries — and heavy stuff, too — Wald baskets are made TOUGH!

Wald basket

In my opinion, no errand bike is complete without a kickstand. God, I haven’t ridden a bike with a kickstand in something like 25 years! But hey…this bike has gotta have one, so on it went:

kickstand

And, to really complete things, I threw on a Zero Per Gallon sticker from Jonny5, the goat-hating madman behind ZPG.

ZPG

I’ve got a couple more final touches to do…figuring out how to mount lights to the front basket and fine-tuning the brakes and shifter. But, I’m ready to ride — and who knows? Maybe the next big trend in bicycles will be a utility bike conversion of an old classic!