I started this bicycle build with a new Surly ECR frameset which I commissioned Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia, PA to retrofit S&S couplers to. Then it was sent out for a custom metallic black powder coat and then shipped to me ready for the build. Next I installed a Chris King headset and Shimano XTR BB90 Hollowtech II bottom bracket. Adding Thomson Elite X4 stem and Jeff Jones H-Bar Loop handlebar came next along with a Rohloff speed shifter and Avid Speed Dial 7 brake levers. I used a Thomson Setback seat post with a Brooks Cambium C15 vulcanized rubber saddle for weather proof riding. Avid BB7 S mechanical disc brakes were mounted with 160mm rotor (front) and 180mm rotor (rear) and Jagwire compressionless cables. The drive train consists of a Rohloff 500/14 SpeedHub using a 16T cog mated to a Shimano SLX Crankset using a Surly stainless 34T chainring plus a Rohloff chain tensioner. The wheels were laced with black DB Wheelsmith spokes and nipples on black Velocity BLUNT & DUALLY rims. For a front hub I used a black Shutter Precision PD-8 6V3W dynamo with 36 holes. In the rear I used a black Rohloff 500/14 Hub also with 36 holes. I then wrapped these 29” wheels in a pair of Surly 29×3 Knard tires officially turning this bike into a 29+. In June 2017 I added a new Xtracycle Leap longtail extention with Big Dummy racks & deck in the rear and a Surly 24 pack rack up front. A pair of Xtracycle X2 cargo bags and a Surly Porteur House Bag rounded out the cargo build. For lighting I used three dynohub powered headlights by B&M and a E3 LED Tail-light. The 29+ tires (3″ Knards) fit well within the Xtracycle Leap drop-outs, however, I had to DIY a couple of custom brackets to fit the width of the original ECR chain-stays. The overall build is a cargo hauling expedition beast which is capable of breaking down into three pieces for travel packing.
Rohloff Torque Arm Placement

Rohloff Torque Arm Placement

Modification to Xtracycle Leap Frame

Modification to Xtracycle Leap Frame

The assembled wheel in the Xtracycle Leap frame.

The assembled wheel in the Xtracycle frame.

Touch-Up Paint after Grinding

Touch-Up Paint after Grinding

Chain-stay hardware assembled into bracket.

Chain-stay hardware assembled into bracket.

New DIY chain-stay hardware.

New DIY chain-stay hardware.

A Krampus build in Japan showing inadequate contact points.

A Krampus build showing inadequate contact.

ECR showing areas to be reinforced.

ECR showing areas to be reinforced.

Washer plates sandwiched between chain-stays.

Washer plates sandwiched between chain-stays.

Another view of the new plates in use.

Another view of the new plates.

Click HERE for complete build photos.
Here is the complete build list with costs. SURLY ECR LONGTAIL CARGO BUILD Manufacturer / Model Surly Frame and Size • ECR – Size Medium $750.00 • S&S Couplers retrofit $600.00 • Custom Powder Coat (metallic black) $350.00 • Headset Chris King 1-1/8″ $150.00 • Shimano SM-BB70 Standard Bottom Bracket $26.00 • Xtracycle Leap Extended Longtail Frame $599.00 Crankset • Shimano SLX Crankset – FC-M552 $85.00 Crank Arm Length: 175mm HollowTech II Spindle BCD: 104 990 grams • Raceface Narrow/Wide 38T Chainring $45.00 1 x Race Face Chainring Shims $10.00 • 2- Kmc Bicycle Chains “X-1 For Rohloff” $90.00 218 links • Rohloff Chain Tensioner $85.00 • Jagwire Pro Mountain Brake Cable Kit $21.00 • Extended Brake cable for longtail $9.00 BAR – SADDLE – BRAKES • AVID SD-7 SPEED DIAL BRAKE Levers $26.00 • Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc Brake Front and Rear $279.00 • Avid G2 Cleansweep Rh Disc Rotor Rohloff 180mm $59.00 Handlebar & Stem • Thompson Stem Aluminum. 4-bolt face. (10 degree angle, 120 extension, Black) $89.00 • Jeff Jones 660 H-Bar $125.00 • Shifter: Rohloff Twist Shifter • Extended Rohloff Tandem Cables $25.00 • Grips: Ergon GC1 $30.00 Saddle • Brooks Cambium C15 Black $175.00 (waterproof cotton & vulcanized rubber) Seatpost • Thomson Elite Setback Seatpost $100.00 Lights • Headlight – B&M HL Lum IQ2 Luxos B 70 lux $234.00 • 2- B&M Lumotec IQ Premium Cyo on Front Rack $216.00 • Taillight – E3 LED $136.00 • E-werk Dynohub Charger $207.00 • Anker External Battery $50.00 • Wiring harness for lights (Schmidt part coaxial Fly type 1.9m w/con) $12.00 • Supernova gold plated wiring connectors $20.00 Wheels Front • Front Hub/Wheel: Precision dynohub (black), $290.00 laced to a 36-hole Velocity BLUNT rim (black) with Wheelsmith DB 14-guage spokes (all black). • Front Tire Surly Knard 29×3 $69.00 • tube Surly 29×3 $14.00 Rear • Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 TS DB OEM2 black $1710.00 36h ISO (black) laced to a 36-hole Velocity Dually rim (black) with Wheelsmith DB 14-guage spokes (all black). • Rear Tire Surly Knard 29×3 $69.00 • tube Surly 29×3 $14.00 • Surly Tugg Nut $40.00 • Ritchey 29er Rim Tape $10.00 Pedals • Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal $80.00 • Locking Axle Skewers $27.00 Panniers • Surly Porteur House Bag $120.00 • Surly 24-pack Rack Black $150.00 • Xtracycle Cargo Bags $250.00 • Thorn Accessory Bar MK1 $30.00 • Ortlieb Classic Saddlebag for tools (Black) $31.00 • Salsa Down Under Front Racks $65.00 • Water Bottle Cages x 4 $40.00 • Salsa Anything Cage $39.00 • Salsa Anything Bag $45.00 • Bike Buddy Fuel Bottle Rack $35.00 • Da Vinci cable splitters $37.00 • Extra cables for splitters $15.00 • steering tube spacers $25.00 • S&S FINISH LINE GREASE 20g $15.00 • S&S SINGLE SPANNER WRENCH $22.00 • SURLY Bolt-On Seat post Clamp $8.00 • Wheel Labor $70.00 • Bike Build Labor $50.00 Total Cost $7991.00
Here is the completed All-Wheel-Drive E-bike for use on St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  St Thomas has some of the most extreme hills in the entire US.  Elevations go from the Caribbean Sea at 0 ft (0 m), to the highest point: Crown Mountain (Saint Thomas) at 1555 ft (474 m) The island is only about 14 miles long by 5 miles wide so most of the land mass is vertical.  If there ever was a need for an all-wheel-drive bicycle, this is the place.  I completed this cargo bike build last night and took it out for the maiden voyage this morning.  The Bafang BBSO2 mid-drive motor was used as the primary with pedal assist but whenever I encountered a really steep hill, I would throttle on the front hub motor in low gear to help pull me up the incline.  This worked remarkably well and I was able to cruise effortlessly all the way to the top of St Thomas at a comfortable 12 mph without breaking a sweat.  The front hub motor never reached temperatures greater than 52C (126F), which is well below the cut-off temperature.  The small sine wave controller and cables fit easily into an Ortlieb saddle bag with plenty of room for a few tools and a spare tube.  The front disc brake was a bit tricky.  I had to dish the wheel to allow 10mm of extra space on the non-drive side to fit the disc rotor.  Even after allowing for the extra spacing, the bottom caliper bolt needed two M6 washers to scoot the caliper out a bit so the rotor would line up correctly.  This install takes some finessing and a good measure of cussing but the end result is worth the effort.  I opted to run the twin systems from two separate battery packs for redundancy.  In the event that I break a chain, I can always scoot back under front hub power and on long level trips the second battery gives me a total of up to 100 miles of cruising distance on a single charge. Below are some photos from my ride.
Shift Gear Sensor

Shift sensor to allow safe gear changes under load.

E-Bike Torque Arm

Tail lights 10 LEDs on each side.

Tail lights 10 LEDs on each side.

St Thomas view

St Thomas from Mafalie Rd.

Twin E-bike Displays

The cockpit showing both color displays.

Bafang BBSO2 Mid-Drive 750w motor.

Bafang BBSO2 Mid-Drive 750w motor.

Front hub double torque motor

Front hub motor with 203mm disc rotor.

E-Cargo Bike on St Thomas hillside.

E-Cargo Bike on St Thomas hillside.

Surly ECR Fork

Surly ECR Fork

The Xiongda front hub motor measures 110mm over the lock nuts so a Surly ECR fork needs to be cold set out an additional 10mm. This is done by using a 12″ threaded steel rod 3/8″ in diameter.  Fit the rod with four washers and four nuts to sandwitch the fork dropouts and then slowly spread the forks by turning the nuts on either side of the dropouts until it measures about 115mm. Taking pressure off the fork will cause it to rebound a short way so you might need to take it slow and experiment while spreading & taking measurements. The final measurement should be right at 110mm. To keep the motor from twisting in the fork when in operation, a torque arm is needed. This is a snug fitting steel washer with an adjustable arm to secure it to the fork fender eyelet. The Torque arm takes the additional stress and saves your delicate dropouts from becoming rounded and stripped. Other items worth mentioning are 2m steel washers for the spokes. The Xiongda motor has 3mm spoke holes but standard 14 gauge bicycle spokes are 2mm. You either need to get custom spokes cut in 12 gauge or use a small washer on each spoke. The motor is laced with a 3 cross spoke pattern using 36 278mm 14 gauge Wheelsmith spokes and brass nipples. The wheel is finished off by attaching a 6 bolt 203mm disc rotor and adapter*, rim strip, tube & tire. It is then fitted into the fork and the brake caliper adjusted. This step will sometimes need the use of extra washers as shims to position the caliper properly. Changing the angle of the fork will also change the angle the rotor meets the caliper so this area may need a bit more DIY attention. * The larger disc rotor is used to raise the caliper higher on the hub for better clearance and also stronger braking.

Installed E-Bike Torque Arm

Continue to Part 4 Completed AWD E-bike (2-motors)
Xiongda 2-Speed Hub Motor

Xiongda 2-Speed Hub Motors

After weeks of research and study on the various geared electric hub motors weighing under 10lbs, I settled on the Chinese xiongda 2-speed motor. Luna Cycles had this excellent motor custom modified to their specifications with a tiny 20 amp sine wave controller and a manual High/Low speed switch. The motor is compatible with 36, 48 and 52 volt batteries and weighs only 6.5 pounds. It comes with 36h drillings and is a mere 5″ in diameter. The hub is disc rotor compatible and has an automatic heat sensor which shuts down the power in the event that the motor reaches a dangerous temperature to avoid damage to the nylon gears or windings. It has an OLD of 110mm so I will need to modify a Surly ECR 29″ fork to accept the extra 10mm width plus I will be using a TORQ stainless steel torque arm to protect the dropouts from excessive forces.
I plan to lace this hub to a DT Swiss 545d E-Bike rim and operate it with a 52V 20ah battery with 50 amp continuous 80 amp burst BMS. This package seems like just the ticket for use on the new AWD cargo bike build. The bike will also sport a 750w BaFang BBS02 Mid-Drive motor running to a 10 speed 11-42t cassette and Shimano SLX Shadow M670 derailleur. When completed this cargo bicycle will be available for sale through the St Thomas Bikesmith. All parts, materials and shop labor are also available as individual modules for your custom builds. Continue to Part 3 Installing the Front Hub Motor
While testing one of my Surly ECR electric bikes on a very steep hill on St Thomas island, I slowed to make a hard left turn and during a quick acceleration I felt the front wheel lifting from the pavement. This caught me off guard and the bike continued to flip over backwards. Fortunately I was going very slow so I only sustained a few minor scrapes on my elbows and a scar across the back of a brand new Brooks Cambium saddle. Unintentional Wheelie on Steep Grade Since then I have noticed something interesting while riding different styles of long-tail cargo bikes. The long wheelbase of these bikes make them more stable on radically steep hills than a standard framed bicycle, although using a heavy rear hub electric motor on a cargo bike cancels out some of this stability. A heavy rear hub will cause a front wheel to lose traction on uphill climbs and therefore lose some steering control.

BionX D-500 Rear Hub Electric Motor

I found this to be true with the Bionx E-Bike system having a very heavy rear hub so for the past two years I’ve been experimenting with using the BaFang mid-drive motors on long-tail cargo bikes and have found them to be almost perfect for cargo hauling applications in hilly country. There was, however, one scenario which could use some additional thought. Hauling heavy items and/or an adult passenger up a very steep (19 degree +) hill still caused an uncomfortably light feeling in the front wheel steering. This is a two fold problem. The first is a weight issue. There needs to be a bit more weight on the front forks to keep it pinned to the pavement. The second is a torque & traction issue.

BaFang 750W Mid-Drive Electric Motor

At speeds around 8-10mph and under a heavy uphill load the BaFang mid-drives begin to heat up and slow down. I figured what I needed was a small auxiliary front hub motor geared low enough to handle slow assents without overheating to take the stress off of a 750W mid-drive motor and also have a high gear for matching cruising speeds on the flats. In essence, my idea is to build an AWD (2 wheel drive) cargo bicycle. The next few blog posts will outline my AWD cargo bike build in detail including a few real life tests. Continue to Part 2 Searching for a Double Speed Front Hub Motor
Wheels Rear Wheel

Cross Section of a Cliffhanger Rim

The tire clearance on a Surly World Troller frame is 26 x 2.75” which means it is possible to run any of the good 2.1” touring tires on up to some aggressive offroad styles just short of 26+.  To be clear, the standard Surly Troll (non S&S coupler) has been re-designed to accept up to 26×3” tires if you’re looking for more of a semi-fat setup.  Keeping the World Troller in mind, we need a strong set of rims which will also work with tire widths between 2” and 2.75”.  It should have drillings for 36 spokes, be a welded rim and preferably be tubeless ready.  The Velocity Cliffhanger is a very good rim choice.  This is a 30mm wide rim which comes in four drillings 32, 36, 40 & 48.  The 36 hole model also comes in Velocity’s reflective finish for positive night visibility.  If you are opting for a Rohloff hub, make sure it is ordered with 36 holes.  Rohloff hubs are standard in 32 or 36 hole. You want to go with the strongest wheels possible and it goes without saying, the hub drilling must match the rim drilling.  If you are opting for a derailleur setup, any good 11 speed rear hub will do such as the Shimano XT 756A.  You can go crazy with expensive sealed bearing hubs from White Industries, Hope or Chris King but I have ridden thousands of miles on a $50 Shimano MTB hub with no problems and you can rebuild these hubs yourself with a few inexpensive parts.  As always, when ordering any hub make sure the drillings match your rim.  The XT 756A hub comes in 32 & 36 hole drillings. Any good quality spokes can be used.  I prefer either Wheelsmith or DT Swiss spokes in 14 gauge using 12mm brass nipples for strength.  Alloy nipples are too soft and also have a tendency to corrode in the proximity of salty air.  The wheel should be assembled and tensioned by an experienced wheel builder to be tight and true. Front Wheel

Dynamo Hub w/Disc

For the front wheel it is best to go with one of the excellent dynamo hubs which put out 6 volts and up to 3 amps of power at nominal speeds.  Not only are these good for running the bicycle lights but they also will charge your cell phone, tablet and an auxiliary battery pack. Collecting the power of each pedal stroke by day will supply all your power needs by night and allow you to stay “Off Grid” for weeks at a time.  The most popular of these dynamo hubs are the Schmidt SON28, the Shutter Precision PD-8 and the Biologic Joule 3. When choosing one of these hubs, be sure to check if it has a mount for the disc brake rotor and also has 36 hole drillings.  Assemble your front wheel with the 100mm hub, Velocity Cliffhanger rim and 14 gauge spokes or have it laced and tensioned by an experienced wheel builder.

Auxiliary Battery Pack

Tires There are many great adventure touring tires available today. The choice you make will depend on the type of terrain that you will likely encounter. If you plan to tour primarily on paved roadways or hardpack, a good choice is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tire in 26×2″. On-the-other-hand… if you envision getting off the beaten path and into the bush, the Maxxis Ardent 26X2.40″ or Schwalbe Nobby Nic 26X2.35 are good choices. Rather than running these tires tubeless, I like to use a thick tube with removable valve stem so I can put a few ounces of green slime sealant into the tube.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour

This usually protects against all but the largest punctures and still allows the tube to be easily repaired and pumped up at the roadside. I usually carry two spare tubes in my tool kit when on long tours. I used the slime method with a pair of Marathon Plus Tour tires on the Southern Tier route and had no flats from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Xtracycle manufactures two types of rack tubing to mount to their FreeRadical/Leap framework, the V-rack & the P-rack.  The V is the standard rack used with all three versions of their original FreeLoader bags as well as the newer X1 and X2 FreeLoader models.  The P-rack has an added rail for use with most existing pannier systems such as the Ortlieb or Vaude. This allows two large rear panniers to be attached to each side of the Xtracycle for a total of four panniers on the back.  For those using panniers exclusively, this means six panniers:  two on the front and four on the back.  I will be using a combination of two Ortlieb Bikepacker panniers on the non-drive side of my bike and  an Xtracycle X2 FreeLoader bag on the drive-side. This allows me the option of strapping on large items like surfboards or bicycle boxes with the FreeLoader while maintaining the waterproofing and convenience of the Ortlieb panniers. Two other items of interest from Xtracycle are their WideLoaders and LongLoader tubes. These snap into the FreeRadical framework and provide a platform for wide loads also allowing clearance for the riders’ pedaling by directing the load outward at a slight angle. I personally have found the stock WideLoaders to be too wide for safe handling especially on a loaded tour.  They have a tendency to snag on tree branches and don’t fit through some bridge walkways or single-track.  I do like the LongLoader feature but it needs a WideLoader for attachment.  So to remedy this problem I cut 4″ from each end of a WideLoader to narrow it up a bit but not so much as to hinder the use of one LongLoader on the drive-side of my bike.  The bike is no wider than my handlebars now and I have no trouble squeezing through those tight spots even with a load. This modification took a little DIYing to move over the little brass detents that keeps the tubing in place.  A couple of holes needed to be drilled and the plastic tube covers replaced. Not a big deal, however, Xtracycle has recently started offering a shortened more beefed up version of the WideLoader tube that they call U-Tubes which seem to be the exact size needed for touring. These are sold as foot supports for passengers or cargo decks. Illustrated here are the advancements in Xtracycle cargo bags over the years. The current offerings are the Carry-All and X2 Versions. The Carry-All boasts 100% waterproofing, however the V-racks must be removed for installation and they will not fit on the P-racks due to stitched straps which will not slide past the second rail on the P-rack.  The X2 work with both the standard V-racks and the P-racks because the straps can be undone so it is not necessary to remove the racks in order to mount the bags.  The removable covers on the X2 bags are waterproof as well.   Defiant makes an aftermarket bag which will fit both the Xtracycle V-racks & P-racks.  This bag is very large and sports a roll-top closure system so it is possible to fill the bag to the brim if needed.
The Drivetrain

Rohloff 14 Speed Hub

A world class adventure bike needs a strong wide-range drivetrain. Since elevations will vary from flat beaches to extreme mountain passes, gears should have a 400% to 500% spread to cover any situation. Most modern mountain bike cassettes in 10 or 11 speed are perfect for this job as is the Rohloff 14 speed internally geared hub (IGH). Shimano makes an 11 speed IGH, the (Alfine 11), however I have used one on a light tour and was not impressed. The gears began slipping on hard climbs. These hubs may be adequate for commuter bikes but they are much too fragile for off road adventure travel. The Rohloff, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if your wallet can take the hit. The cost of a new Rohloff will set you back around $1200 and that’s only for the Hub. A good sprocket, rim, spokes, wheel build labor and Rohloff chain tensioner will add another $275 to the overall cost. These hubs have been tour tested and they stand up well to extreme use. If the price does not scare you away then this should be the number one choice for a world class adventure bike.

Shimano 11 Speed Derailleur

Second choice would be a good rear derailleur from Shimano or Sram such as the (Shimano XT M8000 Shadow+ 11 Speed) or the (Sram GX 1×11 Speed) coupled with an 11-42t cassette. This will give you a 420% gear range compared to the 526% of a Rohloff Speed Hub. Either system will give you plenty of low end torque for those long climbs and good cruising speed on the flats even with a heavy load. In 2016 Sram did away with their front derailleur’s and multiple chain rings which IMHO was a great idea.  Most chain drops and slippage is caused by the front mech plus losing this item makes for a much simpler and intuitive shifting.  Most any existing front crank (chainset) can be modified into a good single ring by adding a Race Face narrow/wide chain ring.  These rings are machined with alternating narrow and wide teeth which grip onto a bicycle chain and make it almost impossible to flip off.  Race Face makes a very nice chainset combination including a narrow/wide ring (Race Face Ride Narrow Wide Single Chainset) which works well with any 10 or 11 speed rear derailleur as well as the Rohloff 14 Speed Hub. The next part to consider is the shifter. There are many styles to chose from depending on the type of handlebar you are comfortable with. Flat mountain bars work well with trigger shifters or thumb shifters. The Rohloff shifter works well with flat bars or the Jones Loop Bars but not so much with standard drop bars. Microshift makes a nice bar-end shifter which can be used with the Salsa Woodchipper mountain drop bar and the Soma Gator flared drop bar can work with any trigger shifter made for a flat handlebar. My point here is that before choosing a shifter, first you need to select the handlebar. Like everything else, this is a personal choice. I like to use the Jones Loop Bar with a Rohloff Shifter and the Salsa Woodchipper Bar with the Microshift Bar-End Shifter. If your preference is a more upright ride then I would suggest a Surly Open Bar with trigger shifter or a Flat MTB handlebar with Microshift Thumbies. Whatever combination of bar/shifter you chose, be sure to run full-length cable housing to your hub. This will protect the cable from the elements and any pinching that may occur from pannier rub. Continued in Part 3 ….


It’s not for everybody. Long distance bike tourists are akin to self-imposed homeless persons. To leave your comfortable world behind and head off to parts unknown takes a special kind of determination. I am not talking about a bicycle vacation that lasts a few weeks and delivers you back safe & sound to your previous home. I am speaking of a life changing episode which entails liquidating current assets and resolving responsibilities and then pedaling off into the sunset of adventure. It is only once those old bridges have been metaphorically burned that you can truly look forward to fresh adventures. The trick is to never look back. Like walking a tightrope, once you look down, the fall is inevitable. Looking back and having concerns for the life left behind is a sure fire way to ruin a perfectly good adventure ride. This having been stated, I will now outline what I believe to be a World Class Adventure Touring Bike. What I mean by this is a bicycle which can be transported by air, land or sea with little extra expense and is capable of carrying a complete camp outfit, food & water for days on end without resupply. This is a bike strong enough to take the rigors of daily abuse under rough conditions and keep on rolling. It is also a bike which can be converted to a lighter & faster version for extended stays in far flung villages of the earth. If you want to see the world at eye level and experience the feeling of pure freedom, then the first step is to build your getaway vehicle. This bike build is expensive and not for the faint of heart. It is entirely possible to embark on an old Huffy with a backpack but quality gear lasts for years and pays you back in comfort and reliability. I’m pulling out the stops on this adventure touring build so please don’t send me your opinions on the cost benefits of ghetto rigs. I am assuming that anyone determined enough to leave their comfort zone will have the ability to set aside some money for the proper equipment. I also want to note that many world bike travelers have wished that they had spent more time in preparation prior to launch. Once you are in travel mode, it is very difficult to modify your bike kit. Personally, it is on a series of long distance tours that I have developed the bike build I now present. It is these trial & error lessons that are the real trail testing. The Frame: The backbone of any bike is the frame so getting this right is important. It has been said that “steel is real” and I agree 100%. A good cromoly steel bike will absorb a lot of the road vibration and cut down on rider fatigue. It is also much more reliable than alloy or carbon fiber and can be repaired in remote areas of the world with hammer and torch. Steel frames can also be fitted with S&S Couplers so the bicycle can be split in half and be boxed for cheap or covert transportation. The frame should be disc brake compatible. A lot has been said about disc brakes vs. rim brakes, however modern mechanical disc brakes can now be found in most developing countries. They stop quickly, work on uneven damaged wheels, and are not a hazard on long downhill runs. The brake pads usually weigh less than rim brake shoes and are easy to pack with the other bike tools. The frame should accept 26″ MTB wheels. These wheels are readily available (even in junk yards) throughout the world. 26″ wheels are stronger than larger wheels and they work with a wide variety of tire widths. So, we are looking for a steel bike frame with S&S couplers, 26″ wheels and the ability to run disc brakes. Look no further than the Surly World Troller frameset.
Surly World Troller Frameset

Surly World Troller Frameset

Here is the manufacturers description of this frame: “When we designed our Troll frame we set out to design a bike frame that would be, to its rider, a blank canvas upon which they could paint a masterpiece of versatility. The kind of frame that could be built using any kind of parts for any kind of purpose, be it riding the local backyard singletrack, getting to work, the store, or around the whole darn world. Those familiar with the standard Troll frame know that you can pretty much put anything on it you want. Disc brakes? Yep. Linear pull or cantilever brakes? Indeed. Racks, disc brakes and fenders all at once, both front and rear? Totally. The point is that the World Troller can do everything the standard Troll frame can, plus it’ll bust in half via two S&S Machine frame couplers so you can fit it in an airline approved travel case, potentially costing you less to get your bike to whatever far-flung location you have decided to explore. Compared to 700c wheels, the 26” wheels of the World Troller have some advantages. 26” wheels are stronger than their larger counterparts, can be easier to find parts and tires for in many places around the world and pack more easily because of their smaller size. The World Troller, buy a one-way ticket to anywhere and ride your ass back home.” Part 2

Xtracycle Leap Cargo Kit

Racks & Bags: The next important part of a World Class Adventure Bike is the carrying system. Many feel that the new movement to bike-packing (frame bags and under saddle bags) is cutting edge and I agree that this method of hauling cargo is fine for shorter trips. It is especially good for situations where an unloaded mountain bike is desired at the campground for recreational riding. These bike-packing bags are easily removed by unbuckling or pulling some Velcro tabs and your bike is naked and ready for the trail. For extended journeys I would rather have a stronger setup capable of hauling a lot of gear.

Surly Troll Frameset /Xtracycle Leap

Some people prefer a trailer. I have used both the Bob trailer and the Extrawheel trailer on some very long tours but would not go that route again. You sacrifice some control while using a trailer, especially on fast downhill runs. Once a trailer unhitches while riding, causing a wreck, you never quite trust it again. The trick is to have ample pack space for tent, sleeping pad & bag, cooking utensils, stove & fuel, clothing for all weather conditions, communication devices, spare parts & tools, media equipment, food and water. Having these items securely affixed to the bike so there is no bouncing, swaying or vibration is very important for a stress free trip. That’s why I recommend using quality steel pannier racks coupled with the new Xtracycle Leap long-tail cargo extension.

Salsa Down Under Front Racks

Here are some of my reasons for liking the Xtracycle Leap. First, it is super strong and has almost no flex when heavily loaded. It also has a low center of gravity, unlike many rear rack & pannier setups which ride too high and effect the handling of the bike. Another benefit is the enormous capacity of the Xtracycle style cargo bags. Many have up to three times the space of standard rear panniers. But the most important feature of the Leap system is the ability to break down into a very small and short package for transporting. Mated with the Surly World Troller frameset, the Xtracycle Leap assembles into a powerfully stiff cargo bike but can still be disassembled and packed into three small airline specific checked boxes. On most flights the baggage allowance is sufficient to fly your entire bike & gear for free. In some cases there may be an additional charge for the third piece of luggage, usually around $35 which is much less than the average $150 charged for a full size bike in a box.

Down Under racks in use with water bottle cages.

For the front of the bike, I like the Salsa “Down Under” racks with Ortlieb front roller panniers. The “Down Unders” sit low and to the front of the wheel leaving ample room to utilize the extra fork bosses for standard bottle cages.  Or you can fit a couple of Salsa “Anything” cages there, to carry smaller soft items in roll-top bags. The Surly “24 Pack Rack” and “Porter House Bag” also fits perfectly above the Salsa front racks. This gives you two very large cargo bags in the rear, two Ortlieb panniers at the front wheel, a large porter bag over the front wheel, an Ortlieb “Rack Pack” on the Xtracycle deck and up to 5 water bottle cages. This is ample room for all your gear plus a lot of free space for emergency situations. Just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you need to use all of it. I have learned to pare down my outfit to the essentials over the years, but having the luxury of an extra empty pannier cannot be over emphasized. Continued in Part 2 ….
Surly Big Dummy E-Bike
At 6 cents per kilowatt hour, burning 15 watts a mile, an E-Cargo bike can travel 3200 miles, across the USA, for under $3.00. A 10-mile jaunt will cost less than a penny. Why replace a car? There are several good reasons, the cost of maintenance, insurance and fuel are at the top of the list. Also consider parking problems, tire repair & replacement, traffic congestion and the negative health effects. An Electric Cargo Bike eliminates almost all of the expenses while allowing you to get a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air. The average E-Bike costs only 5 cents in electricity to travel 50 miles. That’s a cost of 1/10th of a penny per mile. Compare that to the $0.17 per mile that most motor vehicles get and you can actually see the savings the first week. If you travel an average of only 100 miles per week by car, it is costing you over $17.00 compared to 10 cents by E-bike. Most E-bike batteries can be safely charged 600-800 times before losing power. That equates to 30,000 – 40,000 miles per battery. I routinely ride up Raphume hill on my Electric Cargo Bike at 15MPH, which is usually faster than the traffic, and I don’t break a sweat. After shopping I then return back to the waterfront with up to a 250 pound load of supplies at 30MPH and hardly feel the difference in how the bike rides. I have transported ladders, lumber, other bikes and even a small refrigerator on my cargo bike without a problem. The biggest drawback in commuting by bike in the Continental US States is the cold weather. Here in the Caribbean we do not have that problem so bike riding becomes a healthy and economic alternative to cars. A Cargo Bike can carry an extra adult passenger or a few children on the back using specialized child carriers. They are easy to park and get from point A to B faster than a car in most cases. Traffic jams slow down cars but a bicycle finds alternate routes and can zip along and avoid the congestion. The cost of a new car on St Thomas will run you upwards of $35,000.00 but a new Electric Cargo Bike will only set you back about $2,500.00. In short, a Cargo Bike can do everything a car can do for a lot less money and get you to your destination quicker. On an island that is only 32 square miles in size, who needs a 3000 pound chunk of steel to carry them around? That is the definition of “over kill”. Start saving time & money and get in better physical shape with an Xtracycle Leap Electric Cargo Bike from St Thomas Bikesmith. Here’s an exerpt from another Internet BLOG http://bikes-as-transportation.com/ from January 24, 2014 with minor edits to reflect Virgin Island driving:

Cars can go faster and farther than ebikes but in island areas….NOT SO MUCH!

Top speed of a typical automobile on island: 30mph; of an ebike: 25mph. Average road speed in most cities: 15 to 25mph. Range of an automobile: 300 miles; of an ebike: 50 miles. Average daily driving distances in the Virgin Islands: 95% drive 25 miles or less. Cars don’t often carry more than two people. Electric cargo bikes are capable of carrying two people or a total of 500 pounds of people and cargo. Average number of automobile passengers: 1.59. Average number of all car trips that are single occupancy: 60%; of commutes by car that are single occupancy: 85%. Carrying capacity of a small pickup truck or car (including driver and passenger): 1,000 pounds; of a cargo bike: 500 pounds. Owning and operating a car costs about 100 times the cost of owning and operating an ebike. Fuel cost per mile of a car: 15.0 cents; of an ebike: 0.01 cents. Monthly cost to own and operate a car: $600 to $900; an ebike: $20. (Vehicle cost based on fuel, maintenance, parking, insurance, depreciation)
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