Xtracycle Accessories Review…

Ready to haul...

Ready to haul…

I’ve been a Surly Big Dummy since 2008. In that time I’ve hauled a lot of cargo, passengers and done a few tours. I thought I would go over the Xtracycle accessories I’ve used and give you some feedback on them.

Stuff I carry all the time...

Stuff I carry all the time…

What I’ve used:

  • V-Racks
  • Decks [original & Flight Deck]
  • Deck Pad
  • Footsies [foot rests]
  • Xtracycle Bags [Mk2 + Mk3]
  • dry bags
  • Wide Loaders
  • Long Loader
  • tie down straps x 3
  • $7 kickstand
  • Kick Back centerstand [sold]
  • Porcelain Rocket Bags
  • OMM Cold Springs front rack
  • bike carrier
  • longboard tow
V-Racks with wooden deck & MK2 Bags...

V-Racks with wooden deck & MK2 Bags…

V-Racks

These are the vertical “C” shaped aluminum tubes that your top deck/side bags attach to and they slide into your Big Dummy or Xtracycle Free-Radical frame. I have the original variety, but there is also a heavy duty variety now. So far I haven’t felt them need to upgrade and I have carried 200lbs on the back of my Dummy.

All in all not much to say about these bad boys. They work. They haven’t failed me.

I painted mine black which looks stealthy, but I did a shitty job so the paint isn’t very durable.

Pro Tips:

Flight Deck and Wooden Deck...

Flight Deck and Wooden Deck…

Original Deck

Made of wood the original deck worked fine. Although it would get a little gnarly when exposed to the elements for a long time. It had a tendancy to pop off when you hit a big bump. This was solved by the use of bike toe clip straps at the top front and rear of the V-Racks. If you carry a lot of passengers the deck was hard and not super comfortable.

If you gave me a Dummy or Xtracycle with an original wood deck I would use it without complaints, but I wouldn’t buy another one if I needed to replace mine.

Pro Tip:

  • you can buy the deck clips separately and use a skateboard as a deck if you want to be a hipster
Underside of Flight Deck...

Underside of Flight Deck…

Flight Deck

The Flight Deck is made of plastic and is bigger with many attachment points and grab handles at both ends. It copes with weather much better than the original wood deck and it attaches more securely than the older deck. It’s still uber hard so a pad would be good if you carry passengers a lot.

Pro Tip:

Deck pad is Cat Approved...

Deck pad is Cat Approved…

Deck Pad

I carry a lot of passengers on my Big Dummy so I got a soft deck pad. I can’t recall who made it, but there is nothing particularly special about it other than it is sized to fit an Xtracycle deck. I leave it on most of the time in the city since I never know when I’ll be hauling someone. It has survived a lot of sun and getting wet. If you carry passengers this is a worthy upgrade.

Pro Tip:

Foot Rest...

Foot Rest…

Footsies

My passengers are usually adults so they have long legs and big feet. Giving them a solid place to put their feet means they stay stable and secure on the Dummy which makes piloting the loaded rig easier. I keep these in the Xtracycle bags at all times and they install in seconds when I need them.

I haven’t felt the need for a set of stoker’s bars on my Dummy although they could be a good addition to the foot rests if you carry a lot of passengers. I don’t like how wide they make the rear of the bike and my passengers haven’t had any issues staying aboard so I haven’t bothered.

These foot rests are definitely taking a beating, but so far they have held up fine. If I had to replace these I’d just buy a new set.

Pro Tip:

Mk2 bags unloaded...

Mk2 bags unloaded…

Mk2 Xtracycle Bags

These are the second generation bags made by Xtracycle. They maintained the clever versatile design of the original bags, but made them out of less durable fabric. They work well for a wide variety of loads since they open up all the way for a large item or they can be closed like a taco to keep smaller items from falling out. This particular version was not very abrasion resistant so they wore out relatively fast in hard use. The material is not waterproof so anything inside the bags will get wet from rear wheel spray as well as rain that falls in from the open top.

If you gave me a set for free I’d use them, but I wouldn’t buy a set even at a discount.

Mk2 bags overloaded...

Mk2 bags overloaded…

Mk3 bags freshly installed...

Mk3 bags freshly installed…

Mk3 Xtracycle Bags

Xtracycle released a new version of their bags that kept the same design as the Mk1 & Mk2 bags, but returned to a more durable fabric construction. These bags will hold up to hard use better and keep water from rear wheel spray out much better. They are still open at the top so rain will get in.

I broke one of the velcro straps that attached one of the male ends of the fastex buckles that closes the bags. It was just poor QC and I stole one from my Mk2 bags to keep rolling. I haven’t had any other issues in the 2yrs I’ve been using these bags.

Pro Tip:

Loaded up with dry bags on tour...

Loaded up with dry bags on tour…

Dry Bags

In order to maintain a lot of versatility in what they will carry the bags discussed above use an open top “taco” design. This means you can carry lots of different items with minimal hassle, but they are not protected from the elements. I’ve used a variety of dry bags to carry gear on my Dummy in wet weather. This also lets you load and unload the bike very quickly.

On tour with smaller dry bags...

On tour with smaller dry bags…

Pro Tips:

Carrying a bike box...

Carrying a bike box…

Wide Loaders

These aluminum tubes fit into each side of your cargo bike and have a nylon deck. They allow you to carry wide heavy items with ease – think bike box or a rubbermaid with recycling in it. The Xtracycle bags can carry some smaller boxes, but at some point you will be overloading the straps that attach them to the bike.

I couldn’t imagine cargo biking with my Big Dummy without these side racks.

Definitely a wide load...

Definitely a wide load…

Pro Tips:

  • use tie down straps to get the most from these side racks.
  • bungee cords are not as secure as tie downs.
  • use these racks as foot rests for your passengers if you don’t have dedicated foot rests.
  • these racks and the Kick Back center stand aren’t fun to use together unless you never take the Wide Loaders off.
Carrying a Bike Friday...

Carrying a Bike Friday…

A long load...

A long load…

Long Loader

One of the benefits of the rear loading cargo bike is that it carries long items [ladders, kayaks, SUPs, etc..] well. A Long Loader is a small bracket that attaches to your Wide Loader that pushes the item you are carrying out a bit at the front so there is room for you to pedal and steer the bike.

It’s small, simple and highly effective. I’m glad I have one.

Long Loader in action...

Long Loader in action…

Tie downs FTW!

Tie downs & a Long Loader FTW!

Tie Down Straps

I always have 3 tie down straps in my Big Dummy’s bags. They are essential for securely attaching bigger loads. They work much better than bungee cords. If you have a Big Dummy you need some.

The other side...

The other side…

Best $7 I ever spent!

Best $7 I ever spent!

$7 Kickstand

The Big Dummy has a kickstand plate for a standard single leg side mounted kickstand. Mine cost $7 and is going strong despite a ton of abuse. It’s nice to be able to park the Dummy anywhere without laying it over or having to lean it up against a wall.

If/when this breaks I’ll buy another!

Kick Back in action...

Kick Back in action…

Kick Back Center Stand

You can read my full Kick Back Review here.

I bought a Kick Back center stand because I thought having a more stable bike when loading cargo would be a good thing. It was, but sadly the design of the Kick Back means it needs to be attached to the bike in the same spot as your Wide Loaders. So what once was a simple and easy task of plugging in your Wide Loaders now becomes a major operation. I can’t get my Dummy through the gate it my yard with both Wide Loaders on nor do I want to ride massively wide bike 24/7 when I am not carrying any major cargo. So the Kick Back was a fail for me and I sold it. There is also some chain rub issue on the Kick Back depending on your drivetrain. That’s a bit annoying, but I could have lived with that.

If you either rarely use Wide Loaders/Footsies or you leave them installed 24/7 the Kick Back could work just fine for you. The construction and functionality of the stand itself was good.

If you use a variety of accessories and want to keep the install/removal process fun skip the Kick Back.

Pro Tips:

  • the $7 kickstand works surprisingly well and is worth a shot.
  • with your Wide Loaders installed you can lean your bike over for stable loading/unloading without a center stand.
  • The Rolling Jackass center stand works great and doesn’t mess with your other Xtracycle accessories if you really need a center stand. They are expensive, but well made.
My Dummy with PR bags...

My Dummy with PR bags…

Porcelain Rocket Bags

I got some custom frame bags from Porcelain Rocket for the rear of my Big Dummy between the seat tube and the cargo area. The Xtracycle bags at the rear of the Dummy have a flap pocket on each side that I use for carry accessories and tie down straps, but once you are loaded up with cargo you can’t get into them very easily. These two frame bags allow me to carry smaller items I want access to throughout the ride. These bags aren’t essential, but they are quite useful. Note that they will cover up 1 of the water bottle cage mounts, but that still leaves you with 3 others.

The cost is high for these bags, but so is the quality. If I was starting over I would get another set.

Some folks are getting a Porcelain Rocket frame bag made for the front triangle as well. I don’t have a need for that and I’d rather keep 2 easily accessible bottle cages, but it’s an option for even more cargo space.

You can read my PR bag reviews here – top bag review and triangle bag review.

PR Bags close up...

PR Bags close up…

OMM Cold Springs rack...

OMM Cold Springs rack…

OMM Cold Springs Front Rack

I have an Old Man Mountain Cold Springs front rack on my Dummy. It gets used mostly on tours, but it’s so light I leave it on 24/7. Having some gear up front balances out the load and slows down the steering on the Dummy. For a rough/dirt road tour that can be nice. It’s also handy to have some segregated storage up front that I can access easily without messing with my gear at the back.

I’ve got something like 10 OMM racks which I’ve used for over 10yrs. They are strong, light, work well with my Ortlieb panniers and I love the having a platform to attach stuff to – like a water bag when I am headed to camp. The modular design means they will fit on just about any bike.

They are made in the US. I love these racks.

Pro Tip:

OMM on tour...

OMM on tour…

Cannondale on the way to the LBS...

Cannondale on the way to the LBS…

Bike Carrier

This is just a Wide Loader with a normal roof rack bike carrier tray attached. It lets you carry a bike super securely on the Big Dummy. It was expensive to buy, but every time I use it I am glad I spent the money. There are other ways to carry a bike on your Dummy, but this carrier is so secure you can take singletrack detours comfortably.

I don’t see this for sale on the Xtracycle site, but you can just buy an spare Wide Loader and then DIY attach a bike carrier of your choice.

Buying a Townie for a friend...

Buying a Townie for a friend…

Rolling...

Rolling…

Longboard Tow

Towing someone on a longboard with the Big Dummy works really well. The Dummy has enough bulk and stability not to get messed with and when skating is no longer an option the 2nd person can jump aboard and get a lift home.

Our tow rope rig is DIY. We started using some spare tie downs, but they were too rigid and there was a lot of un-fun accelerations for the boarder. So we added a section of strong bungee at the bike end of the rig. This keeps the ride smooth.

Towing is not just for guys...

Towing is not just for guys…

More Surly Big Dummy reading:

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5 thoughts on “Xtracycle Accessories Review…

  1. Pingback: vikapproved | Surly Big Dummy Review…

  2. Our Big Dummy has replaced our car for 80% of travel for my wife and I. She rides on the back, along with any and all things we need to pick up, drop off, or acquire mid-journey. I have a stoker bar for her (with bell and cupholder), and a padded top for the flightdeck. I got the wide loaders – but ended up switching to the xtracycle wood running boards. They look great, are comfy for one (or more) passengers), and while not quite as wide as the Wide Loaders they help to hold larger loads. I also was able to score a used Rolling Jackass stand, and it is fantastic.

  3. This is a great summary of just about every Big Dummy related item in existence. I’ve also had mine since ’08, and have depended upon a similar $7 kickstand that has performed well. I’ve been curious about the Kickback, but have been too cheap to pop for one. Sounds like there’s not much reason to pursue a Kickback, based on the overlap between my use and your impressions.

    The Big Dummy is an incredibly versatile bike, and probably the single bike that I own that would be hardest to part with. I’ve ridden all of my life, but I credit this bike with changing the way I think about how bikes can be used.

  4. Hey Vik,

    Another great post! I just re-read it as I finally got a Xtracycle and have been wanting to learn more and know you are always an excellent font of knowledge.

    I went with the Xtracycle conversion to my old Surleyized Mountain bike (which was the one I rode that 200K on that you kindly posted), because I liked the idea of re-purposing the bike. I figure if I end up finding the need for the extra weight, I’ll just sell the free radical and get a Dummy Frame and move all my components over.

    So far, it’s worked great. I got the Free Radical, P-Racks (for the extra strength and flexibility of using with panniers), Flight Deck 2, mini-magic carpet, stoker bars, U-Tubes, and the X2 bags with rain lids,

    My first cargo haul was 8 gallons of distilled water for the humidifier (four on each side) and 40 lbs of cat liter on the deck. All told, about 110 lbs, if I converted correctly, so adding in my 210 lbs, that was about 320 lbs all together, pretty close to the max weight of 350 lbs.

    I cinched the water in as tight as possible, but still felt a lot of flexing in the rear. I’m thinking I pushed the envelope a bit with that. I don’t know the science, but I’m sure that was like carrying a lot more weight than it actually was due to the sloshing back and forth.

    However, other than a bit of frame flex, it felt fine. My house was only a flat mile away, but it still was fairly easy to peddle and stopping was only slightly harder, but sill well within safety limits.

    I think I will get the long-loader for sure, as I have an old 44″ plasma tv that I need to take to the electronic recycle, and I’m thinking the long-loader would help. Plus if I ever finally start kite surfing, I’ll be all set!

    Thanks again Vik!

    Ty

    • Hey Ty,

      Congrats on the X. It may not perform as well as BD at the heaviest end of the load spectrum, but unless that’s where you are operating a lot of the time it’s going to be just fine most of the time.

      Check to see that your racks are all firmly installed and look up some of the hacks to tighten everything up if they aren’t already solid.

      You’ll also find some possible gains in performance if you try some different loading/tie down strategies.

      Anyways enjoy the hauling lifestyle.

      =-)

      Vik

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