Saturday, September 27, 2008

Burley Update

Some things I didn't mention the first time around:

One downside of the Burley is they even though it has a cover, it's not completely waterproof. I would not be surprised is water could come in through the bottom around the wheels, and I know for a fact that spray from the rear wheel frequently gets thrown under the front flap and into the cargo compartment--even with full coverage fenders.

The push/pull I mentioned definitely seems to come from the tow bar flexing. I loaded it up with 80lbs of cat liter today (and a few small items) and rocked it back and forth, and could definitely se flex. I don't think it's really anything to worry about though, and it's really only noticeable on roads that are crappy and have deep cracks at regular intervals.

The trailer handles just fine with 80lbs of cargo. Definitely slower, and you will pay for any attempts at ast acceleration, but decent top speeds on the flats and high top speeds on the downhills are the norm. Much slower when going uphill, but that's why the Long Hual Trucker has a 26x32 granny gear (though I didn't even need to use the granny ring today, and I don't think I even used the 32 in the back.

Top speed with the trailer today was 26.4, top speed with it loaded was 26, ride length was 12.21 miles.

One thing to be careful of: The trailer rides so smoothly sometimes that it's possible to forget how heavy it is, but it definitely takes a toll on braking. And mounting the bike when facing downhill, it is more vital to clamp down on the brake levers.

That said, I really want to get one of the Rans Hammer Trucks this spring, as shown by Commute by Bike. I was disappointed when I first learned what they aren't compatible with Xtracycle parts, but they also have a much higher cargo capacity, so I guess that's a win. I was never a huge fan of the crank forward bikes before, but this seems like an ideal application. I'll have to go about 30 miles to get to a RANS dealer though to test ride one to see if it works for me. But hey, I think I should be able to get there by bike, so I can score poiunts with myself at least.

Oh, I also forgot to attach the third pic of my trailer shopping trip the other day, it does a bit better job of showing how much it was carrying:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burley Nomad

As promised, the possibly long-awaited Burley Nomad review. I'm going to pretend that you're all interested and rapt with attention, so bear with me here.

OK, the Burley Nomad:

Narrow enough to fit through a door, light enough that it doesn't kill you by itself, and carries 100lbs.

Here are a few pictures from my last shopping trip (try not to judge me by the food:

As you can see, it holds quite a decent amount of groceries even though the front section could have held quite a bit more. I usually don't use the divider (if it's not velcroed around the crossbar it just lays flat) but I decided that my bag of salad and bagels probably didn't need things on top of them.

How does it handle? Pretty well! Making extreme right turns can cause the wheel to hit the towing bar, but that rarely happens to me--and never will at high speed. Left turns are limited only by the bicycle's turning radius. The way the tow bar attaches, the trailer rides a little bit to the left--the right wheel of the trailer lines up pretty close to the wheels of your bike when going straight down the road. Very convenient as it means if you move over to let a car pass, you don't really have to worry about the trailer falling off the edge of the road. I suppose it's less convenient in countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road, but that's what they get for being weird.

I have mentioned before that on crappy pavement it feels funny. The road that I take to Kroger has lots of cracks in it, and riding along it feels like there's some push/pull aaction from the trailer--I don't know if this is the tow bar flexing or if it's simply the trailer pushing and pulling slightly as the wheels ride up and down the breaks in the pavement. I've come to believe it is the latter.

One has to give a little extra room when cornering, obviously, since like a car trailer it will have a shorter turning radius than the bike.

I have also used a BOB trailer before, an old discontinued model called the Coz. The only difference in the Coz and the Ibex seems to be the way they carry cargo--the Ibex has an open cargo area where one is meant to put a dry bag, and the Coz just has a rubbermaid container bolted onto the bare frame. Handling and attachment should be identical though.

The #1 advantage of the BOB over the Burley is that due to the attachment system and the articulating yoke, it will follow the back wheel almost exactly through turns. This means that you don't have to take turns any wider, and it can be used while mountain biking (very useful for carrying trail tools). The fact that it has only a single wheel in back also makes it narrower, and the whole trailer tilts along with the bike when cornering.

The BOB requires a special skewer to attach to the bike, the Burley needs nothing special to attach, it has a special clamp that fits on the left side of the rear triangle. Note that this means it woin't work on a bike with disc brakes, they make an adapter to attach to the skewer in this case, but I have no experience with it.

The Burley ca be easily attached whether empty or fully loaded, and it's designed so that the tongue weight should only be 10% of the total load weight. BOBs are not supposed to be attached when loaded (and it's really hard to do anyway), and transfer more of the total load weight to the rear wheel of the bike. Burleys also have a higher maximum load, 100lbs vs 50lbs. For touring, this shouldn't make much of a difference, but I like to take mine when I go to buy big bags of cat litter, so higher weigh limits are welcome.

I think when pulling the Burley I get more room from cars. I think this is partly because it sticks out more into the traffic lane and partly because people think it might be a child trailer. For some reason it's OK to hit adult cyclists, but it's not OK to hit kids.

I would definitely recommend the Burley for shopping and touring, but I still think an Xtracycle would have advantages--hopefully I'll be able to build one up by spring and report back. I suppose I could always have an Xtracycle and a trailer attached, but I think that would get a little heavy.

I should go to work soon, so I guess I'll cut this off here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Useful new knowledge

Still no internet so I am posting from my phone again, excuse the brevity.

Discovered something quite useful the other day and have been able to duplicate it twice. I can trip traffic lights with the Long Haul Trucker. Must be the combination of steel frame and rims. Definitely makes handling non-busy intersections easier.

The technique that has worked for me is to pretty much park right on top of the sensor loop along the right side. Considering that I have waited through 2+ cycles if these lights when nitrate on the sensors, this is a definite time saver.

Working on a writeup on the Burley trailer for whenever internet returns.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

reason for not updating

havent een able to post this week since hurricane ike took out my internet.
i dont know at exactly what point hurricanes became a threat to ohio, but it is not my favorite thing to ever happen.
hopefully i will have cable back soon, being without internet access is quite annoying. not to mention the savagery of being reduced to broadcast tv.
by the way, i am updating from my phone, so that explains the lack of caps and proper punctuation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Once again my lack of camping disappoints. I decided I should stay in town, as I discovered the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival. I've always been a big fan of popcorn, so I decided it would be pretty awesome.

Summary: There wasn't really very much popcorn there.

The day started out with me finally biking to church (4.6 miles), then riding to the popcorn fest (maybe a mile or so from there). I found a convenient pole to lock my bike to (have I mentioned the way there are no bike racks here?) and wondered around. Got some snacks and left.

Now dear reader, comes a story. A story with an important moral. I normally reserve this blog for general narration on the state of biking in my life, for ride reports, and (when I am less lazy), reviews of commuting gear. But now I feel obligated to speak word of caution.

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to race a recumbent just after eating lunch. It will not make you look awesome.

I'm guessing I looked "Fred" enough that he counts it as no victory, however.

Before I pull onto the rail trail, I see what seems to be a recumbent trike in the distance, off to my left. I turn right, and begin my ride toward home, eeking out 1 or 2 extra mph so that if I am passed it will not be THAT bad. The path has a very slight grade (1.5-2%) for the next mile or mile and a half, so I usually run about 15 or 16 on this section on a good day.

About halfway up the "hill", I get passed. I call out "Hi!" because I wanted to tell him his trike was pretty sweet (I think it was a Catrike Explorer--I know it was yellow). Alas, I was ignored, likely due to his iPod. I ceeded defeat, slowing to 13-14 for the rest of the "climb". He is still well within sight when I cross Grange Hall Rd. The hill continues though, so he continues to pull slightly ahead of me as we go. For some reason, even though the next block of trail is a similar slope, I am usually way faster. I try to keep my speed above 16 as I ride along now, seeing if I can catch back up. I am definitely making progress, I think, and it becomes more pronounced as I pass the park-n-ride location and move onto more level ground.

I go for my usual sprint on the slight downgrade here, and soon reach about 25. I pass the trike, and am feeling rather proud of myself when my stomach begins to protest.

"Hey, remember me? I'm that chicken pita you ate at the popcorn festival."
"How ya doin'! Man, you were delicious, but you're kind of hurting me now."

"Oh yeah? Well how about me? I'm the large Icee you washed it down with!"
"Mmm.....cherry. Ow, pain. What's with all this pain?"

"We're helping with that."
"Who....who are you?"
"We're the popcorn burger and diet coke you had just before you left. You eat too much, man."
"You may be right, but...ugh, now I'm slowing down! I lose!"

And then the trike rider passed me, since I had slowed way down at that point. Looking at the graph from my Garmin, you can actually see my stomach start to hurt toward the end of the ride.
Oh well, I've never been a racer, but I do usually end up being faster than 95% of the people I see riding on the bike path.