Author Topic: Cargo bikes  (Read 1151 times)

kuzmama

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Cargo bikes
« on: May 18, 2019, 09:53:08 AM »
Has anybody tried cargo bikes with their kids? Worth the cost?

 My 2 concerns are the upfront cost - havent seen any new in my area, and the hills in my area are average. - northern Alberta Canada

FLBiker

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Re: Cargo bikes
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2019, 12:20:25 PM »
We looked into them, but opted to just get a used trailer instead (due to the cost).  I already have a MTB that I use as a commuter fitted with racks / baskets, etc.  I do like the looks of some of those cargo bikes, though.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bikes
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2019, 10:11:57 AM »
I've been biking my two kids around since before they were in preschool. The oldest is now going into 3rd grade.

Started with a trailer. Trailers work ok, but they are a pain in the ass. Awkward and wide which makes it difficult to navigate and park. Towing is not very enjoyable because flex in the system can make it feel like the entire ride pulses. Getting the kids in/out with the harnesses and straps is cumbersome. On the plus side, the kids are protected from the elements.

Decided to upgrade to a cargo bike once the kids started outgrowing the trailer due to weight limitations. Ended up getting a long-tail style cargo bike where the kids sit single file behind me. Many of the bike routes/lanes where I live are narrow, and I wanted to the kids to sit up higher with their heads above car bumper height (this was also something that bothered me about the trailer).

Ended up getting an electric assist Yuba Mundo. We love it. Our city is very bikeable and we take it everywhere, rarely drive, have logged about ~3200 miles on it so far. From an accounting perspective we should put enough miles on it this year for it to have paid for itself.

Cargo bikes are worth the expense if you actually use them. This means getting into the habit early, figuring out your routine and what works for you. And it means it being enjoyable, not a sufferfest. If you have any hills at all then you definitely want electric assist. Peddling a cargo bike laden with kids and stuff up hills unassisted is not a recipe for success IMO. Even if you don't have many hills just getting a fully loaded cargo bike going from a stop can be a struggle, so electric assist is worth the added expense even in the flats.

dashuk

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Re: Cargo bikes
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2019, 12:09:44 PM »
Looked very hard at them, but thus far we've always opted for a mixture of other solutions, including

 - rear mount child seat (good up to 4-5)
 - mid-mount child seat (good up to 2-3)
 - tagalong/trailerbike (from 3+)
 - trailer (we put #2 in from 3 months in his car seat, both can go in once #2 was 1yo)
 - riding own bike (from 3+)
 - tandem with two kids seats

Main thing has always been cost. I'm in the UK. There's not enough cargo bikes around (outside London) for there to be  any sort of second hand market. Everything listed above, plus the adult bikes they're fitted to, adds up to the lower end of new cargo bikes here, but we've been able to buy it in increments as the kids have grown.

Just to expand on the tandem... it's a cheap internet brand 'mountain bike' type bike. It was 400GBP delivered to our door. We added a mount for the rear seat we already had, and this seat and footpegs between the captain and stoker. Oh and a trailer hitch for comedy value.

It's even longer than a longtail, but will carry our entire family of four or any subset thereof. As the kids get bigger we won't be able to ride four-up, but will get to the point where the bigger one can ride stoker.

None of this is to say that cargo bikes aren't awesome. And as long as you actually use it it will still earn its keep - especially if it reduces the number of cars in the household.




Kmp2

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Re: Cargo bikes
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2019, 02:54:41 PM »
We love our cargo bike (s)... sigh :)

We tried a trailer, I found them difficult to maneuver, through catwalks, and cut-thrus. They are also harder to pull up hills, and my bike wasn't geared low enough for the extra weight, we also struggled to carry gear with us fitting it in the trailer.  Next  I tried a rear bike seat on my hybrid, but when I added gear to the back rack as well, it was hard to maneuver, tippy front to back I would struggle at lower speeds and maneuvering particularly when walking the bike with only my 14 month old... the bike seat was not going to work when she was 4. At that point we purchased a long tail cargo bike. (Bonus the bike seat transferred to it) The lower back wheel, the gearing everything makes it a joy to ride even with lots of cargo. It is now my husbands main bike and we both use it interchangeably.  We easily take 2 of our 3 kids on it in any combination (1, 3, 6), and can fit all three in a pinch. It carries a stroller, diaper bag, and picnic (including the kids) and tows my 6 year old's bike when she gets tired, or the roads are too busy for her skill set.  I love this bike, we have about 300km on it since March alone.

As for the bike seat, I now often put it on my upright cruiser, it is much more stable then it was on my hybrid. I carry the baby, DH carries the 3 & 6 year olds and all the gear... we are about the same speed in this setup, I think he actually likes the extra exercise?

Yes I wish we had a battery assist, it is exhausting climbing out of the river valley with 100lbs of kids and cargo... but I can do it in the granny gear. If I'm tired - I can always kick the 6 year old off to walk, and since she knows this is the case she is often my biggest cheerleader chanting 'go mommy'... it's a huge improvement over 'why are we going so slow' from a few years ago!

As for our second cargo bike, we picked up a used bakfiet last year, it took all three kids, the baby in a carseat and the older ones on a bench in the box, with lots of room for cargo and a rear rack for bags to boot. They are long, and there is a learning curve to ride one - you need curb cuts for instance getting it up a square curve is difficult with any cargo. I am struggling to have the one year old in this bike this year as there are no straps to keep him sitting, so it's not very useful for this summer, but I foresee us using it next summer and for 3-5 years after that before selling it - I expect it will not depreciate very much, but may take a while to sell. I can see us keeping the longtail cargo bike forever.

So yes cargo bikes are awesome and worth the expense if you use them - we have definitely paid off most of our bike purchases just with miles traveled - if you can replace a car they very quickly pay for themselves. FWIW my kids love bike shopping, that is getting groceries by bike as opposed to buying bikes!

Marmotinha

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Re: Cargo bikes
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2019, 07:49:47 PM »
I use an electric long tail cargo bike to take my two kids (5&6) to school and errands. It works great for us. It is a radwagon from rad power bikes, not too different from the yuba mundo, but slightly smaller and significantly cheaper.