Saturday, October 23, 2010

Xtracycle in Action

A few months ago, while I was selling off some old bike items to finance some new rides for Ian and I, my neighbor gave me two old bikes collecting dust in his garage. One of 'em being a nice old school Giant mountain bike, complete with XT group and rigid fork. Bike was clean, but sporting a huge frame - around a 21" seat tube. I immediately thought of my old pal John, back east, who earlier emailed about creating a utility bike for daily use.

A deal was struck, bike boxed up, and sent to the DC area for it's new life. John did complete the project, installing a Xtracycle kit to the old Giant. It came out pretty sweet, a cool useful rig. Pic below as completed.

This week I received a pic of John giving his daughter a lift to school on the Xtracycle. That's Mollie hitching a free ride while catching up on some reading. Awesome. John mentioned Mollie now rides her own bike to school. Even more awesome. Eventually Mollie will probably be hauling the old man around the on Xtracycle, having things come full circle.

John and I met back in the early '80s while spinning wrenches at Whippany Cycle. John later went on to form Ozone Action - group of folks to point out companies that produce chemicals destroying the ozone layer. After that, a multi-year stint as Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. He's now combining his economics background and environmental expertise to help fund various environmental causes. Super intelligent guy and damn funny as well. I always get a kick out of hearing from him. A Google search on John Passacantando will get you more info my old bike shop pal. Not bad for a bike mechanic from New Jersey.

Super cool seeing this old mountain bike get a new lease on life. What a perfect use for it, I think you'd have to agree. The Xtracycle kit is pretty freaking neat. I also dig the wave of complete utility and transportation bikes that have hit the market over the last few years. These are the types of bikes that could bump up bike use for "regular" folk, not just bike enthusiasts. Wear street clothes, buzz down to the store and carry a few bags of groceries home. It just makes too much sense. If I had some extra dough to burn, would build up a utility bike to toy around with. Being ex-motorcycle guy, I'd even mess around with electric assist on the rig. Would be a fun project.

For now, a messenger bag and my current pile of bikes work just fine for daily use. Even so, I find the utility style of bike a fascinating addition to the scene and hope to spot more of 'em in use.


  1. That is all so very cool. You are a great plus for the sport of pedaling.

  2. That bike turned out pretty sweet. I'm glad to see it in use after collecting dust in the neighbor's garage for 20 years. My neighbor is a super nice dude. Money scored from this freebie also assisted in guilt free purchase of my 29er and completion of Ian's project bike. As the corporate types would say, "A win win situation."

    John's bike got me thinking of building one up with electric assist. I have another pal who hot rods electric bikes - his can hit 40 mph and have much longer range. Legal? Ah, probably not - but no one notices. He says he sometimes back pedals at 30 mph to freak out motorists.

    A longtail or cargo bike, with useful electric assist, could be a super cool 2nd "vehicle". Something in-between a bicycle and motorcycle. Wife could also ride it and keep up with us on recreational rides. I could motor pace off it for training. Plus pick up groceries...

  3. Once in awhile I see a electric assist bicycle around here, often someone who can't afford a car, or obtain a license, or unable to total self power themselfs. I hope the legal legalists leave em alone.

  4. Dan O -- Oliver Bock of actually did electrify a Surley "Big Dummy" XTRA CYCLE. Head over there and tell him Matt the Twike guy sent ya!

    A frankenbike for sure, but one hellofa ride, being able to easily keep that big ole thang at 16mph while pedaling and not feeling (or hearing) a thing... EVGrins4Ever!

  5. @MrDavey
    I used to think electric bikes were goofy, since they're "cheating" and why bother. I've since changed my mind. For some folks, a perfect solution - ride some with power assist. Or use with a more power mode, a cool alternative to driving.

    Most of the electric bikes I see appear to be pretty slow - I pass 'em occasionally commuting to work. However, there's one woman I see occasionally cruising at 25+ mph. Street clothes, big basket on front, slowly pedaling. For the "non cyclist", meaning bike nuts like us, what a cool set up. Way better then sitting in traffic in a car. Is her bike legal for the bike trail? Not really. But most cyclists are breaking the 15 mph speed limit anyway. So, big deal. Doesn't bother me.

    I checked out the blog you mentioned. Wow, some story - very cool. I'll dive deeper into it and read more older posts.

    I saw a crazy Frankenbike in Seattle maybe a year ago. A pretty big trike, 2 wheels in front, one in rear. Plywood cargo deal as the front half. I'm riding home from work though Seattle and noticed it ahead - seeming to move a little too fast. At the next light, noticed both front wheels had electric drive. When the light turned green, woman riding it accelerated fast enough to keep up with traffic - crazy, but cool.