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  1. #1
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    Winter Stability: Longtail vs Bakfiet

    My wife and I are car-free and live in Vermont. With a baby on the way we've been looking into cargo bikes. Bakfiets seem very cool for hauling kids.

    Recently I was riding my 29er on some back roads just after a huge snow storm. The snow was dense enough that it took real attention to keep the bike straight. I found that weighting the front a bit helped keep it from washing out.

    I got to wondering if the bakfiet design is prone to having the front wheel lose traction from not having enough weight on it. A longtail would have excellent balance. I've read reports of Big Dummies being great in the snow and ice. I haven't found much about bakfiets in the same conditions.

    Anybody have any info they can share?

  2. #2
    Live Deliberately. davidmcowan's Avatar
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    I have never had a Bakfiets or ridden one in the winter. I do own a Big Dummy + PeaPod LT for getting my little tyke around town. Its longer wheel base makes it track a lot better. What you may want to be considering though is the effect of the wind/snow/etc on your child. I won't go much below 32 degrees until my 16 month old gets a little older but I use one of those Sheepskin carseat covers inside of her Peapod which can be zipped up to cover everything but her head. A hat, some vaseline on her cheeks and nose and she is good in most "reasonable" conditions.

  3. #3
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    You may also want to consider hills in your decision. From everything I hear, the Bakfiets is very much a dutch bike, with gearing to match, while the big dummy has more standard MTB gearing. I've been looking at the same thing as my girl has outgrown her front mounted seat and I've been looking at a cargo solution. We're going with a Big dummy because of snow, hills, the ability to put studded tires on (I'm not sure if they make studs for the 20" front wheel on the bakfiets.)

    If you just have the one child, you may want to look at something like the bobike mini or ibert as a front seat and going to a cargo bike later since the front seat doesn't interfere with any rack/pannier setup that you've got. The 10mph hug is great fun and I felt much more secure in having her between my arms when she was very small. Totcycle has pretty good writeups on all the options. One issue with the front seats is they're not as good for naps as other options. Long rides are very soporific.

    All that being said, the peapod or other bike seats aren't really suitable till your kid can sit up and hold their head up on their own. People have rigged infant car seats in trailers, bakfiets and the Madsen (rear bucket.) It depends on your level of comfort and the laws in your vicinity. In some places it's not legal to have a kid on a bike before 1 year. I personally didn't feel comfortable till she was around a year, but that's largely due to the drivers around here.

  4. #4
    Senior Member katcorot's Avatar
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    Here's a great link covering studded tires:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

    I know from reading this page that most companies that make quality studded tires have 20" versions.
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  5. #5
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    If you live in a climate where you get snow and ice a long tail bike can be wonderful as they track wonderfully but because the rear wheel is unweighted it is also easier to spin out on ice so studs are a must have... lose the back wheel on a longtail and recovery is going to very difficult.

    With a bakfeits and a little tyke you have a much nicer place for your child to ride and can add extra insulation and a cover to protect them from the wind and elements... there are more and more companies entering the market fro front loaded cargo / kid haulers and many of them are well designed in that they have much wider gear ranges than their Dutch counterparts and can be much lighter.

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    Senior Member freediver's Avatar
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    With a newborn I'd forget the long-tail and look into a good trailer. Trailers will keep your child warmer and drier than any other kind of configuration. My kids slept through some driving rainstorms that left me soaked to the bone. I even had to hide out under a bridge one time during a tornado warning and the kids just slept through it. You can put a full car seat in one if you need to. They can sleep, play, eat, and even watch a movie in a trailer if you hook it up right. the other important consideration is that with the hitch mount you could dump your bike on the ice and the trailer will still remain upright.
    I started with a trailer and then moved onto an Xtracycle- there was no such thing as a big dummy when I bought my bike. I was able to stack two kids on the back of the xtracycle with camping chairs that I rigged up. It worked out great until this past year- the kids have gotten to be to big for me to peddle around on my own. So, this past fall I picked up a used tandem and attached a tag-a-long to it so I can get a little help when it comes to biking them around town- this is all theoretical as I'm sure my son supplies no peddle power to the operation at all.

    When the weather turns rainy outside I find myself wishing for the days when the kids could still fit into a trailer. The aren't quite as understanding of being soaked through on a ride as I am.

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  7. #7
    The wizard of ...
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    I have winter experience with a dutch bakfiets, a CETMA, trailer and an xtracycle. The bakfiets is the worst of the three in ice and snow, but as long as the front has some weight in it, it is very good and easier to deal with than a trailer. Stopping on ice with a trailer is not my favourite task. The Xtracycle tends to slide the rear end, but is really easy to deal with in the snow. It is a little dificult to fit a newborn to an Xtracycle. The CETMA handles snow and ice very well (it is my regular ride in the city in winter) but the front end will drift a fair bit when pushed around by wet slush. I usually plan to be a pedestrian on slushy days and for a day or two after a substantial snowstorm. When it was just me on the bike, I never missed a day because of weather.The CETMA and bakfiets have covers available and can keep the baby well sheltered from wind. I used a car seat in the bottom of the box when my baby was small.

  8. #8
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    I have a Worksman SUD front-loader trike, upgraded with a 3-speed coaster brake rear wheel, and I rode it all through Hartford, Conn.'s rather snowy winter this year. You can't get more stability than a trike, because, well, it just won't fall over and it weighs a ton. I often used it to carry my two kids (4 and 6), and it worked great. In fact, on the really snowy days, I used it as my daily commuter even when I didn't have to drop off the kids, because it was the only one of my bikes that simply would not fall down in the snow. That said, it is really slow - the hills are doable with the geared hub, but slowly. I'm actually trading it in for a Yuba because it was so slow that it was impossible for me to drop off both sons and get to work on time. (The elementary school drop-off starts at 8:15 3 blocks from home, then I have to go a mile to the pre-school, then 3.5 more miles to work, and I just couldn't pull it off by 9:00 with the Worksman.)

  9. #9
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    If you live in a climate where you get snow and ice a long tail bike can be wonderful as they track wonderfully but because the rear wheel is unweighted it is also easier to spin out on ice so studs are a must have... lose the back wheel on a longtail and recovery is going to very difficult.

    With a bakfeits and a little tyke you have a much nicer place for your child to ride and can add extra insulation and a cover to protect them from the wind and elements... there are more and more companies entering the market fro front loaded cargo / kid haulers and many of them are well designed in that they have much wider gear ranges than their Dutch counterparts and can be much lighter.
    I have found the lower weighting of a Dummy to be bit of a problem with hill climbing, to the point where it can be a bit tricky to get going again after stopping on a hill. Never had any problems sliding out the tail though. The hill climb problem only shows when it is pretty icy and steep. On the plus side, the long wheelbase gives you an extra half second to deal with crossing ruts.

  10. #10
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    Bump. Our baby girl arrived two weeks ago and it's time to get serious about planning for bike transport once she's big enough. The top candidate is a CETMA Largo. Any new info from folks? Thanks

  11. #11
    DON'T PANIC!
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    Not an immediate concern, but MA and NY prohibit children under 1 on any bikes or trailers. Keep it in mind for traveling.
    Weight (April 2010) 200lb -> Goal (Nov 2010) 145lb Achieved -> (Aug 2011) 132lb 10%BF

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIG-E View Post
    My wife and I are car-free and live in Vermont. With a baby on the way we've been looking into cargo bikes. Bakfiets seem very cool for hauling kids.

    Recently I was riding my 29er on some back roads just after a huge snow storm. The snow was dense enough that it took real attention to keep the bike straight. I found that weighting the front a bit helped keep it from washing out.

    I got to wondering if the bakfiet design is prone to having the front wheel lose traction from not having enough weight on it. A longtail would have excellent balance. I've read reports of Big Dummies being great in the snow and ice. I haven't found much about bakfiets in the same conditions.

    Anybody have any info they can share?

    Hi there. Probably a bit late but here's our blog that covers a lot about taking kids on bikes. Comparisons between yuba, bakfiet, trailers, etc all there.
    Enjoy!
    heres the site:
    makingconcretejungle.wordpress.com

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    In addition to Cetma And Etc the Bullitt from DK, is looking like a nice bakfiets design
    light being heat treated Aluminum

    sold with Alfine IGH with a disc brakes , a cosy insulated compartment to fit into the cargo area

    should make your child pretty cosy through out the year..

    HPM http://hpm.catoregon.org/?page_id=7 is another one made out here in Eugene.


    thinking if the snow is deep enough like the Aircraft , landing at the south pole
    a Ski surrounding the front tire + a studded tire rear, or a snow chain if its really hard going..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-04-14 at 04:41 PM.

  14. #14
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    I run both Longtail and Bakfiet cargo bikes in winter conditions. The bakfiet type front loaders do better when loaded, the bigger and lower the load the better, and are terrible unloaded. Longtails don't do quite as well loaded but do a lot better unloaded.

    Best cargo hauler I have found for winter road conditions is a tadpole trike, two wheels up front with cargo area between them is incredibly stable on slick roads. Is a little more work to cut fresh tracks in snow though because your cutting three wheel tracks in the snow instead of just one wheel track like with a conventional two wheel bike where the rear wheel mostly follows in the track made by the front wheel.

    If its just slick roads though and not cutting fresh tracks in snow, upright tadpole trike is the very best hands down.


    Here is a decent short article on a bike hackers block that explains what I'm talking about as far as upright tadpole trikes being one of the best choices for slick winter roads complete with pictures, just imagine the same thing only with a cargo area (for infant car seat) between the two front wheels:

    http://atomic-zombie-extreme-machine...ter-trike.html
    Last edited by turbo1889; 03-06-14 at 08:17 PM.

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