Should I Be Afraid of The Cargo Monster?
Not unless you're a load that doesn't want carrying. Below, we've put answers to some of the most prevalent questions concerning the unbeatable Cargo Monster:
1. What is a Cargo Monster?
The Cargo Monster is an extension to the frame of your bike/trike. It bolts in place of the rear wheel, and extends the wheelbase back by 18" (46cm). Your rear wheel bolts back into the Cargo Monster. The rear derailleur moves back too, of course. The Cargo Monster has mounts for a 203mm disk brake so you can have lots of braking if you need it. The Cargo Monster has plug-ins to accept the various pannier and load carrying platforms made by Xtracycle for their popular upright bicycle load carriers.
2. Can I put one on my bike or trike?
Almost certainly yes, but since recumbents are all so different, it takes a few special parts. We have kits for most of the Terratrike, Catrike, and Greenspeed trikes right now, and are working on the parts required for other bikes and trikes, including things like upright folding bikes. We designed the Cargo Monster to adapted to all sorts of things, so nearly anything is possible.
3. How does it attach?
The Cargo Monster attaches in place of your rear wheel, at the dropouts, and to the main tube of your bike/trike. The dropout plates match the 135mm spacing of your rear wheel. The mount on the frame is a clamp that is CNC machined to exactly fit the tube. The rear wheel goes back into the Cargo Monster frame. The height at the dropouts remains the same, so the seat height, etc. remains the same. The rear derailleur moves back. The original cable and housing flips up and plugs into a stop on the Cargo Monster, and a provided extender cable and housing take it back to the derailleur's new location. Installation takes 15 to 20 minutes the first time, and much less after that.
4. What if I want to take it off and put things back the way they were?
No problem. In about 5 minutes, you can take the Cargo Monster off and have everything back to the way it was.
5. What is the weight limit?
We suggest a load limit of 200lbs (90kg) if low and evenly centered on the rear axle, and not to exceed 350lbs (160kg) combined rider+cargo. 200lbs is a lot, and you have to keep in mind that requires careful loading, a strong rear wheel, and a strong bike or trike—as well as a strong rider, no hills, and good brakes. A good amount of judgment and common sense is called for when hauling cargo. How things are loaded, how they are secured, and where you are going may all be more important than the weight limit. You can carry all kinds of things, but you do have to be sensible about it.
6. What can I carry on it?
Oh my... almost anything that weighs less than 200lbs. There are several options for things that you plug into the Cargo Monster to hold things. The basic one is the Xtracycle LongTail Kit. It has two aluminum rails that plug into the vertical tubes on the Cargo Monster. A plywood deck snaps onto the top of the rails. The rails have extensible bags that can carry six bags of groceries, a couple bags of cement, ladders, touring gear, all kinds of things. Another useful kit Xtracycle makes is a set of rails that carry 4-6 panniers, plenty of room for carrying everything you need while touring cross country. There are also plug-in platforms, and you can easily make your own attachments if you like.
7. Can I go touring with one?
Definitely! The Cargo Monster is a great way to carry everything you need. For touring, the pannier carrying rails is probably the best way to go. That way, you can use standard panniers.
8. Can I carry my child on the back?
We strongly recommend that you do not carry people on your Cargo Monster. There are several good reasons for this. On trikes, since they don't lean, it's precarious to be sitting up high when cornering or off camber. Also, on recumbents, there's nothing for a passenger to hold onto like there is on upright bikes. We also have strong feelings about safely carrying children; they are safer in trailers and other things designed expressly for that purpose. So, we recommend that you do not carry passengers on your Cargo Monster. If you are using your Cargo Monster on an upright bike, and you use all the Xtracycle passenger carrying accessories, it would be OK, but, ultimately, you have to decide if this would be safe for your bike and riding conditions.
9. Will this damage my bike/trike or void the warranty?
The loads on the Cargo Monster are largely carried by the Cargo Monster and the rear wheel. There will be some cargo load forces into the frame of the bike/trike, but it's a small percentage of the overall load. The Cargo Monster does compound the effect of rider weight, so the upper weight limit on riders is lower. We suggest a maximum rider weight 75% of the manufacturer's maximum. The Cargo Monster attaches to the inside of the dropouts with sturdy steel dropout plates, which spread the load out more than a wheel would, so there is less strain in cornering than you get with a wheel in the dropouts. The Xtracycle system has been used for a while now on upright bikes, and there hasn't been a rash of frame failures, so we are confident people won't be breaking their bikes with their Cargo Monsters. It is possible a bike/trike manufacturer could say that using such a thing is outside the warranty, since it didn't even exist when they designed their frames. We can't say that's unreasonable, but as long as you avoid heavy loads high up on the Cargo Monster, you should not expect problems. As in all things, you should consider whether your bike/trike can handle the load you wish to carry, and regularly check to make sure all bolts/mounts are secure.
10. Since the Cargo Monster can take a 26" wheel, does this mean I can get a 26" rear wheel on my 20" trike?
Yes, it does. Keep in mind that if you do this, the rear of the trike will be raised slightly. This may affect the handling a bit. We recommend wide tires in the front if you do this. It works quite well.
11. Does the Cargo Monster affect handling?
Yes, but generally in a good way. The wheelbase is extended, which makes the steering more stable, which is good when you're carrying loads. Your turning radius will be larger, but on most trikes, you can still easily turn around in the street. Purists will note that the steering geometry will be altered, but we have found this is generally an improvement. Twitchy trikes will be much improved.
12. What is Xtracycle, and how is it different from the Cargo Monster?
The Xtracycle cargo extension, officially called the "Free Radical," was developed for upright bikes with 26" (xx-559) or 700c (xx-622) wheels. It is a one piece frame that attaches to the outside of the dropouts. It has a fixed sized forward beam designed to attach to a kickstand plate found behind the bottom bracket of most bikes. It has four vertical tubes and two double ended horizontal tubes that take plug-ins to carry various kind of cargo. It's a very clever system, and lets people do all kinds of new things with their bikes. It's not designed to fit any other kind of bike, though, and not designed to take the torsional loads created by trikes. So, we decided to make a more general purpose version, stiffened and strengthened in the ways required by trikes, recumbents, and other unusual bikes.
13. What are the other Xtracycle things I can plug in?
The basic Xtracycle load carrying system is the LongTail Kit. It has two aluminum rails, a wooden top deck, and two large capacity side bags. There is also the Pannier Kit, which has two aluminum rails that let you carry four-six standard panniers, though there is no provision for the bottom bungee hooks (and yes, we are working on that). There are also horizontal platforms, different types of top decks, kits for carrying long loads, all sorts of things (visit Xtracycle.com for more information). The system is designed to be very simple to add to, and we expect to see more third parties to make even more accessories. We may be doing some ourselves.
14. Can I use it on multiple bikes?
Yes. It may require a different forward beam, frame clamp, or adapter plate, but that's all.
15. Can I add an electric motor?
Yes. The Cargo Monster has tabs for mounting an Ecospeed mid drive system. These could be used to adapt to another system, and you can also use a hub drive. The Cargo Monster dropouts are 1/4" steel and are plenty strong enough to handle the load. There is generally a lot of room above or beside the forward beam on the Cargo Monster to hold the battery.