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14808Re: [rootsradicals] The Loud Bike cracked my Free Radical frame

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  • Tone
    Oct 2, 2013
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      David,
      As Pete already pointed out, cracking of the FreeRadical frame behind
      the rear dropouts is somewhat common when carrying heady loads. It is
      simply a structural week point. If I remember correctly, Xtracycle
      specifies a limit of no more than sixty pounds loaded behind the read
      axle, but something like up to 150-200 pounds in front of the rear axle.
      You may also recall, even though the horizontal tube at the back of the
      FreeRadical frame is called the "Rear Step" they definitely do not want
      you stepping on it!
      I myself managed to crack two FreeRadical frames this way. I guess I am
      like Pete in that I liked trying to haul stupid big loads just to see if
      I could. The first time I noticed my FreeRadical frame cracked was when
      I sort of felt I had a squishy rear tire. It just seemed wobbly back
      there, but when I checked the tire pressure all was fine. However, that
      feeling was still there when I began to ride again. At some point I
      began noticing it felt wiggly when I biked in a swervy line, then while
      doing this I looked back at my tail. I was astonished to see my back end
      swaying left to right. I immediately stopped my bike and had a closer
      look. That is when I saw my frame was cracked behind the rear drop out,
      but that was not all. Both sides were cracked! The only reason the back
      end did not drop to the pavement was because I had both freeloaders on
      tight with two wide-loaders equipped.
      I was working as a bike messenger back then, so god only knows how long
      I had at least one side cracked. The guys at Xtracycle were so cool
      about it too because they immediately shipped me out a new FreeRadical
      frame without expecting me to send my frame to them first. That enabled
      me to simply ride for work with a "half-assed" long tail without the
      back end or free loaders, etc. When the new frame arrived I swapped my
      old one for the new one on my bike and shipped back my busted frame to
      Xtracycle in the box they sent the replacement in. If I remember
      correctly, they were also super sweet in noticing my Freeloaders looked
      rather ratty in the photos of my broken FreeRadical, and asked me to to
      include my worn out FreeLoader bags in the box back to them so they
      could examine it for future product improvement. Of course that meant
      they hooked me up with a new set of FreeLoaders without me ever asking!
      I could not have asked for better customer service and support.
      Needless to say I was much more careful with my new Xtracycle set up,
      but time and my need to haul things just could not prevent the
      inevitable. Although I never felt that swaying feeling again, I would
      routinely inspect my FreeRadical frame for cracks, and sure enough
      eventually I noticed one developing. I felt so bad about breaking my
      baby again and guilty about possibly contacting Xtracycle for yet
      another FreeRadical replacement, that I never told anyone there. By that
      time I had my FreeRadical for a number of years and figured I was well
      out of warranty, but considering how awesome they had treated me in the
      past I was pretty sure they would send me yet another one. Regardless I
      never mentioned it. By that time I new the Big Dummy was going to be
      released, so I figured I could wait to just buy one directly from them
      to solve my problem.
      To keep my ride going though, I decided to temporarily patch up the
      problem myself. I did not know how to weld, and I knew the FreeRadical
      tubing might be too thin to properly weld to anyway, so I bought a foot
      length of pipe from the hardware store and about four stainless steel
      hose clamps. I then used a metal cutter/grinder to cut the pipe
      lengthwise to fashion a brace like a person might use to support a
      broken leg in an emergency situation. It worked amazingly well, and in
      fact I managed to haul the largest load I ever carried on my bike with
      that set up. See for yourself:

      http://www.cranksgiving.net/XtraLoads/LunarLoad-Angle.jpg
      http://www.cranksgiving.net/XtraLoads/LunarLoad-Back.jpg

      It was a crazy load, and I would never do it again, but only when I had
      the bike locked up at my destination and was taking those photos did I
      remember my FreeRadical frame had a crack in it with a homemade brace
      supporting all that weight. After the load was unloaded though I
      inspected the frame (both sides), and though I did not want to temp fate
      by taking off the brace, everything seemed fine.
      By this time I had stopped messengering and knew I would be moving to
      Pennsylvania, so I needed to save money instead of splurging on a brand
      new Big Dummy. It was only when my bike itself tore to shreds behind the
      head-tube a couple of years later that I bought the Big Dummy I still
      have now.

      So, in your own case, like Pete said, if your FreeRadical is still
      under warranty, then I would think Xtracycle would honor it by sending
      you a replacement. If you are out of warranty though, then unfortunately
      I can not say for sure they would replace it. I think in my own case the
      Xtracycle crew was super cool with me because I was an early adopter of
      Xtracycle, and definitely the first messenger riding a long-tail cargo
      bike in New York City. I know several people actually bought Xtracycle
      gear because of seeing my ride and having me rave on and on about it, so
      in a way Xtracycle and I supported each other.

      Ride safe,
      _TONE_
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