I’ve been living car-free for 12 years. When I first saw Xtracycle’s cargo bike conversion kit, I was impressed by the broad utility of the design; it can be used to haul cargo and also passengers. I decided to build the ultimate people-and-stuff hauler so I could pick up friends who don’t bike and we could go places.
I got the FreeRadical Classic extension kit with cargo deck and giant panniers, and added the WideLoader cargo shelves and KickBack kickstand. Xtracycle favors a mountain bike platform, not road, because the wheels are stronger. I bought a 2002 Cannondale MT2000 mountain tandem with a stong, American-made aluminum frame, and hydraulic disc brakes and quality tires for safety.
If you have any background in bikes, the kit is easy. Components are good quality; a “snap deck hook” failed on me, but I’m a heavy-duty user. The documentation is good, and if something wasn’t mentioned, a quick YouTube search had it figured out — the Xtracycle community is rad, and totally open source.
The kit bolts to the bike in three strong and strategic places: the dropouts and rear triangle near the bottom bracket. Moving the rear wheel back 15 inches doesn’t affect the handling on such an already-long bicycle. From my local bike shop I got a 10-foot hydraulic cable, a tandem rear derailleur cable, and another chain. I completed my cargo-bus-cycle with a Rock the Bike Mothership sound system. Now I ride around with my friends listening to music like we used to do in a car!