I had a brief period of panic outside of Trader Joe’s today. I guess I’m used to the two-Xtracycle Trader Joe’s runs. You really don’t need to worry about whether it’s all going to fit or not when you’re loading up two. Sometimes Tim and I even fill up a shopping cart and a couple hand baskets and still get everything on the bikes.
I tried to be aware of the one-bike issue today – I set up my six cloth bags in the cart (the number that normally fit in the Freeloaders) and filled up each bag as I shopped. I was pretty confident I had showed enough restraint to get it all on the bike. Then I went to check out. As I was re-bagging after the cashier rang my stuff up, I noticed my six bags were bulging.
When the cashier read me the total – $205.68, mild panic set in.
Sh**. Had I miscalculated? What in the hell did I buy? I couldn’t even blame it on wine and beer – I had definitely showed restraint in those aisles. What am I going to do if I can’t get it all on the bike? Bribe someone to take my groceries home? Go back in and return some stuff?
To make matters worse, I don’t have a front basket, I don’t carry extra straps for loading up the snap deck and the big one – I’m a terrible packer…I’ve been accused of being spatially challenged – I pretty much have no concept of estimating space etc. And I’m also a just-throw- it-in-there type of packer. I’m not even allowed to pack the van when we go on road trips.
So I took a few deep breaths and I just started loading the bags into the Freeloaders- one by one. Whoa, those guys at Xtracycle are right, Freeloaders really are load-swallowing. The straps are long enough – you can put really fat bags in there and cinch down the straps. Also, the loaders make it really easy to loosen one side, adjust the load and rearrange the bags as needed. I’ve learned a thing or two — I packed the kick stand side first so my bike didn’t fall over. And to my amazement, with very little effort, it all fit. I didn’t have to sweat that much or swear or make a scene. Tim would have at least swore a little.
I left Trader Joe’s feeling pretty proud with a big smile on my face. Cool Bike.
As I was riding down University Avenue, loaded down with all the groceries and feeling a little sway in the bike, I did think about the Kona Ute. Would the Ute feel more rigid with this big of a load? It would be easier to ride without the sway. Oh well, minor inconvenience, not a big deal — especially when you take the massive load-capacity of the Xtracycle into account.
It’s been said by people who know and care way more about bikes and gear than I do: what good is a longbike if you have to strap panniers to it? There is no way I could have fit all of these groceries on the bike if I first had to load said groceries into panniers…..even the shopping bag style on the Ute. So while I’ll commend Kona for hitting an affordable price point, and I’m sure the integrated longbike frame rides nice, I just don’t see the point of the Ute design as a car-replacement vehicle. Maybe their target is small, single people who can show restraint at the grocery store. That’s certainly not me.
For me, the load-swallowing Freeloaders seal the Xtracycle deal. Instead of freaking out about melting ice cream in the Trader Joes parking lot, I had plenty of time to take the slow way home while I enjoyed the rare Seattle sunshine.