Should I get an EdgeRunner or Leap Bolt-On Kit?
Complete cargo bikes (like the Xtracycle EdgeRunner) and Xtracycle bolt-on kits (like the FreeRadical or the Leap) are both excellent options for replacing your car some or all of the time. They each have merits of their own, and one will probably meet your needs better than the other.
Before we get into the benefits of each one, let’s clarify what the difference is between the two.
A complete cargo bike comes out of the box as a cargo bike. Cargo bike frames are purpose-built bike frames built to haul heavy loads, both distances long and short. The frame is all one extra-long piece – it’s like someone took your cruiser and stretched out the back end. The rear wheel sits further back and has a flat “deck” on top of it, creating space for massive amounts of cargo. You can add large panniers, a cushion for passengers, a hand rail for rear passengers, child seats, and a slew of other things to customize for your specific needs. Here at Xtracycle, our complete cargo bikes are known as EdgeRunners. All EdgeRunners come with a 20" rear wheel, lowering the center of gravity. Pictured here is the EdgeRunner Swoop. Other models include: the EdgeRunner Classic, 24D, 27D, 30D, 11i, 8e, and 10e.
A bolt-on kit is a metal structure that attaches to a regular bike to turn it into a cargo bike. It’s like a beefed up bike rack - you take the rear wheel off your bike, bolt this thing in where the rear wheel was, and reinstall the rear wheel within the metal structure of the bolt-on kit, several inches further back. This extends the overall length of your bike and gives you loads of extra room in the back to carry kiddos or cargo. Just like on a complete cargo bike, you can now add any number of Xtracycle accessories for carrying kids, groceries, surfboards, or Christmas trees – whatever your little heart desires. The Leap is our new and improved conversion bolt-on kit. The Leap can accommodate a range of wheel sizes, from 20" to 29"+. The FreeRadical was our first bolt-on kit and has since been retired. It could accomate 26" and 700c tires.
Buy an EdgeRunner if:
- You don’t currently own a bike or you like your current bike just the way it is: Xtracycle complete cargo bikes are feats of engineering. Every detail of the frame, every component is designed for carrying big loads. The disc brakes have incredible stopping power and are highly reliable. The frame itself is stiff and durable. The Shimano drivetrain provides plenty of gears, high and low, for all riding conditions and whatever load you’re carrying. Wide tires take the bumps out of the road. A 20” rear wheel keeps the center of gravity low and helps you balance – especially if you’re planning on carrying passengers on top of the deck. An EdgeRunner gives a smooth, responsive ride even when the back is weighed down with cargo. You’ll feel like you’re riding a regular bike, but you’ll be able to carry way more stuff – about 250 pounds, to be exact. Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy your only bike, or simply add to your bike herd, the EdgeRunner fits.
- You’re rarin’ to go and ready to commit with this cargo-biking thing: We understand that buying a cargo bike is a commitment, and no matter what brand or model you go with, it can be a pricy endeavor. While the bike will pay for itself quickly (you’ll suddenly find you never have to fill your car’s gas tank), putting the money up can be daunting. The EdgeRunner is a top-of-the-line cargo bike, and we want you to ride it and love it if you’re going to buy it. If you’re ready to jump, this is the bike for you.
- You want to get set up quickly and easily: One huge difference between the EdgeRunners and our bolt-on kits is that an EdgeRunner is ready to go when you buy it. Stop in at any one of our dealers and they can order your bike, build it up and put all of the accessories on, and you can ride it out of the store. No tinkering, kludging, or hacking necessary.
- It’s worth noting that our bikes do ship unassembled. Whenever possible, we recommend you purchase through one of our fantastic dealers. You won’t pay for shipping, and they’ll assemble the bike for you at no extra cost. Find a dealer near you right here. If there’s not a dealer anywhere near you, check out our Ship-To-Shop program here to have an EdgeRunner shipped to your local bike shop for assembly. You’ll need to pay your local shop to assemble it (generally $50-$150), but we’ll get the shipping on this one. Alternatively, you can suggest to your local bike shop that they contact us to become a dealer!
Buy a bolt-on kit if:
- You love your current bike but want to carry more stuff with it: Some people have a different bike for every situation. Some people have one bike that they’ve poured their heart and soul into. Maybe you love your current bike, but you just want it to do more for you. Add a bolt-on kit to your faithful steed so you can use it for literally everything.
- You like tinkering and taking on bike projects: Bolt-on kits are great for DIY-ers and home mechanics. In comparison to the complete cargo bikes, kits require more tinkering. You have to make sure your bike is compatible, and depending on the condition of your current ride, you may find yourself rebuilding the drivetrain to some extent. You’ll definitely have to extend your bike chain, and add tandem-length cables and housing for your rear brakes and rear derailleur to reach the rear wheel, which is now further away. Of course, you can always take this project to your local bike shop, but don’t be surprised if you unexpectedly have to replace a few additional parts to ensure that the whole setup will work together.
- You have a very specific cargo bike in mind that you haven’t been able to find: We love our EdgeRunners, but they only come in so many versions. Looking for a 29+ cargo hauler to take bike-packing or mountain biking? Hoping for a beach cruiser version with balloon tires? A Bolt-on kit has you covered.
- You’re looking for an affordable way to try out cargo biking: In case you’re not yet totally positive cargo biking is your thing, a bolt-on kit is also an excellent way to start cargo biking without breaking the bank. Throw it on your commuter and try it out for a few weeks! We’re pretty confident you’ll love it, but if you don’t, you can always take the kit off and put your bike back the way it was. And on that note….
- You want to be able to go back and forth between cargo and, well, not cargo: As stated above, a cargo conversion is by no means permanent. Maybe you want a cargo bike during the summer because you never drive your car when the weather’s nice, but you’d like to take it off in the winter (sometimes when it’s snowing out, you’d rather use the car for those errands). Or you need cargo space for daily commuting, but you’re planning a week-long bike tour and you want to travel light (side note: cargo bikes are a great option for touring, bike camping, and all kinds of other adventures). We won’t say it’s a snap to install and remove a bolt-on kit, but it doesn’t take an eternity, and we love having the option.
- You want to be able to travel with your cargo bike: With a complete cargo bike, the frame is all one giant piece, which can make it difficult to pack down for transport. With a bolt-on kit, the whole situation can be packed down a bit smaller. It’s a bucket list bike - you can fly overseas with it for a long bike tour, or carry it on a kayak if you ever need to.
When it comes to deciding between a complete cargo bike and a bolt-on kit, you've got a few things to consider. With so many options, you're sure to find the right Xtracycle for you! If you're still not sure what to get, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love talking about bikes, and we'd be happy to talk you through it!