Author Topic: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?  (Read 9664 times)

furrychickens

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Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« on: August 19, 2014, 09:45:12 PM »
Instead of building a bigger trailer, I think this is going to be my next bike project. Hell, I've already got possible donor bikes in the garage.

Curious if anyone's built one and would be willing to share advice/tips/etc

This is the best guide I've found:

http://tomscargobikes.com/tomscargobikes.com/BUILD_YOUR_OWN/Pages/BUILD_IT.html#0

It's a lot of welding, but I do have access to a MIG welder and have been needing an excuse to learn.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2014, 10:07:05 PM »
Call me up (just google my username). I do this kind of stuff for a living.

Off the top of my head:
-Wear a (fitted) respirator if you are going to weld/braze with dirty/old/painted/chromed metal. Fumes from burning off some of these can kill/permanently brain damage you.
-In some cases it is actually easier to start from scratch. Donor frames can end up being a huge time suck!
-MIG is going to be rough especially if it's not gas-shielded (you will want to run straight argon). If you have an O/A torch available I'd brass braze it instead.
-Make sure you have room to park your 'fiets! They take up a ton of space!
-Remember that CETMA sells really nice ones for not that much money if you bog down.

-W

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2014, 05:35:17 AM »
Call me up (just google my username). I do this kind of stuff for a living.

I'm terrible at phone conversations but maybe I will. Thanks at the very least for the offer :)

Quote
-Wear a (fitted) respirator if you are going to weld/braze with dirty/old/painted/chromed metal. Fumes from burning off some of these can kill/permanently brain damage you.

I should really get one of these anyways for future projects. Thanks for the reminder! Though if I do go the donor route I'd definitely strip off all the paint first. at each weld point.

Quote
-MIG is going to be rough especially if it's not gas-shielded (you will want to run straight argon). If you have an O/A torch available I'd brass braze it instead.

I know it's gas-shielded, but I'd have to inquire further about specs. BIL does a lot of welding, or at least used to. He had a couple inventions and also did some junkyard art for fun.

Out of curiosity, since I'd also looked at flux-core wire welders in the past, that any better (or worse) than OA?

Quote
-Make sure you have room to park your 'fiets! They take up a ton of space!

Hah, room I've got!

Quote
-Remember that CETMA sells really nice ones for not that much money if you bog down.

$3K and up is pretty much market rate, and unfortunately is a ton of money to me right now. If I could convince my wife to let me sell my barely used anymore minivan, I'd probably go ahead and purchase a factory built 'fiets frame with that $ (it's worth $2Kish in it's current condition).

Might as well also pick your brain. Since you specifically recommended OA, have a recommended torch for frame building? Thanks!

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2014, 08:56:26 AM »
Even OA kits are pricey! Yow. But I've read enough to understand why MIG isn't a good choice (too hot for the thickness). Some threads even suggested OA was too hot (though I'd suppose that has everything to do with the torch and tip you use), and recommended a MAPP torch like what plumbers use.

Looking specifically at something like this (OxyMapp)

http://www.lowes.com/pd_98894-13877-OX2550KC_0__?productId=50126401&cm_mmc=search_google-_-Rough%20Plumbing%20&Electrical_rtc-_-Bernzomatic_ox2550kc-_-ox2550kc=
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 09:09:30 AM by Thegoblinchief »

waltworks

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2014, 10:22:04 AM »
I would haunt Craigslist for a used torch/regulator/tanks. O/A is what you want if you have a safe place to wield fire - it can weld, it can braze, it can cut, etc. A MIG setup is great for putting a bumper on your old truck or fixing a railing, not so good for making bikes. Flux MIG is the worst of the worst, really only good for super sloppy non-critical work on thick materials. If you really get into building bikes you'll want to get some TIG stuff but that's prohibitively expensive for a first-time build.

I suppose my point is that if you're going to buy just one piece of welding equipment, or you're on a budget, an O/A setup is the way to go because you can basically do anything with it once you develop the skills. Read all the MSDS on the Acetylene, though - it is nasty dangerous stuff. Perfectly safe if handled with respect, though.

Just quick followups:
-Lots of old bike frames will have various nasty toxic compounds *inside* the frame to inhibit rust. They will also inhibit brain cells when smoked. Likewise many kinds of paint will liquify/run down into the weld zone. Do not trust that cleaning up some of the metal in the immediate area is enough to keep you safe! A good half-face respirator (you'll need to shave, c'est la vie) is ~$30.
-The little MAPP torches will not working for building bikes, unless you want to spend a small fortune on MAPP gas cylinders. Not enough heat to get big stuff like bike tubing up to temp. Those torches are intended for very small DIY plumbing/pipe sweating or burning wasp's nests and such. Don't waste your time/money.
-The MTBR framebuilding forum (http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=142) has a ton of great info and fun folks (everyone from pros to first-time builders) and will give you tons of ideas.
-You might not save as much money (or any) as you think. This type of project often mushrooms in time/effort/materials costs quickly. Be aware of that going in and be ready to "enjoy" learning the hard way. :)

Seriously, hit me up if you need specific advice. And go read the FAQ at the MTBR site.

-W

lackofstache

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2014, 10:35:01 AM »
Your best bet may to be buy one from Tom, the builder you linked to. His are far cheaper than CETMA & the like & if you shipped him your donors it may be even cheaper (though shipping costs quite a bit). I thought about building one, but bought a Yuba Mundo frame on sale & used mostly  existing parts to build it up for less than $600. I've carried three kids on the back, though I only have two at home. If you have bikes laying around, new cables & chain are about the only NEEDED things... Good luck with whatever you decide.

EDIT: I see he's not taking orders currently, nevermind...
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 10:36:57 AM by lackofstache »

dilinger

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2014, 10:38:39 AM »
Cetma used to have internships: https://twitter.com/CETMAcargo/status/412702089916461056
I'm not sure if Lane still does that or not.  As the owner of a Cetma, I'd happily put down the cash again for mine.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2014, 10:44:51 AM »
If he was charging less than CETMA I can tell you why he is no longer taking orders... turnover in the bike building world is crazy high because people don't know how to run a business (I've talked to "professionals" who don't understand the gross/net distinction!) and are losing money on every sale. Inevitably a boy/girlfriend, kids, real responsibility/life make it unsustainable.

The Yuba Mundo is a great bike. Honestly I would recommend a more conventional (rear-loading) cargo bike and/or a trailer for most people looking to haul groceries and kids. Bakfiets are neat but they are best for BIG (ie a box with a bike in it, 200# of dog food, etc) loads and they are overkill/a waste of space the rest of the time.

-W

Your best bet may to be buy one from Tom, the builder you linked to. His are far cheaper than CETMA & the like & if you shipped him your donors it may be even cheaper (though shipping costs quite a bit). I thought about building one, but bought a Yuba Mundo frame on sale & used mostly  existing parts to build it up for less than $600. I've carried three kids on the back, though I only have two at home. If you have bikes laying around, new cables & chain are about the only NEEDED things... Good luck with whatever you decide.

EDIT: I see he's not taking orders currently, nevermind...

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2014, 11:40:46 AM »
I guess I'll ask about long tails then, to hijack my own thread: what's the relative cargo capacity compared to a standard rear rack. I can carry my Ortliebs (40L fully loaded) comfortably on my current bike. Do long tails roughly double that?

Long tails are pretty rare used in my area, and I've never seen one for less than $750.

A Yuba frame only at $500 is not much more than the initial set up for OA plus the metal.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2014, 11:50:17 AM »
Long story short: if you don't want to spend a lot and want to carry heavy/large loads, get or build a trailer.

Longtails will considerably increase your load carrying ability over standard pannier racks (that's the whole point...) and also ride well unloaded (a bakfiets... not so much).

And I'll warn you again: building your own is not going to be as cheap as you think it is. If your goal is sustainable urban load carrying on a bike, get an old trailer from CL. If you just think building a bike would be fun *in itself* that's a good reason to do it, but it won't save you money once you account for a zillion hours of your time and lots of materials/tools that end up not being quite right, meaning more tools and materials, etc.

-W



I guess I'll ask about long tails then, to hijack my own thread: what's the relative cargo capacity compared to a standard rear rack. I can carry my Ortliebs (40L fully loaded) comfortably on my current bike. Do long tails roughly double that?

Long tails are pretty rare used in my area, and I've never seen one for less than $750.

A Yuba frame only at $500 is not much more than the initial set up for OA plus the metal.

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2014, 12:12:21 PM »
Long story short: if you don't want to spend a lot and want to carry heavy/large loads, get or build a trailer.

Have a trailer I've already modified some (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/and-i-shall-call-it-frankentrailer!/). It's actually been improved a bit since I posted that thread. I've probably got 1000 or so miles on it already.

Main thing I was looking for was a way to carry heavy but potentially breakable cargo (and kids - kids are pretty breakable!) without having it bounce around like crazy on the awful pavement surfaces around here. Stuff on the bike frame jostles around some, but nothing like a trailer no matter how I experiment with tire psi.

I suppose I could go back to my "build a bigger trailer" idea and figure out a way to incorporate a suspension into it. I noticed the newer (high-end) bike trailers do have them now...

Sorry I'm all over the map but I really do appreciate all the feedback!

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2014, 07:59:07 PM »
BIL let me know there's a Maker Space in Milwaukee, and it's even within biking distance of my house (~11 miles).

I corresponded a bit via e-mail and plan to attend one of their open-to-the-public nights soon.

Costs $40 a month in dues for 24/7 access to the building. They have both a TIG welder and an O/A setup and said after going through an initial instruction period, you can use the equipment any time.

I don't think I would keep going for more than a couple months, or maybe do it as a month paid here or there, but I think it sounds potentially very interesting.

dilinger

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2014, 12:41:53 AM »
The appeal of a bakfiet (for me) for carrying kids is the low center of gravity.  Some longtails such as the Xtracycle Edgerunner manage to get kids lower thanks to a smaller wheel.  Otherwise, longtails suffer from a similar problem that you have with mounted kid seats; they make the bike top-heavy.  This is something to consider as a current trailer user.  Trailers have their downsides, but a high center of gravity is not one of them.

train_writer

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2014, 04:33:36 AM »
Waltworks has given you excellent tips, including those about health and safety.

As someone who welds and makes bicycles for people with special needs (as voluntary work, as these are people often without means of a big income), I can only agree about the hassle with some old frames, check their quality and material carefully before you start!

I have never build a bakfiets as I think they are a big hassle to park and on hills, but I do see the attractiveness and if you know how you want to use your bakfiets, it is a great additional bicycle! Good luck! I use a cargo, also for my neighbour kids (with decent seats)

EDIT: I only realized now that you are probably not in the Netherlands :)

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2014, 05:19:45 AM »
EDIT: I only realized now that you are probably not in the Netherlands :)

Hah, if I lived over there, I imagine it would be possible to find a good one used. That's not going to happen here anytime soon :)

scottydog

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2014, 07:29:26 AM »
Main thing I was looking for was a way to carry heavy but potentially breakable cargo (and kids - kids are pretty breakable!) without having it bounce around like crazy on the awful pavement surfaces around here. Stuff on the bike frame jostles around some, but nothing like a trailer no matter how I experiment with tire psi.

Is there a way you can try a bakfiets first?  One of the things I dislike about my bakfiets.nl is that light groceries in the box bounce all over the place.  We upgraded to the bakfiets from a chariot cougar 2 bike trailer, which has suspension, and the kids initially found the bakfiets too bumpy; they've since forgotten about that and they much prefer being able to sit up front anyway.  My experience is that fragile foods (especially bananas, raspberries, and strawberries) get bounced around too much and I'll only buy them when I remember to bring my backpack.  I've tried carrying the fragile stuff in the rear pannier and that's a little better but I still get a lot of berry juice.  The backpack isn't perfect, but it's better.  I've been meaning to search for a thread about how to carry fragile groceries on the bike...

That said, I don't have much experience transporting those same fragile foods in a lightly loaded trailer and I can see how a light trailer would bounce around like crazy.  I only really got into buying groceries by bicycle this year, after we already owned the bakfiets, and for most small trips I prefer to use the panniers and a backpack with my faster bike.

The low center of gravity is very nice and I love that the kids can climb in and out unattended.  Handling was wonky for the first few days, and got steadily better; after riding the bakfiets for just over a year it actually feels quite responsive.  I'm pretty sure we'll sell it once our older 2 kids are too big for the box though, and at that point I'll start looking for a longtail.

kendallf

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2014, 07:41:51 AM »
I was just in Portland and stopped in at a bike shop that sells longtails and bakfiets (Splendid Cycles).  Interesting to note that many (most?) of the bakfiets they sell are equipped with an electric assist.  Portland has some small hills, so I can see the need.

I have welding and brazing equipment (MIG, TIG, OA) and I want to build a few frames at some point myself.  I am an experienced TIG welder and threw away my first try at a TIG welded frame when I wasn't happy with the weld quality.  Those tubes are THIN.  :-)

I've been brazing a bit lately, adding things like rack mounts and the like to old frames, and that's been fun and not too demanding.  I can see where brazing a lugged frame would be easier for a beginner, for sure.

One more option: I stopped in at the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) in Portland last week also; they offer frame building classes and were just beginning a titanium frame class.  For ~$3k you can take a two week class from experienced frame builders, use their equipment, and end up with a custom frame.  This is not a cheap option just to get a frame, of course.  It's an educational expense with a carrot attached.  :-)

EDIT: I just went rummaging through the Waltworks site, and Walt offers a one on one class now also.  Walt, I'm tempted..give me a few months to get done with the house I'm working on now and I may be calling you.  :-)

« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 07:52:24 AM by kendallf »

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2014, 08:23:46 AM »
Main thing I was looking for was a way to carry heavy but potentially breakable cargo (and kids - kids are pretty breakable!) without having it bounce around like crazy on the awful pavement surfaces around here. Stuff on the bike frame jostles around some, but nothing like a trailer no matter how I experiment with tire psi.

Is there a way you can try a bakfiets first?  One of the things I dislike about my bakfiets.nl is that light groceries in the box bounce all over the place.  We upgraded to the bakfiets from a chariot cougar 2 bike trailer, which has suspension, and the kids initially found the bakfiets too bumpy; they've since forgotten about that and they much prefer being able to sit up front anyway.  My experience is that fragile foods (especially bananas, raspberries, and strawberries) get bounced around too much and I'll only buy them when I remember to bring my backpack.  I've tried carrying the fragile stuff in the rear pannier and that's a little better but I still get a lot of berry juice.  The backpack isn't perfect, but it's better.  I've been meaning to search for a thread about how to carry fragile groceries on the bike...

Huh, this thread is leaning me further and further away from doing this! As far as fragile groceries go, I've had decent luck with fragile items in my panniers. Eggs usually do fine, but I wrap them in plastic just in case. Strawberries seem to do okay, but I rarely buy them from the store and only pick them in season (by car). Rarely buy the other berries, except maybe blueberries.

Bananas are the worst. They bruise the instant they see the bike :P I've just learned to inventory them once at home and eat the most bruised ones first before they brown too badly.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 11:28:33 AM »
Hah, you'll never get that 20 minutes of your life back! Muahaha!

Seriously, my website is awful.

If you want to, drop me a line and I can give you some ideas on setup and machine settings to help with the thin wall TIG. Or just fillet braze (lugs are harder than you think!) - that's probably the best way to join bike tubes if you aren't super sure of yourself and don't want to throw away too much material.

-W

Hannah

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2014, 11:45:36 AM »
Most maker spaces actually have a free night either once a month or once a quarter. If you go during that time, bring your plans and see if you can get advice from the regulars. If you get good advice, you know that the money will be worth it, at least for the duration of your project.

Have you seen the bikes that look like this, I rode one a few weeks ago, and it was really easy to ride with my husband and his buddy on the back.

http://designyoutrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/cargo-bike05.jpg

This is a design of a similar bike

http://www.rideyourbike.com/cargobike.shtml

Good luck!

dilinger

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2014, 11:20:10 PM »
If your bakfiet is too bouncy, let some air out of the tires. I did that when I started transporting my (4 month old) son around.  Now that he's older, he specifically requests the bumps.. So I keep them well-inflated. :)

As far as parking being a problem with bakfiets, I disagree.  There's a reason why https://twitter.com/copenhagenize tweets #parkwhereyouwant pics all the time. When you have a heavy bike w/ kickstand, you can lock the wheels and park ANYWHERE.  It's great!

MayDay

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2014, 06:47:11 AM »
My main cargo transport is vegetables as I bike to my community garden and to my job at the farmers market. I do a front basket for small loads and have a junky trailer that I picked up for 25$ that I use for larger loads.

I have been thinking about keeping an eye out for a peice of foam for the bottom of the trailer to pad it a bit. For the front basket I just jam a sweatshirt or something in the bottom and that is good enough. I carry eggs home regularly from the farmers market and have yet to break any.

Once my 4 year old is off the trail-a-bike (hoping for next spring!) I will put my rear rack back on with the ever classy milk crate zip tied on, and probably put a foam pad in the bottom of that, too.

scottydog

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2014, 07:11:28 AM »
If your bakfiet is too bouncy, let some air out of the tires. I did that when I started transporting my (4 month old) son around.  Now that he's older, he specifically requests the bumps.. So I keep them well-inflated. :)

As far as parking being a problem with bakfiets, I disagree.  There's a reason why https://twitter.com/copenhagenize tweets #parkwhereyouwant pics all the time. When you have a heavy bike w/ kickstand, you can lock the wheels and park ANYWHERE.  It's great!

Good idea to play with the tire pressure - I'll have to give that a try.  I usually want them fully inflated for maximum efficiency.

I have to agree that parking is way easier with the bakfiets than a regular bike.  For short stops, I do exactly the same thing: park the bike wherever I want and just lock the wheels.  It always reminds me of an old joke from when I was a kid: Where does an 800 lb gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants to.

furrychickens

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2014, 07:14:52 AM »
My main cargo transport is vegetables as I bike to my community garden and to my job at the farmers market. I do a front basket for small loads and have a junky trailer that I picked up for 25$ that I use for larger loads.

I have been thinking about keeping an eye out for a peice of foam for the bottom of the trailer to pad it a bit. For the front basket I just jam a sweatshirt or something in the bottom and that is good enough. I carry eggs home regularly from the farmers market and have yet to break any.

Once my 4 year old is off the trail-a-bike (hoping for next spring!) I will put my rear rack back on with the ever classy milk crate zip tied on, and probably put a foam pad in the bottom of that, too.

What about an old pillow? When my goblins were first getting used to riding in the (quite bumpy) trailer, I put a pillow in until their butts got used to the bouncing around.

Russ

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Re: Anyone built a DIY bakfiets?
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2014, 09:29:31 AM »
Everybody with padding / egg breakage issues, you all need an elastic cargo net. Stuff doesn't break or bruise from bumps alone, it's the crashing back down onto pointy things that gets it. Tie it down and all is well.