If you have an old mountain bike frame languishing in the shed and dream of going car-free, then the Xtracycle could be just the thing for you.
Think of it as a way of breathing new life into a favourite old steed, transforming it into a utility machine capable of carrying anything and everything, from bike boxes to plants, to shelves and even people.
A simple, easy to ﬁt, bolt-on kit, it attaches to the dropouts of your donor bike (old steel frames work best, hydroformed ones can be a bit more complicated), effectively giving it a boot.
The heart of the system is what’s known as the Free Radical, a subframe onto which various modular loading bays, seats, kickstands and panniers can be attached.
The basic kit includes all you need to get you carrying – the frame, a well ﬁnished, skateboard-style seat, a kickstand, an extra length of KMC chain and two roomy, adjustable side pouches that can hold your weekly shop.
On top of this, there’s an ever-growing range of extras, including nifty passenger foot platforms (£50) that plug in as and when they’re needed. And that’s one of the things we really like about this system – you only need to buy what’s relevant to you.
The downside is that all these extras seem ridiculously pricey for what they are, given their simplicity. Luckily, the folks at Xtracycle are a broad-minded bunch, and encourage you to make your own accessories, to the point of even open-sourcing their design.
In use, your bike still feels surprisingly bike-like; you’ll need to take corners wider and there’s a little give in the frame, but it’s nothing to worry about. If you’re planning to haul heavy cargo regularly, you’ll want to invest in a 36-hole touring wheel, otherwise you’ll be ﬁne.
Although the kit can’t be quickly detached like a trailer, it feels more compact around town and is better suited to long objects.
At ﬁrst, the Xtracycle takes time and experimentation to ﬁgure out the best way of loading it up, but that’s part of the fun! The beneﬁt is a warm, fuzzy feeling, not just from rejuvenating an old bike, but realising that the vast majority of chores around town don’t need to involve a car.