We just came across this unknown to us custom bike maker up North (that means Canada) who makes these really cool looking custom cargo bikes and trailers. They are fabricated by Manuel Cappel, and from the photos we’ve seen they are quirky looking and a bit industrial appearing but have a minimalist charm. One of his unique bicycle trailers is pictured here. We were not able to download a photo of one of his cargo bikes, but check out his website at http://cappelcustomcarts.com for more cool photos. If you’re in the Toronto area, it looks worth checking out one of these.
We just came across the Bike Friday tandem bikes and thought they deserved some attention. Tandem bikes are a good choice for those that are riding with a child or companion that is not yet ready for independent riding, or for those couples that, well, can’t bear to be far apart from one another. Bike Friday even makes a tandem that folds. Now you can take your tandem with you, greatly expanding your opportunities to enjoy it.
Bike Friday makes a few different tandem including the entry level Family Tandem, the Traveler XL for more heavy duty touring and travelling, and the Two’sDay, which is their folder. The Family Traveler starts at $1,998, while the Traveler XL starts at $2,650–pricey but still a good choice if tandem is your style. Construction is sturdy and components mid- to high-end. For example, even the entry level Traveler includes Avid disc brakes and 24 speed touring gears.
Bike Friday products are made right here in the USA. Check them out.
We have previously noted that a Czech knock-off of Zigo was seen, as well as a Chinese version of Taga. However, we have not commented on the general prevelence (in Europe) of Chinese-made bakfietsen that to a casual eye may not be distinguishable from the higher-quality products. For those shopping based only on price, buying a cheap product can be a source of short-term savings and long-term disappointment. Although these bikes can look at first glance like a well-made bakfiets, they are usually cobbled together from inferior parts. If you are paying 50-75% less than a bike from a well-known manufacturer, the rule of “you don’t get something for nothing” applies. On the inferior made bikes, parts are likely to rust quickly, bicycle components are probably the cheapest available, and the panels or soft goods will not be quality and will degrade rapidly. This topic has been widely discussed over the past few years primarily in European bakfiets blogs. But as carrier bikes become more popular in the United States, it is important to mention again here. Just because a product was made in China does not make it bad. But before you purchase a carrier bike or bakfiets, know from whom you are buying and where it was made. Investigate if there is any chance that it is a knock-off. A carrier bike is a sophisticated machine, and reputable designers and manufacturers spend a lot of time and money designing in quality and safety. It is easy to adulterate the product so that at first glance it seems the same. However, small changes can result in big changes in quality, reliability, and safety. Buying a poorly-made product is at best a waste of money. But poorly made product can contribute to accidents and injury. Don’t take that chance with precious cargo. Either spend what is required for a quality product, or don’t get one until you can afford it. In the long run, saving and waiting is the better choice.
It is almost time again for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, to be held this year on Sunday May 6. You can hit all five boros of New York with 32,000 other riders. The Tour starts just north of Battery Park, and runs up thhrough Manhattan, through Central Park, a brief dip into the Bronx and then down to the Queensboro Bridge. Following a ride over the Pulaski bridge passing through Brooklyn, riders enjoy an incredible view from the Verrazano bridge, finally ending the tour in Staten Island with a festival. This year, get yourself a carrier bike, Zigo, bakfiets, or bike trailer, and bring the kids. It’s a great day, and if it gets too much, you can exit the tour at many convenient points.
[On one not so positive note, this year's tour is preceded by Bike Expo NY, which is also where all rider packets must be picked up. Vests and packets will not be mailed. Although it is claimed that this move to in-person pickup is to reduce registration scalpers and packet scammers, it is (more than) likely that is is also an effort to boost attendance at the Bike Expo. Surely, in today's sophisticated electronic age, there are other security measures that could be taken other than requiring 32,000 riders to show up in person to get their vests and packets. This is very inconvenient for most riders, and especially for those coming from out-of-town. In the future, it is hoped that the Tour comes up with a better way to do this.]
Today a company called Dandy Bicycles in the Czech republic sent out an email to bike shops offering for sale their “Dandy Joy”. On quick examination this is clearly a cheap knock-off of the Zigo Leader Carrier Bike. From the shape of the windows, to the characteristic shape of the reflective stripe, this screams CHEAP KNOCK-OFF.
Zigo confirmed that this is a Zigo knock-off. The story is lurid and details all that is wrong in the world. According to Zigo, in October 2010, Zigo’s distributor in the Czech Republic noticed a Zigo-knockoff at the Brno bike show and brought it to the Company’s attention. Examination of photos revealed that this was not a copy of the Zigo Leader but was ACTUALLY a Zigo Leader that had been modified for display at the show. Dandy was at that point calling it IGo and not even bothering to be ashamed of the fact that they were stealing Zigo’s product. When confronted, at first Dandy denied that they had stolen anything, but eventually, Ivo Danacik, owner of Dandy, admitted to having gotten a Zigo Leader and plastic parts from a former Zigo distributor in Poland.
Mr. Danacik wrote to Zigo “Once again sorry for the inconvenience. He contacted us a new customer in Poland.
This customer gave us plastic components. Complete wheel, chassis and custom upper part of the fabric in our production. We are manufacturers of bicycle brands DANDY trying to find new trends. DANDY Our brand is very popular and well known, particularly in central Europe. Not want to violate the licensing law! We are very pleased to cooperate with your company. Surely we can find common commercial and manufacturing interests.”
Clearly the “common interest” turned out to be Dandy knocking-off Zigo.
Zigo confirms that Dandy called to the factories that produce Zigo asking for plastic parts.
To be sure, the Dandy Joy is not exactly Zigo. It claims to be able to be used with any bike. Examination of the photographs reveals a perilously weak hitch beam region. It is unclear how the front brake coupling is to occur. At best this is a shameless poor quality knock-off, at worst it is an accident waiting to happen.
This represents all that is wrong in the world of intellectual property piracy. It is one thing to examine a competitor’s product to understand it and better compete. It is another thing entirely to chop up a competitors product, put some paint and fabric on it, and call it your own, as Dandy did in 2010. Even with their now Czech-manufactured product, they could not be bothered to develop their own look and feel, but rather continue to steal and use Zigo designs.
Once again a case of Buyer Beware. We would not recommend ever buying this product or ever doing business with a company like Dandy.
The Zigo Mango Stroller/Jogger/Trailer is shipping for Spring 2012. This long awaited entry into the U.S. sports stroller market is likely to give the established players, Burley and Chariot, a run for their money. The Zigo Mango price value proposition is hard to beat.
The Zigo Mango X2 Complete is a fully functional stroller, jogger, and kids bike trailer out-of-the-box. There is no need to buy any conversion kits. It includes 8″ front caster wheels, a 16″ jogger wheel kit, and a trailer arm hitch set. It also includes a safety flag andwhat Zigo calls the Simple Environmental Control System, which is a basic mesh screen and drizzle guard. The Zigo Mango comes with 20″ rear wheels, which makes for a luxurious ride, run or stroll, and dual drum brakes.
In stroller mode, the Zigo Mango is a limousine for your child, thanks to the 20″ wheels. It is a spacious side-by-side design for two children, though you need to buy an extra harness for the second one. Unlike most trailers that convert to strollers, the Zigo Mango can be thought of more as a stroller that converts to a trailer. The stroller function is well executed and not an afterthought. If you never used the Mango as anything other than a stroller, it’s still worth buying ( you can buy the Zigo Mango X2 Stroller separately (as opposed to the Mango x2 Complete) and purchase accessory jogger or trailer kits later as needed.)
To convert from stroller to trailer or jogger, the caster wheels are either positioned to point upright or can be removed entirely to reduce weight. The trailer or jogger kit connects to the front of the Mango.
The Mango jogger has a fixed front wheel, which is what you want for stability and true tracking without veer as you run. The Mango performs well in this regard. Modulating your pace is easy with the dual drum brakes.
As a kids bike trailer, the Mango offers a comfortable and stable ride. The Mango comes with a safety flag and a mesh and plastic cover for use as a trailer (the Simple ECS). It has a built in roll-cage for protection as well as side guards to deflect obstacles.
There are a few accessories to consider for the Zigo Mango. The StoragePod adds one cubic foot of storage space to the rear of the Mango. This is great for use in any mode to carry all that baby gear, and is a must-have for longer trips.
The Deluxe Environmental Control System is a nice accessory to have. Although the Simple ECS is functional, it lacks the style and fit of the Deluxe. If you are planning to be an all-weather user then consider adding the Deluxe ECS.
The Zigo Mango is available in Mango Red or Mango Yellow. The astounding thing about this product is the price. IN the United States, the Zigo Mango is offered only direct from Zigo with no dealers or middlemen. It is listed at $599 on the Zigo website, but if you “Add to cart to see better price” it is only $499. This price point is hard to beat for Zigo style, functionality and quality.
To purchase the Zigo Mango X2 Complete you will need to visit the Zigo website at store.myzigo.com. The Zigo Mango and accessories can be purchased there, along with the flagship Zigo Leader Carrier Bike.
We recently came across this report from Germany, reported on in a Belgium news site, concluding that a cargo bike or carrier bike is the safest way to transport children. I will admit that my dutch is not much good and that Google translate mostly mangled the article, but from what I can figure, the German automobile club ADAC tested a bike seat, a trailer and a carrier bike. The conclusion was that a trailer was safer than a baby bike seat, but that a carrier bike was safest of all.
Each setup was tested by crashing into an obstacle at a rate of 25 kilometers per hour (15.5 mph). In the crash test the trailer remained upright and the dummy passenger unharmed, while the doll in the baby bike seat had damage to the legs.
The examiner concluded that the cargo bike was the safest, citing the low position to the ground, ability to always confirm that the child is connected to the cycle without looking back, and the larger vehicle size discouraging motorists from attempting to pass as compared to a cyclist with a baby seat.
Of course in America, they still have no clue.
With the electric bicycle craze taking off globally, the electric Bakfiets may be the next big thing. An electric carrier bike or cargo bike truly makes this category a practical car alternative for the mass market. Without the limiting requirement of sturdy and tireless thigh muscles, a large number of casual cyclists are expected to embrace the carrier bike category. An electric carrier bike or bakfiets opens up the market to those needing to cycle longer distances than their legs will allow and those in hillier regions. Carrier bike market leader Zigo is reported to be developing an electric Zigo for launch next Fall. Several electrified Zigos, modified by dealers or consumers from aftermarket kits, have already been showcased on the Zigo Facebook page.
There are already a number of electric bakfietsen available, or able to be built from aftermarket kits. For example, Sparticle Electric Bikes in the U.K. offers a converted dutch bakfiets, though at a hefty starting price of £3,140 (US$4,116), plus the cost of any accessories. The U.S. sales price of the electric Zigo is expected to be $2,999. Gloworm in Australia offers a converted dutch bakfiets for Australian $4800 (US$4,839). On Bakfietsweb one can find an electric bakfiets listed as low as €849 (US$1,113), featuring a 36V 9ah Li-ion battery. However, this sounds a bit too good to be true. The rest of the specifications of the electrical components and the supplier are not listed.
Regardless of the brand and components, we expect the electric carrier bike/bakfiets/cargo bike market to boom in the next several years.
The Kona Ute longtail bike is a rugged-looking longtail bike with a nod to mountain bike aesthetics, as might be expected from Kona. The integration of the rack with the bike frame is a nice design touch. Retailing at US$1249 on the Kona website, it is nicely positioned in terms of price/quality, featuring an aluminum frame, many Shimano components, double kick-stand, and disc brakes. Like other longtail cargo bikes, the Kona Ute has an extended rear with a wooden platform for mounting cargo or bags of all sorts. It is not as heavy duty as some other longtail bikes, but quite practical for average city use.
The longtail bike trend seems to be growing in the United States, with new models being introduced each year. Since our post on Xtracycle, we have researched a number of other longtail bikes. By way of introduction, a longtail bike is designed with a long wheelbase and extra room behind the rider for cargo. The frame, wheels and drive-train need to be sturdily constructed to handle the extra loads. In the future we will be offering reports on longtail bikes from:
- Sun Bicycles
- Surly; and