Miles’ Parts Bin Xtracycle EdgeRunner Cargo Bike
After picking up a rusty cargo bike frame for $75, Miles worked with his local bike shop on a budget parts-bin build to give a second life to a bike that was in desperate need of a new home. Learn more about his new Xtracycle EdgeRunner here…
One of the main reasons I like travelling, and living, in our cargo van is that it puts a cap on how much stuff we accumulate. I miss the days of rolling around with everything I need crammed into the various drawers, cubbies, and totes scattered throughout our steel box on wheels. Emily and I are now nearly a year into rental life, and a lot has changed. Maybe it’s a byproduct of pandemic-induced boredom or simply because we aren’t restricted by the amount of space at our disposal, but I seem to have collected a lot of stuff over the last 12 months. While some of these new possessions are questionable, like my 1980 Yamaha XT250, my most recent acquisition is far more reasonable… I think.
A few weeks before I set out on the Tree to Sea Loop on Vancouver Island, I found a rusty Xtracycle EdgeRunner cargo bike frame for sale. After some haggling on both sides, I tossed the dust and spider-ridden frame inside our van, giddy with excitement. I’ve always wanted a cargo bike, but the truth is they are expensive, and used ones are hard to come by. I’ve had a longtime dream of tackling errands around town, picking up groceries, and heading out on silly cargo bike bikes, so I was thoroughly impressed when I snagged the beat-up frame for a mere $75. It was in need of some love and a roof to live under, and I had both to give.
Although I’d love to take responsibility for rectifying the EdgeRunner, the real hero in this story is Justin at TAWS Bike Garage here in Powell River. Thankfully, Justin is equally enthused by weird bikes and budget builds, so he was quick to find some time in his busy schedule to help me get it rolling. Soon after carrying the awkwardly large frame and single wheel into the shop, Justin was busy scavenging for suitable donor parts and salvaging existing ones. It would be easy enough to replace the majority of the bike, but Justin was set on using the included front wheel and tire, the indestructible front BB7 brake, seized seat post, and the majority of the cockpit. The Chromag saddle was included in the initial purchase, and while the seatpost head has a tendency to slip around a bit, it provides just enough flare to let people know I’m a serous cargo-hauler. Oh, and it came with a working bell. Major score.
All said and done, I spent just over $100 on new parts for the build. This doesn’t include some parts bin stuff, like the rear wheel borrowed from a retired kids bike, cranks, grips, and rear brake. I also added the Velo Orange Flat Pack rack to mount a massive Wald basket to, and possibly the nicest component on the bike, the SimWorks Bubbly pedals. I had to purchase two chains (long-tail cargo bike problems), some brake pads, a few cables and housing, and the made-in-Canada Blackspire chainring.
Lacking a cargo-bike-compatible shifter cable, I turned to the recently reviewed Archer D1X wireless shifter kit to control an old Shimano Altus derailleur, which ended up working quite well. One of the major benefits of the Archer kit is that it effectively makes every derailleur feel nearly equal, and due to the required length of cable and housing on a cargo bike, the resulting performance is downright impressive. Although the cassette I’m running isn’t big, the small rear wheel and 34T chainring haven’t let me down so far. I’ve successfully, albeit not gracefully, navigated some steep chunky doubletrack close to town and can make it from our house to the grocery store on the other side of town without much huffing or puffing. Find a detailed build breakdown below.
- Frame Xtracycle EdgeRunner
- Crankset Shimano Altus
- Chainring Blackspire Snaggletooth 34T
- Chain KMC X6
- Cassette Shimano Hyperglide 11-34T, 8-Speed
- Rear Derailleur Shimano Altus
- Shifter Archer D1X
- Brake Levers Shimano Deore
- Front Brake Avid BB7 Mechanical
- Rear Brake Tektro Mechanical
- Front Tire Schwalbe Big Ben Plus 26 x 2.15″
- Rear Tire Maxxis MaxxDaddy 20 x 2.0″
- Handlebar FSA Metropolis
- Grips SDG Lock-on
- Saddle Chromag Trailmaster DT
- Front Rack Velo Orange Flat Pack w/ Wald 139 Basket
- Bags Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Bag, Randi Jo Bartender Bag, EdgeRunner Cargo Bags
Perhaps the coolest aspect of the EdgeRunner is the fact that Sam Whittingham at Naked Cycles here in British Columbia designed it. The EdgeRunner is a mass-produced version of Naked’s Mule cargo bike, which was shown at the 2011 North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS). I can clearly see lots of Sam’s influence in the design, and curvature, of the frame. It’s based around a 20″ rear wheel to keep the weight low, and can handle up to 400 pounds of cargo. Like all of Xtracycle’s long-tail cargo bikes, it’s compatible with a wide range of accessories, including options for carrying children, heavy-duty kickstands, and more.
The biggest win of all was that the EdgeRunner still had its cargo bags and top platform in working condition. The bags just needed a good cleaning, mostly to get rid of some monstrous spiders that had moved in, and the platform has only one sized bolt that I need to attend to. Otherwise, the dents and rust are just reminders that bikes are meant to be used, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.
A huge benefit of the swept back FSA Metropolis bars and short reach is that for the first time ever, Emily (at 5’1″) and I are both able to ride the same bike. While it’s not totally ideal for long rides, it’s perfectly suitable for 30-minute spins around town. I’ve already used it to transport a new bike build from the bike shop back to my place, and Emily is keen on trying to haul her inflatable stand up paddle board with it next spring. The cargo bags can easily hold four or more large bags of groceries, which is about the maximum we buy in one go anyway, plus the cargo deck and massive Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile basket bag (now made by Rockgeist) provide some serious overflow room.
Considering how little time and money was put into the EdgeRunner, I’m very happy with the end result. We took a bike that was moments away from ending up in a landfill, injected some life into it, and now it’s ready to haul cargo for years to come. It’s so fun to take a bunch of old parts to make something new and quirky, and to know that its life has been extended feels good. Apparently, some 2000s bikes never die either!
As a first-time cargo biker, the long-tail design of the EdgeRunner has quickly proven to be a great introductory platform. Having the weight positioned low and out of sight is nice when navigating busy streets or smooth trails, as a having clear line of sight and keeping weight off the handlebars are crucial. I’ve taken it down a few bumpy doubletrack trails around town without issue, and only when standing out of the saddle on steep unpaved terrain does it have a tendency to loose traction on the rear end. As an alternative to driving our van to get groceries, it does everything you could expect it to, especially as a parts-bin build.
In a year where parts are scarce and new bikes are hard to come by, building up this cargo bike was a real treat. There’s no better way to experience new bike day than reviving a forgotten frame and tossing together a mishmash of whacky components to create something that’s both useable and undeniably quirky. I believe I found one of the best uses for the Archer D1X wireless shifting kit, and if I can reduce time spent running errands around town in my van, I think it’s a job well done. A huge thank you goes out to Justin at TAWS Bike Garage (@tawsbikegarage) in Powell River, BC for making this build happen so quickly. I’ll make sure to bring you an extra-large load of buns next time I’m causing around town.
It’s truly amazing how bikes, when treated as tools, can reduce our reliance on vehicles and help with everyday tasks, while also getting us outside and moving. For those interested in the EdgeRunner, it has been discontinued from Xtracycle’s lineup and replaced by the Swoop. The best place to find them will be folks selling them used, or perhaps in your neighbour’s backyard—the rustier the better.
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