Photo by Dominique Labrosse
Xtracycle Edgerunner Electric
Price $3,499 USD/ from $3,300-3,900 CAD
Find it at xtracycle.com
Available in US bike stores, distributed by ebikes.ca in Canada as of Sept 2012
The EdgeRunner Electric is a purpose-built longtail cargo bike with a 26-inch front wheel and 20-inch rear-wheel. The frame is based on the design of NAHBS award-winning frame-builder Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles. The model tested was a pre-production prototype with disc brakes, a 24-speed Shimano drivetrain and a powerful eZee hub motor. It has a maximum hauling capacity of 400 pounds (181 kilograms. Notable standard accessories include a throttle, FreeLoader bags, basic lights and Kickback kickstand. All of the tail-end frame geometry is designed to the Xtracycle Longtail Standard, which provides a wide array of snap-in accessories for carrying children and specialized cargo, including the Hooptie seen in the photo.
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Hills are no longer an issue! Ride anywhere with as much as you want or need to carry. The Kickback kickstand is extremely stable even when parked with a load of kids or cargo.
While you can’t feel the weight of the hub motor when you’re riding, it can feel pretty heavy if you’ve got to lift it over a few steps or a curb. I wish that building developers and city engineers would start to take into account cargo bike accessibility.
The EdgeRunner Electric suits families looking for a greener and more cost effective transportation alternative to motor vehicles. Access to ground floor bike parking is recommended. The swooping frame design makes it a good fit for both short and tall riders.
The EdgeRunner Electric carries a rider, kids and cargo real distances and up hills quickly with an amount of effort that can only be described as comfortable. The combination of a capable electric assist on a solid, well-designed, purpose-built long tail cargo bike makes this bike incredibly useful. And the range of available accessories from Xtracycle make the EdgeRunner’s intended uses flexible and varied.
I used the EdgeRunner to haul my children up a large hill to swimming lessons and to school over a couple of weeks. Usually leaving me gasping for air, this monster hill now posed no significant increase in effort thanks to the electric assist – even while carrying children. What a game changer! This system also shaved a combined 30 minutes off my weekly 26 mile (42 kilometer) round trip across the City of Vancouver and back. Best of all, when I arrived where I was going I smelled fresh as the effort required was that of a leisurely ride despite my traveling at an average 19 mph (30 km/h).
With a comfortable upright seating position, this bike is a real pleasure to ride. After a quick adjustment to the added weight of the battery and rear hub motor, the EdgeRunner feels surprisingly like a normal bike despite its approximately 7 feet (213 centimeters) of length. As such one must have a dedicated storage arrangement for this bike as it does not fit in vertical bike racks and is considerably wider and longer than a normal bike. Apartment dwellers may find this bike a challenge to store, especially those who need to carry their bikes up stairs. Those lucky enough to own a garage will have to carve out a space for it.
The test bike was configured with the standard Xtracycle rack to which was added a deck, running boards, large side bags and an ingenious new child carrying system Xtracycle is calling the Hooptie. Using two sets of bars, it allows for up to three children to sit securely on the rear deck. The adjustable inner bars are padded giving little passengers something soft to hold onto and bump into. The outer bars are bare and act as protection. As advertised it comfortably accommodated my four- and nine-year-old boys with room to spare.
This Chinese made steel frame is stiff, well thought out, refined and offers a very comfortable ride. The distinctive curved top tube makes the bike easier to mount, especially when loaded. While stronger than a standard 26-inch wheel, the smaller 20-inch rear wheel keeps cargo loads lower to the ground making the bike easier to ride loaded up. The EdgeRunner is not as beefy or as heavy as the Yuba Mundo or a traditional bakfiets but is certainly a stiffer and more confident cargo hauler than the bolt-on Xtracycle Free Radical or the Xtracycle Radish. Cargo wise the EdgeRunner is certainly more than adequate for carrying all but the largest loads while still fun to ride. A characteristic certainly contributed to by the Shimano drive train, capable disc brakes and large cushy Schwalbe Big Apple tires. I found myself using only the top three or four of its 24 gears though. I used the electric motor to get myself up to speed until my effort was easily maintained by the proportional assist system. Though if the battery became depleted I’m sure the extra range of gears would prove useful.
The electrical assist system is a huge benefit to the bike. The eZee rear hub motor has a high capacity 36 V 14 Ah lithium battery that slides on a rail under the rear rack and provides a real world range of 25-37 miles (40-60 kilometers) at 19 mph (32 km/h) cruising speeds. The 14 Ah give this bike significant range and lots of power, propelling rider and cargo up hills and to their destination quickly. The Grin Technologies kit came with both a thumb throttle and a proportional pedal assist. The latter provides power to the wheel proportionally to the pedaling effort without any further input from the rider. The level of proportional assistance is adjustable using a knob. A very capable cycle computer lets you know your speed, how much battery power is left, how far you’ve ridden and how much electricity you’ve used.
This electrically-assisted cargo bike makes carrying kids and cargo fun, comfortable and easy. Big hills become insignificant. I was able to drop off my kids at school and get to work on time – all while dressed in my work clothes.
This bike was generously put together by Grin Technologies in Vancouver, BC. ebikes.ca
Dominique Labrosse is a husband, father, community soccer coach, recreational sailor, graphic designer and photographer living at the bottom of a big hill in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He tries to ride his commuter and cargo bikes as much as possible and recently added a folding bike to his fleet. His family made a conscious effort to own only one car and he’s always trying to find ways to get more of his life accomplished by bicycle.