Author Topic: Cargo bike recommendations?  (Read 5600 times)

FINate

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Cargo bike recommendations?
« on: February 07, 2016, 08:41:48 PM »
We have a Burley D'Lite trailer that my 2 kids will outgrow in about a year (weight limitations). Very much enjoy towing them around town with my road bike, and they also love it!

I'm thinking that a cargo bike might be a good next vehicle for us. After years of dealing with straps and buckles getting kids in/out of car seats and the Burley trailer, I would prefer the setup where the kids sit on the back deck with bars to hold on to (they will be 4 and 6). Would like to start watching for a used one if possible, though they don't come up for sale very often.

I ride my road and mountain bikes throughout the mountains in our area, and our town is relatively flat except a few short hills. So I'm not interested in electric, just want something geared appropriately for grinding out small hills with heavy loads.

I'm 6'6" tall so I need something that fits reasonably well. Doesn't need to be perfect, but want almost full leg extension and don't want knees hitting the handlebars.

The Surly Big Dummy looks like it could work, though after a bunch of research I found out that it's not designed for "live cargo" so there are relatively few accessories for passengers. It looks like people have adapted accessories from other companies, but seems a little iffy.

The Yuba Mundo also looks promising, and it has the passenger setup I'm looking for (they call it "monkey bars"). An added benefit is that the Mundo is "one size fits most" so it should also fit my wife.

The Xtracycle bikes are probably too small, unless a tall leggy person out there tells me otherwise.

Are there other brands or setups I should be looking at? Does anyone have the Big Dummy or the Mundo, and what has been your experience with these bikes?

Obviously I will test ride bikes before purchasing, but would like to narrow down to a couple of candidates first.

Thanks!


Kashmani

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 09:56:31 AM »
We have a Gazelle Cabby, which has a fold-up box consisting of a hinged aluminum frame with a heavy truck tarp surround. It has been an excellent choice for us because we have to store it in a bike rack in an underground parking garage at our condo and a wooden box would have been too wide. Total cost was about $3,000 CDN. We had to order from a Gazelle dealer in another province and have it shipped since there are no dealers close to us. We used the bike to take kids to daycare when DW was working for a while, to take them to the playground, and even to visit family when the weather is above freezing (9km each way). Next year, it will move to our beach cabin to haul toys to the beach and drinking water from the communal well.

Had space not been an issue, I probably would have gotten a Nihola for the greater stability of a three-wheeler, which would allow use during our six months of snow and ice. In fairness, the Nihola distributor in Canada stopped importing them, so this was not an option at the time.

Kashmani

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 09:57:41 AM »
Incidentally, I am 6'9" and cannot ride the Gazelle. However, they make a seat post extension that can be ordered separately. We never bothered since 99% of the time DW would use the bike anyway.

In hilly terrain, a three-wheeler is likely best.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 09:58:22 AM »
Very interesting, Xtracycle and Tern have a kickstarter project to produce a folding cargo bike (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tern-xtracycle/cargo-node-worlds-most-useful-bike-now-fits-in-you) that is sized up to 6'5". I'm intrigued, will have to watch this as they roll out full production.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 10:22:20 AM »
Incidentally, I am 6'9" and cannot ride the Gazelle. However, they make a seat post extension that can be ordered separately. We never bothered since 99% of the time DW would use the bike anyway.

In hilly terrain, a three-wheeler is likely best.

Thanks, I'll look into the Gazelle.

Leaning toward a two-wheeler though. The width of the bike trailer is one of the things I don't like about it -- narrow bike lanes, uneven ground.

Gemma

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2016, 08:12:40 AM »
We have a Yuba Mundo, which we bought for all the reasons you are considering it. We don't have the monkey bars yet, we have the ring handle for my 5 year old and the 2 year old is in a Yepp seat. We'll get the monkey bars eventually. My husband is 6'5" and I'm 5'5" and we can both ride it. The handlebars do adjust, but it's not a quick adjustment and we don't change it often. At his height, the handlebars don't go quite as high as he would like to be comfortable, but he has carpal tunnel issues and riding most bikes bother his wrists, it may not be as big of a deal for others. So while we can and do both ride it, I am on it more often. It's a big heavy bike, but I do like it better than the feel of a full trailer behind me. Once you get going, you hardly notice the kids are back there. It's mostly flat where we live, so I don't even adjust the gears very often, but you can definitely handle hills on it well.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2016, 09:55:43 AM »
We have a Yuba Mundo, which we bought for all the reasons you are considering it. We don't have the monkey bars yet, we have the ring handle for my 5 year old and the 2 year old is in a Yepp seat. We'll get the monkey bars eventually. My husband is 6'5" and I'm 5'5" and we can both ride it. The handlebars do adjust, but it's not a quick adjustment and we don't change it often. At his height, the handlebars don't go quite as high as he would like to be comfortable, but he has carpal tunnel issues and riding most bikes bother his wrists, it may not be as big of a deal for others. So while we can and do both ride it, I am on it more often. It's a big heavy bike, but I do like it better than the feel of a full trailer behind me. Once you get going, you hardly notice the kids are back there. It's mostly flat where we live, so I don't even adjust the gears very often, but you can definitely handle hills on it well.

Thanks a bunch for the great info!

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2016, 02:40:15 PM »
I think XTraCycle makes something called the Free Radical or something like that which attaches as a third wheel. Someone recommended it to me because I have the opposite problem--4'11" and too short for standard bikes. It would make your bike long, obviously, but not wide like the trailer.

I'm in the same boat with a 3 and 5 year old. Haven't decided yet whether to save up for something like that or just deal until my older child can just follow me on his own bike. He's a very strong rider--but impulse control...

hyla

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2016, 10:20:19 PM »
Surly Big Dummies are compatible with xtracycle racks and rack parts, so you could easily mount the many accesories for kid carrying made by xtracycle on a big dummy.  Xtracycle makes an accessory called a hooptie which is similar to the yuba monkey bars you mention. 

I also second the xtracycle free radical option.  Since it's an extender that attaches to any mountain bike rather than a complete frame, you could mount it on a large bike which fits your height.  I have a longtail made from a mountain bike and a xtracycle freeradical, and I love it, and I carry adult passengers on it.  With a light load (< 50 lbs) it handles so much like a normal bike that I don't really even notice that it's so long.  With heavy loads (100 - 150 lbs) handling remains very good and normal bikelike (although pedaling is much harder!) if you can mount the cargo low on the racks.  If you have awkwardly shaped cargo high on the rack (the aforementioned adult passenger) handling is worse but manageable.  I need to be more careful cornering and slowing down gradually, and I am glad my bike has quality disc brakes with big rotors when I have that much weight.  I feel some sway in the rack with >100 lbs, but the rack is rated for up to 200lbs.  I have heard the complete frames (big dummy, freeradical, mundo etc.) are more rigid compared to the freeradical setup and help with that but don't have personal experience riding them.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2016, 01:05:13 AM »
Thanks for pointing out the Free Radical, which is in the process of being replaced by the Leap.

I don't have an existing bike to use with the Leap so I will need to factor that into the cost, but this may be a good option since I should be able to find a used mtn bike that fits.

131071

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2016, 07:30:15 AM »
If you happen to be in our area (Charlotte, NC), you'd be welcome to try out our Surly Big Dummy.  We have one child, we've had him in a Burley trailer since about 6 months old.  He's nearly 3 now and still rides in in the trailer primarily, but we're starting to do "around the neighborhood" rides with him on the back deck holding onto handlebars.  It's nice to have a "family vehicle" we can all three ride on every now and again!

I've been tempted by Bakfiets/box bikes, but I think that for cargo functionality, the longtail-style is more practical (and way more affordable).  The advantage of the bakfiets as I see it is for multiple, very young children - which is a temporary benefit.  This review (http://bikeshopgirl.com/2015/10/intro-bullitt-cargo-bike/) mentions resale value of Bullits (bakfiets) as being very high, so that may be a consideration if you need one for only a couple of years. 

This blog post(https://humofthecity.com/2015/08/25/why-do-cargo-bikes-cost-so-much/) tackles the question of "why are cargo bikes so expensive?"  The author makes the case for buying new, but our used Surly was ~$900 and has replaced two motor vehicles.  It has paid for itself many times over! 

Here are an obnoxious amount of photos of our cargo bike in use, for everything from grocery and kid-hauling to camping to lumber to bicycle-transporting: https://goo.gl/photos/JQytvxqvHXH9ww2R7

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2016, 08:36:46 AM »
If you happen to be in our area (Charlotte, NC), you'd be welcome to try out our Surly Big Dummy.  We have one child, we've had him in a Burley trailer since about 6 months old.  He's nearly 3 now and still rides in in the trailer primarily, but we're starting to do "around the neighborhood" rides with him on the back deck holding onto handlebars.  It's nice to have a "family vehicle" we can all three ride on every now and again!

I've been tempted by Bakfiets/box bikes, but I think that for cargo functionality, the longtail-style is more practical (and way more affordable).  The advantage of the bakfiets as I see it is for multiple, very young children - which is a temporary benefit.  This review (http://bikeshopgirl.com/2015/10/intro-bullitt-cargo-bike/) mentions resale value of Bullits (bakfiets) as being very high, so that may be a consideration if you need one for only a couple of years. 

This blog post(https://humofthecity.com/2015/08/25/why-do-cargo-bikes-cost-so-much/) tackles the question of "why are cargo bikes so expensive?"  The author makes the case for buying new, but our used Surly was ~$900 and has replaced two motor vehicles.  It has paid for itself many times over! 

Here are an obnoxious amount of photos of our cargo bike in use, for everything from grocery and kid-hauling to camping to lumber to bicycle-transporting: https://goo.gl/photos/JQytvxqvHXH9ww2R7

Thanks for the offer, but I'm on the other side of the continent :) And thanks for the info, good to hear about someone using the Big Dummy. I'm also thinking it would be very nice to have a family bike and would make getting out on family rides/trips that much more enjoyable (the trailer works, but it's a pain). I'm still leaning toward the longtail style, mainly for it's practicality.

I setup alerst on Craigslist for different cargo bikes and am biding my time right now - hopefully something pops up in the next year.

Jojje

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2016, 03:27:24 PM »
We sold our car and bought a Bullitt with e-assist (Bionx), this has been a great setup. We have two kids that we haul to daycare everyday and the bike has been great. Mounted studded tires and a canopy for the kids and used the bike every day during cold and snowy winter (-10 C). Getting around without a car was much easier than we could imagine, much thanks to the Bullitt, and the kids love it too.

We bought the bike on craigslist at 70% of retail price.

Wekeeprollingdowntheroad

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2016, 01:02:24 PM »
I loved my big dummy. While it may not be "designed" for kids, you can certainly haul them on it! I've hauled all sorts of humans back there and (as long as you are a somewhat competent bicyclist you'll have no issue). I had a surly karate monkey with free rad attachment for many years before upgrading to the dummy. It was a fantastic upgrade, but not really "needed"
The lasy year of ownership, I also tried out the bionx electric kit. My wife got one too on her xtracycle edgerunner and we effectively eliminated our car. We sold them both last year as we no longer have room for them in our current lifestyle

I for one am a big fan of xtracycle, and the Big Dummy.

Circa 2009 with a weeks worth of camping gear in the San Juans

onlykelsey

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2016, 05:58:04 PM »
Posting to follow.  My husband and I may be in the market for one of these in a couple years, and we have a 12" height differential, so I'm not sure if it's possible to get one that fits both of us..

Rollin

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2016, 08:52:01 PM »
I loved my big dummy. While it may not be "designed" for kids, you can certainly haul them on it! I've hauled all sorts of humans back there and (as long as you are a somewhat competent bicyclist you'll have no issue). I had a surly karate monkey with free rad attachment for many years before upgrading to the dummy. It was a fantastic upgrade, but not really "needed"
The lasy year of ownership, I also tried out the bionx electric kit. My wife got one too on her xtracycle edgerunner and we effectively eliminated our car. We sold them both last year as we no longer have room for them in our current lifestyle

I for one am a big fan of xtracycle, and the Big Dummy.

Circa 2009 with a weeks worth of camping gear in the San Juans

I have one of each and the Xtracycle is the better hauler, its stiffer, better stand over, lower rear rack, better rear rack, stouter rear wheel, and way better panniers than the Big Dummy.
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FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2017, 10:42:56 AM »
Update since my OP last Feb...

I was able to find a Yuba Mundo to test ride and it was a good fit, a pleasant surprise since I'm 6'6", all legs, and bikes usually aren't designed for people like me. The other cargo bikes under consideration either didn't fit or couldn't find one to test ride (didn't think it ethical to feign interest just to get one in inventory).

So with my options narrowed down for me, started watching the used marked. Followed for about 18 months. Two things of note: 1) These really don't hit the used market very often - in the Monterey Bay/SF Bay/Central Valley area there would typically be 0-2 Yuba Mundos for sell at any time which were either electrified (Bionx Hub motor) or had the more limited gearing (7-speed vs. 21-speed) that would be problematic around our somewhat hilly town. 2) Cargo bikes seem hold their value quite well, never did find a great steal.

Time spent watching the used market gave me more time to use my road bike+trailer combo. As my kids grew and gained weight (crazy how fast they grow!) I really started noticing it more on rides. And as they graduated from preschool to elementary, the school commute got longer, with a few more small hills. I do a lot of biking so still doable, but a slog. Eventually concluded that an e-assist was the most practical option, especially after leg day or boot camp workout.

We ended up getting a Yuba elMundo (their electric version). Glad we waited because they have moved from the Bionx Hub to the mid drive eRad. I love the mid drive. It's very well integrated, seamless and non-intrusive. It senses pedaling, braking and shifting which means the motor only kicks on when you actually want it. The motor can take advantage of the gearing, lower gears for climbing and higher gears for the flats.

With the e-assist our school commute actually takes a little less time as compared to the car! We bypass part of the bad traffic areas by using bike trails, and we zip past the traffic at/around the school. The ride physically, even fully loaded, has the feel of a nice walk rather than a grueling leg workout.

The entire setup was not cheap, but going by the AAA cost per mile estimates, if we do even half the trips to school by bike (and I think this is a conservative estimate) then the bike will pay for itself in about 2 years. There are lots of misc. trips around town that I will use the bike for, so it will probably take even less time to pay for itself.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 10:46:31 AM by FINate »

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2017, 09:27:24 PM »
Late to the party, But Salsa is coming out with a cargo bike, The Blackborrow. Looks decent.

Rollin

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2017, 07:37:36 PM »
Late to the party, But Salsa is coming out with a cargo bike, The Blackborrow. Looks decent.

It looks as though they still don't add enough stiffness to the rear of the bike. That frame design, the 26 inch wheels, and larger tires will add up to flex and difficulty controlling the bike with heavy loads. My Big Dummy would flex one direction (to the lower right) upon hitting a bump and then spring upwards and off the other direction (to the upper left). Not easy to steer straight with that.

BTW I now have a Bike Friday Haul A Day in addition to the Xtracycle (sold the BD) and it rides better than the Xtracycle and Big Dummy and I would rank it a little behind the Xtracycle for best cargo hauler. However, it really is the best all round bike (among cargo bikes). It's way lighter, rides great, easier to store, fits on bus bike rack (and sideways in my van), and you can store it standing straight up and down (balanced on the rear rack) when you have limited storage area. Xtracycle bags are top notch too. I use one on the BF and one on the X.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 07:43:25 PM by Rollin »
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FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2017, 07:36:49 PM »
In addition to the fact that it was a reasonable fit, stability/lack of flex in the Mundo was one of the things that sold me on it when I test rode. Two kids, their backpacks, groceries, and I'm often hauling 200# of cargo and I'm not a featherweight at 230#. But the bike is rated for 440# of rear cargo (in addition to the rider) so nowhere near the limit and doesn't feel unstable or wobbly, even cruising along at 25 MPH. It's hard to tell from photos online, but the Mundo is a very beefy bike, large tubes for the frame, reinforced, etc. The Radwagon is a lot less money so also considered it, however, could not find one to test drive (no retail partner near us). But it's a hub drive and, from what I can tell, not as sturdy with 350# total carrying capacity including rider, and some online reviews mentioned noticeable flex.

We've put 240 miles on it in the past two weeks, and it has become part of the normal routine for getting around town. Rainy season will be the real test.

Rollin

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2017, 10:13:35 PM »
In addition to the fact that it was a reasonable fit, stability/lack of flex in the Mundo was one of the things that sold me on it when I test rode. Two kids, their backpacks, groceries, and I'm often hauling 200# of cargo and I'm not a featherweight at 230#. But the bike is rated for 440# of rear cargo (in addition to the rider) so nowhere near the limit and doesn't feel unstable or wobbly, even cruising along at 25 MPH. It's hard to tell from photos online, but the Mundo is a very beefy bike, large tubes for the frame, reinforced, etc. The Radwagon is a lot less money so also considered it, however, could not find one to test drive (no retail partner near us). But it's a hub drive and, from what I can tell, not as sturdy with 350# total carrying capacity including rider, and some online reviews mentioned noticeable flex.

We've put 240 miles on it in the past two weeks, and it has become part of the normal routine for getting around town. Rainy season will be the real test.

Buddy of mine who rides daily (I mean a lot of miles) recently got a Yuba Mundo and really likes it. Very stout and very hard to beat for the price. Way better deal than the Bike Friday or Xtracyxle (and a ton better deal than the BD). Good choice I'd say. They come well equipped too!
I love being outside.

FINate

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Re: Cargo bike recommendations?
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2018, 10:21:55 AM »
Update after our first year of use:

Since mid-September we've put on over 2000 miles, about 500 more than planned. I find that I'm jumping on the bike for most trips around town - faster than driving since I can take paths that bypass busy intersections, and more convenient since I don't need to find parking.

A few noteworthy things:
  • No need to be a weight weenie with electric assist. An extra long and beefy chain provides peace of mind and increases options for securing the bike.
  • Adding a few ounces of tube sealant virtually eliminates flats. I still carry a patch kit, spare tube, and pump, but have only had to use it once (really bad puncture that wouldn't self seal).
  • Mid-drive is great for hills, plenty of power. But they do wear through chains rather quickly. Not really a problem, chains are cheap. Get a good chain tool and save $$$ by making chains to length (my cargo bike has a very long chain).
  • It's worth spending the couple extra bucks getting a slightly heavier bike chain (e.g. the heavier KMC Z8 instead of the lighter Z7).
  • Worth using T-9 lube on the chain. This is paraffin dissolved in solvent - apply at the end of the day, the solvent dries overnight leaving the dry paraffin. Chain gets much less greasy/messy.

My only wish is that more cargo bike makers would combine mid-drive, belt-drive, and internal gear hub. This would make the bike virtually maintenance free and make shifting smother. Though it would increase the up-front costs so perhaps it would cause sticker shock for too many buyers. Still, I wish I had this as an option on more bikes. If you're thinking of getting an electric cargo bike, and you plan on putting on a lot of miles, then I think this would be worth the higher cost if you have this as an option.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 10:32:09 AM by FINate »