Xtrabike

I’m so jealous. This gorgeous bike looks a lot like how I’d design Xtravois today, after three years of riding it. I’m thrilled to be assembling a Stokemonkey kit for the owner.

xtrabike

34 thoughts on “Xtrabike”

  • Andrew Janjigian
    Andrew Janjigian August 9, 2006 at 5:52 am

    Whoa. That is beautiful. I love the Rohloff hub. I wish I had one of those on the XtrAntMonkey. I wonder how much the whole thing weighs; I bet having a one-piece frame like this makes the whole bike much lighter than a kit + bike.

    I assume you are going to have to come up with some kind of custom mount for the Stoke motor, given that oversized tubing.

    Andrew

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  • Todd

    Nope, Andrew, the assist clamps to the 3/4″ OD tube running from the ovalized boom to the, erm, nether top tube.

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  • David

    I call that the “Stokemonkey tube.” The bike was built with the Stokemonkey in mind. I’ve been riding it unpainted for 2 weeks for testing (it passed). Now the frame is at the painters and I miss it already.

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  • Bill Manewal

    That’s a beauty and you’ll be in pig heaven after you Stoke it!

    I built up a SM around a Surly Instigator frame and would love to compare rides after you get yours broken in. I’m in South San Francisco. Are you anywhere near? – Bill

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  • Ian Hopper

    I too would love to see the whole bike! I live in Novato, but commute to SF 3-4 times a week (and hopefully by next week on my X/SM hybrid!) Maybe Bill and I can check it out at the same time and it could be a mini X/SM convention :)

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  • Ian Hopper

    Hey David, did you weld up that frame or did you have it built? Is that something you’re willing to share the plans for? As much as I love my x, I’d rather have a complete ridid frame with no bolted connection.

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  • David

    The bare frame weighs about 13 lbs. We didn’t really make many concessions for lightness, so that number could probably be reduced a bit in further iterations. Interestingly, the front and rear wheels, all built up, together weigh just over 13 lbs (4.6 front, 9.2 rear). The complete bike with all attachments as seen in the pictures, plus 2 Kryptonite locks, weighs in at a svelte 51 lbs. This is what I carry up and down the stairs every day.

    I’m in Santa Rosa, and I’ve been itching to find out if I can eke out enough distance from the SM and my legs to make it all the way to the city from here. If you guys can help me find the most direct route, I’d love to join you for the “First Annual Stokemonkey Club” get-together ;-).

    Ian, I haven’t welded anything since a botched attempt at brazing in 7th grade shop class. The frame was built by my good friend Curtis Inglis of Inglis Cycles [ingliscycles.com] in Napa. He builds bikes under his own and the Retrotec brands. The pictures on his site simply don’t do his bikes justice — they are really very beautiful machines. He’d be the one to talk to.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Wow. Thanks David for responding. You’ve already become a celebrity in my mind [along with Bill Manewal, Todd and many other regular visitors to this blog :)] It is a killer rig, and if you do decide to try a Santa Rosa – SF run, I’d be glad to run the Novato to SF section with you: I’ve done it several times on my x-bike and now that I have my SM, I’ll hopefully be doing it 2-3 times a week! If I take the plunge eventually and xtrabike like yours built, I’ll relegate my FreeRad to Burning Man bike duty. I would do it this year, but I’m not taking my regular commuter to Burning Man, as it tends to be really hard on bikes. How about mid September for the First Annual Stokemonkey Club Social Ride? Here’s another good reason to go to SF: Fossil Fool aka Paul Freedman (owner of the Down Low Glow enterprise) is doing this social ride on August 20: http://www.rockthebike.com/rides_and_events/san_francisco_cruiser_ride/stern_grove_ozomatli_hip_hop_cruiser_ride

    Of course, if you don’t like Hip-Hop, you might just want to do the ride part.

    One other question David: how much could someone expect to pay for one of those frames from Curtis? (I hope you don’t mind me asking and I won’t be offended if you decline to answer).

    If you’re interested in doing a Stokemonkey Club Social Ride, contact me at fecusreptiliusNOSPAM at gmail dot com . Sorry for the obfuscation: hopefully the bots and webcrawlers haven’t figured out how to decipher that format yet. Just remove the NOSPAM part and change the appropriate words to their proper symbols. Bill M., are you going to join us?

    One last thing: I’m working on a Bikely route from Novato (Ignacio) to SF with the X/SM battery limitations in mind. Hopefully some nice SF people can help me find a route from the GGB to my new shop at 542 Alabama St.

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  • Todd

    maybe the santa rosa-novato-sf-palo alto-pacific grove stokemonkey owner’s axis should form a battery sharing collective such that one could ride at a good clip all the way from Big Sur to Jenner in a day, swapping packs as required along the way. we don’t need no steenking hydrogen highway!

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  • Allan

    13lbs, 51lbs!? What tube set was used?

    I must say I am quite a bit deterred by these heavy bikes. At these weights anywhere outside the Midwest or Denmark these bikes would depend on StokeMonkey. I don’t think that is appropriate. I would want a long-frame in which one could use StokeMonkey to help haul kids/cargo on weekday, but be able to take SM off and still have a respectable riding/touring bike for the weekend. This virtual dependency on StokeMonkey seems ill-conceived.

    As for me, I tried very hard to get a long-frame built locally for myself. I live in Portland and have the pleasure of knowing Todd in meat-space as it were. I talked to every builder in Portland’s vaunted custom scene. Pretty discouraging. In my humble opinion they all are busy copying the model of the first and most successful young builder and don’t have the vision/interest to stretch beyond that. Great for them for now: they can stay busy with 6-12 month lead times building hand-brazed art bikes for mostly a hipster crowd. But I gotta fear that eventually that market is going to saturate and all but a couple are going to be back making deliveries or grinding coffee. As it were, I had all but completely decided to wait and see if a production long frame wouldn’t come to pass. I was kind of sad about it.

    So, I am heartened to see Mr Inglis taking the lead. I am curious whether the weight could be brought under 10 lbs. FWIW, when I was talking to the one builder that did show at least an initial interest, my thought was to use a butted tandem tubset for the down tube, boom tube, chain stays, as well as forks. Also use 160mm spacing for the rear drop-outs. Then use light, thin, small diameter straight guage for the top tubes. That’s what Santana swears by anyway, and having had one of their bikes for 5 years and a 600 mile tour in Laos with wife, 30 lb toddler, and 60 lbs of panniers I am inclined to trust them. :-)

    Anyway, my two cents and maybe more than anyone else is interested in. :-)

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  • Todd

    I was sort of surprised at the weight, too, especially since it seems like it could be quite a bit lighter than Xtravois by having a single top-tube/seatstay (double butted?) instead of the long twin straight-gauge .065 “mixte” tubes. There’s a place for specialized, super-stout bikes, though, Allan — a complementary place to the jack-of-all-trades ideal I think you’re aiming for. As long as you have room for a few bikes, why not avoid functional overlap?

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  • Bill Manewal

    Well my map shows Novato about 1/2 way between Santa Rosa and San Francisco, so I vote we meet at Ian’s house for our convention.

    We can convene, charge our batteries, and, of course, drink a beer, the essential and official Stokemonkey lubricant.

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  • @man

    Todd, the Stoker Express is the best idea you’ve had in months. As you build your client base, eventually you can have a route planned from Vancouver to San Diego, with battery swap stations the whole way down. Then someone gets to ride it and blog about it. Add in the A123 lithiums that are comin down the mountain and you have a winner…

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  • Erik Sandblom

    Allan, I don’t think 23kg is all that heavy. The British aluminium 8-Freight weighs 20kg, and has small wheels (light, strong) so I’m not sure you can get significantly lighter. I can see how you might not like to tour on a bike like this.

    But on the other hand you don’t need electrical help to ride a 23kg bike, especially as Todd’s and this guy’s bikes have top-of-the-line Rohloff hubs with 24 gears. Todd says on his Xtravois page that shifting is easy with the Rohloff. I ride a heavy three-speed up a hill which takes me ten minutes in the lowest gear. With an amazing Rohloff hub I could ride up much longer and steaper hills.

    You could probably make the bike lighter by not using hub gears, but I assume the Rohloff was chosen because it’s cool because it shifts easier and is less hassle. These bikes are not about going places fast, they are about taking stuff with you without a hassle.

    I have to defend the Dutch/Danish biking culture. It’s nice to have a bike which is practical, low-maintenance, keeps your clothes clean and sits outside. Sheldon Brown calls them English bikes and has a lot of nice things to say about them: http://sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html

    Having said that, I don’t think anybody wants a bike like this unless they can make good use of its cargo-carrying capacity at least once a week or so. If you can do that, you probably won’t mind it being heavy.

    I have a folding Brompton bike, a heavy three-speed, and a light (I guess more like non-heavy) 18-speed. I love them all because they are different, not because they are the same.

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  • Allan

    Todd, Erik, all,

    I feel my concern (I hesitate to call it full-fledged criticism) is being wrongly discredited. First and foremost, regarding Dutch biking culture, no need to defend because I was not attacking it. ;-) Indeed I love it and nearly embraced it. Prior to my attempts to build an Xtravois I considered self-importing a Danish machine. I decided not to after hearing from a couple folks that had them they were too heavy for the hilly Pac-NW.

    Next, on the Rohloff, as I understand it Rohloff says their hub weight is competitive with a triple chain ring Deore set-up. So I don’t have a problem with Rohloff. Moreso, I don’t see Rohloff as much of a contributing factor to these heavy bikes.

    So, those two points clarified let me try to address what I see is the more fundamental issue: 1) whether 23kg (I believe this is the ball-park for Todd’s Xtravois as well) is excessively heavy or not, 2) is it appropriate to have these bikes so heavy they, as a practical matter, require StokeMonkey even when unloaded.

    Regarding 1) Santana tandems from what I can tell are designed to handle loads up to 400lbs/180 kg. Their frames weigh ~6lbs and the built out bikes are ~35lbs.So, granting that long-tails are not going to have the same ultra-optimized tube sets, how much of a weight penalty should one expect due to tube-set alone? Next, is 400lbs an appropriate design load, or should it be even greater? I think a 50% weight penalty (ie. sub 10lb frames) is fair and a 400lb design load is appropriate. If anyone would like to argue otherwise please do so.

    Regarding 2) I think it is the more important matter. As I see it, the rider should haul him/herself and the bike. Then SM should haul itself and the cargo. Thus, when high cargo loads are not required or very long travel distances are desired, SM can be left at home. (Note, the very long travel distances is not a trivial matter as half this thread concerns that very point.) I see Todd saying, in such cases one would leave the Xtravois at home. I don’t like that as an answer. The stable full of highly optimized bikes is not a practical or economical (or may I suggest sustainable) solution. Further, for the cost of a long-frame, one should want and be able to use it for a great deal of riding. Certainly not the fast club-ride or single-tracking in the woods, but any typical thing a BOB-er might want to do, I think the long-frame bike should do sans SM. It goes back to the Xtracycle concept. It came about (sans SM) to address a real need. Freerads have some short-comings which I think are not entirely load carrying capacity. Now the long-frames are supposed to address those short-comings, but they seem to (because of the SM crutch?) have addressed only one: load capacity. No?

    Finally, to address Erik a little more directly, I want a bike my wife can use to haul 2 kids and gear. I reckon that is a typical load of 80 lbs. She could ride that much without SM but realistically her range is going to be about 5-6 miles round-trip (at least here in moderately hilly Portland). I figure with SM, she could extend her range to 15 miles quite easily. But if the kids are not coming along, why haul/use SM? (Unless of course the bike is so heavy one needs it to haul the bike.) How sustainable is that? Todd has said previously, and I agree, SM is not to make a single bike faster, single bikes are plenty fast already. It is to allow bikes to replace car trips. Well, when the bike is so heavy everything uses SM and therefore becomes a car trip, I am slightly turned off.

    Anyway, that is how I see it. If others feel I am mistaken on this please elaborate.

    PS> I will allow the energy use of a battery-powered bike is still an order of magnitude less than a gasoline powered car. So maybe I am making a mountain of a mole hill, but there is something about electric single bikes that just doesn’t sit well with me.

    Best.

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  • Allan

    Oh, and I should make one last thing clear. The Inglis is a beautiful frame and it is a beautiful bike you’ve put together David. Believe me, I am as envious as any.

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  • Erik Sandblom

    Allan, I had no idea you could get tandems that weigh 16kg but take 180 kg of load. That’s really something.

    Perhaps this is what you meant by ultra-optimized; maybe tandems can be made lighter than cargobikes since their weight is mainly human, and humans can spread their weight over the seat, handlebars and pedals. Humans can shift weight and balance over bumps. Cargo just bumps along and can be difficult to spread nice and even. At the least, a tandem has a more predictable load than a cargobike does, so it must be easier to shave weight off the design.

    Regarding 23kg being too heavy to ride without assistance, I still disagree. It sounds like you might need a trailer which can be left at home, or a folding touring bike to save space.

    I agree with what we think Todd would say, you need a stable of purpose-built bikes if you want to haul a lot on weekdays but a light bike on weekends.

    I suspect you’re too far ahead of your time, Allan. If the money spent on bike research & development was just a zillionth of the amount spent on cars, you would probably already have your cargobike at half the weight and half the cost.

    It’s a privilege to take part in this kind of discussion. Too often it’s about “how can we put in a tramway or make the place bike-friendly, without impinging 0,000001% on car traffic?” Cars aren’t just energy-inefficient, they are space-inefficient too.

    It’s exciting to see this design taking off. Longtail is the name? I don’t think it’s going to die, Xtracycle seem to be selling lots and I think the design is going to get lighter, since people want to use it like you say.

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  • Todd

    Allan, Xtravois without SM is around 45lbs if I recall correctly. That’s heavier than most MTB-Xtracycle conversions that use lighter tubesets, even though the structure of Xtravois is simplified. All the same, I’ve ridden it 45 miles on one occasion in hilly country without SM, and 20 or so on many others (with and without SM mounted, but without power). So I reject your assertion that the bikes depend on SM; maybe they depend on strong riders? You seem pretty confident in drawing lines and pronouncing judgments every 5 or 15 pounds, but how much have you ridden these things? The weight is less than many a loaded touring bike, but then that’s without a load. It’s when you add a big load that (a) the extra beefiness contributes meaningfully to the ride quality versus most MTB conversions and (b) the weight goes up above what most people will pedal happily unassisted day in and out, and that’s where SM comes in. SM also comes in to let people travel quite a bit faster than they would on a regular bike — not faster than regular bikes can go generally, but faster than their riders would ride them over longer distances on a regular basis: the fast 20-mile commute scenario; do you begrudge this usage, or is it a bigger political thing that you don’t think people should have to hurry to work so far from where they live? Anyway, I think both these cases complement, rather than compete with, regular bikes.

    Yes, I was disappointed to find that Xtravois (and now Xtrabike) failed to take the cake-and-eat-it-too of being as light or lighter than MTB Xtracycle conversions while offering better rigidity and strength. But not too disappointed: these beasts have virtues of their own. These aren’t the last ones to be built, and I suppose forthcoming attempts will be more to your liking, more “sport touring” flavored. Watch this space. And come over and try out the Karate Monkey Xtracycle with 26″/559′s and 2.35″ Big Apples I just built; see if you don’t think it’s a blast with or without a load, with or without SM.

    To “the stable full of highly optimized bikes is not a practical or economical (or may I suggest sustainable) solution,” I say “compared to what?” Beats the hell out of a car. I see a stable of specialized bikes as an appropriate coping mechanism for car-free households in a car culture. As society reorganizes around, if society survives, the depletion of fossil fuels, then big bike stables will become more and more a luxury. I think there are electric bikes even in Illich’s utopia, though, too; see /energy_and_equity/#domver and following.

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  • Todd

    Ian, you wanted a route from the bridge to the mission: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/GG-bridge-to-Mission. Discovering “the wiggle” was a big moment in my SF biker life. On the return, stay on Scott until Fell (bypassing Page, with its sharp hill after Divisadero) and go through the panhandle to rejoin GG park.

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  • jim g

    Hmm. That bike looks like a “pro” version of the frankenlimocargobikething I cobbled together, but have yet to finish:

    http://yojimg.net/bike/equipment/framebuilding/limobike.php

    I will finish mine…someday!

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  • Allan

    “You seem pretty confident in drawing lines and pronouncing judgments every 5 or 15 pounds, but how much have you ridden these things?” Actually, I am NOT confident. That’s why I’ve been writing. That’s why I was careful to start my posting saying it was a “concern” instead of a “full-fledged criticism.”

    “maybe they depend on strong riders?” Maybe. My desire was something my wife could ride and only need SM for the longer crosstown hauls. And I could load up with gear and use to tour with on the weekend.

    I will say my 35 lb tandem is remarkably lively when its only me on it. The drive train with an extra crank, set of pedals, two chain rings and 4+ feet of chain has a lot of inertia, but the bike itself is pretty fast and fun. That said, it does get pretty heavy (ie slow) going up any modest grade. How would it be with 15 more lbs (~50%) of dead weight? That’s been my basis for thinking a 50lb bike is too much. I’ve not ridden one so I am speculating and that has been the basis of my posts.

    I don’t begrudge the long-commuter SM. I’m doing ~21 miles a day to/from B-tron (7 miles + MAX in morning, 14 in evening). With the West Hills in the way, many a time I’ve thought “an SM would be nice right about now.” :-) And realistically I have to admit I doubt more than 5% of the population is capable of such a bike commute. So, if its between SM and Vespas, I’d prefer SM. Then again, most of my co-workers have less than 5 mile commutes and still think they have to drive. So, I begrudge the 5 mile car driver. And I’ll admit, though far less so, the hypothetical 5 mile electric biker.

    I’ll certainly keep watching this space with my fingers crossed for a sport-touring long-frame.

    Finally, I’ll take you up on that Karate Monkey offer, though I can’t say when ;-).

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  • Erik Sandblom

    Allan, good to hear you’ll try riding the heavier bike. I’m sure you will find the extra weight acceptable. After all, 15 pounds doesn’t do much for a bike + rider + luggage. I suspect you’ll even be happy doing some weekend touring on it.

    Anyway if you tour with your wife, why not tour on the tandem? Aren’t tandems faster than separate bikes? They must be lighter, have less friction and be more aerodynamic than two separate bikes.

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  • Allan

    Actually Erik,

    Erik, if price is no object there’s this sub-13 kilo beauty. http://www.santanatandem.com/beyond.html

    Not sure its designed-for load, but I bet it is easily 150 kilos.

    You may be right about bikes for people-hauling able to be lighter than cargo-hauling. And to be clear, I am not a weight-weenie. Nor am I a weight macho-man. :-) Just a guy that wants something reasonable for his wife.

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  • Allan

    Typo… I meant sub-14 kilo.

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  • Allan

    We do tour on the tandem. My interest in long-frame touring is for when it’s just me (I’ve grown to really dislike trailers). Or me and the boy… it will be a while before he can stoke.

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  • jim g

    Allan, here’s a long-wheelbase touring frame you might be interested in: http://www.sandsmachine.com/a_arv_r1.htm

    It’s not “xtracycle” long but maybe could serve as a starting point for a new design?

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  • Ian Hopper

    Thanks Todd for the route. Is that something you’ve ridden? As far as “the wiggle”… HUH?

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  • Todd

    Yes Ian, many dozens of times over years, and many variations.

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  • Erik Sandblom

    Ian, the wiggle is probably where you zigzag around the blocks on the linked map. Normally that’s an inefficient way of going, it’s better to go longer distances between each turn. The reason Todd chose this route might have to do with traffic lights designed for cars, or avoiding big hills.

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  • Todd

    Right you are, Erik. The wiggle is the SF biker name for the route from Market St. to Upper Haight, Golden Gate Park etc. that avoids all sharp climbs. It’s difficult to find, hiding in plain sight, yet doesn’t add distance; one wrong turn anywhere and you’ll be in a granny gear or standing on the pedals (Stokemonkey undoes this, but it’s still most efficient to avoid unnecessary elevation change). I think it follows a long-since-gone waterway.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Thanks to Erik and Todd. I will definitely check the route. SWEET!

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  • Ernesto Garcia (in Niigata)
    Ernesto Garcia (in Niigata) September 2, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Wow – what a beautiful xtrabike. I’ve been car-free for over twenty years and fantastic tools like the xtracycle make that choice a lot easier. I’ve been riding what I believe is the first xtracycle in Japan, working with the homeless and crossing through the Japanese Alps, taking supplies to earthquake-struck areas in the back-country. Just came back from a two-day, 330 km relief ride (carrying 50 kg of supplies) and I can’t praise the concept of the xtracycle enough. This month I’ll swap it over to a Karate Monkey (it’s been on a 14-year old Mongoose). Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to afford a stokemonkey…that, too, is a great idea for car-free living. Take care, and all the best.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Todd, this is months and months old, but I’m curious: did you often ride down Fell headed westbound from Scott St? I ride my moto down Fell (though I’m entering it at Gough) and I hardly if ever see any bicycles, though I am normally headed North to Marin between 5:30-6:30pm at which time it’s totally packed. I think I’d be a bit nervous taking the lane on Fell during rush hour (unless I was lit up like the Luxor in Vegas), but maybe I’m just being a pansy… though with the SM, I’ll have more immediate “get-out-of-the-way” power than I would have unassisted…

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  • Todd

    Ian, yes on Fell between Scott and the Panhandle. There’s a broad bike lane on the left.

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