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DIY Xtracycle “Footsies”

I’ve had my beloved Xtracycle for a few years now…and it has seen thousands of miles of use and abuse in all weather conditions. During this winter’s overhaul, I realized that I could no longer ignore the weatherbeaten and damaged “footsies” that I installed with my Xtracycle build:

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Don’t let the picture deceive you…these were both badly delaminating despite multiple coats of marine varnish, and I had enough wooden splinters jammed into my ankles and calves to last me a lifetime. It was time for a replacement, but with what? I had fantasized about getting a sheet-metal place make me a pair out of aluminum diamond plate, until I started pricing the raw materials and cost of fabrication. Holy crap, that was no good…a few hundred dollars?!? Then, I thought I might just replace them with another set directly from Xtracycle…but I don’t make a lot of money and a replacement set was (to me) absurdly expensive. Besides, I was hoping Xtra had started making their footsies out of the excellent recycled plastic material their decks were available in, but alas…only wooden ones are available.

What to do? I needed something cheap, something weatherproof and something easy to work with. One day, I was wandering around in the kitchen department of a local store, and I saw all these colorful plastic cutting boards. Wait a minute…what if I used THOSE to make footsies? I was onto something…

Materials you will need:

–plastic cutting boards. I used two smaller ones, but if you cut carefully, you might be able to get two footsies out of one big board
–cardboard to make templates
–a saw (power or hand saw…I used a battery-powered circular saw, but a hand saw might actually work better)
–drill and appropriate bits
–Sharpie marker
–ruler
–4mm hex wrench
–screwdriver
–razor blade or sharp knife
–some means to sand the edges (I used a sanding disc in my drill, but you could use a coarse file and some sandpaper)

I had all the tools I needed, so the total cost for me was an hour of labor and less than $10.00 for the cutting boards. Win-win, babies!!!

First, trace your existing footsies onto cardboard and make templates for the right and left sides. I chose straight lines to save myself hassle when cutting:

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Don’t forget to mark the holes for the hardware — I reused the bolts and support tubes from my existing footsies which saved me some additional money.

Next, trace your template onto the cutting boards and cut them with your saw. Drill the holes for the hardware:

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With the razor blade, scrape off the excess “flashing” from the cut edges…a power saw will sort of melt its way through the plastic material and leave a lot of fuzz on the edges. Next, sand the edges and corners…I put a gentle radius on all the edges and rounded off the corners so they wouldn’t dig into my or my passenger’s legs.

Finally, attach the hardware (support tube and hook-and-loop “keeper”) to the underside:

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Now all you have to do is install into the ports on the Freeradical frame and go about your business!

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The cutting board material is about the same thickness as the stock wooden footsies, but it flexes a little bit. That’s ok, because my passenger is fairly light. If you were so inclined, you could cut a double thickness of cutting boards and sandwich them together with longer bolts, or find some other way to reinforce them from below (with aluminum strip stock or the like). The cutting boards come with a non-slip surface, so no additional grip tape is needed. And, these boards are strong enough to go through a dishwasher, so rain, salt and snow will be no problem for them. They’re maintenance free, and they add a little bit of colorful dazzle to the back end of my cargo-hauling beast!

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We’ve got a handful of other DIY Xtracycle projects in our archive, and we are always eager to hear about projects our readers have come up with. If you are in the sharing mood, just drop your project ideas in the comments below.

Quick Xtracycle Mods — Carry a Passenger!

One of the reasons I was really eager to get an Xtracycle was so I could schlep my son around town — he’s outgrown his tow-behind trailer and seemed willing to try something new.

So, I thought I’d make the rig a little more “passenger-friendly”: a nice padded area to sit on and a place for the passenger to grab onto.

For the pad, I used interlocking floor mats as the raw material. These mats are available all over the place (big box DIY stores, chain stores, etc.). We had a few of them laying around in our shed just waiting to be repurposed. Using the Xtracycle’s Snapdeck and a big mixing bowl as templates, I traced the shape I wanted onto the back of a sheet of the foam. Then, I cut it out using a common utility knife. I figured three thicknesses would be nice and cushy, and I had multiple colors on hand, so I went with a “Rasta” theme.

cutting the foam

I laminated the three pieces together by spreading Liquid Nails project adhesive between them (using a putty knife to get the adhesive right up to the edges) and stacking overdue library books on them to hold them in place while the adhesive cured. I then used more of the adhesive to mount it to the top of the Snapdeck.

Once the adhesive was all the way cured, I knocked down the sharp edges of the foam pads with a sanding disc, shaping the edge to a radius similar to the edge of the wooden deck. It feels quite nice on the tush and inner thighs!

The next modification was to add a handlebar for the passenger to grip. This was easy — I used a spare pair of handlebars and a threadless 1 1/8″ stem I had in my parts bins and some shims cut from a soda can. Simply pull out the seatpost of the bike and clamp the stem onto it, using shims as needed to make sure the assembly won’t move around. Piece of cake!

handlebar

One consideration is what handlebars to use. As I discovered once I bolted everything together, an old pair of moustache handlebars curved forward too much, hitting me in the backs of the legs as I pedaled. That just wouldn’t do, so I dove back into my parts bins for a pair of “chop ‘n flops”…a vintage 3TTT “Merckx” handlebar that had been butchered by a well-meaning but misguided friend. Still, only the finest Italian craftsmanship for my passengers!

The total cost of these projects was $11.00 — and that was for the WTB grips I used (my son HAD to have red grips, his favorite color). Everything else I had on hand. Even if you had to go out and buy some of this, the raw materials are extremely cheap…the only real expense would be a stem and bars if you don’t have spares laying around.

rollin'

My boy loves riding back there — he gets a better view of the world and it really helps him feel like he’s growing up — no more “baby trailer”, as he calls it. And, he got to select some of the appointments for his new perch…pretty red grips and a red pad to protect his butt.

For some other cheap Xtracycle mods, check out:

RL’s homemade Footsies.

and RL’s “Bike on a Bike” carrier.