09
Jun 2014
by mark

How to attach a Burley Piccolo to an Xtracycle

Xtracycle cargo bikes and Burley Piccolo Trailercycles are both great for family biking. Unfortunately, there’s currently no ready-made way to attach a Burley Piccolo to an Xtracycle.

Fortunately, Greg from Beehive Bicycles published photos online of a custom solution he developed. I found and mimicked an early solution that I created for this.

It worked like this: I started with the provided Moose rack, and use a hack saw to cut it down to just the essential part that was needed to connect to the Piccolo.

Here you can see a finished photo of Greg’s design that I followed:

IMG_4786.JPG

I made the remaining “feet” of the hacked rack as short as possible so that the Piccolo bolt could go all the way through, without interference from the Flightdeck.

Then, two more holes were drilled into the cross bar, and corresponding holes were made in the Flightdeck. Bolts went down through the top and were secured with washers and nuts on the bottom. I made them extra tight, so that the bolts had no room to wiggle work the plastic to make the holes larger.

Here’s what my own result looks like. Click through to see an extreme close-up:

@Xtracycle 2010 Freeloaders with  Flightdeck 2, Yepp Maxi mount hole and Burley Piccolo spoiler.

You have some flexibility in how far back on the Flightdeck you put the mount. The further forward you put it, the more stable and easier to manage the Piccolo should be. This is because the mount will be closer to being directly over the rear axle, as it is with the Moose rack. However, the Piccolo mount is not easily removed and it effectively divides your deck in two, making whatever is behind it effectively dead space. So the further towards the rear you put the mount the more continuous space you have deck. A final consideration is the Flightdeck itself. Flip it over before you drill. You’ll see the plastic is thick is some parts, and thin and others. You definitely what to mount it through the thick plastic! That constraints your position options some.

I choose to mount mine fairly close to the rear. I found I could handle it well enough, but I was also dealing withe constraints of where Flightdeck provided thicker plastic.

This has worked well-enough for me, but there are some better possibilities. First, with my particular position, I ended up putting it so that the “arms” are directly above the Superhook allen head holes. They can still be accessed with ball-head allen wrenches, but it’s a pain.

The biggest drawback to my solution is there are only two points of contact with the Flightdeck, leaving a bit of possibility for the the attachment to be pivoted back and forth. In practice this hasn’t been a problem, but it’s not ideal and is addressed in other solutions.

Before moving on, here’s a photo set
from Greg dedicated to the approach I followed.

He later improved above the design with “v2.0″ approach, which looks like this:

P1020153.JPG

He also has a full photo set for his v2.0 mod.

In this revision, he addressed the remaining sharp edges and the potential to rock back and forth by apparently hacking some already bent parts of the rack, cutting of the sidebars off the mount hold completely, and rewelding and the thing back together, and finally repainting to look sharp. If this sounds intimidating, Greg owns Beehive Bicycles and perhaps you can hire them to create and ship you a custom mount.

Finally, there is a commercial option for this on its way to market from Bike Friday, as a companion accessory to their “Haul-a-Day” Xtracycle in development.

Here’s a detail of the best shot I can find of the Bike Friday solution.

Bike Friday Xtracycle Piccolo mount - close-up

It appears that it’s fabricated from scratch rather than re-using a rack, appears to be attached to the deck with four bolts instead of two, re-using existing holes on the deck instead of requiring new holes. This looks great, and is what I would expect from a commercial offering. There is no word on pricing or availablility at this time.

If you are interested in attaching a Burley Piccolo to a Yuba Mondo, I have a post about
a DIY solution for a Yuba/Piccolo mount
as well.

If you are wondering if Yuba will be offering an official accessory for Burley Piccolo mounts, I think the answer is “Yes, eventually”. First, they have been neck-and-neck with Xtracycle with releasing comparable accessories. Second, they have acknowledged as much in a tweet from their official account:

To close, here’s a short video that shows the potent combination of combining the Burley Piccolo with the Yepp Maxi attachment built into the latest Flightdeck. You can attach or detach a couple kid hauling options in just a minute or two– that’s great flexibility!


22
May 2014
by larry

I Challenge Climate Activists to Bike to the 2014 Climate Summit

chains

I am planning to bike to the 2014 Climate Summit in New York City September 20th and 21st. I am encouraging other climate activists to bike with me. I’m also setting up a network of people willing to provide accommodations for those biking through. If you would be willing to host bicyclists in September let me know.

Why is this important? I lose hope when I see that even my fellow climate activists are unwilling to give up their cars. How can we expect others to make changes that we are unwilling to make ourselves? We need to set a good example for the rest of the world.

For the past three years I’ve been using an electric cargo bicycle as my primary means of transportation. I discovered that ebike battery and motor technology are surprisingly advanced: a 40-pound cargo bike with a 10-pound motor and an 8-pound lithium battery is fully capable of carrying me, my 14-year-old daughter, and four bags of groceries up the steep hills of Ithaca NY. Our city trips are about the same or faster than by car. A day’s worth of energy for our electric bicycle can easily be obtained from a $1,000 solar panel that is about the size of a door. I’ve concluded that an electric bike can easily replace a car for most people at a fraction of the cost, and potentially completely fossil free. So why haven’t ebikes been more widely adopted? The technology is here; all that remains to be done is to bring this transportation breakthrough to the attention of the mainstream.

I propose that our journey to the Climate Summit serve just that purpose: a demonstration of ebike technology’s ability to compete successfully with the automobile, even for long trips. I’ve made several long trips by ebike, including a 350-mile trip from Ithaca NY to Washington D.C. Ebikes, even when piloted by non-athletes, can travel at 25mph. So traveling 100 to 200 miles a day is possible. But staying at hotels in order to charge batteries can be expensive. If we support each other by providing accommodations along the way, we’ll also demonstrate how human kindness can be a welcome substitute for energy use.

I call upon climate activists in New York State and beyond to put their money where their mouth is: let go of your car and take up the best alternative transportation, the electric bike. And use the Climate Summit this fall as a way to show the world what is possible with this revolutionary mode of transportation.

If you want to read more see the petition I created on the 350.org website: “I Challenge Climate Activists to Bike to the 2014 Climate Summit”. You can read and sign the petition here:
http://campaigns.350.org/petitions/i-challenge-climate-activists-to-bike-to-the-2014-climate-summit


25
Apr 2014
by larry

Calling All Cargo Bikers: Support Liz Canning’s Documentary

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 9.16.05 PM

If you are a cargo biker you probably know that there is this way cool videographer in California who has been working on a documentary about cargo biking for a few years, collecting footage from cargo bikers like you all over the world. Heck, some of you may even have been inspired to take up cargo biking because her trailer was THAT GOOD. Her name is Liz Canning and she needs your support. She recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete the video and distribute it properly. This video has the potential to bring cargo biking into the public eye in a big way. If you want mainstream America to recognize cargo bikes as a legitimate form of transportation, if you’d rather share the road with more fellow bicyclists than motorists, if you want to celebrate what you know in your heart to be the best form of transportation on the planet, run (not walk) to your nearest Internet browser and contribute to Liz’s kickstarter campaign!


07
Apr 2014
by larry

Cargo Bikes’ Hidden Danger

(April 1st, 2014) As this video demonstrates, a longtail cargo bike has a hidden danger: poor backup visibility. Because a cargo bike is longer than a regular bike, there exists a “danger zone” behind the rear wheel where the rider’s view is blocked. This video shows my attempts to develop a “backup camera” to alleviate this problem, with limited success. My camera is similar to cameras recently mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for all light vehicles.


24
Jan 2014
by larry

Electric Cargo Bikes Have Car-Like Utility but Bicycle-Like Costs: Cool!

school-bus

It might seem obvious that someone who adopts a car-free lifestyle is making sacrifices in order to live by their principles. The implication is that we should pity them. Cars can go faster, farther, and carry a lot more stuff than bikes, right? So they’re better, right? Not necessarily. Urban families are finding that an electric cargo bike can be a step up—a big step up—in meeting their transportation needs. And any task they can’t do on a bike they can accomplish with a rental car or carshare car.

When we look at the amount of time we spend on driving, the distances we go, and the amount of stuff we carry in our cars most of the time, an electric cargo bike can accomplish the same tasks over half the time, but for about 1/100 the cost. Think about that. Would you pay 100 times more for Continue reading →


18
Nov 2013
by larry

Winter Tips for Utility Bikers

IMG_2545

If you are like many utility bikers, especially if you replaced your car with an electric cargo bike, not biking in the winter is not an option. No matter what the weather conditions, you still need to bike to take your kids to school, commute to work, and pick up groceries. Is that even possible in the winter? The answer is emphatically yes. You’ll find a bike can get you where you need to go in any weather, in some ways more comfortably, more quickly and more safely than other forms of transportation. Sometimes it takes a bit of a sense of adventure to get going, but once you do you’ll find dread of winter biking is misplaced. Here’s some tips to help you along. Continue reading →


12
Nov 2013
by larry

The FlyKly Smart Wheel: Too Good to Be True?

flykly

There’s been a lot of press lately about an incredible-sounding new ebike product called the FlyKly Smart Wheel. We see gushing headlines such as “This Smart Wheel Makes Cycling in the City a Breeze”, “Effortless Pedalling Through Our Cities’ Streets”, “Keeps You Looking Fly”, and “This ground breaking invention just may be about to revolutionize commuter cycling forever”. The Smart Wheel is an electric hub motor similar to other hub motors that have been available for over a decade, but with a twist: the motor and all the electronics and batteries fit inside the wheel. Furthermore the wheel is controllable through a bluetooth connection to a smart phone. This connectivity enables some interesting features like a speedometer that appears on your handlebar-mounted smart phone, a way to lock the bike electronically, and a way to track your bike if it’s stolen. Pretty cool, but is the Smart Wheel too good to be true? Is it just hype? Decidedly no, it is easily for real. I’d say for people who haven’t yet tried an electric bike, this product will easily live up to the hype. Ebikes in general are impressive; this product is doubly so. And even for those of us who have been using electric bikes for years, Continue reading →


08
Oct 2013
by larry

A Simple Solution to Bicyclist vs. Motorist Conflict

Ebikes aren't just for weaklings. Ebikes carry passenger.

Ebikes aren’t just for weaklings. Ebikes carry passengers.

There is a simple solution to bicyclist/motorist conflict that needs to be more widely recognized: electric bikes. To a great extent conflicts are caused by the difference in relative speed between cars and bikes. Electric bikes can help more cyclists close that speed gap. Motorists easily become annoyed and even enraged when they see Continue reading →


08
Jul 2013
by larry

Minimalist Cargo Biking

Battery pack.

Battery pack.

Every week during the summer I have to bike about 12 miles round-trip to pick up my farmshare vegetables. My route consists of three miles on a beautiful rails-to-trails path through the woods, three miles straight uphill to the farm, and then six miles home straight down Troy Road at speeds that can reach 30mph. Needless to say, I usually take my cargo bike for this task. Last week, however, I decided to Continue reading →


26
Jun 2013
by larry

Permission to Bike: A Report on New York City’s New Citi-Bike Bikeshare System

Like Christmas in June!

Like Christmas in June!

New York City recently initiated an elaborate bikeshare system called Citi-Bike. It is a great gift to New Yorkers that goes beyond mere shiny bikes, practical and enjoyable as they may be. Citi-Bike’s greatest gift is that it legitimizes bicycling in a previously forbidding place: downtown Manhattan. Previous to Citi-Bike only daring, athletic and counter-cultural young men ventured onto Manhattan’s chaotic streets. But Citi-Bikes empowers people of all ages and abilities to think the formerly unthinkable: Continue reading →