07 December 2012

When Stuff Breaks: Fix it

I popped my cargobike off the kickstand on Wednesday morning and quickly realized that the rear tire was flat. So instead of giving the kids a lift, they rode their own bikes to school. We made up a song about Alderaan on the way and I forgot all about the flat tire. No worries; life is good.

The next day I woke early to change the flat tire before school. The tube had been punctured on the inner side, which was how I noticed this:

The rim is severely cracked along one of the welds. A burr of metal caused the slow puncture, and I'm guessing that this happened suddenly on Tuesday during a routine ride. These are 36 hole Velocity Cliffhanger rims, one of the "bombproof" varieties that folks talk about. I was surprised and deflated that they had failed, but more importantly, I had lost my primary mode of transportation.

As I've mentioned, I'm hopefully upgrading my Xtracycle to and EdgeRunner in January when they become available, so I didn't want to throw much money at this bike right now, if any. That (now broken) 26" wheel is actually going to be a left-over part of the build since the EdgeRunner uses a 20" rear wheel.

So I borrowed a small kid trailer from a friend so I'd have a way to transport my 4y.o. and told my 7y.o. that she may have to ride on her own more often. She's getting comfortable riding in the street and is starting to enjoy the independence of being on her own bike. With temporary solutions in place, my next project was to figure out what to do with the Xtracycle until January.

My plan is to build up the donor frame on the Xtracycle as a full fledged 29er mountain bike (sans FreeRadical.) Some of the parts for that project had already been acquired...including the wheels...you see where I'm going with this.

I installed some lightly used 700x38c road tires on the 29er wheels and made sure that they would fit in the FreeRadical frame. Installation was tricky: tires deflated and skewers removed, but I got it in there. It barely fits. 

Brake rotors and the cassette from the 26" wheels were moved over to the 700c (29er) wheels and I was ready for a test ride! Except that when I took the bike off the Kickback kickstand, I found that the non-deployed Kickback rubbed on the larger wheel. I installed a spare F.A.P. onto the FreeRadical kickstand plate to keep the Kickstand from retracting all the way back up. This bought me just enough clearance. Check out the whodathunkit look on my face: the F.A.P. has been in my parts bin for over 5 years.

Test ride time. The larger wheels effect the trail (tendency for wheel flop) and also raise the center of gravity, so cornering is much different.  Less nimble at low speed, but more stable at high speed. The skinny tires don't have much cushion to speak of and I actually had an egg in the front basket crack on the way home from the grocery store last night. Also, the clearance under the Snapdeck was so tight that it began to rub once it got a little wet and dirty under there. 

Most 700c Xtracycles are going to need the Riser Plugs that they sell. Since I knew my LBS wasn't going to have them, I made my own from a piece of 7/8" O.D. PVC cut in 1/2" lengths. (The PVC was a remnant that I had saved from making my DRT flag!)

The shims fit perfectly into the FreeRadical frame and raised the V-Racks and Snapdeck enough to give me the clearance I needed for passengering. "Whoa, this is weird!" said my 4y.o. as we headed out on the school run this afternoon. Those few inches of height make a noticeable difference. 


I'm still looking forward to the new EdgeRunner, but I'm really happy to have my Xtracycle back on the road.