Monday, March 21, 2016

A Call for a Radish Redux (Some Thoughts on Cargo Bikes and Their Uses)

Over the weekend someone asked me - quite innocently - whether I've ever owned a cargo bike. They were a little taken aback when my eyes nearly filled with tears in response. Because you see, for a few blissful months in 2013 I did own a cargo bike. It was an Xtracycle Radish and it was a useful, comfortable, gorgeous, glorious machine. A display model from Interbike in a lovely shade of saffron, it could haul - and it could also "haul ass" as it were!

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.

When I shared these impressions informally with some industry folks and Edgerunner owners, the feedback I got was almost unanimous:

"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.

On my Radish I had carried everything from groceries - in quantities that would have overwhelmed an ordinary bicycle - to, perhaps more crucially, things such as art supplies, hardware store purchases, unusually shaped parcels, light pieces of furniture, and other objects that were not so much heavy as very long or awkwardly shaped. And while it would not have been impossible to secure some of those items to an ordinary bicycle and ride with them gingerly, the cargo bike made it a much easier and less precarious process, and saved me multiple trips.

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.

To be clear, this is not a review-in-hindsight of the Xtracycles EdgeRunner. Neither is it a criticism of that fine machine. Far from it. I think the EdgeRunner is a fantastic bike for the purpose it was designed for, and a necessary bike in today's world. In the age of the "people carrier" it is great to have velo-alternatives that can cope with not just one but multiple children while remaining easy to handle. So I'm all for the EdgeRunner and other heavy-duty cargo bikes. It's just that, in addition, I wish that the lovely, nimble, adorable Radish were still available for the likes of me and other childless, non-fridge-carrying cargo bike enthusiasts. Speaking more generally, I wish there were more options for cargo-lite, as it were, cargo bike models.

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.

I miss the saffron Radish and hope that its current owner is as delighted with this bicycle as I was. I hope also that Xtracycle might consider bringing back a version of this model someday... and that other manufacturers might consider the question of a cargo bike's many potential uses, with interesting results.

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!


64 comments:

  1. What do you think of the cycletruck idea? I rode a Soma Tradesman set up with a box permanently affixed to the front platform and it seemed like it might meet most of your criteria. (Terrible shimmy, though, when attempting to ride no-hands; perhaps a silly thing to attempt on any cargo bike.) I'm also really intrigued by the various Omnium models.

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    1. The high stepover of the Tradesman would not work for many riders, myself included, so it never garnered my interest. I was however very much looking forward to trying in the Soma "Pick Up Artist". Unfortunately, having made the prototype batch they seem to not have gone ahead with that model.

      Never seen an Omnium in person, and they do look interesting - but again, that high top tube!

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    2. They have a version called Variant that has a sloping top tube. You should check it out! I've ridden basically all cargo bikes and Omnium is the only one to come close to handling like a regular bike.

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  2. Do you have any thoughts about the relative merits and defects of longtail rear load cargo bikes and heavy duty porteurs (optimized for front loads)? Can you say which give the best mix of laden/unladen handling?

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    1. I could have sworn I wrote a post on this topic, but I'll be damned if I can find anything on this blog!

      My impression is that it's largely a personal preferences + use case scenario thing and there is no "best." The load capacity can be designed to be similar, but the handling will be very different, so in one sense it's a matter of what type of handling the rider is more comfortable with (and on whether they feel more comfortable seeing their cargo as they ride - same as with this).

      Another factor is that the front box vs the long tail call for somewhat different methods of placing things inside, so it depends on what sort of objects you'll be transporting, on whether they are okay sitting loose or need to be secured, etc. The front box models are ideal for piling in large objects without necessarily having to bother securing them. The long tail models are ideal for transporting long objects, obviously, and also anything that can benefit from being carried in a suspended manner (within the pannier-like hammock contraptions along the side).

      Personally, for the kind of terrain I tend to cycle through and the kind of distances I do, I preferred the speed and climbing ability of the Radish to any bakfiets then-available on the market that I had tried. However, if a front-load system was able to deliver that same speed and climbing ability (which is could, in theory) I suspect that would be my preference.

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    2. Have you seen the cargo bikes made by Frances Cycles? @ http://francescycles.com

      Josh's mixtehaul is an interesting mix between a front loading bakfiets/long john and the suspension of load like a longtail. Though I guess like the small haul, it's not as full size capacity as the Xtracycles or bakfiets.

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    3. I had similar impressions with front versus rear load bikes. The big box bakfiets are fantastic for just being able to drip stuff in and go. But they require a more leisurely riding style and climbing with them is awkward. You can carry a lot on the long tails, but you have to more properly secure cargo. The plus side is that they ride basically like a normal bike.

      The Larry vs Harry bullitts are supposed to be the most sporty of the front loaders. Never had the chance to try one unfortunately. But I suspect there will always be something slightly awkward about having the steering axis so far behind the front wheel.

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    4. I had seen pictures of the Frances Cycles mixtehaul; the way the cargo/passenger is carried "inside" the frame as it were is pretty interesting. Would love to see that one in person.

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    5. MaxUtil - I have an old review of the Bullit here (can't believe that post is 5 years old!).

      Having tried them a few times subsequently, I did finally manage to ride them but my impressions did not change hugely. Cool bike if you can handle it competently. But if not, well that sort of takes away from its value as child transport!

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    6. The Frances Small Haul sounds like the smaller bakfiets you're imagining. See pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=7278641%40N07&view_all=1&text=small%20haul

      I think a Haul-A-Day would not be a bad bet for a less-than-refrigerator-carrying longtail. I've only test-ridden one, and the handlebars were different enough from usual for me that I couldn't give it a fair evaluation, but it felt a whole lot more nimble than my Big Dummy (20"-frame, v1). (Do note, I ride the Big Dummy 5 days a week in Camberville rush hour, and it handles weaving through through stopped traffic just fine.)

      To someone who sometimes carries ridiculous loads the EdgeRunner (test-rode one of those, too) feels nice. A little stiffer, a little stabler, that small wheel also helps avoid internal-gear-hub destruction by letting you use the gears you need without going right to the hub's torque limits.

      My bike also lives outdoors; I can hang it (every day, in the work bike cage) but leaving it flat is obviously easier. The chain gets a lot of goop on it to retard damage from the wet+salt+grit (and gets changed fairly often anyway), the saddle gets a cover or two to keep the wet off, and I try to keep water out of the cables so they won't freeze. Otherwise, the tubes have been been loaded up with frame saver, and any scratches get a hit of clear nail polish as soon as possible. The front (dynamo) hub seems not to care -- I did load it up with a fresh load of grease a while bug, and otherwise I just do the recommended service on the rear (IGH) hub. Only thing I'm thinking much about changing is to swap out the front disk and go for the big Sturmey-Archer drum.

      Never tried a Bullitt, but a friend of mine has one and loves it.

      One thing about riding cargo and other bikes -- you learn to adapt to different bike handling (and different loads) pretty quickly. Whenever I change, the first couple of hundred yards there's a little side-to-side wobble, which then vanishes. It's no longer a conscious thing. Worst-case cargo, I went from "don't know if I can keep this on the [12-foot-wide] bike path" to "I think I'll cope" to "Huh, I'm tracking a line" in about half a mile. No-hands with more than 100 pounds of load is a thing.

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  3. My oldest son has an Xtracycle (along with a plethora of other bikes) and when asked if he had to choose only ONE bicycle - it was the Xtracycle.

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  4. Why are you not into the midtail idea? You can strap stuff to the Boda Boda's side tubing (like a Brompton as you show here in the Radish photo, or a large canvas) and by nature of its shorter rear deck/rack it's lighter and nimbler than a longtail. Also I have a large frame-mounted basket (Yuba's "bread basket" which doesn't wiggle and can hold up to 50 lbs.

    I think it was actually really smart of Xtracycle to offer the Edgerunner, mostly because of the smaller wheel in the rear: lower center of gravity for loads (especially wiggly kids) makes for an easier ride. I tried my friend's Edgerunner and it was really stable but definitely not as slow as the Yuba Mundo, and much easier on hills.

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    1. I've tried Yubas a few times and there is something about the geometry and handling of the bikes (the actual bikey aspect, not the way they carry cargo - which is fine) that doesn't suit me. Those damn personal preferences.

      The 50lb bread basket is pretty impressive. (As is the amount of stuff I've seen you carry on yours!)

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  5. First of all, while they discontinued Radish, they introduced Leap - a new stiffer platform that can convert nearly any bike into a cargo bike. Maybe this would meet your expectations?

    I agree that Edgerunner is not a cargo bike for everyone (cargo bikes are specialized solutions anyway). I should write a separate post on my blog about it but in general, Edgerunner is a very good platform with some issues. It is certainly stiffer than the old Radish and it's actually quite lightweight for a cargo bike. Despite that increased stiffness, you do have a feeling of riding on a bike with a waggy tail.

    It rides like a regular bike, more or less, even with two kids in the back. But once those little buggers start to lean over to the side, it does throw you off balance. I imagine that those Dutch and Danish know what they are doing moving their kids around in bakfiets or Bullits. Those bicycles likely work better for transporting children.

    Another thing for example that I didn't exactly fell in love in the beginning was that Edgerunner feels so much slower than any other regular bike (duh!). So, no - it's not "optimised for performance" as you wish. But adding an electric motor to it changed the whole thing. While I'm not a fan of electric performance bikes, going electric on a cargo bike simply makes sense to me. Now even going up that 10% grade with two kids in the back seems trivial.

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    1. Interesting, because you are the first EdgeRunner owner who has given me feedback that children's movement does affect balance; normally I am told that kids can lean, jump, or try to crash you deliberately back there, and the "driver" won't feel it. Useful to know there are different experiences. As I've said before, I am not willing to cycle with other people's children in order to review a bike, so I've no personal experience what so ever in this regard.

      My own impression of the EdgeRunner is that it felt somewhat (but not hugely) slower than my former Radish, when piled with equivalent weight. The Radish, on the other hand, did not feel at all slower than a regular (upright) bike and was in fact faster than many non-cargo city bikes on the market today.

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    2. Having owned both a bakfiets style box bike and now a Yuba Mundo, I completely agree with bostonbybike. Having the kids up front where you can see what they are doing, as well as the handle bars being nearer the centre of gravity of the bike, makes it so much easier to control the bike when the kids start moving around (as children do). My kids outgrew my original (short) box bike and I gave them the choice of a longer box bike (I wanted a Bullit) or the Yuba where they sit behind me. At 3 and 6 years old, they both chose the Yuba and, while I like it well enough and it is working out pretty well, I miss riding a box bike a lot. I really wanted that Bullit...

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  6. I have an Xtracycle Radish. I, too, am sad that the beautiful Radish is no longer available. It's not just a great bike for grocery shopping, picnicking, work commuting, and hauling around my pre-schooler. It's a beautiful bike to look at. It really is. Everywhere I go I get complimented on that beautiful cream-colored Radish. The new Xtracycle bikes are just ugly. I'm sorry to say it, but they are. Not feminine or pretty in any way. I hope they bring back the Radish again. I actually wanted to buy a second one because I love mine so much, but when I found out they didn't have it anymore, I didn't bother ordering one of the newer ugly bikes.

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    1. When I first saw the EdgeRunner at Interbike 2012 (see here) I thought they looked pretty cute. The display models were all in muted colours, like mauve and charcoal, and were fitted with wooden accessories; the overall effect was lovely. Later they changed to a harsher colour scheme and, in combination with the angular frame and black/gray bags, the bikes have a completely different look now. The current EdgeRunner aesthetic is not to my taste. But then, funny enough, some have described the Radish as "ugly." To each their own.

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  7. This is one reason I prefer trailers to cargo bikes. Easily attach to my current bike and can meet all my modest needs. I rarely use it but am glad to have it.

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    1. I have tried trailers a few times and found cycling them completely disconcerting. However that was a good 4 years ago now and my handling skills/ tolerance for "weird" velo sensations have improved quite a bit. I would love to try it again, given the opportunity.

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    2. Met a guy outside the grocery store as we were both loading up our bikes, me attaching my two panniers while he was loading a trailer connected to his fixed wheel bike. I've seen lot of bikes with trailers but never a cargo bike around here. Anyway, I asked him about his trailer, what he used it for and how he liked it, and he swore by it as being simple and rugged and easy to use. Said he'd been using it for seven years and while it was not cheap (I think he said around $300) it was well worth the cost. Kids, cargo, he said it's seen it all. Sadly, I can't remember the brand. Years ago, in the late 70's, my wife and I gave up our car and pitched in with another couple to purchase a trailer to share. Around our west coast town it was perfect for trips to every conceivable type of store as we built up our home. One woman who shared it was not particularly comfortable or nimble on her mixte but no issues with pulling the trailer. My wife found it quite fun and would often volunteer to be the designated puller! That was long ago and now that I'm back to using a bike exclusively I'm thinking a trailer my be in my future.

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    3. The Burley Travoy is an incredibly useful trailer. Think of it as a high-tech version of the wire grocery carts you see people in urban areas walking with to the grocery store. Pops on and off with one button - far simpler and lighter than a traditional trailer. Between the Wald basket on the back of my normal bike, my Brompton (quite the hauler), and the Travoy, I certainly haven't needed a true cargo bike, despite liking them. Maybe if I had kids.

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  8. Pancog Cycles? Sounds delicious!
    Kickstarter?

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  9. I took delivery of a Bike Friday Haul a Day in December, and it has become my go to bike. It fits nicely into the cargo bike lite category that you describe. I use it for a wide range of riding, from grocery getting, to pet food runs, to breakfast rides, to touring, and it excells at them all. Lightweight, nimble, maneuverable, comfortable and customizable, it's well worth a look by anyone interested in the cargo bike genre.

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  10. Am I the only one who loves that the first model was called the Radish? I also enjoyed seeing the Brompton snugly tucked onto the side. I'm hoping there's a cargo bike in my future; maybe I can find someone selling a Radish...

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    1. I looooved the "radish" concept, the cute logo, and how organic the thing felt overall. I'd be curious what the resale rate of those bikes is, as I don't think I've ever seen any sold second-hand.

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    2. I've only seen *one* for sale second-hand; Grant at Rivendell sold off the shop Radish about 2.5 years back. It went before I could call 'em and snag it. (I think it was one of the cream ones.) Still, I keep looking.

      The Tern Cargo Joe was intriguing, and they had them at a good local shop, but I never test-rode it. I've only seen one of these for sale second hand locally.

      Until now, I never knew you had actually owned that Radish.

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    3. I actually had a series of 2 Radishes in my possession. First they sent me the regular cream one to test ride, which was also meant as a sample for Harris Cyclery to see whether these bikes would sell in Boston (at the time there was considerable skepticism about that!); then I bought the saffron demo bike for myself. All in all, I was in possession of one or the other from October 2012 through summer 2013. I have lots of posts here where these bikes are shown or incidentally mentioned, but by the time I was ready to write a proper review XtraCycles announced the model was being "put on hold." Ah well. At least both Harris Cyclery and Bicycle Belle started carrying XtraCycles as a result of the whole thing.

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    4. I do remember seeing pics of the cream one as well. I just figured you'd test ridden both of them.

      Yesterday after writing my previous comment, I stepped out on the porch just as a neighbor rode rode by on an early-model Big Dummy, followed a moment later by another local and his son on an Edgerunner. The longtails have a following here.

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  11. Your bike was a thing of beauty and as with so much in this world someone spotted that and designed out all the joy for the new model! Thuggish black everywhere and every interesting curve replaced with something closer to a girder. What a shame.

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    1. T know nothing about cargo bikes but in comparing the images of the Radish and the EdgeRunner, I agree entirely with your comment "designed out all the joy for the new model" - that little Radish was so sweet!

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  12. Included in my fleet of bicycles is a Surly Big Dummy. It’s a great bike for what it’s designed for, I ride it a few times a week to the store, farmer’s market and when I take my son to school. It can tow my son’s bike home from his school, carry a 5 gallon water bottle, 4 full re-usable grocery bags, a pizza on the snap deck, case of beer, all with ease and style, just not at the same time. I also use it to haul not so typical things like 2, one gallon gasoline cans or a 20 pound propane tank. I have it set up with disk brakes, cream fat frank tires, Brooks b17, Riv Albatross bar, fenders, old school Shimano thumb shifters and Magic Shine lights. It’s very comfortable and handles all sorts of weather without a care. It’s a first generation version, so the top tube slops downward which makes for easy mounting/dismounting by bringing my leg over the top tube. The long wheel base makes for easy no handed riding, for fun I’ll put my hands on the passenger handle bar. I think it’s about 7 years old at this point. Originally it could carry my then two young sons, but they haven’t had a ride on it for a year or two now, so they aren’t just for hauling kids. I’m sure I’ll have it as long as I have a garage to park it in, but once we get older and we move into an apartment it would most likely be sold. I would highly recommend a long tail cargo bike to anyone who is trying to live car free or car lite, as we do.

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    1. "I’m sure I’ll have it as long as I have a garage to park it in"

      Bingo!

      My issue with the longtails (and cycle trucks for that matter) is while they may not take as much storage real estate as a car, they are definitely less than ideal for people who keep their bikes on hooks near their apartment door.

      Perhaps as the urban bicycle day share industry matures from providing cute memories for tourists the services will start adding cargo bikes to the mix. Seems to me a good way to get more locals using the service.

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    2. Ah, but there’s the new, just launched, Xtracycle Tern Cargo Node...
      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tern-xtracycle/cargo-node-worlds-most-useful-bike-now-fits-in-you

      Xtracycle and Tern have collaborated before, on the Tern Cargo Joe, reviewed on this very blog along with the Radish...
      http://lovelybike.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/long-tail-tales.html

      Still, the Cargo Joe was a lash-up, just the Xtracycle Free Radical extension attached to a Tern Joe, but as soon as I saw the Cargo Node on Kickstarter I felt sure it was the way to go. Wouldn’t know about its dynamics without riding it, but with its 24-inch wheels and Big Apple tyres it should ride well – the standard Node gets excellent reviews in that respect. It’s expensive – £1700 from Practical Cycles in the UK – but I live in a one-bedroom flat (with the bedroom now used as the bike room and the living room as a bedsit!), so it would be ideal. I cycle everywhere for transportation, car-free, and although I haven’t used public transport for three years, a folding cargo bike would broaden my horizons. If someone pressed the reset button and I had to start again (with enough money...), I could settle down and get on with my life with that kind of bicycle.

      A bit speculative, writing that about a bicycle I’ve never seen, but you know how some things just switch on your lights?

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    3. Looks promising. Would still take up more space width wise than a standard bike.

      I've been car free in Chicago going on 13 years now. Frankly I see not being able to cart home things I might otherwise have acquired were it not for the limits of my bike's porteur style rack an added benefit. My life is less cluttered and bank account more full.

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    4. That's interesting about the new Node, though my intuition tells me it will meet a similar fate as the previous attempt.

      Matthew J - funny, as not having a car for 2+ years in rural Ireland (where shops are so far away and cycling conditions so brutal that carrying purchases home on a bike is no easy feat!) has definitely improved my financial situation!

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    5. Regarding taking space inside the house - I wouldn't dream of attempting to store a cargo bike indoors. When I had the Radish, I kept it chained (with one of those hard core Abus chains) at the back of our building and it faired relatively well save for some mild drivetrain rust. IMO any cargo bike should be by default designed to be sufficiently durable for outdoor storage, garaged or not. Motorbike-style covers are an option as well.

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    6. Matthew J

      For apartment dwellers midtails are about perfect. Take a look at the latest from Rivendell, the Appaloosa. Don't read all the marketing speak, just look at the bike. Completely normal frame with chainstays about three inches longer than standard. Cut the backend off an old full weight 80s Fuji tourist bike and have your framebuilder put on some twenty inch chainstays. Midtails will haul any amount of weight you can haul. They are not optimum for bulky loads, they do create more opportunities for attaching big stuff than you might at first imagine. A midtail will usually be shorter than a DL-1. It's not easy getting a DL-1 into a Chicago nineteenth century apartment but if you can manage that you can easily manage a midtail.
      The only only problem midtails and longtails have is that the mfrs want to bury them with bells and whistles and unique parts, then sell them as something other than bicycles. They are just bikes. They are bikes with long chainstays and that's all they are. Bikes with long chainstays are good simple things. If you need a simple steel custom rack to go with your custom midtail contact our own Sir Spindizzy.

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  13. To prolonng the life of the wheel bearings and wheels, a three wheeled solution might be better if you´re going to transport heavy stuff. It also gives a shorter wheelbase which helps weight and stiffness. Also, it stands upright by itself while loading.

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    1. I have tried the 3-wheeled Christiania (a few times, but the earliest is documented here) as well as the Nihola. While I had expected the 3-wheelers to be a lot easier to handle, in practice I found quite the opposite to be true. I would need a lot of practice to feel comfortable riding them in traffic, in particular when cornering.

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  14. I've been on and off the cargo bike fence for a while now, I would love one but when it comes down to it the practicalities of a trailer (BOB Yak) work better for me at this point in my life.

    I use the trailer 2-3 times a week for anything from the weekly shop, to hauling large $THINGS, collecting firewood, even rescuing bikes! It is brilliant, the added benefit of being able to unhook it and then have a 'normal' bike, albeit still with front and rear racks, is what makes it the better choice for me in general. Storage problems are much reduced compared to a cargo bike, and the flexibility is a winner.

    If/when we have children though I think I will swap to a cargo bike, probably a Bullit, as I for-see having to use it much more frequently, and crucially, more ad-hoc and unexpectedly, the trailer is brilliant, but you have to plan to use it, it's no good arriving somewhere, finding you need it and have left it at home!

    With regards to handling and trailers, I find the single wheel type like the BOB are practically invisible from a handling point of view, you only notice the extra weight on climbs, and the rest of the time it just disappears behind you and has very little effect on the bike, even up to 20-25mph with 30Kg+ in there, the same cannot be said for the two wheel trailers I have used, which will rock and buck, drag the back of the bike around and cannot tracel safely at speed! Although they are obviously the better choice when the load is exceptional or unbalanced, but at that point you'd be needing a tricycle anyway if you went down the cargo bike path.

    For cargo-light but with a bucket style load area instead of long-board then I don't think you can beat the 8freight design, If I had to do away with the trailer that would be my choice, until you need to start carrying people, and then I would definitely be looking at long-nose bikes or tricycles.

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  15. Farm bikes are already around. Have you not seen them?

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    1. I have seen bikes on farms (I live on one). But I have a specific concept in mind that, as far as I know, does not yet exist.

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    2. That's what I mean, farmers are often very inventive and have specific needs. I've seen a few bike inventions on farms. I once stayed at a Bruderhof community while traveling by bike and couldn't believe some the cool inventions for the farm. Also, in Oregon I worked on a sustainable farm one summer and the owner invented a clever hybrid pedaling machine that we were able to take all over the property with loads. These were not commercial bikes, just creative solutions to specific needs.

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  16. I have a Cetma cargo bike with box attached, and I can attest to the fact that I routinely look for excuses to ride it, even when I don't have tumblr-worthy loads of crap piled on. I will ride it even if I'm only picking up a few things at the store. The riding is very natural and moderately upright (the dutch-style ones lean back too much for me)--its more comfortable to sit on than my commuter bike. The top tube slopes a bit like a mixte and it handles easily. Unloaded, it doesn't take all that much effort to ride, although as a midwesterner, I am probably not qualified to comment on its climbing. I do carry my kid around in it as well, but traffic discourages me from hauling him all over town.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback Tom. How does it handle in high winds?

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    2. i haven't been in anything too nasty yet, just usual illinois rain/snow. a direct headwind is probably not going to be fun, but the box is pretty low to the ground, compared to piling a bunch of bags on a porteur rack. another nice thing is that the box is optional, ive used it at a flatbed a number of times. i really only built the box for when i have a passenger. its heavier than the bullits but i think its much more comfortable and is a little springy (steel instead of aluminum, i suppose). i agree with your other commenters that storage is a problem--i only have space for it now that i have a shed. it would not have been practical during my apartment-dwelling days. sadly, i think that integrating bikes into urban transit at scale is not happening. cargo bikes are still considered oddities

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    3. That looks like an interesting option!

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  17. We bought a Torker Cargo-T a few years back when we lived in the country. For hauling weighty or bulky items, it's great, albeit extremely heavy-duty. Then we moved to town and started using our Burley Travoy trailer much more, as distances and loads decreased.

    For a two-wheeled trailer, the Travoy handles quite well, both loaded and empty. There is very little tugging on the bike and no sideways oscillations, even at higher speeds. Our biggest problem is forgetting it's back there and turning too suddenly, which overturns the trailer.

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    1. I like my Travoy, too. I'm not fast enough to tip it, though!

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  18. I know what you mean about trikes and cornering but... have you seen the "Built to Tilt" models just launched by Butchers & Bicycles of Copenhagen? Have a look at this:
    https://vimeo.com/79972861

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  19. Currently a nice, customized, Surly Big Dummy for sale on CGOAB…nice price, too.
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/classifieds/?o=tS&classified_id=5363&v=h

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  20. I always thought the Radish was a good idea: A fairly capable cargo bike with enough built-in stiffness to reassure first-time utility cyclists. It was affordable, too. I'm looking around for a new donor bike to put my vintage Xtracycle Free Radical back in service. But it would be nice to have more $1000 price-class complete bike options (and probably yield a better ride).

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    1. For the donor bike have you considered a vintage 3-speed? I have long wondered how the combination would fare.

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    2. IIRC the free radical has vertical dropouts which would require a chain tensioner, and it only really supports v brakes in the rear (there's no brake bridge, just studs). I know they make a stud spacing adapter from 559/26" wheels to 622/700c but I don't know what you'd do with a 26x1-3/8" wheel. The Free radical was optimized for converting a 26" hardtail mountain bike, and everything else is much more complicated. We'll see if the leap solves those problems.

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    3. I am not sure the standard Sturmey AW hub pawls could take the torque associated with cargo bike weights. I seem to recall one of the longtime commenters (Dr2chase, perhaps?) had utilized such a setup and blew it apart internally in fairly short order.

      There was a local here who set up a 70s Peugeot UO-8 Mixte with a Free Radical. He had canti studs brazed on the front fork and used a disc in the rear to be able to stay with 700c/622 wheels.
      The build log was online, but I cannot find it now.

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    4. Never blew up an SA-3, but never put one on a cargo bike, either.
      Did trash an SRAM iMotion-9, which was a pity, because till then it was a lovely hub. Also trouble with an Alfine 8 -- seemed prone to unscrewing itself because it lacked a torque arm. Sold that wheel to a family of much lighter cargo bikers in Cambridge, and it served them well for years.

      But understand, I am a weird outside case, I'm biggish, always had strong legs, intermittently like to mash, and those are not the only bike parts I've broken: https://dr2chase.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/too-much-torque/

      For me, one advantage of a cargo bike is not feeling like I'm going to twist the damn thing into a pretzel. And even for that, I had to adapt the bike -- steel front chainring, Rohloff in the rear (I'm above the torque limit, too, just in case), and I avoid wide handlebars so it won't be so easy for me to tear them in half.

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    5. @BicycleBelle Love your shop. I have a old X free-radical kit made for me way back. The kit we ordered was made for 29ers. It takes the cantis from the donor. I have tandem wheels on it and it's fairly effortless. The center of gravity can feel a bit high as my donor bike is an alum. Fuji commuter. It's not very stiff but I've not had any trouble loaded.

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  21. While I can see the attraction of a cargo style bike that has two child seats in front of the rider, for most other cargo tasks I simply use a trailer. This is a far more flexible solution for my occasional heavy transport requirements.

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  22. You could consider building your own...
    http://tomscargobikes.com/tomscargobikes.com/Build_Your_Own/Build_Your_Own.html

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  23. Just wanted to let you know that _your_ Radish is being well used and thoroughly loved by the woman who bought it- a friend and sometime summer employee at the shop. She loves riding it with her daughter from JP to West Cambridge on a regular basis.
    Carice

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    1. That is wonderful and reassuring to know, thanks Carice!

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  24. Musical instruments are generally lightweight, but bulky and fragile. I wonder if anyone can advise me on the minimal setup to transport antique guitars without subjecting them to vibration. A longtail with its sling could work, but my storage is down a narrow staircase with an angle at the bottom.

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