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13385RE: [rootsradicals] Thoughts on way to go with 700c FreeRadical

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  • Tone
    May 11, 2011

      I noticed you said you are in Lancaster, PA. Well I am in York, PA. As
      far as I know you are now the second long-tailer in the PA Susquehanna
      Valley. Welcome to the club!

      As far as what you should do, I am not exactly sure. I have been riding
      for many years with a long tail set up, first with a Univega equipped
      Free-Radical and now a Big Dummy. I only “upgraded” once my Univega had
      complete frame failure. That was a damn good aluminum frame though. I
      probably put over 30,000 hard miles on it. Furthermore, my Big Dummy is
      my only bike and I do not drive, so you can probably say I could justify
      the upgrade expense. When I switched over I only bought a new Big Dummy
      frame and fork from Xtracycle, which at the time was around $1000.
      However, I did swap over almost all my components, which saved me money.
      If it helps any, personally I prefer 26” wheels. It puts you that much
      closer to the ground for a lower center of gravity when carrying a load.
      I know that it is not that much difference, but when you add in 26” tires
      and tubes tend to be more widely available (as in if you get a
      non-repairable flat you can find a replacement tube/tire in many non-bike
      stores) it makes for a decent argument.
      Secondly, I have a strong inclination toward aluminum donor frames for
      Xtracycle conversions. When I switched over to my steel Bug Dummy I
      actually felt more flex than I did with my aluminum Univega. I attribute
      that to aluminum being more stiffer/rigid than steel. I actually do not
      feel as confident carrying significantly heavy/bulky loads with my Big
      Dummy as I did with my Xtracycled Univega. Furthermore, an aluminum frame
      is less weight than a steel frame. That was something else I noticed
      about my switch to the Big Dummy. With my Univega it was obviously
      heavier to lift up some stairs than a regular bike, but once I got the
      Big Dummy it was a real chore. Lifting my Big Dummy was so much more of a
      hassle I actually bought a discounted metal ramp (the kind used to roll
      motorcycles up onto a truck-bed), which I have running up my side porch.
      I do definitely recommend disc brake compatibility no matter what you
      decide. I use Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. The FreeRadical had to use
      a larger 203mm rotor with an adapter (at least when I had a FreeRadical,
      I am not sure now), but the Big Dummy does not. The 203mm rotor is
      supposed to help dissipate excess heat better when braking with a heavy
      load in the back. However, when I switch to a Big Dummy I switched to the
      smaller standard rotor size (160mm?) in the rear. When I still lived in
      New York and worked as a messenger it made sense for me to have a larger
      rotor for all that stop-and-go traffic (or more like
      hard-brake-and-super-fast-go traffic) and generally more frequent riding.
      Now that I live in PA and do more cruising speed riding, I think I would
      rather just concern myself with buying an easier to find replacement
      160mm rotor when I see it on sale somewhere, then swap whatever rotor
      needs it first.
      In summary, I am not familiar with all the bike model name choices you
      specified, but I basically recommend a 26” disc-brake compatible robust
      aluminum donor frame and rigid fork with an Xtracycle, which you can swap
      and/or upgrade whatever components you want to. That is of course when
      considering your budget does not encompass a Big Dummy option.
      I hope this helps and ride safe,
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