As part of our ongoing exploration into car free living, I’ve been trying out an Xtracycle (thanks to UK importers Loads Better), for a C+ feature on ‘Getting More From Your Bike’. It’s a beautifully simple yet effective contraption, that basically shunts back your bike’s rear wheel to give it a boot. Got a retired mtb in the shed? Breathe new life back into it and transform it into a utility machine.

Mine’s on an old Spesh Rockhopper with an Orange p7 rigid fork, with a Sun Rhyno touring wheel at the back and an Avid BB7 up front. It’s a whole different thing to riding with a trailer. More compact in traffic, but not easily detachable. I can see the pros and cons of the two systems, and so far I’m really enjoying the differences. It’s certainly very user friendly, with a modular loading system that’s proved incredibly versatile.


We took into town today to pick up some wrought iron struts for book shelves we’re making. There were three boxes, and they were long and very heavy. Although I could get them all to fit on the bike at one time, we had to do get them home in two trips as all that lopsided weight was just too much for safe riding. In this scenario, slotting in two ‘Longloader’ adapters on either side of the bike (that’s the tray that sticks out that you can see below) would have been better. That’s the beauty of the system: it’s plug and play, to suit what you’re doing. If you’re worried about all those nice pieces of varnished wood and brushed aluminium extras adding up financially, the mechanically inclined could easily make many of the accessories. In fact, it’s the kind of company that encourages improvisation, as you can see on its forum.


It may not look it, but it was actually surprisingly easy to ride, and even negotiate the rush hour traffic. More than a few heads turned as I went tearing down Park Street. Not that it would have raised an eyebrow in the streets of Delhi (-;

The modular theme extends to wooden foot plates that plug in instead of the Longloader. The other day, Cara sat on the back and I rode down to the station. After I headed off to catch the train, she dropped the saddle down and rode back up the hill. Brilliant!


It’s also been used to do the shopping and pick up a computer. Now I’m just looking for any excuses… I’ve never enjoyed shopping so much. That’s one of the big, unquantifiable joys of the Xtracycle – it just makes boring day to day things fun.


If you like the look of this, check out the new breed of ‘Longtails’ appearing on the scene, like the Big Dummy and this monster from Traffic Cycles. Now, all I need is a little monkey to power it…


Surfing will be the next step…


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Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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