re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

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re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:42 pm

My wife is asking me to buy her a Cargo bike that she can fit our 3 youngest children into as she's wanting to do Sunday family rides. I havn't decided yet if this is a good idea and havn't given her any commitment as yet other than to do some research.

We don't have good access to bike paths so riding would be on the road, safety is obviously a concern although we do live in a regional area so its not like we are going to be riding through the middle of Sydney.

Test riding will be difficult unless we fly south for the purpose but from my online research I've narrowed it down to:

Cargocycles Longhaul
http://www.cargocycles.com.au/bikes/box ... s-longhaul

Bakfiets Cargo Bike Long
http://dutchcargobike.com.au/product/az ... ets-ebike/

The Bakfiets is almost double the price for what on the surface appears to be a very similar bike - given that this might only see one 20-30km ride per week over 3-4 years the cheaper bike would be appealing.

Can anyone provide much of a comparison between the two? The Bakfiets appears to have a bit better running gear which really isn't of much concern to me since we'll probably never wear the cheaper stuff out.

My second and really more important question is will the electric assist be required? My wife hasn't cycled regularly for about 7 years, she does want to get a work-out as part of this purchase. Will the electric assist deprive her of that workout or will it just make it a more enjoyable experience?

The electric assist options are really quite expensive, even before you start looking at fancy batteries.

I don't know how easy/hard/feasable it would be to add the electric kit at a later time, I'm guessing there would be a fair bit in it - maybe a different fork setup and re-build front wheel plus all the wiring, sensors etc..

I would be riding with her having our two eldest kids in tow behind my mountain bike on their tandem-tag-along bike. This does limit my top speed somewhat, cruising speed on the flat is probably low to mid 20's. If the cargo bike had the ability to go pretty quick, around 30km/ph then I would consider buying a triple tandem for me and the two bigger kids - this would allow us to do around 30 no problem.

Would appreciate some input from someone who's gone through this before which particular reference to the electric assist which is my biggest question.
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by BNA » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:04 am

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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby find_bruce » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:04 am

I hear you about the cost - I am currently going through the issue for my 18 month old boy. My options at the moment are (1) to use a trailer, which has less carrying capacity & won't work for you with 3 kids and (2) "borrow" the electric assist Gazelle Cabby from the Sydney Bike Library. Of course this won't work for you either - you are not in Sydney & the cabby only has a seat & belts for 2 kids

edit: should have added that the electric assist was a real benefit, particularly in getting moving. The 2 wheel bikes can be a bit unstable at low speed but the start feature on the cabby made it simple. As for riding generally, I found that on the lower settings the electric assist pretty was effective in negating the extra weight of the load & bike. How useful it is will depend on the riders fitness, weight of the load and the size of the hills.

David Halfpenny, aka BigFriendlyVegan, aka 1 out of 3 ain't bad, did a review of the bakfiets with electric assist.

Ride On had an article on Ditch the car. It contains a couple of lighter options - the Christianiabike 2wheeler may work - but it is not much cheaper than the bakfiets you linked to. The mag version was actually quite a bit more detailed - see for example this pdf on the longhaul on your shortlist

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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:36 pm

Thanks for the info, very helpful. Looks like a YES to electric assist.

Now need to decide if the dutch product is worth the significant price premium.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby AUbicycles » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:36 pm

I would tend towards a complete ebike rather than after market solution as you are pulling more weigh and need sufficient power, so would assume that the manufacturer would make sure that the motor is truely integrated rather than it being an afterthought. You can't escape the price tag for a quality ebike, min. $2500 spend, and cargo bikes will add to this.

Considering that an old battery should be replaceable, and a quality cargobike has a good lifespan, factor in the potential resale value, which may put the new purchase price into perspective.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby find_bruce » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:28 pm

As far as I can see, the only weakness with the specs of the Zeitbikes is the 7 speed nexus hub - it doesn't have a great reputation & first gear is quite a bit higher.

Given that a new alfine 8 is only $250 or so, retail, if it turns out to be a problem outside of warranty, you will still be more than $1k better off. Otherwise they are both hi tensile steel bikes weighing in at 38/35 kg, similar cargo capacity.

It is not clear what accessories come with each bike & that may add significantly to the price

The real unknown is build quality
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby bosvit » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:09 pm

What about the Bullit range of cargo bikes?

Hardened Aluminium so about 10kg lighter than the CroMo frames

http://dutchcargobike.com.au/larry-vers ... argo-bike/

I have been looking at these myself and will be getting one if the possible business venture I am looking at goes ahead.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby bosvit » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:10 pm

They also fit ebike options to them.

http://dutchcargobike.com.au/product/el ... ted-bikes/
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:52 pm

bosvit wrote:What about the Bullit range of cargo bikes?

Hardened Aluminium so about 10kg lighter than the CroMo frames

http://dutchcargobike.com.au/larry-vers ... argo-bike/

I have been looking at these myself and will be getting one if the possible business venture I am looking at goes ahead.


The Bullit looks killer, if I were planning on dropping kids at school and then keep going to work thats probably what I'd be considering.

Given the limited use and for my wife the Electric assist requirement (which I wouldn't bother with if it were for me to ride) I think we are better off with the Zeit. The electric assist system on the Zeit looks on the surface to be nicer than the Bakfiets.

The Bullit will require the box to be built from the looks of it keeping in mind I need to seat 3 small children. The boxes I've seen on the Bullit only look like 1, maybe two kids in tandem?

I'm almost at the point of phoning both suppliers for input but the price has me heading towards the Zeit at the moment.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby bosvit » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Looks like you are right about the Bullit.

By the time you get it upto Mrs Jacks required specs you are up for a few $!!!!

Have you checked the Larry Vs Harry website?

Might have some more useful info.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:50 pm

bosvit wrote:Looks like you are right about the Bullit.

By the time you get it upto Mrs Jacks required specs you are up for a few $!!!!

Have you checked the Larry Vs Harry website?

Might have some more useful info.


I've had a poke around there. They do a really bad job by not having any comparison (that I can find) between their models, and they also do a pretty bad job of showing what could be done with the cargo section.

They do look to be the most awesome performance orientated cargo bike though! You could probably do bunch rides on them.

If I get time this week I'll make some calls.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby Ken Ho » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:33 am

Deon, you might want to drop a line to nitramluap. He is an e-bike/utility riding fan and spent some time in Holland last year, so he may well have some more direct experience with some of these bikes. He's a nice bloke too, even after I nearly drowned him recently.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby find_bruce » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:41 am

bosvit wrote:Looks like you are right about the Bullit.

By the time you get it upto Mrs Jacks required specs you are up for a few $!!!!

Have you checked the Larry Vs Harry website?

Might have some more useful info.

jacks1071 wrote:I've had a poke around there. They do a really bad job by not having any comparison (that I can find) between their models, and they also do a pretty bad job of showing what could be done with the cargo section.

They do look to be the most awesome performance orientated cargo bike though! You could probably do bunch rides on them.

If I get time this week I'll make some calls.

I saw a white Bullit parked in Rozelle on my commute home last night. It is an awesome bit of kit and was well set up for 2 kids - but the way they had it set up the cargo area looked too small for 3 kids.

It seems that looks may be deceiving however as the specs for each of the bikes is as follows - Bottom length of cargo area Bullit 710 mm, Zeit 690 mm & Bakfiets 720 mm. Top of cargo area is a bit harder as they appear to be measured differently - Bullit on the horizontal 824 mm, while the Zeit 1,000 mm and bakfiet 1,000 appear to measure on the angle of the sides.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:10 pm

How awesome is this?

Image

I am thinking if you sat the kids feet foward, biggest at the rear on the floor and you could have a 2nd level floor in there for the smaller kid to sit up front kind of on-top of the legs of the bigger kid. That way everyone has a lot of leg room, you've got pleanty of room for padding etc.

I think two kids is the limit on the Bullit unless you want to do a huge bulky box which would defeat the purpose of that bike.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby bosvit » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:24 pm

You can always put a kids seat on the back
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:37 pm

bosvit wrote:You can always put a kids seat on the back


I'm not keen on the kids seats.

I do have a Chariot which we will put the youngest kid in - its a two seat job so potentally we can put two kids in the front and two in the chariot with a Bullit.

Or with one of the more traditional style units we can put 3 kids up front, 2 in the Chariot.
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby find_bruce » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:28 pm

jacks1071 wrote:How awesome is this?

Image

I hate you Deon, the big kid in me agrees with you that this is awesome & so I have just wasted a whole bunch of time thinking that the weight would defeat the point of the Bullit, until I found the boat builder's blog which says the boat itself weighs less than 7 kg. He also has an awesome Thomas the Tank Engine for the Bullit which weighs in at 11.4 kg

Up until now my favourite has been the sleigh bike by http://www.tomscargobikes.com which has a simlar look. Tom describes his bikes as having a hillbilly charm & being built out of hi-ten steel come with a weight penalty.

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jacks1071 wrote:Or with one of the more traditional style units we can put 3 kids up front, 2 in the Chariot.

Aiming for 5 Deon ? :mrgreen:
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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby Boat guy » Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:16 pm

Jacks1071,
Flattered you found our boat and Thomas cargo bike! I've really enjoyed our Bullitt and happy to offer some of what I've learned;

The bullitt handles great and transitions are easy from a road bike. Low speed stability has been easy to learn, even with "can't sit still" cargo. I can weave through pedestrian traffic slowly, without putting a foot down. The COG is low so descending feels like being on a Lambretta with added giggles from my son through corners. The Shimano Alfine internal 8-spd I've only had to adjust the cable 2x over roughly 18,000km. I did put a larger cog on though as gaining a better climbing gear is more prudent than being fast on the flats. We top out on the flats at about 30km/h as any more than that and comfort is an issue for my son. Descending over 40km/h or so and he gets nervous. Climbing feels like being on a fully loaded touring bike.

My decision of a Bullitt over a bakfiets came down to frame material/stiffness and geometry. I wanted a bike that fit more consistantly like my road bike than a townie. The bakfiets had really laid back, upright geometry and more frame flex. The Bullitt feels more like a rigid mtn bike. The disc brakes and Alfine shifting are new to me but have functioned well. Price really is cheaper than a top shelf road or mtn bike. We ride the bullitt more than I get to ride a single anyhow, so its cheaper in terms of use-per-kilometer. That was part of my persuasion speach!

As for the boat and Thomas, I made them 44cm wide to be consistent with the bars as a traffic safety concern. The boat will hold two kids up to about 24months sitting to face each other. Thomas holds 1 kid (now age 4) and two bags of groceries. The issue I had as my son grew was his head hitting the bars or rather, hitting him in the head with the bars during sharp turns. This can easily be corrected by raising the bars, but I try to keep the fit similar to my other bikes. I've switched to a Look Ergo stem which is easier to adjust than the telescoping riser that came stock.

Also he likes to bring "gear" on rides so factor that into the seating area. We often pack the likes of balls, blankets, pillows, lunch sacks, his skuut bike, etc. which removes the option of a second passenger. That considered, I may make another box that is maybe 50cm wide and has some sort of stabalizer for his bike and space for a cooler or storage box for his "gear." Or add a rear rack. That way he can ride on his own for a while then hitch a ride in the box.

Adding a child seat on a rear rack became reasonable as I realized the COG and length of the Bullitt negated my reasons for not wanting a child seat on a single bike. So don't rule that out as an option for multiple kids.

I hope that has been helpful. Riding the Bullit with my son has been very enjoyable and rewarding. The bike is solid for 100 km rides so long as we stop at a few parks and play before he naps for the last 20km or so. That alone has made the expense worth it. The only downside I can think of is that sizing is limited to average folks not super short or super tall.

Best of luck finding your solution,

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Re: re: Long Cargo Bikes + Electric Assist

Postby jacks1071 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:49 am

Hey Jimmy,

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! I LOVE YOUR WORK.

Looks like the Bullit is back in the mix and like almost everything I do, its looking far more expensive than initially intended!

I'd really like to have a chat with you about what you've learnt about box building. Let me know how I can get in contact with you?

Comming up with a different concept will be tough, I am thinking aeroplane cockpit.

Deon.
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