Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wheels, wheels, wheels

I'm barely treading water with wheelbuild orders these days.  My backlog has been hovering at twenty wheels for some time now, and building all those wheels while taking care of local customers' various needs is difficult.  I've started to tell prospective customers that the backlog is 6-9 business days. Previously I was able to turn orders around within a week, but that isn't realistic right now.  I hope the orders will keep coming in with the longer wait time, and I guess if they don't the wait will drop back down, but I can't keep up the schedule I've been on for the last few weeks.  Of course, I'm very grateful to have this "problem" and am mindful that there are many people who are struggling to find work.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Xtracycle Praise, and a Plea

Our Xtracycle'd bike has been in storage for most of the time since we moved to Wilmington. Recently I pulled it out and put the FreeRadical on a bike frame that fit me better and since then we've been using it everyday.  When you weigh cost, cargo capacity, availabilty, and performance I don't think any cargobike can beat an Xtracycle.  There are cargobikes that can carry more, but they're considerably more expensive and less nimble.  With a couple of accesories the Xtracycle FreeRadical allows you to carry an amazing amount of cargo while retaining most of the handling manners of a regular bike.  We have been using it a lot lately, and have rigged it up to be a family wagon.  Silas rides up front in the Bobike Mini, I "drive," and Lucy rides on the Snapdeck.  

Those of us who use our bikes as transportation are pretty used the "How do you get groceries? How do you ____?" questions.  On a regular bike with some modest cargo provisions getting groceries for a single person, or even two people can be done, not always easily.  The Xtracycle makes it easy, even for a family or four or five.  The Xtracycle pushes the range and use of the bicycle to point that it makes living without a car a viable option for a lot of people because it removes what for many people is the last hurdle to using their bicycle for an overwhemlming majority of their transport needs.  Most people don't regularly carry more cargo than they can carry on the Xtracycle.  And that includes the number of children in the average family. Carrying two children is very, very doable on the Xtracycle.  I do so regularly with Silas and Zoe (who stays with us three days a week while here mother goes to work). 

My experience is that people in the US who use their bicycles as transportation start out with one or a handful of bike trips.  They might commute to work first and use the bike for nearby errands.  Then the expand their range.  They they might add some cargo capacity.  Many, like me, relocate their residence so that they aren't in a suburban environment where zoning produces a great divide between residential areas and commercial/service destinations.  Sometimes a tipping point is reached and the bike is, except in very rare instances, their mode of transport.  The Xtracycle is a great help in getting people from "I can use my bike for some trips" to "I can use my bike for almost everything."

Oh--the plea.  Almost forgot.  If any readers would like a FreeRadical, Surly Big Dummy, or Xtracycle Radish, please let me know.  We would very much like to be a full fledged Xtracycle dealer (we can presently order FreeRadicals and limited accesories from QBP), but Xtracycle has changed their distribution rules this year, and to have full dealer status a shop has to meet an opening order minimum.  This is kinda hard for a small shop in a smallish town in an obscure location that doesn't depend on foot traffic for business.  Because of our present location and business structure we can't just buy a bunch of these, put them on the floor, and be confident they'll sell.  So I need to pre-sell some some Xtracycle stuff to be in the position to place the opening order.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Community Xtracycle Available at the Shop

I now have an demo Xtracycle at the shop that anyone can borrow if they need to do an errand that requires more cargo capactiy than a regular bike.  If you don't know, Xtracycle is a company that makes a kit which turns a normal bike into a longtail cargo bike with very large saddlebags and a platform.  They have a couple of smart accesories for carrying long objects, other people, and even other bikes.

The long wheelbase makes carrying heavy loads much easier and makes the handling much better than a normal bike when loaded.  Basically it allows you to carry things you used to think you couldn't carry on a bike.  For instance, I take the boxes from the shop to my house to be recycled since we don't have recycling service at our building.  Here's how I did it this Thursday.
I'd like to be clear that you don't have to be in the market for an Xtracyle to borrow ours. Anybody who needs to can use it for an errand.  We have the wideloader and longloader plug-ins if you need them, as well as a child's seat for younger children and footsies plus a "stoker" handlebar for older children or adults who need to ride along.

The Xtracycle we now have is built on a pretty big frame, and I'm afraid smaller riders will have a hard time fitting on it.  Sorry.  I hope to have a smaller frame built up soon.