Snap! (Crackle, Pop) Goes the Xtracycle

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue

I broke my Xtracycle frame the last day of April and am only getting around to mentioning it on the blog now. It’s been so long I almost let it pass without comment, but figured the info may help someone else down the road.

First of all, I should be clear. It’s not really the frame—more the undersized tongue where the front attachment plate sandwiches the chainstays near the bottom bracket.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’d been hearing this creak, creak creak—first when climbing out of the saddle (which isn’t unheard of for someone my size), then later even when seated (which is unusual, even for us giant folks) and only applying moderate muscle. I kept checking the torque on the three attachment points and even looked for cracks on my Rockhopper frame and the X where it was visible. Everything seemed fine. Finally, the night before “Bike to Work Month” started, I couldn’t take the embarrassment of a noisy bike any longer. I vowed to pull the Xtracycle off the bike frame, coat up the “Special Nut”/dropout contact points with anti-seize and put an end to the creak once and for all!

It wasn’t to be. As soon as I backed off the Special Nuts torque, … CLUNK! What was left of the tongue snapped under the weight of the bare Xtracycle frame. On closer inspection, this piece obviously had been failing for a while. It’s hard to tell from the photo but there’s surface rust on the break, meaning the puny welds had been failing for a while. Sheesh, would it have killed them to beef that weld point up a bit? A small gusset perhaps? Still, at least it held until I got to the workstand, rather than failing on a downhill with kids on the Snapdeck!

So here I was, the night before the big bike commute month kickoff and me, the BikeJunction team captain without a bike. Or was I?

I looked across the garage and spied my spare Xtracycle. Spare Xtracycle? Everyone has a spare, right? I bought this as a loaner for friends and family but hadn’t got around to giving it a very needed tune. In addition to it being a couple sizes too small, the flat tires, rusty chain and ginormous exercise-bike saddle made it unridable for my commute. As a donor, though …

A mere hour later I had the old longbike frame joined to my Rockhopper and was ready for the morning commute. I figured I’d send my Xtracycle frame in for a warranty claim and do the swap again in a few weeks. That was the plan anyway; six weeks later is still hangs in the garage.

A few more notes/observations:

  • Check your tongue! Right now.
  • A bit of reinforcement with the original design would have gone a long way.
  • A gusset would have been great. Even better, a flat, plate-like tongue could probably serve a couple purposes — more metal-to-weld contact and the plate would spread out the forces on the chainstay bridge like an upper FAP.
  • The donor frame has some issues with the disc mount. I pulled the rear Avid brake off my original Xtracycle and it should have bolted right on the donor. Instead, the caliper rubbed the rotor, almost as if the mounting bosses were dialed in for 201mm rotors instead of 203mm spec. A presta valve “nut” worked under the mounts as a spacer, but I’m still wondering if they had a bad batch or something. Anyone seen this?
  • The Big Dummy and other custom Xtracycle options are looking kind of nifty. Less to break.
  • Finally, and I’m serious about this, check your Xtracycle for cracks! You might be able to do it with a flashlight and some creative neck craning, but if you have any creaks or squeaks you’ve been trying to ignore, pull the frame and check it out up close!

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue, other sideHas anyone else out there broken their Xtracycle? Had it warrantied? I’m starting to think it may not be worth the shipping hassle and time delay to send it back. I may just have someone tack the tongue back on there (reinforced, of course) and be done with it.

Summer’s coming, and with my luck I’m going to need a spare.

31 responses to “Snap! (Crackle, Pop) Goes the Xtracycle

  1. I’m glad they got you taken care of. Mine is still sitting in a box in my basement. I better get it shipped out soon!

    And interesting on the tongue — so they never went ahead with the “spy photo” design aaron posted above (

  2. Xtracycle is currently in the preproduction design/testing phase of aptly named Heavy Duty Freeradical and I am currently testing it down here in the Peruvian Andes..

    Check out photos and mini-review:

  3. New to the Xtracycle world. So glad I found this old thread and comments from the late, great Val! I feel like I know him even though he had already passed (too young) before I knew who he was.

    Love mine so far. I am concerned about failure, as I am 210 lbs, which limits my cargo to 140 lbs I suppose… ;(

    Question for all of you: I carried 8 gallons of distilled water home yesterday. I put four gallons on each side, cinched tight. I had 40 lbs of cat litter on the flight deck 2. By my count, 110 lbs of dry weight.

    Definitely had a lot of flex in the rear, but I’m sure that was the water sloshing. Bike seemed ok otherwise. Was I pushing the envelope there?


    • Thanks for reading Ty — I’ve found that how & where you carry the weight makes a big difference. The more stable it is, the better. So the sloshing of water is going to magnify things quite a bit.

      As for capacity — that’s hard to say. My cracked X may have been a fluke. Anne carried the same loads I did (two kids plus assorted stuff) for a good three years+. And her original Xtracycle conversion is still running fine — in fact, it’s her bike of choice, even for a 16 mi round-trip commute.

      So while you may be near the “limit”, I wouldn’t take that as a sign imminent failure. I do find that a fully loaded big dummy rides better than a fully loaded X, but it’s not a huge difference (and I kind of have to ride the Dummy like an idiot –in a way I wouldn’t ride an xtracyce conversion… fully loaded, hammering on the pedals, diving into corners, that kind of thing — to notice those characteristics.

      Ride, enjoy, and don’t worry about it. The Xtracycle kit rocks — it really did change our life.

      • Thanks Tim,

        Took a closer look at my Free Radical when I got home and noticed mine does have that new tongue you were all talking about in 2008-2009 in this thread. So I’m not going to sweat it and just enjoy being as car free as possible!


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