Is it the revolution yet?

You know how, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind the main guy and an unrelated female character find that they’ve been having the same vision of the butte? The mashed potato vision? There’s another vision floating around the ether that’s latching on to more and more people, and it’s a bicycle. And more and more of these people are in a position to act on the vision, bringing this peculiar bicycle into being, possibly into mass production, even. These are longtail bikes designed expressly to fulfill functions usually relegated to cars, namely carrying passengers and substantial cargo. These are precisely the applications Stokemonkey is designed to support.

Scott Dion of Fraser Cycles belongs to what a recently linked Reuters article calls “a class of young designers and welders [whose] designs are taking congested cities by storm,” at least in Europe. But Scott is in San Diego, California. Scott contacted me nearly a year ago, having been inspired as I was by Xtracycle to make a purpose-built version. He conceived his “Frontier” independently of my Xtravois, which is pretty uncanny:

Of course, both our designs derive from Ross Evans’ original Xtracycle concept. And Xtracycle is now half out of the closet with a complete longtail frame project, due to be in ridable prototype stage by winter. Other, similar efforts are rumored (don’t ask). It’s these rumors and non-rumors that have taken the wind out of my earlier tentative offer to produce more Xtravoix. Yes, we’re excited about these bikes and working our tiny little levers to assure Stokemonkey compatibility.

The bicycle industry is very conservative. When smaller companies introduce substantial innovations and survive, however, big parties are seldom far behind. The last revolution was a quarter century ago, with the introduction of the mountain bike, and suddenly everybody was making them. A more modest and recent case in point, still unfolding, is the Electra Townie line, with its cranks-forward design now copied by several large companies. I’m dreaming of the day when every other bike shop has two models each from four companies of bikes that carry three people, and maybe they’ll have some assist options.

It sounds like Dubya and the gubbermint is on board to force this plan ASAP, with bold leadership like this; that’s right, ride the bike on Earth Day while talking up hydrogen, then the next Monday move to end environmental controls on gasoline, stop filling the strategic reserve, and cut federal gas taxes. Burn baby burn.

4 thoughts on “Is it the revolution yet?”

  • Andrew

    That Frontier looks pretty nice, but at the price ($4200) I think its market is the already converted. Hopefully the big bike makers could bring some mass-produced economy to the idea and make it more palatable for people who want to keep their cars (for whatever reason), but use them less.

  • Scott

    The first time I saw an Xtracycle was on a club ride when I was passed by a rider and then his girl and she was doing her makeup!? Ever since then it’s been mashed potato towers. I know a stokemonkey would fit very nicely into the slot behind the seatube. The bike in the photo was built to handle fatter tires for rail trail camping with the kids. I’m working on a 700c version and a touring version designed for four panniers in the back which I hope to take out on a test and evaluate trip this summer. As this is a customized bike the pricing will vary greatly depending on how it’s built so I’m going to pull that number off the site. I’ve arrived at the final design (which is different than the bike in the photo) and I’m two months from full production. By the way Todd, how did you find my site so quickly?

  • Todd

    Scott, I found your site because you linked to mine, and I look at my server logs.

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