About Cargobikes

most recently edited 4/14
a Bakfiets in Holland

Ok, so this blog isn’t just about cargo bikes but if you are interested in what they are and how they work here is a little information to tuck into. We first saw them in Holland, when we were invited to a friend’s wedding, and it took us two years to save up for one. That's our rental bike in the picture. Once we spotted them we test rode every brand we could get our hands on. The kids were wild about the ride- we only had two kids then… They’re not cheap bikes, but they’re not expensive transportation if you are really trying to get out of a car in the city. They are a great way to get yourself, your kids, their friends, and the groceries all around town without using a car. You can use them to move heavy things or furniture, carry the kids with their bikes to a trail, or ride them empty as a commuter bike if you don't mind the extra weight. They give you versatility missing with a normal bike.

Your Options:
If you are trying to carry kids and cargo (like a carload of groceries) around a city, what are your options? First, I'll list the ones that I don't recommend as much or which take more work to use successfully:

•  A regular bike with a kid seat is tippy with a kid on it, and it's hard to carry stuff AND multiple kids at the same time. But for just one kid and some groceries or school bags, you can probably use pretty much any bike with success. We have used these seats a lot.
There is some concern that a child falling from a height, like sitting in a bicycle child seat in an accident or fall, can be seriously injured, so consider this when making your decision. Some seats may be safer than others (high back, side padding) and of course there are other options below. 
There are a few little seats that work pretty well, including iBert and Bobike, Yepp/GMG (though old Yepp seats were recalled). Hamax are also well regarded. There's a great but overpriced kid seat called the ItChair (or Pere) for the Brompton folding bike but we'll have to win the lottery before we buy one. It may be worth looking for a seat that will float over your regular rack and let you carry panniers too. We have had luck with a Bobike Maxi seat riding over the rear rack on several bikes, which allows us to put 2 panniers underneath.

We use a rear mounted kickstand or a two-legged one (depending on the bike) for stability (though you should NEVER think that the kickstand will hold your kid up - they lurch and the bike goes over! Use it for cargo). We have used other brands of rear rack mounted kid seats with some success but you can't get enough space for the baggage that comes with kids plus whatever errand it is you are trying to complete. Combining a regular bike and kid seat with a cargo trailer is an OK solution but it costs as much as many of the better options and it's unwieldy in traffic and parking. See our posts on carrying kids on folding bikes and carrying kids on old bikes for more info. 

• A ‘longtail’ might carry more than a regular frame, but I don't think it's very good for many cargoes and it won’t carry many kids without a lot of ingenuity. The situation is improving all the time, though - ways to get seats and kids aboard are easier to find now than they were. I think a longtail has a lot of the same issues as a regular bike. There's an odd German/Dutch one here. Well known ones come from Xtracycle, Surly, Kona and Yuba (or Yuba) and you can get them at any good bike shop. We tried the Yuba Mundo recently and it's really stable and comfortable, though it has a smallish capacity compared to a box bike.

• A trailer is an option for kids, and I've taken one with my kids on extended bike trips, but I feel uncomfortable letting my kids sit in one in traffic. You can’t see the kids or encourage them to get along, the trailer is low and hard to see from a car, and there they are waiting to get hit by a bad driver behind you. Some people argue convincingly that they are probably safer than a child seat, but I still think that a trailer is better for carrying stuff. I converted one of ours into a transporter for children's bikes instead. The Pedal People in Massachusetts run a garbage collection business using homemade and Bikes at Work ones -- that's a good use for trailers.

• A kidback or trailabike holds one kid and nothing else useful but it’s better than nothing (and better than a kid trailer), especially with good panniers on the main bike.

• A baker's bike is great for stuff but not for kids and the center of gravity on most of them is rather high. We haven't tried carrying kids this way yet.

• A bike taxi / rickshaw / becak / pedicab like the ones in Asia would work, but they aren’t very practical to store or ride here and you can’t easily get one (except we've seen this one at Uptown Bikes).

• An ice cream style trike won’t hold your kids and doesn’t ride nicely at all but you can deliver food or heavy supplies in it well. We have a Haley, made in Philadelphia, and Worksman is another manufacturer. See our trikes page linked below for more. There are better trikes for kid and stuff transportation below. 

• There's a mostly english language blog from Japan that talks about 'mama bicycles' which carry a toddler in a seat between the ape hanger handlebars. Here's one manufacturer catalog site (Sakai), and here's another (Frackers). Check out the fun designs. They aren't available as far as I know in Chicago but they seem to be thought out well for carrying some amount of cargo and a very little kid or 2 if you live where you can buy them. Some do things like block the brakes and headset when the kickstand goes down. The blogger above may be able to help you get one shipped. I'm not sure how versatile they'd really be when the kid grows bigger. We have a post about one we found.

• Tandems and multiple tandems can carry a bunch of kids well — the Onderwater we have and recommend highly (our blue one, others available at JC Lind or Rolling Orange) is particularly good since the adult steers from the back and the kids love to pedal in front. These bikes have many of the same disadvantages as the regular bikes and longtails, but they have the huge advantage that you can often get a 10 year old or even teenager to ride one with you, especially if they get to be in front! 
The Onderwater lets them do that younger since you remain in control of the bike from behind. There is also optional additional seating for another kid and room for baby seats or luggage. It's made to last forever but not light. When we ride it in Chicago it feels like flying, especially if the front stoker is actually moving his legs. The regular model holds one stoker, one jump seat sitter, one baby in a back seat, and one adult doing most of the work. Around 9 or 10 years old the jump seat gets less appealing, but being in front is always fun.
The Onderwater Tandemtransporter is an excellent way to get around with kids if you don't have tons of cargo to lug. There's also a larger XL model with not one but two kids pedaling in front, plus one in a jump seat, and the adult rider behind, with room for a baby seat on the back. Only available so far as we know at Rolling Orange but maybe other dealers will be able to get it. 
The smaller bike also allows you to take off all the kid pedaling stuff and replace it with a big cargo box when the kids get bigger; that feature seems to have been left off the XL model. The XL still allows each child to pedal or not, as desired, and its ride isn't much squishier than the normal model, which is rock-solid. Here's a comparison photo of the two: the XL is orange and the regular is black.
The Onderwater is one of only a couple similar rear-steer tandems. The Kidztandem, a more inexpensive similar one made for a Colorado company we have seen ourselves, has lighter but maybe less durable construction, uses derailers, and seems cheaper and floppier than the Onderwater. The owners liked it fine. It doesn't convert as well to cargo use though there's a basket, and now they too have a triple. It's made in Taiwan for the US company.
The Hase Pino is a half-recumbent tandem, and a few others do the same thing. Sometimes you see one at Critical Mass in Chicago.
Other more traditional front-steer tandems are useful for carrying kids, too — special order  Bike Friday (triple) tandems which fold up into suitcases, or even an old Schwinn Twinn with a baby seat (The brown one above is a Twinn De-luxe with 5 friction shift speeds - Twinns go for about $250 in good condition these days in Chicago) for example — but tandems aren’t great for, say, tools or groceries. You can get some school supplies into panniers or baskets though if you rig them on. Some tandems can get pretty pricey, too. 

We think a good option for most people is a box bike
I think that the best overall option to carry 100 kg or more of kids and material simply and reliably in a city like those in North America is a box bike. That is, a bike with a box in front or behind to hold things in. They look like a bike and a wheelbarrow stuck together. Trikes hold more, 2-wheelers ride better. There are plenty of them, used for years in Europe. The big boom there started about 10 years ago. 
Before that, cargo bikes were like bike pushcarts or specially adapted bikes for factories. (Workcycles.com still sells the old fashioned ones and some are in use in New York parks. I don't think the old style models are very likely to be good daily kid transporters. They look like those carts they sell coffee and pastries from in hotel lobbies.) 
Of the new, fancier models, there are 2 wheelers and 3 wheelers, listed below.

Two wheeled box bikes
A partial review - send me more information if you see something missing.

Maartin van Andel's Bakfiets.nl design (new version ca. $3200, dealer is JC Lind in Chicago) is based on older industrial bikes but started the whole segment of 2-wheeled box bikes for carrying kids in about the year 2000. A lot of people had the same idea for a cargo bike about the same time.
this Bakfiets Cargobike Long
is our favorite bike
It's in its second version now. Ours is the original long model. They are made in Holland by Azor for Bakfiets.nl and the quality and durability is very high.
We have carried 4 elementary age kids in our original Bakfiets Long easily enough, plus a baby, the adult rider and two panniers full of school bags. You can’t fit that many people safely in most cars. There's also a heavy duty kickstand that holds the bike up well even with kids jumping all over it. These bikes are designed to carry about 300 kg according to the wholesaler's blog. The seat tube angle is a little slacker on the newer ones.
JC Lind is the Chicago dealer now. Others include Clever Cycles in Oregon, which also stocks them with NuVinci hubs, more like a (maybe inefficient) dimmer switch than gear changer, or Adeline Adeline in New York. It remains to be seen whether these Bakfiets.nl products will remain available in North America when the main international distributor introduces the following bike. Rolling Orange sells a 'premium' version and an electrified one (about $4000) and I think they may get theirs through a different distributor. 

One person told me that not all Bakfiets.nl bikes are made in Holland - check if this important to you. There are a few knockoffs made more cheaply but sometimes costing the same, so be sure what you're getting. In our experience, the copies don't ride nearly as well as the original.

This is the Workcycles Kr8, coming 2014.
From their blog. Click to link there.
Workcycles, the large wholesaler, (and I guess their dealers too) will apparently stop selling the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike in 2014 and replace it with their own Workcycles KR8, which will come in a 2 wheel version and eventually a trike. Not sure if the new bike will be made in Holland but it will be easier to ship and more modular. It looks like a sensible design and Workcycles' other bikes are very well made.

Azor, the company that is contracted to build the Bakfiets.nl bikes, builds or imports its own cargo bike as well, called the Milano. It's sold through Rolling Orange in Brooklyn and we haven't seen it but Azor's other bikes including our Bakfiets are excellent. 

De Fietsfabriek also lost its Chicago dealer when the factory went bankrupt but it is now back in business under new management and the bikes may or may not be available these days through Rolling Orange. Though Fietsfabriek bikes are no longer on Rolling Orange's site, Rolling Orange remains as the only US dealer on Fietsfabriek's site. Contact the dealer for the best information and possibly for leftover stock.
from http://chicagokidicalmass.org/
Fietsfabriek sell Kemper-designed 2-wheelers like the 996 (and 995 aka Filibus Plus) in the Kidical Mass pic and a wide variety of trikes for up to 8 kids or a wheelchair. Quality is generally quite good, bikes are made in Turkey and Holland. T'Mannetje and Kemper bikes use the same basic designs, don't think they're imported here. There are some knockoffs. 

photo by Ash L
Bullitt for kids
The Danish company Larry vs Harry has started selling their Taiwanese-made Bullitt— it’s lighter weight aluminum. Sold at West Town Bikes / Ciclo Urbano (?) and Chicago Cargo, and Green Machine Cycles in Chicago. Chicago Cargo staff hosts the Cargo Bike Roll Calls which were formerly independent. The Larry vs Harry may be less practical for frequently carrying kids and better for riding low and fast; you need to buy an expensive attachment to carry a kid. But a lot of people seem to be happy with this bike -- it rides quite well (when it has an optional steering damper) with a more sporty, less upright stance, and it's lightweight enough to lift up a flight of steps if absolutely needed. It has an irritating top tube, not a step through frame and fiddly steering if supplied without a steering damper. Ride this one before buying it.

from http://www.jclindbikes.com/bikes/wallaroo
A similar aluminum framed bike but with an enclosed child carrying pod is the Winther Wallaroo, which JC Lind carries. 
It's very nice, less clunky than some other options, maybe less versatile for cargo but better for year round comfortable child transport. It's like a luxury car that's a bike. I've heard that it's based on the Bullitt but I doubt that, since it's a step through frame, though maybe it's a variant. There's a three wheel version too called the Kangaroo.

from http://www.longjohn.org
Old fashioned steel Danish SCO or Monark Long Johns (the original transporter with this kind of design) are not great kid carriers but you could possibly make them work - they were for carrying boxes of rivets around flat shipyards or similar. They have a slack seat tube angle that would make your commute miserable if it involves a hill, they have a top bar, and they're not cheap.
I'm just mentioning them because they seem so much more practical than I think they really are.

There's also a bike with a kind of tote bag on the front made of truck tarp material and a folding metal frame, the Cabby by Gazelle
from http://measured-response.com/bakfiets/?p=14
It wouldn't be my choice since it seems less durable, but there are people who like them and I think Clever Cycles in Portland Oregon sells them (and many other brands). They might solve your problem if you don't have much space to store a cargo bike. 

The Madsen KG271 is a longtail with a rear plastic box option that is becoming more and more popular in Chicago. It's getting common to see one in some parts of town. 
from http://gridchicago.com/2011/
The big advantage with this design is the reasonable price, I think - It can be found on line and is cheaper than most. It's not beautifully made but it's not terrible either and it's worth a look. One person we know is not happy with the gearing and plans to change it, others are perfectly satisfied with the stock option. 

JoeBike of Portland used to make a couple of models, one in the US and one with an imported frame designed as a copy of the original short Bakfiets.nl cargobike. They stopped making these, which is understandable to me. The box was not well made (the wood looks like a lauan bathroom door), and the bike felt sluggish even compared to the Madsen. Most information on these bikes that I can find was written by the manufacturer or its representatives. They are offering their premium model's design and tooling for sale to other manufacturers so perhaps the Shuttlebug will return.

Babboe is a company which sells Asian-made box bikes. Though they apparently had early quality control problems, the recent model we have seen in Chicago seems nice and is holding up very well. The owners think it's too heavy and don't ride it much as a result but I'm not convinced it's much heavier than other manufacturers' models. I do wonder a bit where the price goes if this bike is made inexpensively (even with same quality) in Asia - these are only a bit cheaper ($2500) than the European or North American bikes. And Babboe keeps trying to put advertising comments on our blog. Clever Cycles in Portland carries them including a Cristiania-looking trike; there's an older one of these in Chicago, even.

Urban Arrow is a Dutch brand of $6000 cargo bike with electric drive "intended to replace a car." Electric drive has been an option for awhile for other bikes as well. We don't see much reason for electrifying a bike into a quasi motorcycle (if you don't have many hills to climb that is) but you can look at Rolling Orange or Clever Cycles

photo by Ash L
The Human Powered Machines Long Haul is made in the US by a small company in Eugene Oregon. They also helped design and build the Swift folder that Xootr bought rights to recently. The Long Haul is a smaller cargo bike similar to the Fietsfabriek 995 or small box Bakfiets.nl, but with an inconvenient double top bar. Steering on the one I tried is erratic with understeer swerving suddenly into oversteer. The box looks like something made at home. Try one before you buy it - individual setup may be able to improve this one. It's used as a delivery bike a lot in San Francisco. The one I rode is at West Town Bikes in Chicago.

Several other small US manufacturers are apparently now building good quality two wheel cargo bikes, though I haven't been able to ride all of them myself yet. Have a look at their sites: CETMAOrganic Engines (seems to be off line - out of business?) and Metrofiets all claim to build their bikes in the US from good quality parts, generally custom, with prices ranging from $1750 to $6000 complete. Some have a high bar to get your leg over. The others each seem to have nice features, and if you ride one I'd love to hear from you below. CETMA now makes a small fronted version called the Margo that might be good for someone with one kid who can make a nice small box. There are some good reviews online but delivery can apparently take a long time according to people who have dealt with the company. This is true in general with these semi custom manufacturers.

There's a company named Tom's Cargo Bikes that makes inexpensive, good looking cargo bikes out of recycled frames in Oregon, site here. We met Tom at the Chicago Bike Swap in March 2013 and talked briefly — he was delivering a bike to Chicago by Amtrak and stopped by the swap. Amtrak had delayed the bike itself, so all I saw were pictures, but it looked at least as nice as mass produced bikes, with a fancy Creamsicle finish. Keep your eyes open around town for it. This one was made from a women's bike with a box in front and a child's 20 inch bike for the front wheel, but you'd have a hard time seeing where one ends and the other begins. You could work with him and have a custom crafted US-made bike that exactly matches your needs for less than an off the shelf competitor.

Manuel Cappel and possibly others in Toronto have made wonderful custom/recycled bikes and trailers- there are photos on our post.

Three wheeled box bikes (Trikes)
This de Fietsfabriek 8 kid preschool transport trike is huge but practical
We have a large post about trikes here.
Three wheeled child and material carrying options abound in Europe but aren’t common here yet. Tricycles come as box types and as covered front pod designs, with various steering options. Available in the US:  Christiania/BoxCycles, de Fietsfabriek, JC LindVelorbisWinther, Sorte Jernhestpossibly Nihola and the Bakfiets.nl trike, Babboe, probably several more. Let us know about others below. These all hold a lot of kids or groceries or even (some of them) industrial equipment, ride well enough at a comfortable speed, and last a long time. You can carry very large loads in some of these, including wheelchairs or entire preschool classes. Many of the trikes don’t corner as well in our experience on bumps as two wheelers but the increased cargo capacity makes up for it. Others are just zippy, practical ways to carry one or two kids and a few bags of stuff. 

Look at the websites for a taste. As for US made options, a guy in California connected to MAKE magazine makes (made?) a tilting and turning version at Onya Cycles (broken link?) that might work for some people. And Haley Trikes in Philadelphia makes a basic one designed for cargo, with no child carrying option.  Organic Engines (if they still exist) just started making a relatively inexpensive kid carrying trike with steering like a recumbent tadpole trike in Florida. 

Strollers pretending to be trikes
There is a subgroup of trikes that are really strollers with a pedaling position added on (Zigo Leader for example). So far, I haven't seen or heard of one that seems like anything but an expensive gimmick, but if one interests you, imagine using it for years in bad weather as a way to get yourself and your kid somewhere before you buy it. I played with one for awhile and I'd never buy it for myself...

Cargo-only Trikes and other US made 2 and 3 wheel cargo options
Other utility bike companies like ANTBilenky, Frances and Worksman (all based in North America) may also be worth a glance, though they don't make anything comparable to the box bikes that I'm aware of. These make bakers' bike and small cargo box options like the less expensive Kemper Filibus.

Adaptive Cycling Options
There are several companies specializing in bike transport for disabled riders like Hase, and Rolling Orange and particularly JC Lind can get high quality wheelchair and specially altered bikes as well if you ask, sometimes in stock. The Hase Pino is a great recumbent/upright tandem if you need to move one, kid-to-adult sized extra person with or without disabilities, and you can put panniers on it, but it's not really like a cargo bike. The others are more similar to other cargo bikes. Some allow you to ride the bike despite your own disabilities, some are simply transportation systems for others to move a wheelchair-bound person around without a van. Worksman also has a wheelchair transporter and custom options. It is possible to get something made custom or semicustom by many companies for your particular needs. I'd talk to Jon Lind and search the internet and the links for adaptive cycling on Ding Ding Lets Ride.
If you know of another option, or if you want to fill me in on things I've missed or misunderstood, please send us a comment! Thanks.

Quality is important when you buy a cargo bike.
The following discussion is intended to be practical information to consider before you buy, largely related to quality and the various components you can put on a bike you're buying.  Get a bike you think is good and make sure the company you bought it from will fix or improve it if there's an issue. Ask specifically and take the answers with a grain of salt. Try anything you want to buy first, and look into the reputation of the dealer, especially with internet purchases.

None of the cargo bikes I know about are like a handbuilt custom road bike. They're heavy and utilitarian, and there are compromises in their designs that you should be aware of. For example, the slack seat tube geometry many have often makes it unnecessarily hard to ride uphill. There are a few features to look for, though:

General Weatherproof Durability
Our bike came with stainless steel fenders, dynamo hub lighting front and rear with standlight, a full chaincase and hub gearing, a rear rack integrated into the frame to carry passengers, a computer cut marine plywood box with seats, and a powder coated frame. Nothing on it will ever rust (and hasn't in 4 years of bad and winter weather). The kids can drop sticky muck on it or the groceries can all spill and we can hose it out easily. The chaincase and internal gearing don't need maintenance very often because they keep the moving parts out of the weather and street muck, and they keep the oil and gunk off your clothes too. A fully enclosed chaincase is a lot more practical than a simple chainguard.

Don’t ever think seriously about buying a cargo bike without similar features or ways to add them. A recreational bike can be lightweight and fiddly without inconveniencing you much. To be a practical form of daily transportation, however, a bike like this can and must be able to sit in the weather for years without maintenance and always work well, especially if you keep it outside. Ask yourself, how long will the weakest part of any bike you’re considering last if you treat it like most people treat their cars? A cloth cargo box? A derailleur in snow? A plastic part instead of stainless steel? Will it last? And you definitely need fenders and lights, and probably hub gears and hub brakes, to be mobile in all conditions.

Most of these bikes can be built with a variety of gearing and braking options if you ask, so think about what you want early on.

When evaluating the componentry, make sure the brakes will stop you (and your kids!) fully loaded on a steep hill on a wet day, before you buy it. Many of these types of bikes use components not originally designed for the long cable runs necessary on a long frame, or for the weight of a full load. I have heard several reports of brake and axle failures.  
Our Shimano roller brakes are rightly regarded as awful but here in Chicago we don't have real hills, and we never had a problem with them (until the hub got rebuilt and the brake started disconnecting itself during use). Don't get them, or at least not the front one, if you live in the mountains of Colorado. The latest model roller brake (IM80) is supposed to be stronger and more resistant to failure due to overheating than the old ones that we have. I hear that the large 90 mm Sturmey-Archer drum brakes work well, and you could try hydraulic (maybe not cable - long runs) disk brakes if you don't mind maintaining them (!) and if you need to stop on serious hills a lot. Look into brake systems for tandems if this is an issue for you; wheels can be built with nearly anything.

Shimano, SRAM and Sturmey Archer / Sunrace hubs and brakes are not all necessarily rated for use with a heavy bike like a loaded cargo bike, though some are. Components built for tandems (Phil? :)) are likely strong enough. A Shimano representative told me that all internal gear hubs they make are OK for this use but the premium versions last longer. Workcycles founder Henry Cutler has tried lots of options and favors the Shimano 8 speeds. Many people have told me that there isn't enough difference between the premium and regular versions of this hub to warrant the price difference, though. There is a Shimano 11 speed that is supposed to be very nice too. Rohloff hubs are rated for heavy loads and have 14 speeds and a huge gear range, but they are as expensive as a whole bike on their own. There is a lot of interest lately in the NuVinci 360 hub, which has a dimmer switch to change gear ratios instead of individual speeds, and which has a pretty wide range. Clever Cycles may have the best experience with this hub so far on cargo bikes. I rode one a little bit on a Bakfiets copy and it was by far the nicest part of the bike - very easy to adjust and much simpler than multiple gears. We liked it on the Onderwater XL too, though it takes an hour to get used to not having click stops. The often noted weight of the hub is not relevant on a cargo bike, which weighs and carries so much anyway.

Our bikes have all-Shimano hubs and we did have a front dynamo hub axle break under normal use (it squealed but stayed stable). I don't like the uneven gear spacing on their 8 speed rear hub, and one of ours failed suddenly and needed replacement of the internal components for $150 after 3 1/2  years; it still gives us trouble but it's getting better. We have a post grumbling about it. There is a lot of info online about lubricating these things. Some people pack them with blue marine grease, others put in an oil port and fill them with transmission fluid. Shimano recommends using its own expensive grease every year or two, I think.

     The Frame
Most cargo bike frames are high-tensile "pot" steel instead of thinwall cr-mo, which would be much stronger and lighter. There's a tradeoff with durability if it gets too thin. With other kinds of bikes you can get a custom sized frame made out of this tubing, even brazed or welded right in your town, by an excellent builder to exactly match your needs. There aren’t many box bike options like this, past the prototype stage, that I know of, and a truly high quality lightweight steel frame made anywhere is hard to find. Perhaps the CETMA or Human Powered Machines bikes come closest. I would love to hear from anyone about North American-made quality box bikes that can compete with or exceed the European ones. See the list of manufacturers I found above, and please leave a comment if you know of another one. 
There is certainly a market for lighter frames - despite the theoretical disadvantages of aluminum in terms of repetitive stress failures many people choose aluminum framed race, recreational and cargo bikes since they're often lighter. 

Who made it?
One thing I originally liked about buying a Dutch bike was that it was supposedly built by well paid workers right in Holland instead of by children in a low wage sweatshop somewhere. I imagine well paid workers with benefits merrily working 8 hour days with holidays off. It turns out this is basically true for our bikes, but unfortunately, that isn't true for every expensive cargo bike. Apparently, some companies have frames made in low wage countries, then declare the finished bike “made in Europe” or “made in Holland.” They can do this because if 51% (or some say 60% ?) of the value is added in Europe (powdercoating, assembly of components) it becomes a European product. Or so I’m told. If you know more about this than I do, please send a comment and explain it to me. It isn't so bad I guess if the manufacturer is open about it, but I for one don't relish the thought of spending $3000 on a bike that cost the manufacturer $500 to make and distribute. If you search the web about this you can find plenty of examples. I think we all have a moral obligation to buy things made by workers with good working conditions and a lot of self determination rather than the products of slave or sweatshop labor whenever possible. It's getting harder in today's increasingly international marketplace. Especially if you are spending this much on a bike, why not pay it to the guy building it instead of a middleman? 

According to comments from Henry at Workcycles, the Bakfiets (and Onderwater) brands he distributes are actually made entirely in Europe. I guess Fietsfabriek makes their frames in Turkey and the rest is done in Holland. I think Larry vs. Harry's Bullitt is an Asian frame with Danish finish work. JC Lind's trikes are Dutch. I'm not sure about a lot of others.

Try them out first, then buy them
My advice about the cargo bikes I've seen so far is that it is worth it to get the best made bike you can afford. Try riding it before you buy it, loaded and in a similar landscape to the one you plan to use it in. Check out how it's made. You should never pay for a bike that won’t last. Get something you can pass on when you die, or at least when your kids are big and you find another way to move groceries. Some of these bikes are built well enough to keep for decades. 

Watch out for counterfiets! 
When you are considering these bikes, be careful with inexpensive options since some are badly made and many just aren't that much cheaper (if at all) than the quality ones. There are poor quality bikes being sold, some copies of legitimate brands, and some dealers have sold bikes under false names - if it costs a lot make sure it's really well made and well finished so you don't buy something bad. 

As for honestly made, inexpensive options, compare for yourself before settling on one - in our experience it may be worth the extra to splurge. Have a good look at anything you're considering purchasing.

You'll like having a cargo bike. It makes it easier to get around and it's fun!


  1. You forget the Cargobike - bakfiets from Babboe!

  2. Does anyone know what these are like, or who carries the Babboe in Chicago? I haven't seen one and don't know about the quality. They were tested by a consumer program in Holland, I guess, and were considered to be all right. See the article about it on Bakfiets en Meer: http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/reviews-tests/kassa-bakfiets-test-english-translation/

  3. Found more about the Babboe on Henry Workcycle's blog:

    Look at the comments. There may be some quality issues with this bike.

  4. Hi, We are looking for family biking solutions, and recently tried out a bakfiets at the Dutch Bike Co. in Chicago. We tried it out in terrible weather on purpose. I loved the stability, and the snow and pothole handling, but my question is, how long did it take before you were comfortable riding it with kids in the city? When we tried it, I had a terrible time not riding all over the place as I was trying to get up to speed...beyond comical to scary!

    I grew up in the country riding mountain bikes in the hills, and have never actually ridden a bike in the city. My husband wouldn't let me when the babies were little, but now, our oldest is capable of riding independently in 3 seasons, and I can't run to keep up with him anymore! The middle child has low muscle tone and it may take several years before he can ride alone, and the youngest will probably be riding without training wheels this summer. We were looking at the bakfiets because we don't necessarily think we are done having kids, and my husband really likes having the kids in front. We are considering other bike options, but my husband is the type that likes the first thing he sees, and is happy with it, problem solved.

    I have a few other questions, but my immediate concerns with safety kind of preclude some of the other ones for right this second!

    Thanks so much for any help or advice you can give us!

  5. It sounds like you have two problems - choosing how and where to ride, and how to carry everyone. We like to have the kids in front, too.

    As for the first problem, remember that most people biking in Chicago aren’t on North Avenue or Ashland. Small streets like Belden or Wolcott go the same way and are pleasant to ride on. Look at our Good Routes page or the Chainlink discussion it links to if you want to ask other riders for recommendations. Most of the families that we know in Chicago have quiet routes to get to the places they go every day and they would be glad to share them with you. Big streets do have — dare I say it — sidewalks. I get on the sidewalk whenever I feel unsafe on the road, walking the bike or riding if there’s room. And you can get used to handling your bike safely at a nearby park or university campus. Studded tires add a little stability in winter, too.

    As for carrying everyone and everything on one bike, there are lots of options, and the Bakfiets Long Cargobike is certainly one of them. It takes only a few rides to get used to its handling and feel comfortable. With the second seat in the box, we can easily carry three kids with room for a fourth in a pinch, but with four every day or with one getting big enough to squash knees on the seat in front there are certainly other options to consider that have more room. If you go for the Bakfiets you will need the second seat. Also consider a rear child seat like our Bobike Maxi or a stem mounted baby seat where the baby can lean forward on a little headrest to sleep (like a WeeRide but on the stem) or an iBert. I wouldn’t carry a baby less than 6 months old with good head control on a bike unless they were in a car-type baby seat, installed firmly in the box, and then there’s not much room for anyone else. The stand on the Bakfiets is a real plus, since it is stable and makes loading and unloading kids (more) effortless.

    You have to be inventive to carry three or more kids. You should definitely try out the many trikes available in Chicago before you buy anything. They are a little less agile than the 2-wheelers but they can’t fall over and they feel more steady. Some of these would carry four (or more) kids with room for stuff, too. JC Lind has a couple of good ones and may also still have some old stock Fietsfabriek brand. Copenhagen has a little Velorbis, though I think it’s likely too small for your needs. And Dutch Bike can get Bakfiets or Christiana. See our trike info in the post above, and DrMekon’s comparison on http://bakfiets.co.uk/ or Totcycles for more information on trikes. Some of the US builders we link to above also have a trike option.

    An unlikely option to consider is the Onderwater or Bike Friday triple tandem or something similar. The Onderwater is like our blue tandem, but with an extra pedaling position in front. Your big kid could pedal in front, the middle one could pedal just behind (or vice versa), the third could sit on the jump seat behind your stem, and a hypothetical toddler could be on a rear mounted seat like our Bobike Maxi. There’s only room for two panniers and a front basket on that setup, though, and if your middle kid has trouble holding on a box would be better. Also, the Onderwater needs to be held up, by you, while the kids get on and off by themselves. The stand won’t do it. Look at our folding bikes post for other seat options. JC Lind and Dutch Bike in Chicago can probably get Onderwater bikes, and you can see other things Dutch Bike can get by looking at the Workcycles.nl site. Justyna at Rapid Transit uses a Bike Friday family tandem with two kids and would have a lot of good ideas.

    There are a lot of good ways to carry all those people around happily without feeling unsafe. Try every bike and trike you can find, and don’t feel rushed. If you are the person who will be riding the bike you should be the person who feels comfortable on it. Ask us more questions if you’d like. And please write back and let us know what you decide on.

  6. PS- GMG seats that clamp on the back carrier could possibly carry two kids on the Cargobike rack if you do need to carry a baby car seat in the box. JC Lind and Dutch Bike both carry them.

  7. Thanks!
    We are also going to look at the Yuba Mundo, which would then make us a three-and-a-half season bike family. I am glad that they added a more stable kick stand option for that, because for me, I am the sort that would accidentally tip the bike by catching my foot on the center bar---which is one MAJOR plus for me with the bakfiets and the step through frame, and their super kickstand. The majority of my bike accidents in the past have been due to catching my foot on the bar either mounting or dismounting, on a fairly regular basis. Go ahead and laugh.

    I saw on the chainlink that you posted about a cabby that you know of for sale. We would also be interested in looking at that, since one of our biggest concerns is storage, and that has a folding box (and the potential to maybe be stored upright?) We *think* we can fit the bakfiets into our back stairwell. At least measurement wise, it fits, but getting it in there is another issue. We keep many of our bikes/mowers in a locked "shed" that is under part of the house, but the entry for it is on the sidepath, which makes the likelihood of getting something as long as a cargo bike in there next to impossible. Unfortunately, we do not have a garage. The only other thing I can think of would be to install a commercial bike U-rack in our yard somewhere. I'm assuming you have a garage to keep yours in? We could keep our bikes in the basement, and some of them are there, but I do not think that I would be able to get such a large, heavy bike in and out of it, as that would involve stairs. I am looking forward to trying a trike, and we are planning to go to JC Lind, but the storage problems presented above would probably make a trike even more impossible for us to store.

    We are near good bike routes, so that should not be a problem. We are on Leavitt, just a few blocks from Wolcott for North and South, and to Leland for hopping over to the lake.

    I am wondering about the winter/colder months though, if either Clark or Lincoln would be better (less windy) than the Lake for getting into River North.

    I am so thankful that there are other families in the city trying to go carless, and that you have put up this blog!

  8. Since these bikes are left outside all the time in Holland (same issue with storage) I imagine that a good rack or locking eye bolted into concrete, a thick chain, a U lock and a tarp might be the way to go. Hide it well from the guys who collect metal in the alleys.

    I just can't see you carrying three or four kids and their stuff happily on a Yuba Mundo or a Cabby (little box), though with two seats on the back rack and maybe a center seat to trip your feet over I guess either might be possible. There is a family that goes to Kidical Mass (See our posts about it) that puts 2 kids on a Yuba Mundo.

    Now that we're used to the step through on the Bakfiets we have the same trouble sometimes getting off a regular bike. Many trikes have the low bar, too.

    You are right that the basement would be a pain to get in and out of. Did you think about hanging the bike on a block and tackle from the ceiling? It would be horrible but possibly do-able...

    Why don't you friend us on the Chainlink and we'll be glad to lend you our bike or tell you more about cabbies and things.

  9. I just friended you on chainlink. Should we take the discussion over there?

    The block and tackle actually isn't a bad idea, given our storage space, I would just need to be sure of a few details of structural integrity.

  10. Hello, and thank you for your blog! I came across it while searching for a Bobike Maxi in the Chicago area. Do you have any advice on where to buy one - the closest I have found is in Portland OR.


  11. You can find a lot of info about kid seats in our post about carrying kids on folding bikes. I've seen Bobike seats recently at Dutch Bike Chicago on Armitage (moving soon to Damen in Wicker Park) and JC Lind on Wells http://www.jclindbikes.com/ I think they both also carry GMG / Yepp but it's worth a call or two to see what's there right now.

  12. Hello,
    I'm an Evanston Resident that just purchased a Kona Minute for my wife and 1yr. old. I'm looking for a used child seat compatible to the rear platform. It seems like someone would have- moved on/grown out of the need for theirs. Anyone have one for sale?
    Thank you very much.

  13. You can find good used bike parts, possibly including seats, at the Recyclery in Evanston or A Nearly New Shop near the IHOP at Halsted & Broadway, or you could post a note on the Chainlink (thechainlink.org). Working Bikes on 24th place and Western does have used seats - they had 2 when I last looked, one just like new. Call them before making the trek down.
    We are still using ours sometimes.
    Good luck!

  14. Have you any experience or knowledge of Double Dutch Bikes http://doubledutchbikes.com/ in New Jersey?
    I'm contemplating buying one that's on sale but have been seeing bad reviews about the quality of frame (made in China).

  15. Sorry, we haven't seen Double Dutch bikes in person, but we have seen a lot of the same criticisms. I'd say ride it as much as you can loaded with whatever you carry and see if you like it before you buy it. There are a lot of very high quality bikes made in China these days. Maybe new cargo bikes are included in that group.
    The couple of Chinese-framed cargo bikes we've ridden (not Double Dutch) look nearly identical to the Dutch ones but just aren't fun to ride. Compare the costs well - how much are you saving? If you buy it and like it let us know!

  16. I've read about people bicycling with newborns, and various safety options involving car seats used in tandem with trailers or carrier boxes. These options seem safe, but I'm curious about the legality of this..if the baby's too small for a helmet doesn't this pose an issue?

  17. In terms of riding with infants there are plenty of opinions to go around. Totcycle has a classic post on using one of the buckets for a baby.
    I don't think it is technically illegal anywhere yet because of course most people don't think of riding with an infant and few legislatures or city safety organizations would even notice. I think making the choice to ride with a younger baby is really personal. We are obviously not fans of trailers at all and never carried a baby in one before it was old enough to wear a helmet when we did use our old one.

    Using a cargo bike with an infant is growing in popularity though perhaps mostly in the pages of Momentum in a photo spread. These choices are completely personal and we have no advice for other parents that is nuts and bolts like our usual work for when and how really to carry a younger baby- especially a newborn except for our bikes barf and babies post.

    I do think that it's important not to get caught up in marketing to parents or blogs that picture biking with children or family riding as a blissful, totally without chaos sometimes experience.

    As parents-- especially mothers --we are blasted with images of beautiful, well styled moms on bikes and everywhere else that have nothing to do with reality. If marketing to family riders is the next popular wave of cycling marketing I'd say use caution in reading reviews and seeing articles about the "hot new family biking wave." I think too the Izeigentsia pictures with cooing babies in Copenhagen or Amsterdam illustrate a culture with an absolutely different infrastructure than in the U.S. I am obviously not saying don't ride with children here. I am saying that riding with three kids in traffic in Chicago is not comparable in the least with riding anywhere in Munich where I lived for some time or in Holland where I have traveled with children for quite a longish stretch. Working to create 8-80 infrastructure in our communities in a meaningful way is the only path to building the culture for bikes that our kids-- from babies to teenagers -- deserve.

  18. Anyone know if there are any frame builders in the Chicago area who might build a cargo bike out of a donor bike, like Tom Labonty in Portland, mentioned above? Thanks!

  19. Try calling Blue City Cycles and asking Owen's advice. Jesse at Comrade Cycles made one himself. Alex at West Town might have an idea too.
    When you're designing it, we think you might want to get a really good powder coat so it holds up, put on a full chain case, weld in an overbuilt rack that an adult can sit on, and choose an internal gear hub and brakes that work well if you can. Try to steal a geometry that you like, too, so your steering isn't a surprise.
    Any other suggestions out there?

  20. Very cool, thanks very much. Will do and will follow up... Curt

  21. Any thoughts on best box-bikes for long climbs and gravel roads? I've been eyeing some of the different types you outlined, but live in Alaska and don't have a way to test-ride any. I'm seriously considering the CETMA Margo, although it's out of my price range (and it's a little nerve-racking to invest so much in something I've never ridden). What do you think is the best option for 2-kid box-bike for hills and poor riding conditions? Thanks!

  22. Good question. Really good question. I wonder if anyone else can chip in here and suggest something.
    How old are these kids? How many roads and what kind of distances do you see needing to ride?
    I wish I could give you a decent answer to your question, but we just don't have hills in Chicago. We've ridden these bikes in plenty of other places, some hilly, but not in everyday use. I'll try anyway but take this with a grain of salt.
    Lots of these bikes aren't great going up a hill due to their slack seat tube angles. On the other hand, gravel or dirt roads are just not an issue for our Bakfiets and Onderwater nor for many others with relatively wide tires and heavy duty wheels. I think the newer Shimano roller brakes are probably OK even on a hill, at least on the back wheel.
    I guess we've never had a major problem with the Bakfiets even on steeper hills but the geometry could be better for this use. You find yourself bending your elbows and straining a lot compared to a less-slack bike. I am not sure how much of this is the extra weight of the box bike and how much is the geometry.
    I think a 2 wheeler will be easier on a hill than a 3 wheeler.
    I have never ridden a Margo either, though since it's custom built you could probably ask the CETMA guy to make it good and upright. The Bulllitt also has a 'sporty' architecture, but neither one might be big enough for 2 larger kids. Maybe consider the tandems, like our Onderwater, or even a home-rigged cheaper regular tandem, since as your Junior(s) get bigger they can help out with those hills?
    Does an electric assist make sense - then you choose anything you want...? Lots of electric moped Yubas out there.
    Or check out the bargain priced very configurable stuff at Organic Engines? Again, no personal experience with them but they look to have a less slack angle.
    I agree it's nerve wracking to spend a lot on something you don't know - it'd be best to really try the things you are considering before blowing a lot of money on them. Short of that, look at the blogs from hilly places like SF or even Seattle. (I myself wouldn't get the HPM Long Haul without trying it, though it's used a lot in SF and made in USA, because it handles unpredictably to me).
    I guess if I were going to have to recommend just one box bike to choose randomly without trying it, you couldn't go too wrong with the Bakfiets. It's a nice predictable and reliable bike in all weather and road conditions and I am used to it, and it's fun to ride most of the time. Tandems like the Onderwater have extra kid-motors and work well on hills in our experience. But I'm sure there's a perfect solution that I don't seem to be able to help you with much. I'll keep thinking about it.
    How about a Kawasaki 4-wheeler? Just kidding.

  23. That's funny, we actually do have a 4-wheeler, because we live "off-the-road-system" in AK and it's legal to drive on the roads. Kinda weird, kinda fun, better gas consumption than a car!
    Right now I bike to town (4 miles one-way) with a two-seater Chariot hooked up to my Cannondale. Town is at the ocean, home is in the mountains, so it is a steady ride up-hill on the way back. Kids are 3 years and 9 months, and the baby pretty much despises the Chariot and being strapped into a car seat in general. It's a slow ride home, and if it could be more interactive, we'd all be happier.
    I love the idea of the box-bike for that reason: it seems fun for the kids and easy to interact with them in front. I have a Bobike Mini I put on a foldable while traveling and it is one of my favorite ways to transport a small kid. (The Workcycles Fr8 looks awesome in that regard, but seems too heavy, too.) The Onderwater looks so cool. Maybe when the kids get a bit older? I see a bike addiction forming! :)
    I tried to find the Organic Engines website (tried linking off your post and just Googled, too) but I can't seem to find it. ??
    I'm also considering a Madsen, mostly for the fun-factor, even though it will probably be a lot like pulling the Chariot . . . but maybe worse?? It's on-sale right now / can be shipped here, so that's a big incentive.
    An electric-assist makes a whole lot of sense, but we just can't afford it right now. Whatever I get, I want at least the option of adding on electric in the future. A realistic budget is $2k / definitely not more than $3k, which rules out a lot of lovely options like the Bulitt.
    #1 would be some kind of affordable front box-bike that wouldn't be too horrible on steady ascents. I like the idea of stuffing a sleeping bag around them when it's cold, and adding on a rear seat like the Bobike Junior for the potential of hauling three.
    When do you NOT like the Bakfiets? It just seems so suited for flat. I will look more into the HPM Long Haul, too.
    If you have a great AHA! pass it on! Thanks so much for this blog and your insight.

  24. Again, if anyone else wants to chime in...? Madsen veterans?
    Our 4 year old likes tandems but can't help pedal much. Compared to a trailer even a Schwinn Twinn is easy to get up a hill. Or as you are thinking, you could get another 9 years out of a box bike at least.

    You could call City Bikes in Boston and see if they still have a Gazelle Cabby cheap. They used to ship all over the US and had one they didn't like enough to sell for awhile.
    You're right - I guess Organic Engines is off the web. According to Google, Tel:(850) 224-7499, Address: 1888 Mills St. Tallahassee, Florida 32310 USA. Hope it's something simple but maybe they went out of business. Hmmm.

    We have been really curious about the CETMAs ourselves. The front box is really nice for talking and settling kids on the ride.
    Hmmm. WE are still steing a little. If anyone has a anyhting to add please chime in!

  25. D, I'd really recommend saving your pennies and adding an electric assist to something like a Harry vs. Larry Bullitt. The boxes for them can be customized to different sizes to fit two kids side-by-side but the blogger at Hum of the City in SF (http://humofthecity.com/2012/11/09/a-week-of-riding/) was able to make the standard box work with her 6 and 3 year old. It can be done if you make skinny kids. They're pricey but are by far the fastest front loaders and are the best on challenging hills. The geometry of standard bakfiets are just too relaxed to enable the rider to hunch down into an aggressive riding position. The addition of an e-assist to an already sporty ride should give you what you need to overcome those steep climbs.

    For your climate I'd think an option with available or modifiable rain cover is also essential which rules out all of the long tails, but, if you are considering any as options, the new Xtracycle Edgerunner looks like a nice contender. It features a small wheel in back design like the Madsen to bring the cargo weight lower and improve handling over a regular Free Radical or Radish and they are light weight and designed to be easily compatible with e-assist. They've yet to be widely released so I haven't ridden one to tell you if they are fast or maneuverable off road.

    I would not recommend the Madsen for your topography. It's sluggish and the components are of poor quality. The one I owned had a number of noticeable issues after only one winter. Road salt also did a number on the aluminium frame. They only come standard with a partial chain guard and the extra long chain takes a beating in the elements. A few years ago I would have overlooked its flaws and recommended one as an entry level cargo bike, but that was when they were in the $1,000 range. Now that they're nearly the price of a Big Dummy I just don't see any advantage in going that route.

    Good luck on your hunt. I feel your pain about the price points for these bikes but if you choose wisely, they hold their value remarkably well and your 5 year "rental" cost will be negligible.

  26. Thanks, Ash. I was reluctant to say anything about the Madsen without having ridden it much. And I think I reluctantly second the view that saving up and getting something good is the way to go. The CETMA stays in contention pretty well though, too, and it's a lot cheaper. Get a donor mountain bike for parts and swap lots over to the CETMA frame?
    D, tell us what else you hear and what you wind up doing.

  27. Hi,

    could you publish your (sufficiently obscured) contact information or leave it with JC Lind?

    I'm interested in getting an Onderwater Family Tandem and would like to talk to someone (i.e. you) who already has one--git some tips and insights

    We have already have a cargo bike --albeit a poorly-made chinese knockoff. Build quality aside, having a bike to cart around two kids has been fantastic.

    blog is great. love it.

  28. JC lind has our info.
    We'd be glad to hear from you or anyone with a question about the blog or our bikes, but there's a lot of spam out there. For the benefit of anyone else reading, basically, the Onderwater comes in the US without a lot of options - they don't sell them with 1, 3, or 4 speeds here, just 8. Best with a front dynamo hub. Back roller brake. Probably on the front too though you could customize this if you live in a hilly place. They all have stainless fenders etc. JC Lind and Rolling Orange are the only shops that stock it that I know of but anyone able to order from any Dutch bike company might be able to get one sent over in a special order. Onderwater is not a Workcycles brand but they and others can distribute it here. And you saw the double pedal version, didn't you? It's on the tandems post and I think there's a pic (orange) above here too.
    I'd get it with a B&M Cyo front light if possible and a standlight rear lamp (the older Basta front lights don't have a standlight - if they do now that's fine). I'd definitely get the extra jumpseat position you bolt on behind the steerer with the little foot rest. Even if you are only ever going to have one kid to carry, kids come with little friends who need a lift too. Get some good panniers that will click on over the extra large back rack tubing. If you ever plan to convert it to cargo only, think about getting the cargo box when you order it in case they stop making them. And see if you can get a (maybe 1.5 meter) chain lock sent with it from Amsterdam, or budget for something good here.
    Glad you like the blog. We'll look forward to hearing from you soon.

  29. I'm a bit late perhaps, but I have some input on the gravel hills discussion. Funny enough, I'm an ex-Alaskan living in Oslo. My family has a pair of Niholas and a pair of children (2 and 5). We take them into the hills (gravel) on weekends and around town during the working days.

    I have to say that three wheels has an important advantage in this competition: you don't fall over when you go too slowly, or stop. Now I don't know how steep a hill we're talking about here, but more than once I have come to hills steep enough that I stalled, or the tire lost traction. Even heavily loaded this is not a problem for a trike, just coast back and try a new line. But well before that point, its nice to be able to chug along with your heavy cargo without worrying about balance. You can creep over tricky spots, or stop to smell the roses, or wipe a snotty nose, even right in the middle of a huge loaded climb. Its nice that the trike doesn't topple over when its standing around being loaded, or blow over in the wind. Finally at 32kg, I believe their weight is competitive with the other steel-framed alternatives, despite the extra wheel.

    Of course there are also drawbacks. They are expensive in the US, and hard to find, it seems. I doubt you'd be able to test ride one without an expensive trip somewhere. If your road is heavily potholed, its probably easier to thread a decent path with only two wheels. They are no fun on side-slopes. You can't really stand up and pedal (but I find I can get good power on hills by placing both hands at the center of the handlebar). The brakes are not really great and your options to improve them are basically nil. Trikes also feel different to ride than a two-wheeled machine, although the Nihola at least has a unified frame.

    A few posts previously Ash talks about how the geometry and electric assist available on Bullitt give you what you need to overcome the steep hills. Two things about this: First, to me, this sounds like a very aggressive, sporting way to view utility cycling. Second, I'd still bet on a trike when it comes to moving loads up gravel hills.

  30. Thank you for your post! I recently started hauling my kids around, and we realized we don't need the car- even in Winter. So we are selling it, and I'm checking out a longtail today... I have chatted with a few people I met with cargo bikes (a Gazelle and a box bike) and the biggest concern for them was finding somewhere to park while off enjoying the destination with the kids. I'm leaning Yuba Mundo simply because I've found no one in town who carries Surley or Xtracycle. Our D'Lite is outfitted with the two wheel stroller kit and has worked well for Navy Piering and grocery stores, and I love that I can wheel it in with me, so I've only ever parked a bike. Any thoughts on this specific to Chicago? Thank you!

    1. We just don't have any problem parking the big box bikes anywhere, except possibly at home, where they live in a garage space most of the time. If you have a space to park it at home you can get anything. See our posts about locks and sucker poles for more, but we recommend a 4 to 6 foot heavy duty chain and strong padlock since you can lock up the frame and a wheel to one of the big streetlight poles or to a bike rack equally easily. There's always a streetlight, and nobody's going to cut it down to get your bike, especially if the power is on.
      You can stroll with a box bike as easily as with a stroller if you're outside, but you can't bring it inside a store.

  31. Hey there, great site. Thankyou!
    I thought you or your readers might be interested in a yuba mundo raincover I whipped up. I couldn't find any on the net so I made up my own. We love it! Would be honored if you'd share it on your site so others could copy and improve the design.
    It's on my blog which is a lot about carrying kids on bikes:


  32. I have to say, we love our xtracycle longtail. We can carry three kids, and we can carry two kid bikes, to hitch and unhitch them depending on kid energy. This is a feature that you don't discuss much, but that we really enjoy. The kids love to bike, and we want to encourage that, but we want to be able to go on longer trips than we can count on their legs. It's been a great compromise for us. We have also used a Madsen for three kids, quite happily, but the longtail just feels so much faster and nimbler than the Madsen!

    Here's my husband, with a 4 and 6 year old, their bikes, and supplies for the day, headed up to Logan Square for Tour de Fat. https://www.flickr.com/gp/fletzet/Kd250Y I'm following behind with a baby in a Madsen.

    1. You are right, we didn't discuss the long tails much. The ability to pull kid bikes is certainly a plus. And these bikes have gotten better than they were a few years ago. At the time we were looking there weren't any that appealed to us at all. I still think they need a lot of customizing to work well and they aren't much less unwieldy than a larger cargo bike, but they do work for many people and they are more easily available than other bikes. We'll try to give them a little more attention when we get a chance.

  33. I don't think it's fair to dismiss bikes like the xtracycle edgerunner. They're specifically designed for families, the accessories aren't priced ridiculously, and the smaller rear wheel makes them quite a bit more stable. Quite a few biking with blogs like theirs a lot.

    JC Lind doesn't sell the winther walaroo anymore. The walaroo *is* based on the bullitt, it's the same frame without a top tube.

  34. I need some advising and don’t know where to best ask my question. I am a single mom to a 5yr old, 16 month old and a 3 month old. Ive recently become disgusted with driving everywhere. Everything we do is in a 5 mile radius. Most things are under 2 miles. I’ve begun walking everywhere with a jogging stroller but am absolutely craving a cargo bike as our transportation instead. I’m not a biker at all. I wouldn’t know the first thing about bikes. I’ve spent weeks pouring over every article I can find and speaking to bike shops and wholesellers and retailers all over the United states. I should say I do NOT have much disposable income as a single mom of three. It’s for financial reasons that I’m stuck with babboe being my ‘ high end expensive choice’. From what I've read, it’s not even quality yet it would take all of my savings to get it. Dare I ask about the WIKE Super Cargo Trike? It’s $1000 less than the babboe. So, if my choices are wike or babboe, would you say it’s better to not have one at all and just walk? Lol… Surely one of those is better than nothing. It’s just sad that’s it’s such a huge purpose and taking all my savings to make a non quality purchase. I live in Florida. It’s flat!!! And I’m never going more than 5 miles away. What are your thoughts?
    Also: I’m not an experienced biker. I’m not awful, but I only biked as a child and for fun, never for transportation until this recent desire. Where I’ll be biking has lots of crosswalks and signals. Lots of starting and stopping and even getting off bike for the weirdly placed cross walk signals. For these reasons, I think a trike would be best suited for me. Is this assumption wrong?
    I would REALLY appreciate some advice . I’m looking to place my order Monday!
    Oh… And I also expect to only use this for 4 years and then move into something different. For now, I’m really looking for it to be family time where we talk and interact on our rides so I’d really like them I front of me in a box style bike.

    1. Hi! Thanks for writing! Hope we're in time writing back.

      Wow, this is certainly not the first time we have wondered about this basic question of bang for the buck, and it looks like you have found a pretty good option for short rides with the Wike. I'd never heard of it before but it looks well equipped with 7 speeds and hydraulic brakes and a place for the kids to sit in front, and even if it's not the nicest trike in the world (which it might well be- never ridden one) you still seem to have all your important bases covered. And $1000 saved is a lot. I remember saving and planning for months before we took the plunge on ours. And can a Wike really be clunkier than the Babboe? The people we know with a Babboe never use it now. So maybe you already found your answer. But...

      Look at our trike post for background at http://chicargobike.blogspot.com/2011/08/trying-out-cargo-trikes.html - it's a couple of years old but the basic message is the same. You could also call the Bike Pirates in Toronto - maybe they know someone with one of these Ontario-made Wike things.

      Some trikes are no problem and some are no fun. It would be great to be able to ride this thing and decide if you like it. Can you send it back after a week or two if you don't like it? All trikes sway and swoop over irregular terrain strangely and none are as quick and like flying as a bike or even as a big cargo bike. But could you happily get out and ride with your kids? Absolutely! With the 3 month old there's that question of subjecting him/her to the bumps and tremors of the road, (pediatrics association says minimum 1 year and head control) so you should at least figure out how to attach a (possibly shock absorbed) car baby seat in the bike, but once you do that all the kids would be right in front and you can see what they're up to in the box. They can sleep. They can cover themselves with mushed grapes. They can read books. Whatever, and you don't have to worry. Don't forget to consider a sun protective shade if you can and the sun is high - we used a kid's bed canopy from Ikea on really sunny days for awhile.

      It was the same disgust with cars cars cars everywhere that led us to do the same thing you're thinking of. Now that the oldest kid is getting into high school age with activities 10 miles from everyone else, it's nearly impossible to get everyone where they need to go, but for a bunch of years we could have junked the car without missing it much. And you don't even have to worry about ice on the road. So whatever other people are telling you this sounds like a great idea.

      But you do have to worry a little about high speed traffic and drivers not expecting to see a bike. So choose your routes carefully and just avoid the streets that seem stressful. Take a longer detour through a park or a development or a small street and stay off streets with fast cars. Get really good preferably dynamo driven lights (run off the back wheel on a trike) - see our lighting post for recommendations - and wear a crazy orange or yellow reflective vest like a highway worker. Take the sidewalk! They have good bike lanes here and there, too, that hopefully are completely off the road, though most lanes i've seen in FL make me scared.

      Another option would be to do it like a Dutch family - google some videos of Dutch bike traffic to see what I mean - and cram everyone on a regular bike. It can be done, with a little seat and windshield on the handlebars and someone or 2 on the back rack - but the kids fall asleep and who knows if they're holding on, you can't see what the kid in the back is really up to, it's not as safe for the baby as a car seat in the trike, feet get in spokes, and it probably costs as much by the time you have the bike set up and seats installed as the Wike was going to cost you anyway.

      ...to be continued

    2. continued...

      So I guess look around (Madsen, kids in back, not a great ride; longtail like an Xtracycle orYuba, kids can't fall asleep easily, etc) and see what you think. Is there a cheaper one yet? What happened to that guy at Organic Engines in FLA? Is he still making bikes after that business closed? They were cheap. And what about used ones?
      Then when you are kinda sure just blow the money and start pedaling. It's so much better than not riding you won't regret it (once you've thought about it) and you'll all feel better chatting and riding together, moving at a human pace. Let us know what you find so we can pass it on here.

      Good luck!

    3. And I was just looking at the Wike site - they have a $1200 small cargo bike that will probably be too small for your family unless there's someone who would ride on a rear carrier bike seat, might glide better over irregular ground, but overall maybe smallish. These things aren't made in Canada anymore they admit - probably cheaply made but maybe not. Call Jon Lind in Chicago and Rolling Orange in New York and Clever Cycles and maybe Joe Bike in Portland for what they can offer you. And do write back please.

  35. Bike Friday has a new Cargo Bike that is light, agile and easy for smaller, lighter riders to carry loads. We have a Kickstarter Campaign going on right now to support increasing our production capacity since they are so popular. Check it out https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greengear/haul-a-day-the-strong-and-light-cargo-bike-built-f/description

  36. The big day came when my dad finally took those training wheels off. I wasn't even quite five years old when they came off. I couldn't have been prouder. I now had my first taste of independence.

    Unlike now, there were no bicycle helmet requirements. If there were, my parents would have made sure I wore a helmet. I often see parents riding bikes without helmets while their kids have one. I often wonder what kind of a mixed message that kid is getting. Parents need a helmet as much as their child.

  37. I am building a street food cargo bike with some friends.
    We carry a lot of weight (more than 200kg on the front) plus the driver.
    The wheels that we have (26"x2") are not strong enough.
    Does anybody know where i can buy stronger 26" wheels?

    1. Look at our post about bikes for heavy loads- 'you're not too heavy to ride a bike'. If you need something stronger than that try motorcycle wheels. But 200kg should be possible with strong bike wheels.

  38. cargo bikes seem pretty amazing but they are not a big thing in the UK yet. i looked for them on bike discounts and couldnt find anything so do i have to build it myself?


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