In case you missed it on twitter, a few weeks ago our EdgeRunner turned a year old. We hit 1000 miles shortly before.
So now seems as good a time as any to blog the bike. First, it’s not a totally custom bike as most think around here (cargo bikes are pretty unusual yet). You can go out and buy an Xtracycle EdgeRunner, too! And it will be awesome. Mine is heavily customized to suit my usual load (four kids, associated gear, and groceries/library books/whatever else we’re bringing home that day) and terrain. We live on top of the hill at about elevation 480 feet. Downtown Kirkland and downtown Redmond are both at about 30 feet, so I have a big climb to get home.
Enter the Stokemonkey (that round red thing under the seat). I’ve met a few hills I can’t get back up, but some of my cargo is mobile, so we make it work. The annoyance is that the motor needs to be adjusted to tighten the chain every few months. I have found a local Stokemonkey mechanic, otherwise I’m not sure what I’d do. I bike so that I don’t have to deal with the hassle of maintaining a car!
We also have a custom frame-mounted front rack that holds a huge basket. Great for carrying strawberries, or tossing in baby mittens en route. At our destination it usually ends up full of helmets. Installing the rack meant painting the bike, which means I got to choose the color: Lazer Burgundy, a deep sparkly purple.
The lights are powered by the front dynamo hub. The rear light is switchable between the bike and the trailer (but we need a new connector for the trailer light, so it’s currently using a battery-powered blinky light). I like that I never have to think about the lights, but they aren’t super bright – Mark has a battery-powered light that’s brighter. The front light is mounted on the fork, below the basket. At first it was mounted on the handlebars, but the light reflected off of the basket which was totally blinding, and cast a huge shadow. The fork also casts a shadow, but a reasonable one. (This is the problem with buying a bike right at the summer solstice – neither you nor the shop notice these things for months!)
We have chain guards on both sides. The right side is a stock EdgeRunner part. The left side is custom. At the end of the Stokemonkey adjustment cycle the motor rubs on the chain guard. So I have to keep tabs on that.
We have Yepp Mini child seat on the front and a Yepp Maxi on the back, both blue. The bike paint was chosen to coordinate with the blue seats, but when we bought the bike, blue Yepp Maxis were backordered everywhere. We finally found a floor model at a shop in California, which they sold to us at a discount. I’m glad they didn’t realize that the true market value of that seat was much higher!
In back we have the Xtracycle Hooptie and U-Tubes. We keep the Hooptie on its widest setting, which fits around the Yepp seat. There’s a middle setting for kids on the deck and no seat, and a narrow setting for milk crates, but I’ve never used those. The wide setting is wide enough for the kids to fit their helmets underneath and climb on board without my help. The U-Tubes work as footrests for bigger kids, but also a stable place to strap a heavy load, and a place to slip a front wheel in while towing another bike. We used stirrups for the younger child for a few months, but they seemed to be more trouble than they were worth, because sometimes he’s in front, and sometimes in back, and they aren’t easy to move around. We use the X1 bags, which are a sling style. Mark hates them because things fall out (I lost a water bottle and a bag of toys a month ago. I knew about the water bottle when it fell, but found the bag of toys on the way back after I didn’t have them at restaurant.) but I like them because they hold a lot of bags.
We have the unfortunately-named Rolling Jackass centerstand. It’s super super stable. The kids can climb on by themselves while I walk away from the bike.
We have the NuVinci continuously geared hub. I can find the exact right gear, and change gears while stopped. We have hydraulic disc brakes. I don’t have to pull hard to stop, even on our big hills. I did get talked into a larger disc in the back by one of the local shops that actually seemed to be afraid of such a big, crazy bike. I’m not sure it was necessary, but the brake pads are lasting longer now (8 months and still going strong. The first set lasted only 4 months) so maybe it will pay for itself.
Our bike was also blogged by people who know more than we do (scroll down halfway or so).
Sometimes we use a trailer – a secondhand Burley D’Lite. There’s a custom trailer hitch on the back end of the back, which was easy enough to do when we were having the front rack installed. The trailer works when it needs to, but if we can go out without it, we do because otherwise it’s a long load.
We go to parks, playdates, the library, occasionally a grocery store. Appointments, meetings, classes. Church. Parties. The famer’s market. Rain or shine. We even sold a car! While we wish the infrastructure were more encouraging of family transportation cycling, we are very happy that we are doing it anyway.