So, I have had my wideloaders for several days, had the opportunity to put them through their paces, and feel moved to offer a product review
When I decided to buy my Xtracycle, I knew that one of it's primary functions would be to help transport The Boy; Xtracycle offers two attachments that help facilitate carrying a human passanger: little foot plates called Footsies
and the less adorable, but infanently more functional Wide Loaders (shown here with the slings that were left out of my order). The Footsies run about $45 for the pair, and can only be used for resting your feet on, where as the wideloaders can fill any number of needs.
Obviously, I opted for the later.
On the Pro side, I have to say that the loaders offer some real advantages (beyond their potential as foot rests): having hauled lumber with and without the wide loaders, I gotta say with is better: they offer a flat, level surface on which to load the lumber, eliminating the need to hold the sling with one hand while loading with the other. Nice. .Their wide profile encourages cars to give appropriate clearence when passing, and the bright red finish (I know, in the catalog photo, above, they look silver, dont they? Nope: bright red they are) really helps with visability
The primary disadvantage to the Wide Loaders is, well, they are wide: not wider than the handlebars, but it amazing the difference made by having the entire bike be the width of the handlebars. The same wide profile that has cars giving you extra space also takes up extra space. The bike becomes less nimble, and is prone to catching on tight turns and narrow passages. The loaders complicate use of the kickstand, which I find a nuisance, and although the boyz at Xtracycle assure that it is safe to lean the full weight of bike and load on the wide loaders, in lue of a kickstand, I am reluctant to try it (certainly, doing this would eliminate the whole flat level thing, of which I am so fond)
There is also a very irritating tendency for the leading edge of the loaders to "bite" your ankles as you are pushing off from a standstill or walking your bike. The loaders are, technically, removable. Doubtless easier done when using the slings that are designed to go with the loaders, rather than innertube webbing I am using as a substitute. The slings attach to the frame at 2 points, and are designed to detach; my webbing is woven into the frame, making removal a real chore. The other reason I have -so far- left mine on full time is that I tend not to know in advance when I might have use for them. I would hate to have a need arise and not have them on hand.
So what's the verdict? I am glad I ordered them (though grumpy that they arrived sans slings), they have more than earned their keep in just the past couple days by facilitating the hauling of large and bulky loads, and I am very much look forward to having them the next time SHIFT has one of their Move By Bike events. I also look forward to getting the slings, so that taking the loaders off and on is easier.