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Cargo bikes for hauling a kiddo and groceries?

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Cargo bikes for hauling a kiddo and groceries?

Old 07-03-22, 08:42 PM
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Chr0m0ly 
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Cargo bikes for hauling a kiddo and groceries?

Hello Car Free!

I've wondered over from C&V to ask about Cargo Bikes, specifically the style that look like a bicycle with a wheelbarrow mounted to the front. Box Bikes?

My wife and I have been car lite for 7 years or so, and car free for one. We're expecting a little one! And I'd like to know "everything about cargo bikes".

My needs wants are;

Kid in front, where I can keep an eye on them

Room for a child seat + groceries

An awning or canopy for sun, rain, and some help slipping through wind. I think a little bit of aerodynamics must help when pushing a big cube in front of you

It would be sweet if it could fold enough to fit into an elevater, I'm four floors up

Stiff frame. I want something that's sturdy and will last, and I'd rather buy once cry once than get something that'll need replacing in 5 or 10 years. I'm guessing I want somthing with oversized AL tubing? Like when Cannondale used to make tandems? Something like that.

I think a box bike would work the best, but I'm open to trying a longtail if I can put the kid upfront and the groceries out back. Maybe a longtail with a cargo fork and mount a child seat to the platform? In fact now that I'm writing this out, that might well be the best solution, a lot lighter and easier to wrangle and store than a box bike...

Any other solutions I'm missing? Thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are all welcome!
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Old 07-04-22, 04:54 PM
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the Dutch name for those is “bakfiets” so that’s generally a good search term. They’re also often called “long John” cargo bikes.
I think they’re cool but have never been able to justify getting one, so I can’t provide any recs. I’ve personally found that a regular bike with racks and panniers and a trailer is more versatile and easier to move and store than a big cargo bike, but I don’t have kids in the mix.
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Old 07-04-22, 08:46 PM
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I saw a Pedal Power Long Harry for sale last month, pre-owned, and for less than the Rohloff alone would cost. I wanted it, but don't have a practical use for it and don't really need more stuff. Ad is gone now, sorry, but keep a look out for something like that. Most things like this selling nowadays are mopeds, that is with a motor and pedals. That's what a lot of people seem to want, but it adds a lot of cost, and weight, and when it breaks, the dead weight has to be pedaled, or repaired, or replaced. I'm not angry with people that ride mopeds, but they're just a motor vehicle that is allowed to ride in the bike lanes for some reason. I mean, if a person needs a mobility scooter too because of a disability, that's ok. I welcome them. I ride motorcycles too, but not in the bike lane. You know what? They're aren't any cargo motorcycles. (They're super rare and basically non-existent in the US). Why? Because they're impractical compared to a cargo van or truck and they won't let anyone cheat in the bike lane.
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Old 07-04-22, 11:49 PM
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The folding thing is right out. Let's get that out of the way. There are an increasing number of 20" wheel cargo bikes and who knows, a couple may fold, but they are lall oad in the rear designs. There is no basement bike storage? I have to think humping even a 'standard' cargo bike up four flights would get real old real fast. Let us know when you have gained access to basement (or ground floor) bike storage. There isn't any point going further if that can't happen.
Edit: you can stand a longtail on its rear wheel in an elevator if the ceiling is high enough (8'?) but a bakfiets (box bike) cannot be treated this way. I don't know how much further there is to go before your bundle arrives, but there is likely at least a year you can put them on a bike. Maybe two. I'm thinking some kind of trailer. I know you want kiddo in front but there are more options for the other way round. It does work. I see it every morning on my commute. If you are car free now you should have a trailer! Get one, and by the time you visit this subject again you might see things differently.

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Old 07-06-22, 06:08 PM
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Congratulations on expecting a child. I'm sure you're excited about that. It does add a lot of responsibility. Conceiving a child isn't a great achievement, but raising one well certainly is. Similarly, living car-free isn't a great accomplishment. The loser who just had his car repo'd because he lost his job and couldn't make the payments, didn't just attain a nobler lifestyle. A lot of what makes living well and car-free isn't an individual achievement, but an achievement of a community or a society. We can't individually make neighborhoods walkable, shopping accessible by bike, and make a diversity of places of employment or productivity within reach of alternatives forms of transportation. We can make individual choices to live in places like that, but in the US, places like that are increasingly out of reach for young families.

This guy claims to have moved to the Netherlands explicitly for the reason of raising kids with an opportunity to go about, presumably on bicycles, without parental supervision. He brings up some considerable points:


He unfairly characterizes the reaction people in the US have when seeing kids that are potentially neglected. Well-intentioned parents who want their kids to have independence might worry their parenting style will be misperceived, but the fact is, child neglect is the overwhelming most common form of child abuse in the US. Neglect accounts for nearly 80% of child abuse cases, whereas physical abuse (beating) is about 11% and sexual abuse about 8% of cases. He also unfairly characterizes social services and uses fear-mongering about them taking custody of children away from parents unjustly. I can't say that injustice has never happened, but social workers aren't generally predatory.

He's dismissive of the "white van" abduction scenario. Unfortunately, this is all too real and all too common. There's hardly a town that hasn't had such a case, and in some cities it's even routine. It's so tempting to list just a few of the numerous examples, but I'll stick to one: Etan Patz. This is the one that changed our culture, perhaps because of the focus of media attention. Etan's case was the one that started the missing children notices on milk cartons. Get this: the prime suspect for decades was Jose Ramos. Multiple boys had accused Ramos of trying to lure them into a drain pipe in the area where Ramos was living. When police searched the drain pipe, they found photographs of Ramos and young boys who resembled Etan. Ramos had previously been in custody in Pennsylvania in connection with an unrelated child molestation case. Ramos stated that, on the day when Etan disappeared, he had taken a young boy back to his apartment to **** him. Ramos said that he was "90 percent sure" it was the boy whom he later saw on television. However, Ramos did not use Etan's name. He also claimed he had put the boy on a subway going uptown.

On May 24, 2012, New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly announced that a man was in custody who had implicated himself in Etan's disappearance. A law enforcement official identified the man as 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez of Maple Shade, New Jersey and said that Hernandez had confessed to strangling the child. Hernandez stated in his written confession to police, "I’m sorry, I shoke [sic] him." According to a 2009 book about the case, After Etan, Etan had a dollar and had told his parents that he planned to buy a soda to drink with his lunch. At the time of Etan's disappearance, Hernandez was an 18-year-old convenience store worker in a neighborhood bodega. Hernandez said that he later threw Etan's remains into the garbage.

Maybe it's different in the Netherlands, where they say the "happiest kids live." Maybe I'm jaded, but I'm skeptical that morality and virtue is all that abounds there.

I grew up in suburban California. I had a co-worker who grew up in NYC. We're both from Etan's generation. I moved to a rural area to start my family and raise kids. My co-worker described riding the subway alone with his little sister when they were growing up in Manhattan. He thought the city was a great place for kids. I suppose some people make it.

The same way that Manhattan can be intimidating and cruel to some people, and exciting and lively to others can also be true of suburbia. The bleak landscapes filled with traffic and void of pedestrians or any semblance of tangible humanity could be intimidating, but these are the kinds of places where skater culture has thrived. In my generation, it gave rise to "mall rats." The malls are gone now, but present-day suburbia is only dystopic if you try to live in it as if it were the country or the urban core. If you lament small yards, having to shoot in a phone booth at an indoor range, and no place to ride your side-by-side, or you lament all the stores closing at 9PM and nothing to do on a Friday night and no where to go where anything is happening, then suburbia will just be that nightmare of traffic. But if you want an income that affords a two-story house with a swimming pool and a garden and a boat to take to the lake on the weekends, a home theatre, a place to have barbeques and to put your Peloton, well, not many people can do that in Manhattan.

One thing the video-maker gets right is how development in the US ensures the continued domination of the car culture. While some urban redevelopment occurs to create walkable or bike-friendly core areas, this is usually to foster tourism in a dedicated area or simply because existing density doesn't allow other options. For new developments to neglect ample accommodations for automobiles would be unconscionable. Even in my rural town, the number one excuse for denying development permits is "traffic" and the number two is "parking." But it isn't just regulatory demands that guarantee car culture. A developer answers to the investors providing the capital for the development. Counter-culture novelties limit sales and cut profits short. Why would a person invest in that instead of something with greater margins?

The video suggests that walkable neighborhoods originating from the distant past are immensely valuable because they're highly sought-after because of their walkableness. That aspect is just one that contributes to their value. Create a "walkable" neighborhood out in Radiator Springs, and I guarantee it will be as worthless as a trailer park.


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Old 07-17-22, 01:08 AM
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Somebody needs a hug ...
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Old 07-29-22, 07:14 AM
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I've been meaning to reply for a long time, and don't have everything ready yet, but here's something. First, good for you! Good luck. If you have the means, I'd strongly consider a Tern GSD of some sort. Not front loading, but meets your other needs. If the GSD is out of reach, check out a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day. Before going all in on a cargo bike, I'd also suggest getting a Thule Yepp Mini front mount child seat for one of your bikes. I have one on my Surly Big Dummy, and it's been a delight. If you can still get sufficient groceries while moving the kid on a regular bike, it might be worth waiting to see what your situation is like in a few years when the child outgrows it. I'll try to upload some pictures of 2 kids plus most of our groceries for a week for 6 on my Big Dummy.
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Old 07-29-22, 09:00 AM
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I also want to add don't discount the practicality of putting groceries up front on the compact long tails.
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Old 08-03-22, 02:12 PM
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Hey @Chr0m0ly -- I was in your position before my kid was born in 2019. I got a Douze F100 (which they're now calling the Douze V2) and it was THE BEST PARENTING DECISION I'VE EVER MADE. Seriously, you should get a cargobike. We started using ours when our kid was 2 months old, and have used it daily since. It's amazing. So much better than putting the kid in a car. Do it!

That said, I see you're in the USA (where the options are a lot fewer than in Europe), and unfortunately Douze no longer has any dealers here. It's a big bummer. In any case, here are some things you probably want to think about:

1. Do you want electric-assist or not? Nearly all the bakfiets-style bikes on the US market at this point are electric. If I lived in a city with hills, I'd probably want one. But it's flat where I live, and I'm pretty happy not to have to bother with the batteries and electronics (not to mention the cost). For Chicago, I'd vote for pedal power only. If you don't want a motor, your best options at this point are probably the Larry vs. Harry Bullitt or the Yuba Supermarché (which I think they're now calling the Supercargo). If you do want a motor, there are many more choices, including Riese & Müller (fantastic, but crazy expensive), Urban Arrow (also really good, but also really big), or Triobike (looks great, but I haven't seen one in person).

2. How big a bike do you want? The Bullitt is the smallest bakfiets-style bike on the market; with one kid it'd do the job, but if you think you'll have another kid, you might want something bigger (e.g. Urban Arrow). Figure out where you're going to park the thing and measure how much space you've got there.

3. What kind of drivetrain do you want? I definitely wanted an internally-geared hub, which is not an option on the Yuba bikes. That left (at the time) the Bullitt and the Douze. I got an Enviolo (NuVinci) hub on my Douze, along with a Gates carbon belt drive, and have been extremely happy with the combo. As a parent, you will not have much time for playing with bike mechanics (alas). The Enviolo/Gates combination is rock solid. I've never had to mess with it at all. Plus, my wife and I both wear dress pants and shoes to work, so we're really happy not to have a dirty, oily chain. I'm pretty sure the Bullitt is now available with a belt (it didn't used to be, though).

4. Personally, I'd recommend a bakfiets-style bike much more strongly than a longtail. The box bike is MUCH easier to load with squirming kids and stuff -- on the stand, it's completely solid. And it's priceless to watch your kid watching the world in front of you. We started at 2 months with a Maxi-Cosi carseat and a Steco Baby Mee adapter. At about 1 year we moved to a rear-facing Yepp Mini seat in the box (with the Douze adapter; Urban Arrow also makes one). She didn't start facing forward until she was ready to use the bench seat, around when she turned 3.

5. The Douze's rain/weather canopy is pretty great -- we've used it in all weather, including violent thunderstorms and sub-freezing. I can't vouch for the canopy on any other bikes. In general, though, they're not really designed to be used as sunshades in hot weather. I live in the South, so that's a big concern. When the kid was in her infant carrier, I made an extension for its sunshade that worked pretty well; since then, I've tried the canopy from a Radio Flyer wagon, which will fit any cargo bike, but really only provides shade if the sun is directly overhead -- not so useful on the 5pm ride home.

Definitely PM me if you'd like to talk about cargo-bike parenting. The Cargo Bike Republic group on Facebook is also a good resource. And Four Star Family Cyclery in Chicago is a great shop with great people. Good luck!

Last edited by brianinc-ville; 08-03-22 at 02:23 PM.
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