Friday, May 27, 2011

3 Wheels and a Box: the Christiania Cargo Trike

If you've been hoping for a change of pace from the recurring roadcycling theme, your wish is granted. Yesterday I had a visit from Will of BoxCycles - an importer of European utility bicycles whose warehouse is not far from Boston. The purpose of the visit was to drop off one of these - but more on that later! In the meantime, he was also delivering this Christiania cargo trike to someone local, and I had the opportunity to try it. 

Christiania Bikes have been around since 1976, initially as a small workshop in the Freetown Christiania neighbourhood of Copenhagen, Denmark. If you do not already know the history of this unusual neighbourhood, it's worth looking into - very interesting stuff. In addition to Christiania bikes, the modern incarnation of Pedersen began there as well. Having over time expanded, Christiania now has a factory on Bornholm Island. Their cycles remain manufactured, finished and assembled by hand - the most popular model being the cargo trike shown here.

Though I occasionally see cargo trikes both in Europe and in the US, this is the first time I've examined one so closely. The Christiania is a heavy-duty welded aluminum frame with three 24" wheels: two in front and one in rear. The cargo box is positioned between the front wheels and the cyclist steers with it when turning.  The box is plywood, and there are several models available in different widths and lengths. This trike is 82" long and 34" wide, weighing 75lb when empty. It accommodates 100kg (220.5lb) of weight can can be used for anything from hauling cargo to transporting children.

Inside the box is a bench with padded seat cushions and two sets of seatbelts. Given the weight capacity, this trike can easily fit several children, or even an adult or two.

Seatbelt attachment points on the back of the box.

The handlebars are not really handlebars at all, but more like a pram or shopping cart handle.

The lefthand side is set up with a front brake lever, parking brake and bell. A parking brake is necessary with a cargo trike; without one it will roll down even the tiniest inclines.

The righthand side is set up with a gear shifter. The trikes are available as either 7 or 8 speeds.

Shimano coaster brake hub, clear chainguard, massive cranks and non-slip pedals.

The chainguard provides good coverage, though it is not a full chaincase.

The front wheels are set up with disk brakes, which are activated by the hand lever. Tires are Schwalbe Big Apple.

Rear reflectors are affixed to the fenders of each wheel. A dynamo lighting package is available with his model, using a bottle generator on the rear wheel (you can see the attachment arm for it here).

The stock saddle is a plushy vinyl Selle San Remo.

I rode the trike briefly and clumsily, so I better use the pictures I took of Will to show you how it works. To operate the trike, you basically need to point the box, using that one long handle, in the direction you need to go. This sounds simple enough, but if you've never ridden this kind of trike before it is completely counter-intuitive. The other thing that takes getting used to is that when turning, the box pivots on its axel and becomes parallel to the cyclist - not unlike a swing bike!

Watch this: Here is the trike going straight.

And here is what happens when turning. Crazy!

Those who own one of these trikes say it takes about a day to get the hang of the steering, but that once you do it becomes second nature. While I have no experience with other trikes, there is a nice test ride report on Suburban Bike Mama where she compares the Christiania to her own Sorte Jernhest. I've also seen a couple of Christianias around Boston at this point, and the owners seem pretty adept at steering. 

If we continue to live without a car (which at this point seems likely), it is possible that I may want to get some massive cargo hauling contraption in the future, which is why I was curious to test ride one of these. One thing that surprised me about the unloaded Christiania is how light it felt. I expected the trike itself to be heavy and clunky, but it has an almost airy feel to it without cargo. It rolls easily, including up the mild incline of my street. Once it is filled with 100lbs of stuff I am sure the handling will be different, but it is nice to know how the trike behaves on its own as well. Making turns felt wild and tippy, but also a lot of fun. Since others are able to grasp it in a day, I am sure I would as well. My one source of ambivalence toward the Christiania, is that it seems designed specifically to transport children, which is not what I would need a cargo bike for. It's not only the benches (which I am sure are optional), but also that long handle and something about the general look that, to me at least, makes it resemble a giant pram. I can just imagine using this trike to carry equipment and being constantly asked how many kids I have. Having said that, I think that most people considering a cargo trike like this do in fact plan to transport children, which would make what I am describing a good thing. If drivers see you on the road and think "baby carriage!" they will probably be more careful and will give you more room.

Front loaded box cycles - be they two wheeled bakfiets or cargo trikes - are a radically different experience than riding a standard bicycle, but they also offer a radically different degree of utility. As more people are looking at transportation cycling as a normal and viable option, cargo bikes of all sorts are becoming more popular and I love seeing them on the streets. Maybe a couple of years from now, I will be riding one to the hardware store and writing about it here.

56 comments:

  1. I agree with you that the trikes seem very focused on kid transport, while Bakfiets seem to be casting a wider net, with options for either kids or stuff. The basic platform for a Bakfiets seems more versatile.

    I've ridden both a Workcycles Bakfiets, and a homebrew one, and I was surprised at how easy they were to ride (the homebrew was a bit more clumsy).

    Too bad you didn't have a chance to ride it loaded to see how it handled. I suspect it would change in a hurry with 100lbs of dynamic load (Peppy the freeriding cat and a bunch of his buddies) in it.

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  2. No- loaded up it feels just the same. Actually better- handling is better with a load than unloaded in my humble opinion.

    Yay- so glad to see this. I wanted to hear your thoughts.

    interesting about the kid as cargo thought- I feel that this bike has more of a male rider/ cargo as real cargo image ( but that may be partially b/c of Boxcycles's website showing lots of stuff in the bike that aren't kids and Copenhagen Cycle chic blog showing men riding girlfriends in the box.... If I were to switch it would feel like this one was more built for everyday cargo kids or no kids. But I do understand that in the US ppl would assume kids... plus I have kids.

    I would love you to ride the sorte for comparison. they are totally different and yet ride similarly once you are used to them.

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  3. Peppy (the big-boned cat)May 27, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    cycler-I am a lady.

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  4. Seeing "pram" instead of "stroller" or "carriage" made my day!

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  5. Wow! I didn't know a Christiannia dealer/importer was so close. I may have given one a try before ordering a Bullitt (bakfiets style bike).
    I've been using it for everything from daycare (30lbs) to the garden store (150lbs).
    It definitely handles better with 50+lbs in the front, though uphill it is more challenging.
    At the July 24 Somerstreet on Highland Ave, we are holding a Kidical Mass ride, which will include an opportunity to try each others kid carrying bikes. I don't see why we can't extend this to cargo bikes in general.

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  6. Brian and MamaVee - I would love to try your Bullitt and Sorte Jernhest and compare. I've seen both models in person, but have never tried them.

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  7. Brian - He is just the importer and ironically most of his dealers are outside of the Boston area. I am going to try not to rant about this, but... Apparently there is some crazy idea (among bike shops!) that in Boston there is not sufficient infrastructure to create demand for such bikes. In my view that is contradicted by the fact that when locals find out about BoxCycle's existence, they beg the importer to sell to them directly since no shops here carry them. What do you think about that, given that you are involved in all kinds of local cargo/kidical mass stuff? Anyhow, I recommended a few bike shops to BoxCycles that I think/hope will be interested in carrying both the Christiania and the Pilen, and I hope it works out. I get questions from locals all the time re where they can buy utility bikes, and they end up going to either Portland ME or NYC, which is ridiculous. okay, so I did end up ranting...

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  8. Thanks for the 'quick' review of the bike - very cool. You look like an old pro in the photos!

    I will admit, the model you saw is definitely a kid-carrying machine. The soft padded seat, shoulder straps, and even the fancy cream-colored box do bring to mind European-styled prams - and considering most of our customers, to this point, are families with small children, I guess it makes sense for that likeness to persist.

    But Christianias are super-versatile and definitely the most 'manly' choice in Copenhagen - especially when compared to other Danish trikes. (like Nihola, TrioBike, etc...)

    Lose the bench and belts, change the box to black and the frame to silver and it brings to mind a pick-up truck more so than a station wagon.

    I've added a few new pictures of some Christiania Bikes that are geared more for work and cargo hauling than child transport to our (neglected) flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boxcycles

    Thanks again for taking the time to do this - I'm excited to see your thoughts on the Pilen...

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  9. There's also the CETMA cargo bike sold by Clever Cycles, and the Workcycles FR8...

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  10. Most all state, county, municipal ords/regs/laws relate to bicycles. Are trikes even legal on public roadways?

    And what do the insurance companies say, given the incentive to escape claims?

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  11. I'm pretty sure you stole my rant.

    Infrastructure requirements for cargo trikes ARE a little different than those of bikes due to their wider track. For instance you can still cheat a bit with a long bike by riding on the sidewalk or urban cut-through single track, widening its range. A more realistic concern of some shops I'm sure is the outright cost of a dedicated Euro cargo machine. What is the MSRP of the Christiania? The shop would assume this financial risk if it weren't on consignment and wasn't sure if this specific cargo trike market existed. There may also be minimum ordering requirements that are hidden.

    Having said this it's ludicrous that many of the cities worthy of designation by the LAB, as misguided as they can be, do not have a dealer of Xtracycles, the most inexpensive of cargo options. rant/

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  12. I am concerned about the spate of full face photos in recent entries. While I recognize that an artist needs to grow, the thought that the sidelong glances of the familiar angst-ridden character that used to grace these pages will be replaced by some vacuous avatar with a toothpaste smile makes me wake up at night in a cold sweat.

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  13. thomthel - That's crazy. The first picture is totally a sidelong glance, and the second full of angst as always. I keep it real.

    GR Jim - To some extent I understand the concerns/ hesitation. But I think also that many of the existing local bike shops (1) do not understand the market for transportation bikes, and (2) do not believe in these bikes, and communicate this (whether intentionally or not) to their customers. I think that's the real problem, and it also explains why new bike shops that specifically cater to the interested market are popping up in areas that already seem saturated with bike shops.

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  14. Yes, many long-time bike shops aren't plugged into what's been happening the past few years, nor are many equipped to change due to their self-identity (sounding like a shrink).

    The big-ticket shops in my area are experiencing a decline, whereas the newer hip, young, "community-based" shops are slamming.
    IME it takes a progressive shop to integrate cargo bikes and I've seen both of these kinds of shops reject them.

    I'm thinking I should move to Boston and open a cargo bike shop, called Not Clever Cycles But Pretty Good Nevertheless.

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  15. Wow, the box cycle site won't load, did your link overwhelm their server? I'd like to buy one direct from Will too, if he can be convinced! I go to Denmark about once a year for work, and have brought 2 bikes back with me (Velorbis Scrap Deluxe and a Von Bakhaus for my wife), but I don't think I could get a Harry V. Larry or Christiania on the plane as checked luggage.

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  16. jb and others - You can email will-at-boxcycles-dot-com to ask about arranging a local sale. I receive no financial benefit from any such deals made.

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  17. You use the word 'contraption' in your description of this bike and that is the issue I have with bikes like these. They are a bit too 'contraption-ish' for me. I have a Yuba cargo bike which I have electrified. It does what it is supposed to do and does it very quickly. But it is very huge and a lot of bike to fuss with . . . it's a contraption. And then there is worrying about such an expensive machine when shopping . . . and all the items left in the big open bin (of the trike) . . . to say nothing of the massive weight un-assisted bike plus cargo. It might be OK for short trips with few hills and little traffic and wide shoulders, but under most circumstances, I just can't imagine many circumstances under which I would choose to use this large machine.

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  18. A humble request: Product reviews are not complete without an msrp. Can we get some in the future?

    Here's a domestic competitor, starting at $820/no box/with platform: http://worksmancycles.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/frontload.html

    Why go "green" if you're going to pay freight and waste fuel transporting the thing halfway across the globe?

    -rob

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  19. Velouria,

    When you next find yourself in San Francisco, I invite you to test-ride the Onya Front-End Loader, a unique cargo trike that leans into turns. Can be fitted with a load deck or aluminum-framed, nylon basket.

    I agree with you on how such bikes (trikes?) are perceived by most bike shops as...impractical. A few years ago, I suggested to my employer that he should stock a few urban family/cargo bikes in the shop. My suggestion fell on deaf ears.

    I predict you will definitely be rollin' a cargo bike at some point. It's just a matter of time.

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  20. Good luck transporting kids on a worksman. They are built for industrial use - mostly transport of cargo inside warehouses.
    I ride a Christiana, not beacuse of the green factor but because it is a safe, fun, tried-and-true bike designed for child transport and I hate riding a car in the city.
    But even with the one time ship across the Atlantic, it is still a far more green option than any car on the street.
    No need to get extreme about the green thing - any bike is better than every car!

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  21. Just a random thought but I think it would be great if there was a picture of the trike with you sitting in front while your co-habitant drives it! XD

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  22. Neat bike(trike), I hope we see more of them. At $2500 plus I'm not sure we will.

    Spindizzy

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  23. Screech - At the moment this particular bike is $2690, as far as I can tell. I keep changing my mind re whether to include MSRP in reviews. The reason I do not, is that for EU-imported bikes it often changes, sometimes dramatically and within short time periods. I figure the reader can google it and find the current price; otherwise my price quote could mislead them.

    Re the "greenness" of imported European bikes: Don't forget that there is virtually no such thing as domestic bikes anymore, unless you go to a custom builder. The American brands we find at the LBS are typically mass-produced in the far East and involve more wasteful back and forth shipping than something handmade from scratch in the EU. And as far as custom builders go, they are fantastic, but (1) are almost always more expensive, (2) take longer to make the bike, (3) do not always have demo models to try, and (4) are limited in how many bikes they can make at a time.

    It would be great if domestic manufacturers pop up making utility and cargo bikes. If and when that happens I will be happy to review their products and support them. But there is also a matter of choice and comfort - not everyone will be comfortable on the same bike and domestic manufacturers may or may not get it right, especially in the beginning. People gravitate towards traditional European transport bikes, because they tend to be comfortable and stable. The manufacturers have had a lot of practice and know those types of bikes very well.

    So... all of these are factors to consider IMO.

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  24. Regarding your last post:
    Not sure if this endorsement is in my best interest - at least in the business sense - but there are a handful of super-talented cargo bike builders right here in the US.
    Oregon, as you would probably guess, has Metrofiets, Cetma Cargo, and Joe-Bike (among others) all making 2-wheeled cargo bikes (long-john style) from the bottom up. They are, according to reviews, very well made, versatile, and, in my opinion, very pleasing to the eye.
    The drawback, as you pointed out, is that they are more expensive and in lower quantities due to production techniques.
    Hopefully, the market will grow and every manufacturer (foreign and domestic) will be able to find their own place in the mix and every customer will be able to find exactly what they are looking for.
    Will - from Boxcycles

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  25. Spindizzy - That is on the low end of the spectrum for cargo bikes with front box. For reference: The Nihola trike is $3,400, the Bakfiets is $3,050, and the Sorte Jernhest is over $4,000 if I recall correctly.

    Will - thanks for that! I know that there is a cargo bike maker in NYC as well, but cannot remember the name. ANT in Boston makes fron load basket bikes, but they do not carry quite as much cargo as bakfietsen.

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  26. i agree re: those environmental factors in general, but keep in mind that Worksman makes their frames and many components in NYC, with many other components being made by Wald in Erlanger, KY. Sure, the cranks, hubs, headsets, tires...the cheap stuff...are from the far-east, but this is also the case with a copenhagen import as well. Beyond any "green" advantages, how about supporting the American economy?

    I don't know if i'd wanna transport kids with a Worksman, as the brake(s) are(is) lacking. Then again, i don't think i'd ever wanna transport kids by any bike, b/c i'd worry too much. (I'm not a parent.) For the $2000 one could save with a Worksman rather than a Christiana, you could build a deluxe carriage on the platform, retrofit some disc brakes, and install a made-in-Florida Profile crankset.

    I'm painfully aware that few bicycles and components are being produced here in the USA anymore. However, there are still a few makers of production frames in some bike styles (BMX, track/fixed, cruisers, everything Waterford sells as a Gunnar), lots of excellent custom frame builders in virtually *every* style, and a whole lot of domestic components. Anyone bothered by the dearth of US bike bits should start to offer the few extant US companies their custom, or things will only get worse.

    We often see transportation cyclists giggling at aspiring racers for chasing a "fantasy", but I see a lot of European-inspired fantasies playing out with the faux-french rando/cargo/commuter set. Just like the fat guy in his forties in the lycra will never make it to the Giro, most of us will never be completing the PBP at a leisurely pace on our constructeur bike during our lifetimes. Do not fear ashtabula cranks!

    -rob

    ps- in the case of product reviews conducted in Boston on products with zero (or very little) official USA distribution, I might suggest offering the MSRP in euros. We can all google for current exchange rates if interested.

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  27. Will's comment and yours typify regional differences. The makers he mentions reside on the W Coast so can be seen as reflecting a spirit of innovation, albeit copied from traditional longjohns, whereas it seems E Coast influences come directly from Europe reflected by Boston's penchant for vintage Raleighs etc.

    Here's a video Bike Portland posted today that typifies Portland's acceptance of the cheap cargo bike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJqUHWjfHn8&feature=player_embedded

    All importers and mfgs. of cargo bikes deserve praise for changing the level of bike discourse, but unfortunately writing the check becomes the hard part.

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  28. Remembered the name of the NYC manufacturer: George Bliss customises Worksman Cycles into cargo chariots that accommodate up to 4 people. Here's a video.

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  29. I'm intrigued by the new bike to be reviewed. Nice-looking, if not lugged like you normally like 'em. Looks better than my Euro bike disaster with Creme Cycles, anyway.

    Around Seattle, The Dutch Bike Co. sell the bakfiets. I have never seen anyone use one, but they do turn up on Craigslist sometimes for $2000 or so, used. I can't imagine using one here. It's too hilly, and we have fewer bike lanes in the downtown (and fewer kids there, too).

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  30. I continue to be astonished at the kid raising implications of carting your kid around, rather than making him or her contribute to moving forward, ie pedaling. After my little weasel turned 3 1/2 it was out of the trailer (a FINE kid transport, lighter and more versatile than a box carrier trike, could switch off among bikes / both of us could haul him etc), and onto a bunch of different tandems, with kid backs UNTIL UNTIL we found practically the best amalgam of all the above (cargo, kid pedaling t'ing, etc) - a Bike Friday tandem. And - US made, with incredible quality. Far lighter than one of the trikes; and without the kid on the back - a quickly modifiable long tail when need be, but a great improvised hauler with some straps; and with front and rear racks + panniers, have comfortably hauled 80 lbs of stuff. Yr pal Mr Somervillian has the 3 seat, convertible to 2 seat version...give it a try.

    Also, a single bike Friday (I have a NWT) with front and rear racks, can haul 70 lbs of stuff very comfortably; the center of gravity is so low, that the add'l weight is practically un-noticable.

    Our specific issues are hills; the BFridays outshine any type of dedicated cargo haulers in this regard.

    And all kidding aside, there is huge benefit to having the little ones pedal rather than being passive passengers, continuing to being infantilized - in a "pram". My guy has been pedalling along for 5 years; the cooperation, the relief to us in hauling the weight too!, the fun he has - far greater than were he stuck in a box.

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  31. rural 14- I actually just wrote a blog entry about why I choose to do the work rather than "make" my kid do the pedaling. Different strokes for different folks. It's all good and we all need options. the more types of cargo bikes / family bikes etc around the better to fit each family and their needs. As well as to fit people without kids and cargo needs.

    Also- lets remember that kids in copenhagen ride along in box bikes often til the age of 10. They all ride as adults. In the US the idea of a kid over 5 riding in a box bike gets lots of curious questions, yet our adult ridership isn't so great. So the correlation isn't really there leading me to believe in my first paragraph- it's all good just keep riding. :-)

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  32. Rural 14, how about this http://sandsmachine.com/a_swa_t1.htm

    It was an interesting ride, especially when the boys would lean out to see past each other, then when they realised they still couldn't see, they'd all lean the other way.

    We upgraded to a Bike Friday tandem instead of the trailer bike.

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  33. [I'll try this one more time. Blogger is failing miserably today...]

    A rebuttal to the arguments of rural 14:

    During the past year, my wife and I have extensively used both a Chariot trailer and a Workcycles Cargobike (2-wheeled bakfiets) as primary transportation for our two children. For versatility, there is no contest; the bakfiets wins hands down. True, the trailer can be moved from one bike to another, but it's a whole lot easier to adjust the seatpost on the bakfiets, which is very comfortable for both of us. The Chariot fails to keep its passengers warm and dry in inclement weather, and offers a much harsher ride, despite its adjustable suspension. The bakfiets carries far more weight, and is more convenient to park and lock up. Despite being heavier, it's at least as easy to get around in, and with the kids in front, it's easy to converse with them.

    The older of or two kids is four, and he'll be using a trail-a-bike of some sort starting this summer, but he'll still be riding in the box in foul weather and during the winter (we live in Winnipeg -- winter lasts five months, and we regularly get temperatures of -30C, so the enclosed canopy is very important for keeping them warm.

    A Bike Friday tandem sounds nice, and would surely conquer the big hills better than a loaded cargobike, but it's a silly comparison. 80 lbs sounds like a lot, but our bakfiets easily handles 80 kg in the box, and we don't have to be careful about how we pack it; we just toss things in the box. We can put plenty more on the rack, too.

    I'm planning to get my kids onto their own bikes rather than on the back of a tandem, but then I'm concerned with getting them around the city, rather than going fast or far. I want my children to learn steering, balance and judgement from an early age, rather than being infantilized on the back of a tandem.

    --Mike

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  34. Velouria, have you considered cargo trailers? For your own non-child transportation use, a trailer would be far less expensive and possibly even more useful than a cargo bike. The new Surly trailers look quite good, as do Bikes at Work and Wike trailers. I use a bakfiets for transporting my kids, but I'm probably going to buy a flatbed trailer for moving large objects (e.g. lumber).

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  35. Worksman Cycles does make a basic cargo trike from a little over $800, but that's for the bare-bones model, without even a parking brake or 3-speed hub. If you upgrade to a model useful for the streets, it will cost $1320 without the kid/cargo carrying box, and without shipping costs. I imagine shipping will be a few hundred dollars, unless you live in New York. So adding that and a plywood box with seatbelts will cost probably $1800 and 1 to 2 months (30 to 45 days for the bike to be built and shipped).

    The $2600 MSRP on the Christiania trike includes shipping to your local bike shop from Denmark and all the upgrades. So mainly you are paying a premium due to the high price of the Euro versus the US Dollar; the price is pretty similar otherwise, for what you get.

    But if you don't need to haul kids, and you live in New York, definitely consider the Workman Cycles trike.

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  36. Merlin / Mike - Your first comment came through, but I deleted it because it was redundant. The comments don't appear instantaneously; the blog is moderated so I have to be at my laptop to publish them.

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  37. Re trailers: After observing and getting feedback from numerous acquaintances who've had both/either, I think that I would be better off with the integrated system of a cargo-dedicated bike. Specifically, I would want it to have container-based loading, like a box or bucket (as opposed to a longtail system). But I am not in the market for one anytime soon, so this is all hypothetical.

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  38. Here I see a lot of young children biking as well as sitting in the bakfiets-- but the bakfiets seems to come in handy when you have two or more children and groceries to do- a 2 year old and a 4 year old and three bags of groceries for example...the 6 year old can bike himself.

    We also have a yellow one on our street that has a special top lid and comes from the local library. It delivers books daily to the school across the street. They are used for companies a lot because they are so easy to paint up and use for advertising too.

    We also have a family that goes fishing at the park a lot who has theirs packed up with folding chairs, fishing gear and folding poles. When the get home they just park the bakfiets and come the next sunny day. It's already packed and ready to go.

    Personally, I have a trailer and enjoy it, but I hate moving the attachment devise from one bike to another because I only currently have one. The trailer is only rated for 75 lbs.... but bakfiets are rated for a whole lot more and we've seriously considered it...but the trailer was only 100 dollars American. Price won out.

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  39. when you are in the market for a box bike - you'll have *The* coolest Stable of bikes ever. Just saying. I always laugh at how some of our prefs seem similar.

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  40. Clarification - esp @Mike o Winnipeg - as another poster said, yes, am all for many options, sorry that I came off as strident. Your comment about hills is spot on - I need the BF for the hills. On the flats, sure, any hauling machine will do. I routinely (daily) go up 5 - 8% grades, and one 17% grade (a rise of 200 feet in 3/10s of a mile) - very steep. So for me the weight of the bike is not a small factor, even on my own; with my boyo on the back + cargo...I need all the assist I can get. And that bike friday is so quick to spin up to speed, that it's better than other tandems we have or have used.

    We are in a rather rural area, on a small farm, lots of dirt roads, steep short hills, and many long ascents too (ie 3 - 5 miles), so the need for speed is a real thing. I used to be ok with taking 45 minutes to go up hills etc, but as we've integrated biking more and more completely, including in the winter (not as severe as in Winnipeg, but lots of sub-zero days, esp before the sun comes up when we're out), I find that those 45 min hill slogs eat into the pleasure of getting around by bike. Hence the interest in a different sort of efficiency than the ones offered by urban cargo trikes, bakfiets, etc. And though this is probably way off topic, we are solar powered at our homestead, and contemplate adding an electric assist to the tandem(s) as we increase our travel range more and more.

    @ Tim D - that's completely impressive! Could not coordinate that at all...hats off! (I'd go for a triple and a tandem, rather than all 5 on 1, which of course brings us to the famous 5 bears on 1 bike / 1 bear on no bike, etc etc, a period that I'm glad we've passed). We're at 1 child and holding steady, so do not anticipate needing further pedaling on 1 bike (that said, I think I'll go out and get a new hard seat for myself).

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  41. That's the kind of self-propelled implement I want to have ready to roll when we go through the bottleneck of economic collapse. Would make barter a lot easier to haul around. Basically a mule, and the trade-off being you pedal instead of feeding a beast of burden and mucking stalls. Neither are able to reproduce, which is unfortunate.

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  42. Bif - That's my thinking : )

    Since this post I have tried the Bullitt and that was something else! Let's just say I am unable to ride it without crashing it, and I am not the only one : ) Pictures of this soon.

    As far as hills go though, the Bullitt's owner lives a top a very steep one and says the bike is perfectly adequate.

    The make kids pedal vs cart them argument... Every kid is different and it seems best to accommodate that. I've spoken to sad cyclists whose children, once grown, were completely turned off from cycling, because their parents made them stoke tandems when they were growing up.

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  43. Having just left Amsterdam, I can honestly say for whatever reason bakefiets are much more prevalent than Christiana cargo bikes, I saw one Christiana and probably 300+ bakefiets. Parked outside every house in the Nord area of Amsterdam is a bakefiet with cover amongst other bikes. They seem incredibly practical and the women and men effortlessly fly through town with a couple kids and a dog packed in there. Kids learn to ride incredibly young there as well.

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  44. @Ann- I've heard that Amsterdam tends toward Two wheeled box bikes whereas Copenhagen tends toward Three wheeled bikes. Not sure why... but there there would be more of the danish made Christiania among others...

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  45. and @ bif- yeah, that's my thinking too. :-)

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  46. (eh re my commet 11:39 I meant- there would be more of the danish made bikes in COPENHAGEN....vs bakfiets.... )

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  47. True, if you look at pictures of Copenhagen streets, you see loads of Christiania trikes, other trikes, and Danish Long Johns like the Bullitt. In Amsterdam it's mostly Bakfietsen. It's just a matter of local popularity, it seems.

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  48. I'd like to see you use this for your next paceline ride.

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  49. no- I want you to bike your (borrowed) seven in a boxbike to your next paceline ride. Everyone else rides arrives their bike on top of their car......

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  50. Cool bike. I've heard a lot about the Christiania trikes and I'm happy to see that they are starting to come to the American market. One of my local bike shops started carrying them recently and I plan to have a test ride in the next week or two. I prefer two-wheeled bakfietsen in general, but I do like the stability of trikes.

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  51. Velouria -- I'm not too surprised that one of my first three comment attempts succeeded, but since blogger failed to confirm each time and returned an error instead, I went for it the fourth time.

    Re: cargo trailers -- There are some trailers that are topped with containers, and you can build whatever you want on top of a decent flatbed frame. The reason I want a trailer in addition to my bakfiets is that the box can't readily accomodate objects that are more than a few feet long. As long as I'm not transporting anything that doesn't fit well in the box, I would definitely prefer the box bike.

    rural 14: I hope that my comments did not offend; my intention was just to point out that there may be more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than dreamt of in your philosophy. And lest anyone think me wimpy for riding a bakfiets in a city utterly devoid of hills -- this morning I rode it about 17 km to a garden center (excuse me -- centre) and on my return trip, with a moderate load, I had a sustained headwind nearly the entire way. No inclines to speak of, but the wind can do a fair impression of one on the prairie.

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  52. My trailer (Wike, cost $350) holds two kids and groceries, and takes less than a minute to switch between bikes. I love it, and it was MUCH less expensive than these cargo bikes. I also have a trailer that I built myself from scrap wood and trash bike wheels (I made it in two hours; cost less than $100) that pulls my vintage two-person kayak, which is 18 feet long and weights 100 pounds or so. I can see the appeal of these custom built cargo bikes, but I can't really imagine ever buying one. Trailers are cheap, practical and cool!

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  53. handling with load is much more easy as compare when it is unloaded......trailer is in front which makes ride smooth.....
    car trailers for sale

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  54. Just me again, prowling around the internet, adding my 2-cents very late. In all the conversation about trikes and bakfietsen and trailers no one has mentioned children with special needs. It was imperitive that our son, who happens to have Down syndrome, be belted in and close enough that I could comfort him when he's stressed. For our family a bakfiets was the only solution that satisfied us all. We did look at a Gazelle, but the narrowness was a minus since we have 2 kids, and the fabric sides just didn't give me the feeling of safety that I wanted. It was love at first sight with the bakfiets and nothing else was able to shake that. We were very lucky to find one used on Craigslist, saving us almost half of the price of a new one, but even new it would have been cheaper than a car. When you are purchasing a bike to be a car replacement I think that the price point becomes different. If this was just something fun to do on the weekends we might have gone with a trailer despite my misgivings about how it would suit our son, but then how often would we use it if I felt it wasn't a positive experience for him?

    My hope is that someone out there searching for ways to get their family biking and wanting to include a family member that has special needs will find this post and the comments and realize that there are lots of options. You can do it, too!

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