A Call for a Radish Redux (Some Thoughts on Cargo Bikes and Their Uses)
Unfortunately for the poor bicycle, it came to me at a time when my life was about to go topsy-turvy, so that I never featured it here properly. Still, in the time I owned it I loved the Radish. I would own it still, had transporting it to Ireland not been prohibitively costly. But costly it was, and so I sold it to a nice lady in Boston once it became apparent that my move overseas was permanent.
It was around this time that Xtracycle introduced their newest cargo bike model, the EdgeRunner. And the plan had been at first, as far as I understood it, to offer both models in parallel: the EdgeRunner for heavy-duty haulage, and the Radish for less extreme cargo. However, somewhere along the way the plans must have changed and the new model replaced the Radish altogether.
On subsequent trips back to Boston, I test-rode the EdgeRunner several times (it is available to try from Bicycle Belle and Harris Cyclery), with intent to at some point review it. And I liked it a lot. But I had to admit that, for my own use case scenario, I had liked the Radish better. The EdgeRunner was designed to be a stiffer, heavier-duty cargo bike. It is optimised for carrying heavier loads and multiple (3!) squirming children, while remaining impeccably stable and well-balanced. However, it hadn't quite the same degree of lively-ness and... for lack of a better word, "personality," that I had so loved about the Radish.
"Oh, well that wasn't a fair test ride of the Edgerunner! You should have carried a fridge on it. Or a sofa. Oh and borrowed some neighbourhood children. Now that would have been a fair test ride."
And at first I figured, they were right, and so I never reviewed the bike. But the more I mulled it over in hindsight, the more I thought, "Why should I have to devise a scenario completely unnatural to me in order to test ride a bicycle?..." After all, I do not have children. And neither is transporting fridges and sofas part of my everyday utility cycling experience. Despite this, I had benefitted from cargo bike ownership in the past.
So clearly I am within the target market for cargo bike ownership. Just perhaps not the EdgeRunner per se. Which is fine. And it does offer some food for thought about the many potential uses of cargo bikes, and, consequently, about what features we might value in them.
By this, however, I do not mean "mid-tail" versions of the rear load cargo bike, and "small bucket" versions of the bakfiets. The size of the container/extension must remain the same. But the bicycle itself would be optimised for performance (distance, hills, nimble handling) rather than for hauling maximum weight.
Who would benefit from such a bike? People who travel with musical instruments. Artists who carry large canvasses. Chimney sweepers. Fishermen. But, without resorting to such picturesque extremes, a bike of the sort I describe would benefit pretty much anyone who needs to carry oversized objects or piles of equipment with ease, perhaps over challenging terrain, yet does not require ultra-heavy-duty hauling capacity.
It would be interesting to conduct a survey of what portion of cargo bike owners (or would-be owners) use their machines in this manner, as opposed to for sofa/fridge/child portage. I suspect the numbers would not be entirely insignificant.
For trips through the harsh Irish landscape, for instance, I envision a sort of Bakfiets-lite contraption with lighter tubing, responsive handling, good strong brakes, and a large, lightweight box in the front. It would be a flagship model of (the fictional) Pancóg Cycles for sure, along with the Farm Bike - a concept on which I shall expand at a later time!