Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Workcycles Bakfiets Long

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
A year and a half ago I tried a Bakfiets at a friend's bike shop in Vienna. These iconic Dutch cargo bikes are available in two lengths and the one I rode then was the short version. Now a bike-friend in Boston has acquired the Bakfiets Long, and I've had a chance to ride that as well. Aside from the larger size, I was curious how a bike like this would translate locally. Compared to the center of Vienna, our part of Boston is both hillier and less bike-friendly. Would I feel comfortable mixing it up with car traffic on a bike like this? What about cycling up the inclines I regularly encounter even on shorter commutes? These are the aspects of the bike I mostly focused on this time around.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
To recap: The term bakfiets (plural: bakfietsen) literally translates to "box bike." The modern incarnation of this front-load hauler was designed by Maartin van Andel of bakfiets.nl. Those machines branded with the Workcycles name have been outfitted with upgraded components by the Amsterdam-based concern, but are essentially the same bikes (you can read about the Workcycles version of the bakfiets here). The steel frames are manufactured and powdercoated by Azor. Prices for complete bikes are in the $3,000s range, depending on options. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
A handsome plywood box sits low upon the extended frame, between the rider and the 20" front wheel (the rear wheel is 26"). There are essentially two head tubes, connected by a linkage system. In my previous write-up readers requested shots of the steering linkage, so I made sure to get them this time.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
Here you go.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
And here. And here.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
As the rider turns the handlebars, the steering is activated through the linkage and the front wheel turns. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
Like most traditional Dutch city bikes, the bakfiets comes equipped with fenders, a full chaincase, dress guards, and a rear rack. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
Dynamo lighting with standlights is included, front and rear, 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
as well as enclosed roller brakes and hub gearing (Shimano Nexus 8-speed with twist shifter). 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The 4-point Stabilo parking stand supports weight evenly.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The handlebars are mildly swept back. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The long cargo box is about 100cm x 60cm at its widest points, tapering from back to front. It is rated for 80kg (176lb), in passengers or cargo.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
Many of those who purchase these bikes do so to transport small children. There is a little folding bench in the box for this purpose. The bench fits two, though the box itself is rated to fit 4 (I believe a second bench can be installed for those who plan to do this). 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The bakfiets can also function as a work bike, hauling anything from huge loads of groceries, to heavy industrial supplies. In Europe I have seen these in use by professionals such as florists, caterers, construction workers, and sculptors, just to name a few. For those who use the bike in that capacity, a waterproof cargo cover is available. Unlike the structured, canopy cover for transporting children, the cargo cover stretches flush over the box.

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The bakfiets owner - known online as "cycler" - has had it for just over two months now and uses it about twice a week as a supplement to her main city bike. On her blog, Biking in Heels, it has been a sort of recurring joke how much stuff she'd often end up carrying on her bike - thinking up various creative, but sometimes precarious ways to secure it all. After years of this, cycler decided to take the plunge and buy a cargo bike. She test rode a few and felt immediately at ease with the Dutch front-load model. So bakfiets it was. She ordered the bike directly from Workcycles in Amsterdam, powdercoated silver and dark orange to her specs. In fact, its purchase is partly to blame for inspiring her to ...drumroll... open up her own local bike shop. But more on that another time. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
I've ridden cycler's long bakfiets twice so far. First in her presence on some neighbourhood MUPs. On a later occasion I took the bakfiets away and rode it on my own along my local commute route, mostly on streets without bike infrastructure.  

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
On both occasions, I arrived on my Brompton folding bike, which I typically ride front-loaded, like a mini cycle-truck. In a sense, switching to the bakfiets felt like riding a much larger and heavier version of the same bike. Of course in many ways they are wildly different - but the front end handling is not dissimilar. Particularly with less weight in the front, the steering is quick and light, requiring a gentle touch. Once you get used to that, the bike feels natural and intuitive to control. When making turns or adjusting its line of travel, the bakfiets is surprisingly nimble. Having the front wheel so far in front does feel disconcerting at first, but becomes natural once you get used to it. Some riders report that the linked steering takes getting used to, but I did not feel any effects specific to the linkage system. Others have described that the bike does not lean easily on turns, but I find that it leans fine. Overall I suspect that a rider's first reaction to the bakfiets depends on their riding style, inherent sense of balance, and the kinds of bikes they are already accustomed to. Some find it intuitive right away, others need practice. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
The seat tube angle on the bakfiets is quite relaxed and the handlebars high, placing the rider in an upright position. But the "cockpit" is not as tight as it is on some Dutch city bikes (i.e. the handlebars are unlikely to hit your thighs on turns). A low bottom bracket combined with the slack seat tube allows for full leg extension while pedaling and easy toe-town stopping while remaining in the saddle. 

One thing that is consistently said about the bakfiets is that it feels weightless in motion even when loaded, and I think that's an accurate assessment. The bike is not fast, but on reasonably flat terrain it is easy to propel forward, without any sensation of pushing or struggling. It just kind of floats as you pedal, boat-like. Henry of Workcycles attributes this quality to weight distribution: Because the box sits behind, rather than over the front wheel and fork, the weight is kept very low to the ground and does not affect steering. With a design like this, the weight is effectively part of the downtube. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
With a large heavy package and some other items thrown into the box, I rode the bakfiets on a 4 mile loop along the Cambridge/ Somerville line, mixing with car traffic most of the way. As far as stability - both in motion and at starts and stops - I did not experience any problems. The bakfiets was very easy to keep upright and, steered with a light touch, it felt downright relaxing to ride. After gaining some confidence, I began to play around with the steering. It felt like the only thing that could make this bike fishtail was the expectation that it would fishtail. But really it wanted to ride where I pointed it, and was very responsive to changes in course. So even if I did make it fishtail intentionally, the wobble was easy to correct. Just a few minutes into the ride I felt like I had excellent control of the bike. Riding with weight in the box does not feel any more challenging than without. And steering the long-box version did not feel any different from my recollections of the short version. 

The main difference really between riding the bakfiets and other bikes I am used to, was that I had to be cognisant of its size - mainly the width - when passing cars and making maneuvering decisions. While surprisingly maneuverable, it is simply a big bike with a wider turn radius than what I am used to (including the Xtracycle long tail). For instance, on the same street I can make a U-turn on the longtail easier than on the bakfiets - though possibly with practice I could become more proficient at the latter. 

As far as hills... Geared low, the bakfiets handles reasonable inclines well, retaining its momentum and that easy floaty feel. But as soon as I tried it on a real hill (say an 8-10% grade spanning half a mile - Spring Hill for locals) - it just refused to keep going at a certain point, even in 1st gear. I have seen bakfiets owners stand up and mash on the pedals furiously to get over short hills. But on longer hills on the outskirts of town, I imagine this could get exhausting for anyone but the strongest of cyclists. Me, I would need a cargo bike that could go long distance reasonably fast and get me up a 14% grade without standing, so a bakfiets would not be the best choice. But for those whose commutes are limited to flatter, shorter routes this would not be an issue. 

Workcycles Bakfiets Long
Over the past couple of years, I have spotted 6 distinct bakfietsen in active use around the greater Boston area. That is actually an impressive number, considering there has been no local dealer. Whenever possible, I've talked to the owners about their bikes. The general feedback is that they love the comfortable ride, the hauling capacity, and how easy it is to dump things into the box without having to secure every item. Those who have children have said their kids prefer sitting on the little bench in front to sitting on the back of a longtail (some families have both types of bikes, or have switched from one to another). On the downside, storing and parking the bakfiets can be a challenge given its size, as is maneuvering it along the sidewalk. And then, of course, the hills: "Not the best bike for hills" is the consensus. 

I enjoy the way the bakfiets rides, and I think that it looks adorable. By all accounts it is a tough, all-weather transport machine that holds up well in rough conditions and retains its value well when sold used. For many it is a car replacement, which more than justifies the cost. As far as transporting substantial cargo, the bakfiets is just one of several ways to carry similar amounts of weight  - the others popular options being long johns, long tails, and box trikes. Which method a rider finds preferable will depend on their circumstances - including handling preferences, terrain and other factors. As I've mentioned before, I love seeing more cargo bikes in our city, and I welcome cycler's new addition. Full picture set here.

47 comments:

  1. wonderful. i really miss ours. we used it for kid hauling, grocery runs, and cargo. we also had the kid cover...

    sadly we had to let it go to another good home (a gent with triplets!).

    we went to a trailer for a bit, and now love the yuba. not ideal for conversations, and certainly the bak is a bit more fun to be out and about on (and its easier to talk to your passengers...) - but the yuba is 60 pounds lighter, and way easier to store. and we can cartop it for camping / taking out of town.

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  2. I love her paint scheme and how it honors the bike's functionality.

    It seems to me that such cargo bikes are a perfectly reasonable application for electric assist hubs, although a purist sensibility might scoff. Post-automobile American towns can have a lot of hills, and mashing is not so great on the knees.

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    1. Anyone who's never ridden a 350lb. bike up steep hills and pooh-poohs e-assist needs to get a life.

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    2. But anyone who HAS ridden a 350lb bike up steep hills and still pooh-poohs e-assist should probably just sling the whole thing over their freakin' Sasquatch shoulder and just get on with it.

      Spindizzy

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  3. I have such a soft spot for cargo bikes and own a Bullitt. Next to Virginia tobacco farmers switching over to chickpeas to meet the growing global demand for hummus, their proliferation is my favorite trend.

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  4. It was interesting last year manning one of the checkpoints at Portland's Disaster Relief Trials, which was essentially a cargo bike race, where riders had to navigate a street course, some obstacles, and carry particular oddly shaped and weighted items up to 100lbs along the course.

    It was really interesting seeing the different types of bikes people had, and what their strengths and weaknesses were. There were bakfietsen of several types, long-tails, a recumbent, normal bikes with trailers, and even a tall bike.

    There was an obstacle where the riders had to lift their bikes over the obstacle, and as you might imagine, the bakfiets was pretty much the most difficult in this case. It does, as you also noted, suffer in the case of long, steep hills.

    However, in terms of actually loading the cargo, the bakfiets had a huge advantage. By the time the riders got to the last checkpoint where we were and were trying to fit the last piece of cargo on their bike, the riders had long tubes, big barrels full of water that was sloshing around, boxes, and other types of cargo.

    All of the bakfiets riders were able to just throw the last piece of cargo on top and ride off. Many of the longtail riders had to completely un-pack and re-pack their bikes to fit the cargo on, which took some upwards of 5 minutes (especially the guy whose kickstand had broken earlier in the race). The bakfiets also seemed to be considerably more stable with the full load, and some of the longtail owners had real issues with the sloshing water making the bike feel unstable.

    As you said, it all depends on what you need out of a bike, it was just interesting to me to see how all the different bikes handled that course, as they all had their distinct strengths and weaknesses.

    In the end, I think a person on a regular bike with a trailer actually won the race.

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    1. I live on top of one of the "Spring Hill" hills that V mentions, and that pretty much precluded me from getting a bakfiets. I've settled into a routine of keeping a trailer, which lets me ride my normal city bike. With the empty trailer attached, it still feels like my normal city bike, only with a load do I feel any extra weight or sluggishness, but the handling is the same as a regular bike.

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  5. Great report and very timely!

    Slightly off topic, but have you tried riding the Bullitt again since your last test ride? I am on the fence between the Bullit and the Bak. The Bullit is more appealing to me personally. But if your reaction is any indication of how my wife will take to it, I can't justify the purchase. The idea is for us to share the cargo bike.

    I am also wondering how tall you gals are? That saddle looks pretty low and my wife is just over 5'4". Thanks!

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    1. Yes, I've since tried it again and my reaction was the same. Possibly with repeat practice I'd be able to get better control of the bike, but it does not ride the same as the bakfiets. BUT... Don't assume this is a male/female thing please. If you read my test ride report, an experienced male cyclist could not ride it either. So it is very possible your wife will love the Bullitt and you will be the one not able to take to it : )

      I am just over 5'6" and get full leg extension with the saddle set up as shown in the first picture. Pretty sure there's 2" of post to spare there for someone your wife's height. I do know short riders are able to ride these bikes.

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    2. It is said the Bullitt is much more efficient than the Bak.

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    3. More like "somewhat" based on the feedback I hear. It is aluminum, lighter, much stiffer, and the bars are lower. But once you load it up, I don't know how huge the difference up hills is.

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    4. I thought Bullitt competency had to do with facial hair.

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    5. I know someone who's 5'1" who rides a Bakfiets, so that's possible. (See carfreecambridge, linked in the article).

      There's a guy in Belmont with a bakfiets, lives near Cushing Square (a decent hill), who says that the fastest way to Lexington is just to go over Belmont Hill and Arlington Heights on Park St., kid and all.

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    6. dr2chase - I think I know who that is! If I'm not mistaken the same gentleman recently finished a 300K brevet (not on the bakfiets) in 15 hours.

      Just thinking of going over Belmont hill on that thing makes me nauseous, good God man!

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    7. @V 1:29 - I don't know either but the structure is much stiffer. That helps tremendously climbing out of the saddle.

      Spinning I think things even out more...kinda like your normal bike reviews.

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    8. @ Lou,
      Cycler here
      I'm about 5'5-1/2" and Velouria is maybe an inch taller than I am- I don't think she adjusted the saddle at all, just rode it with the seat down a bit. I did just raise the saddle about 3/4" from where I had it originally, but I'm pretty confident that someone 5'4" wouldn't have a problem with it. I couldn't find sizing on the workcycles site, but the very similar FR8 and GR8 will supposedly fit riders from 5'-0" to 6'8" (taller for the Kruisframe version of the FR8).

      My husband who is 6'5" has ridden it a couple of times without any issues.

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  6. Whats the difference between a long john and a bakfiets?

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    1. Similar ideas in the sense that both are front load two wheelers. The main difference is the front end geometry, which results in different handling. The Long John is a Danish design, the Bakfiets a Dutch one. But to make that a little confusing, there is also the (Danish) Christiania 2-wheeler, which handles like a Bakfiets and not a Long John.

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  7. Notable today: authoress knows how to ride, this thing no big deal.

    I like this review much more than normal bike reviews: they're all pretty much the same but for small differences.

    For a bunch of wriggly kids on flat terrain these would be ideal, I'd think. To wit: yesterday I saw 4 kids crammed into a Nihola having a party...craning their necks to check out my dog.

    Just a bit of pedantia - the cockpit is extremely tight virtual tt-wise; it's the open bar that gives it a more, uh, open feel. A tall person standing to pedal will soon find his/her crotch humping the stem.

    A little more pedantia - fishtailing is when the tail of the fish wags...wait that sounded condescending...if the fish faced reward and swum upstream then that is what you're describing. What would you call it if he were turned forward - fishheading? Sometimes a dog will start its shake from the ass end, sending a standing wave up to where its brain is suppose to be, but I disgress.

    You were climbing with this empty and it felt that heavy?

    Just a maneuverability data point: I can turn my longtail in 7ft., just over the wheelbase length, no problem.

    Given its sturdiness I'm surprised the box carrying capacity is only 176lbs., but that may be due to the strength of the box, not the bike.

    Low...CENTER OF GRAVITY!!!...is the way to go. Like some new cars.



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    1. Well let's not get carried away here ("knows how to ride"). Also I thought it was no big deal 1.5 hears ago too.

      It would have to be a rear drive fish doing the breast stroke.

      I was climbing it with that big box and some other stuff thrown in, but not anywhere near full load capacity.

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  8. As an owner of the E-bike version of this bike, I wholly agree with your assesment of the bike. It feels nimble and responds quickly, qualities which I found essential and made me choose it over a Bullitt. My impression from reading numerous reviews, compared to my own bike, is that the e-bike version has slightly improved handling, due to the motor in the front wheel, which helps in sharp cornering at slow speeds (it pulls the bike around), and also stabilizes the bike on loose/slippery surface when pedaling. Oh, and it massively helps on the hills, obviously.

    Freddie
    Greater Oslo-area, Norway

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  9. Just love our bakfiets, now 4.5 years old. Our three original passengers mostly ride themselves these days but they just were adamant that we not sell it. Currently it's on long-term loan to another local family with two little kiddos and they are having tons of fun with it. I imagine our sons as high schoolers pedaling it around, giving each other and friends rides all around the city.

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  10. I had the chance to ride one of these last year. It did take a while to get used to the steering but once I did it felt like a car, I didn't have any load in the front either. I did a write up comparing it to a 3 wheeled Nihola, it's mainly about the Nihola though ...
    http://bicyclesinnewcastle.com/2013/02/05/cargo-bikes-some-comments-on-bakfietsen-and-niholas/

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  11. I can't imagine too many individuals opting for something like this, but a large company/warehouse might find excellent uses for them.

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  12. "I would need a cargo bike that could go long distance reasonably fast and get me up a 14% grade without standing"

    Whoah, I'm not sure I go up 14% grades without standing even on my touring bike. Portland is hilly, but the steepest hills are not much more than 8 to 10%

    I think you need an electric assist for a fully loaded, 2-wheel cargo bike to handle those kind of grades with ease, even if you have a long-tail with a mountain triple up front. A tricycle could also do it, since you could mash at very slow speeds without falling over.

    Clever Cycles and Splendid Cycles (both here in Portland) will both set up cargo bikes with electric assist systems, for an extra ~ $1500, that should do the trick.

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    1. I can get the Xtracycles Radish up a 14% hill with some weight in the back, without electric assist or suffering. I don't mean the entire hill is that, or that I do this more than occasionally, just using an extreme case scenario as the outer limit of what I'd like the bike to be capable of.

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  13. When I bicycled to my local big box home improvement store to buy some garden tools I couldn't find a place to lock my bike. Wouldn't it be nice if one were to cycle to such a store and find cargo carrying bikes being loaded in the bicycling parking lot? Bikes for transportation, here, are still not sexy enough to make money for the local stores. I hope Boston starts a trend!

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    1. What I do at Home Depot: ride to the entrance ( I'd ride through the site but that would be rude).

      Push to lumber section, load up with 2x8s.

      Or

      Push to plumbing, load up with 1 1/4" x 10 ft. pipe.

      Roll rig preloaded to checkout, tags up. Badda bing you're out and rolling a mile up the street before the guy with the pickup or car with roof rack even contemplate how to secure their loads.

      Prolly wouldn't do this with a back tho.

      Home improvement guys love the cargo bike.

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    2. Cool!

      My budget, and the hills around here, prevent me from looking into cargo bikes but I did find a Surly trailer which works perfectly for the few times a year I need lumber or free mulch from the city. My preference would be to find a shop who rents out trailers or cargo bikes, but no....

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  14. 'Those who have children have said their kids prefer sitting on the little bench in front to sitting on the back of a long tail'......

    This just sounds odd to me...When my kids were small they simply did not have a choice. Both rode on the back in funky child seats and only laughed, or talked, throughout our rides. It was blissful to all but, really, the time span was so brief it hardly registers in my memory. I'm just saying that kids are adaptable and are likely to have nightmares over things other than if they were in the front or the back of their parents bikes....well, who knows :)

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  15. Hi Velouria-

    Next time I'll give the bike a bath before you take it out for glamour shots!

    Two notes: I'm finalizing the order for the bakfietsen now, and I'm ordering one of the electric assist. If you're in the Boston area and seriously think you would want one, please drop me a line ASAP at bicyclebelleboston AT gmail etc . It adds roughly $1,000 to the cost. If I get a lot of interest, I might order more than one.

    Secondly, a minor note, front light does NOT have a standlight, although the rear light does. I'm not sure why, although I may talk to Henry about whether we could get a standlight model for the bikes coming here. I think they add a bit of safety when you're stopped at a light.

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  16. I haven't pedaled cycler's bakfiets yet, but I've ridden in it. We were meeting for lunch downtown before she left her gig to start her shop, and she had the bakfiets with her. Rather than make my own test ride in the midst of midday downtown Boston traffic, I just jumped in the cargo bin and let her pedicab me the two blocks to a nearby park where we ate our turkish takeout food. The actual experience of being a passenger was pretty neat, both from the ride quality and also the delighted looks of pedestrians watching the novelty glide by.

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  17. We have a few of these true cargo bikes around Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. The best part is that you can fit a regular keg on the bike, along with ice. You'll have friends wherever you go.

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  18. This bike looks identical to one I've seen locally; the owner bought it at one of your SF Bay Area sidebar advertisers. He has to contend with two short high grade hills (2 blocks each , 8 -10% grade) to get to the grocery store where we invariably see him. He says it's doable with spinning unless he has both little kids with him, in which case he has to mash.
    Having inspected it from up close, it's an impressive machine.

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  19. So how does one work that there kickstandy-looking thing? Can you deploy it from the cockpit or do you gracefully dismount and then commence to wrastle it up from the side?

    I find these bikes a bit grotesque but strangely compelling. Not in a hot Carny Girl with face tattoo sorta way, more like in a big friendly, sloppy St. Bernard kinda way. I find myself wishing I had one actually...

    Spindizzy

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    1. You can activate it from the cockpit as easily as from the side. You just push it down with your foot, pretty easy.

      Surely you could make one of these?..

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    2. If you put it like that, OF COURSE I could make one of these!

      It would only take me a thousand hours and it would be almost, but not quite as good. If you say it again I'll HAVE to do it just to prove I can and then when will I ever finish my freaking TIME MACHINE!? IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? Who's going to go back and push 12 year old Hitler down a well if we waste all our time building frikken' Cargobikes?!

      Sheesh, you people...

      Spindizzy

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  20. My porteur provides all the cargo moving oomph I need.

    Must say that Bakfeits smudged or not is a very good looking hauler.

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  21. hills? we had ours in burlington, vt. i routinely had the kid, car seat, groceries, beach gear, kid stuff, etc. etc. in it. max load i think we ever did was 120# + me + bike. i did swap out the rear cog, and thought about lowering the front, as ours was nexus IGH. even fully loaded, we had ours setup so you could crawl up main st. and get things done. certainly pointing straight up college was a challenge... but workable.

    you sort of eventually figure out that you get on with your life with the bike(s) you have, tweak what you can, and carry on...!

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  22. I think the comments re: the weight of it are clearly derived from the sports cyclist influence. I mean you obviously wouldn't use a truck to race in a grand prix in the same way you wouldn't use an F1 car to move house with. The weight in the structure is there for a reason, although you could probably replace the wooden box with one fabricated from aluminium sheet and frame, the weight saving would still be only a tiny percentage of the all up fully loaded weight. As for hills, these were never designed for climbing, they're specifically designed for Holland. While hills are doable you have to accept the limitations of hauling large loads up hill. You can either get very low gearing allowing you to pedal, or you can get off and push, either way is probably just as fast to get to the top, but then we have the sports cyclist influence taking hold again, where getting off to push is seen as 'defeat'.

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    1. I don't think it's so much complaining about the weight, as deciding whether this bike would be usable in a given setting. Even pushing a bike like this up hill is darn difficult (at least to me), so that's what would put me off rather than any sports-related philosophy where I'd feel ashamed dismounting.

      Any comparisons made here, as I see it, are between different types of trucks rather than truck vs Formula 1. There exist cargo bikes (not sport bikes) that are better suited for hills. But they have other drawbacks. It's about choosing whatever works for you. And if weight is important, fair enough.

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    2. "There exist cargo bikes (not sport bikes) that are better suited for hills"

      That's true, although most of them that i've seen don't carry the bulk/weight of the bakfiets. I would have thought a 'normal' bike with a loaded trailer comparable to the capacity of the bakfiets would be just as difficult to drag up hill.

      Pushing a heavy bike up a hill is difficult. But what i meant was if you had a hill where it was too steep to cycle up it, ie you stalled and just couldn't do it then it's normally still 'possible' to push the bike up it, albeit hard work. Even then it's still easier than carrying 60kg up hill.

      While the Bakfiets has a hub gear and chaincase for maintenance reasons, i doubt it would be too much effort to convert it to a deraileur system with a wider gear range with lower ratios, if we're talking about ex-works though then i can see your point.

      I wasn't aiming my comments directly at your review, but in response to some of the other comments made above.

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    3. Actually riding around in the Oslo area (on a Nihola) I would feel a bit silly getting off to push, because as about the only person with such a bike, I imagine people will think I have made a mistake. Happily for my self esteem, three wheels and 21 gear-inches go a long ways on steep hills!

      And when that is not enough, I often find that pulling is more effective than pushing.

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  23. Forget e-assist, just emulate Emily Finch and breed a stoker - "Pump, Mary, pump!"

    http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731

    What struck me about that article was not just the story but the comments - I was up half the night reading them. I mean, she's RICH, she's got SIX KIDS, she spends ALL THAT MONEY on a BICYCLE and she DOESN'T HAVE A CAR (although to be fair most of the comments were insightful, intelligent, complimentary and supportive, and these "criticisms" were from the lunatic fringe IMO).

    Portland certainly seems to be an interesting place. My favourite singer/songwriter Jolie Holland has just flitted there from New York. It appears to be THE place for cycling, music and social commentary.

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  24. I only witnessed a couple Bakfietsen when we lived in the Netherlands.
    I shudder to think what it would have cost to have one imported to the States. They were pricey enough in their home country.
    I was always amazed by some of the things I would see being carried on regular bikes. Lumber. Ladders. You name it. I mostly saw kids being hauled about in the boxy bikes.

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  25. A couple of notes: Fishtailing of the front would probably be called washing out. It's harder to do with more weight on the front, but turning too quickly can do it too but I don't think it's any worse on a bakfiets as on any other kind of bike.

    Gearing: I've heard that you can get larger rear cogs for (inversely) proportionally lower gearing overall- both on the lower end and the top end. If you really wanted, you could get a Schlumpf crankset for even lower range. Obviously, you could also do a lot of other things- new internal gear hub, derailleurs (though there's no rear derailleur hanger), new crankset (IIRC, the stock crankset on the Workcycles Bakfiets does not have a replaceable chainring), etc.

    Lights: I got a Busch & Muller Lumotec Lyt series LED light with standlight and really like it. It's actually a Lumotec Lyt T Senso Plus- what a long name. Really, there is no reason to have an incandescent bulb on a bike anymore except for the very fact that incandescents are not as efficient and illuminate relatively slowly (say tens of milliseconds), so you don't see the dynamo power pulses at walking speeds like you do with LEDs.

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