Xtracycle's new EdgeRunner cargo bike is no lightweight. In fact, it's quite heavy at a whopping 30kg (66lb) with accessories. Just like a worker ant, it's capable of hauling several times its own weight and, in spite of what the numbers would suggest, it's remarkably nimble thanks to its clever 20in rear wheel.
Ride & handling: Surprisingly easygoing – just avoid the hills
No amount of sorcery can magically erase the fully outfitted EdgeRunner's substantial heft, and you definitely feel it when starting from a standstill or going uphill. Aside from that, however, it feels much like many other townies – the EdgeRunner might be heavy but it's also admirably efficient.
Credit the enormous Schwalbe Big Ben tires for the fast roll, but also Xtracycle's decision to use a 20in rear wheel, which lends a more nimble feel, allows for a lower and more compact frame, and dramatically drops the center of gravity of the longtail rear end, especially when you've got the upper deck loaded.
Speaking of loads, this thing sure nails it in that regard, with a total capacity of 160kg (350lb) between the rider and gear, spread out between the expansive top deck and enormous panniers. We had no issues loading up four standard-sized grocery bags, for example, plus an extra tier of boxes strapped down up top.
Thanks to that low center of gravity, the whole setup doesn't feel inordinately tippy, either. And while Trek opted to save weight with an aluminum frame on its Transport cargo bike, Xtracycle has stuck with a full chromoly tubeset that's heavier but feels more stable, particularly when it's asymmetrically loaded.
We boosted the cargo-carrying capacity of our test bike even further with Xtracycle's brilliant new SideCar, which itself is rated for 113kg (250lb). More importantly, the capacious plastic deck makes it much easier to haul bulkier items that might not otherwise fit.
Bike boxes? No problem. Multiple bike boxes? Still no problem. Multiple bike boxes and wheel boxes? You get the point.
Flip down the SideCar and carrying capacity increases dramatically
As the name suggests, the SideCar extends outward (from either side) instead of being towed behind like a trailer. You obviously need to be conscious of the additional width when riding in traffic, but thanks to a rudimentary hinge mechanism at the base, riding the SideCar-equipped EdgeRunner feels pretty normal because you can still pivot left and right.
Unlike a trailer, the SideCar's hinge also allows you to flip it up and out of the way when it isn't needed, although it does obscure the pannier on that side, and access to Xtracycle's burly, two-legged KickBack kickstand. In addition, adding the SideCar's impressive capacity only tacks on another 5.9kg (13lb), which is far less than most heavy-duty trailers.
Perhaps the best testament to the EdgeRunner's surprisingly reasonable ride performance, though, is the fact that we regularly chose it to get around town even when we had no loads to carry. We'd obviously set it aside if speed were an issue, but otherwise it's a fine commuter/utility bike that just happens to have an enormous capacity – and a little extra junk in the trunk.
Frame: Clever design with help from Sam Whittingham
The inspiration for the EdgeRunner's tiny 20in rear wheel apparently came from designer Sam Whittingham, the head of NAHBS award-winning Naked Bicycles and, coincidentally, holder of the current human-powered land speed record of 133km/h (82.8mph).
In addition to the lower center of gravity we already discussed, the smaller wheel also affords a longer wheelbase for added stability without increasing the bike's end-to-end distance.
Otherwise, the EdgeRunner's frame construction is decidedly pedestrian, with TIG-welded straight chromoly tubing all round, a conventional 1 1/8in front end and matching unicrown fork, a threaded bottom bracket, and open dropouts front and rear. Claimed weight (sorry, folks, we didn't take this one apart as we normally would) for the frame and fork is 7.18kg (15.8lb).
It's what that frame provides a foundation for, though, that gives the EdgeRunner such immense utility. Xtracycle's LT cargo platform is by far the most widely accepted in the industry, and the company's range of plug-in accessories is decidedly vast.
Among the available possibilities are two rack systems, a variety of upper decks, countless bags and baskets, lower load shelves, and even an array of bits to add up to three pint-sized passengers. Braze-ons just behind the head tube let you tack on a front-mounted baby seat, too, and a front basket is on the way.
Unfortunately, Xtracycle currently only offers the EdgeRunner in a medium size with a 590mm (23.2in) effective top tube. Provided you can work around that length, the low-slung frame at least provides heaps of standover clearance.
The low-slung frame fits a wide range of riders
The other oddity is an unusual 138mm rear hub spacing, which Xtracycle says was necessary for the optional eZee electric motor. While that may be the case, we know of plenty of other options that use a standard 135mm spacing that we'd prefer to see in its place if only for that reason.
Xtracycle also offers the EdgeRunner as a frameset-only for US$899 for DIYers. Needless to say, we're at least mildly intrigued by the possibility of a (relatively) superlight build.
Equipment: Appropriately workhorse
As one would expect for a utilitarian machine like this, the stock build kit is functional but hardly flashy. Key highlights include MicroSHIFT trigger shifters and front derailleur, a Shimano Deore rear derailleur, fat Weinmann aluminum rims, a basic three-ring square-taper crankset (Xtracycle's specs say ProWheel but our tester came with an FSA Tempo unit), and a galvanized KMC RustBuster chain.
Xtracycle easily could have gone with a bunch of no-name bits to save money, but aside from the bolt-on front hub everything is impressively reputable. For example, it uses a genuine Shimano rear freehub and wide-range 11-32T 9-speed cassette, the aforementioned Schwalbe Big Ben tires, and Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes matched to 180mm-diameter Shimano rotors.
Even the sweptback aluminum handlebar, forged aluminum hi-rise threadless stem, and heavy-duty headset – prime targets for cost-cutting – come from FSA.
The swept-back FSA Metropolis bar offers a commanding view of the road
One prime omission is a kickstand – a critical accessory for something like this. Don't plan on bolting up your standard Greenfield, though, as it's really not up to the task. Xtracycle's own KickBack is wonderfully stout and stable but it'll add 1.36kg (3lb).
All told, we had no issues during our test period and, in fact, the MicroSHIFT triggers offered up impressively crisp shifts despite the huge lengths of continuous housing. Likewise, we got more than enough power from the Avid BB7 brakes to rein in heavy loads.
Stripped down, the complete EdgeRunner comes in closer to 22kg (48.5lb) but there's little point in doing so since that would also greatly hamper the cargo capabilities.
Xtracycle says availability of the new EdgeRunner will be mighty limited for the time being, which is rather unfortunate. If you can manage to get your hands on one, we have little doubt you'll like it.
The EdgeRunner frameset costs US$899 and weighs 7.18kg (15.8lb).