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  1. #1
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Do I need a cargo bicycle

    So I'd like to buy a cargo bicycle, but I'm wondering whether I really have a good use for one.

    My current load bearing bicycle has front and rear racks. I've loaded it up with around 100 lbs., and have carried loads such as a pair of bar stools, 50 lb. sacks of flour, largish boxes of vegetables, and boxes of books from a library book sale. I've carried a small child strapped to the front rack and a larger child on the rear rack (at the same time). But last spring, I gave my then eight year old a ride on the rear rack while waiting for a rear derailleur cable for my tandem, and found her legs a bit long for her and my comfort.

    I have five children, aged three, five, seven, nine, and eleven. All of the children over the age of five can ride bicycles, but when we're in a hurry, we definitely move faster if each of us isn't on his own bicycle. And the trailer--an ancient Road Gear, which is falling apart--is a bit of a pain, since it adds a fair bit of resistance.

    So I'm wondering if it makes sense for me to try to buy a cargo bicycle. I could probably get together the money for a Yuba Mundo by next spring, and the Yuba seems like the best of the long-tails for my needs, as it can carry three children. Perhaps, though, a triple tandem would make more sense. The Dutch Onderwater and the Bike Friday XL seem like they are somewhat close to affordable, although it would take longer to come up with the cash.

    I tested out a Yuba last month, and the children loved it. I plan to test a Big Dummy and a Madsen when I get a chance. Unfortunately, I don't know of any front loading box-bicycles around here, or I'd test them out as well.

    While we only buy gas about once a month, my wife doesn't seem interested in getting rid of our mini-van. She'll ride her bicycle on occasion, but isn't comfortable riding with the children.

  2. #2
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    I have two children (ages almost 5 and 2) and have used my Xtracycle a bunch this past summer carrying them and their stuff to daycare and to the park. Though besides hauling kids, I have used the Xtracycle to commute to work and go grocery shopping. I've also made a couple of trips to Target, so you see the utility of such a bike is more than just hauling kids. Do you see yourself riding to places that you would normally have driven your car? You mentioned a triple tandem, that would get your kids involved in the pedaling which is a great alternative but quite a different experience. I probably wouldn't get rid of the minivan as well as having access to a vehicle that can hold all of your is a great asset. I see you intentionally did not mention an Xtracycle and in your shoes that is a wise choice. I love mine, but I would not want to haul much more than my smaller kids and their things as you start experiencing the frame wiggle that is annoying. I agree, get a purpose built cargo frame for your family.

  3. #3
    Member PaleoFloridian's Avatar
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    The 3 and 5 year olds will do well in the Madsen, but your older children will probably be too heavy to haul for very far (but you could do it if you had electric assist). Your wife may actually feel more comfortable hauling children in a cargo bike once she tries one out.

    I purchased my Madsen online, untried and sight unseen because there just aren't any bike shops locally that even carry cargo-anything.
    Mama, artist, homemaker, and car-free... Traded in my Toyota Sequoia for a Madsen cargo bike.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    We bought a Kona Electric Ute a few months ago and it has been invaluable to us. Ive hauled my 6 and 11 year old (hes 5'4") and a weeks worth of groceries on it at the same time without any issues. My wife isnt much of a rider, so she loves the pedal assist to counteract her health issues.

  5. #5
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    I'm not really considering electric right now. My wife says she doesn't think it would make a difference, and I'm temperamentally something of a purist.

    My children, especially the nine year old, are on the light side.

    I would like to drive less and bicycle instead. I typically drive the car to mass on Sunday (five and one half miles), to my parents house (fourteen to sixteen miles, and parts where my wife wouldn't be comfortable riding), and occasionally to stock up on bulk foods (seventeen to twenty miles). We also usually drive to MD or VA in the summer to visit her family.

    We could always rent a car for a week in the summer.

    For riding to my parents house, a quint or hex might actually make the most sense, but the only way we could afford that is to sell our car. I do most of my grocery shopping by bicycle already, but not the big stocking up trips, which only occur every two or three months.

    I've ridden with my son (on his own bicycle) the three and a half miles to his sister's ballet performance, but I don't think I've ever taken any of the children more than four miles (each way) except on the tandem.

    Maybe I should have posted this in the car free forum. However, I don't think I'll convince my wife that being car free is possible for us, at least not while the children are small.

    So would there be any real benefit to a cargo bicycle for us?

  6. #6
    Member PaleoFloridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by storckm View Post
    So would there be any real benefit to a cargo bicycle for us?
    Yes!! You will use it on a daily basis.
    Mama, artist, homemaker, and car-free... Traded in my Toyota Sequoia for a Madsen cargo bike.

  7. #7
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    At nine, my daughter could do 30 mile round trips and ride at adult speeds.

    There were a few occasions when I would pick her up with the extrabike if she did not have her bike but that was more for fun.

    It does sound like a cargo bike would be of good use for you and I just would not look at being a taxi for children that should have no problem riding farther than 5 miles.

  8. #8
    One Man Fast Brick hubcap's Avatar
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    I use my Mundo a lot. I grab it for just about any trip to the store since I keep at least one Go Getter attached at all times.

    Just about every weekend I am riding my kids somewhere on it. My 7yo son is a strong enough rider that he rides his own bike to destinations within a couple miles now, but my 4yo daughter is just starting with riding her own bike, so she is usually on the back of the Yuba. Lately I have been hauling her bike on one of the wideloader bars to a park with a trail she can ride on. Up until this summer, she was in a peanut shell for most rides longer than a few blocks, but now she sits behind me holding the stoker bars. For longer rides and on routes with heavier traffic, my son doubles up on the back of the Yuba with my daughter.

    I also occasionally use the Yuba as a rain bike for my daily work commute. The upright position, big fenders, and waterproof go getters makes it appealing in the rain when I am not trying to set speed records.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rdlange's Avatar
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    I'm not 'sure' either, so see the ' home built xtracycle...' thread above and the trailer thread. Finding that you use it enough, you can buy a 'real' one. FYI - I'm slowly also converting an old tandem to cargo carry bike, but I wouldn't recommend this unless you get a really good tandem VERY cheap, with gears, shifters and brakes already, and can easily build the racks yourself. Just being frugal... Enjoy.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by storckm View Post
    I'm not really considering electric right now. My wife says she doesn't think it would make a difference, and I'm temperamentally something of a purist.
    The pedal assist has a power button that stays off when I ride it. I bought the electric for the wife so she can keep up under load

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    just realized you're in Columbus, theres a front load cargo trike at Paradise Garage right now you can check out

  12. #12
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Yuba Mundo; Early 70's Free Spirit (Reynolds 531) fixie; 80's Shogun 500; Mid 90's Iron Horse tandem; trailer and tag-a-long; Schwinn Range for commuting, with lights and front and rear racks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendricks97 View Post
    There's a front load cargo trike at Paradise Garage right now you can check out
    Thanks. I'll have to ride down there and take a look.
    Incidentally, I bought a go-getter bag for a Yuba from e-bay. Quite large. The pictures are a little blurry as I had a five year old in my lap while I was taking them. I had to shake the children out to hang the bag up in the garage.

    DSCN0052.jpgDSCN0053.jpgDSCN0054.jpgDSCN0055.jpgDSCN0056.jpgDSCN0057.jpg

  13. #13
    7ft of Cet-Bak Nightdiver's Avatar
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    Even if you hadn't listed out plenty of qualifiers for a cargo bike, I'd still suggest you get one. In my opinion, a cargo bike can be useful for everyone! The Mundo is a fantastic choice. If I were to buy a longtail, it would be the Mundo, although I'm personally a big fan of longjohn style bikes. Not very affordable in comparison though...

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