I have found the ultimate urban relief vehicle, or is it an urban relief consist? I use it regularly to save myself time, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions. The first part of this tractor trailer rig came in the form of a Burley Nomad cargo trailer which we received from Burley for review. I had taken the Nomad out for a few spins, one empty just to get the feel of the trailer on my Cannondale SIX13, and a few errands on the back of my Cannondale mountain bike. Then Lee and I took a spin or two to the store with the Nomad hung off the back of my Burley Rock and Roll tandem. (reviewed seperately on these pages)
Then while I was up in Rhode Island for the Cross Nats, I scored a Specialized Langster single speed floppy drive. How and why are another story altogether, but the short story is I finally had the single speed I had been jonesing for.
Certain things in life just plain make sense, so naturally, I hung the Nomad off the back of the Langster and went for my first ride ever on a fixie single speed. I mean why learn to ride a fixie without making it more difficult by hanging a trailer off the back? But guess what? It was great!!! Surprisingly, the trailer weight on the rear axle actually lent a certain stability to the rear end.
Now I would be hard pressed to relate specifically what the precise positives were exactly but I'm going to give it a try.
Above all the most obvious benefit of the Langster/Nomad combo is it's sheer simplicity. Single speed riders like to point to themselves as the devotees of Zen-like simplicity, guardians of the true grail of bicycle innocence, and the champions of efficiency. I think they are right! A single speed fixed gear bike is silent! Other than the sound of the tires on the pavement surface, there is no chain noise, no derailluer rattle, no vibration, no nothing, just the whoosh of the air and the soft whirr of the pavement running beneath your wheels.
The gearing on the Langster is set perfectly. You know that one, really comfortable gear, out of the 27, the one you feel like you could pedal all day in?, Well that's the gear ratio of this bike. Low enough that you can get out of your own way with alacrity, but long enough that you can make time without winding out.
Hanging the Burley Nomad off the back end just made sense. Suddenly I had a place to toss the empties I was returning to the store and my brain bucket and gloves when I ran in. Instead of trying to hang the lock someplace out of the way on the frame as I balanced the bags of groceries on my handle bars, I just tossed 'em into the trailer. Then I needed to stop off at Best Buy for my I-pod speaker system, and the hardwear store for a new trap pipe for the kitchen sink. Typically this was three trips, four if you add in a training ride... Not anymore, I just make 'em all stops along the way, and I get a better training ride with the extra weight and rolling mass.
Even mounting the trailer hitch onto the Langster is easier. The geometry of the Langster's rear wheel and the absence of running gear makes the attaching the Nomad's nylon hitch the easiest of any of my bikes. I have honestly taken to leaving the Nomad and Langster married together in the garage, and they are my first choice for running errands. On the really local runs through my urban-suburban Long Island home town, the Langster/Nomad combo gets me out and back faster than the car would anyway. But honestly, it's also just a pantload more fun! Plus no insurance and no fossil fuels! How can we go wrong?