With the proliferation of products such as the Zigo Leader Carrier Bike and the Taga Carrier, there has been an equal proliferation of terminology to describe these products. In Europe, the conventional term Bakfiets would cover it, or if you are in Denmark, Ladcykel. But in the U.S. the situation becomes more complex. The terminology ranges from Carrier Bike, which is favored by Zigo, to Stroller Bike, Bike Stroller, Strollercycle, and other even more cumbersome monikers. Sometimes Dutch Cargo Bike is used in the U.S. as equivalent to Bakfiets, but this does not seem widely adopted. In the United Kingdom, we must also take into account the usage of pushchair instead of stroller.
So here is the question: in the United States (and United Kingdom and English speaking world everywhere) what should we call these products?
Thinking of moving any time soon? Need to replace that refrigerator? Well, cyclists in European cities like Vienna have found, perhaps, the cheapest way to do so. In fact, Austria has plenty of collectives that rent specialized cargo bicycles specifically for hauling large loads like bulky furniture and appliances. Some people have even been known to move their entire flat solely with the use of cargo and carrier bikes. One such event was a featured workshop at EuroEnviro 2010. A couple and 12 volunteers, many of whom had never ridden cargo bikes before, successfully transported the entire contents of the couple’s home. You may have to wonder, why bother with the cost of renting a Budget truck and hiring movers when there are whole fleets of bicycles waiting to deploy? Imagine city streets bustling with Bakfiets filled with televisions and kitchen tables. How excited would companies like Christiana Bikes, Bella Bike or Ladcykel be to see their products being put to such good use? Imagine moving your family as you move your furniture! It’s not so farfetched if you consider keeping your child in front of you in your Taga or Zigo, while you trail your queen sized bed behind. As we see people getting more creative every year when it comes to bicycling, who knows what the future may hold for the next big design?
Velorbis makes a whole line of beautiful classic style bikes. The Velorbis Mobii is a cargo tricycle that can haul kids, groceries, or perhaps a pile of Scandinavian snow. Each Mobii has a steel frame, handcrafted in Denmark. The Velorbis Mobii is equiped with an SRAM 5 gear rear hub and front WinZip disc brakes. It weighs 36 kg (79 lbs) and has a cargo capacity of 100 kg (220 lbs). A version of the Velorbis Mobii with an electric motor is available as well. You can also customize the colors and patterns of the Velorbis Mobii. We cannot tell from the website or photos what kind of steering is used. We presume that the Velorbis Mobii uses tiller-type steering and not articulated steering. At US$3,895 it is not cheap, but the VelorbisMobii looks to be a well made trike.
The Winther Wallaroo bike, based on a classic Long John design, seems similar to the Gazelle Cabby. It is a two wheel carrier bicycle with a fabric covered platform in front for up to two children; it is said to take a load of 80 kg in the front cabin. The seats are equipped with a 5-point safety harness. We have seen it advertised as either 7-speed or 5-speed as standard. It has an aluminum 6061 frame, front disc brakes, and an integrated Nylon rain/wind cover over a polyethylene base. It does not seem much advertised, as a search of Wallaroo bike on Google does not turn up much. In fact, it is not even listed on Winther’s main website. The bike weight 33.5 kg (74 lbs), is 79 cm wide (31.1 inches), and 263 cm long (103.5 inches). It is advertised at Australian $3,750 by its Australian dealer, but we can’t find any other listing.
The “Joe Bike” is Joe Bike’s of Portland unique, modular, multipurpose utility bike based on the boxbike frame. It is claimed to offer more versatility and configurability than most cargo and child carrier bikes. With its short wheelbase and relatively light weight, it is said to be remarkably easy and fun to ride, with essentially no learning curve. The Joe Bike currently includes four configurations, all of which are designed and handbuilt in Portland. These include the first double-decker cargo-carrying system, the original wooden box, and a sort of reverse-XtraCycle attachment that allows two children to sit upright in front of the rider, along with several grocery bags. The Joe Bike costs significantly more than the boxbike primarily because of substantial frame modifications, component upgrades (disc brakes and lighter wheels, for instance), two-tone color schemes, and simply the cost of steel. In general, Portland is the place in the United States where it is relatively easy to find a Dutch-style carrier bike, and it is not uncommon to see them on the street. We hope that more cities in the United States follow this example and redo their street grids to be all inclusive. A great first step would be truly protected bike lanes.
The Zigo Leader Carrier Bicycle System is now available Down Under. Zigo…it’s Australian for really cool bike! Actually, it’s American for really cool bike, but it’s now being sold throughout Australia through a number of local dealers, which can be seen on www.myzigo.com.au. To ride a Zigo Leader across the Australian Outback must be awesome, but the one pic we’ve been sent of a Zigo Leader in Australia is more urban [See http://tweetphoto.com/6863649]
We hope to see the Zigo Leader featured next to kangaroos and bedecked in kiwis for its next photo op. One small step for Zigo…one giant step for Mums and Bubs everywhere.
The Kangaroo bike by Winther is yet another Danish carrier bicycle. The Kangaroo carrier bike seems designed for those with large families. Winther makes a version for four children, which not many carrier bike companies do. The Kangaroo carrier bike frame is made of 6061 aluminum, while the front-positioned cabin is made with a sturdy polyethylene base with a nylon hood. The Winther Kangaroo has 20″ front wheels and a 26″ back wheel. However, with a hood and seats in the cabin it weighs in at a hefty 42 Kg (92 lbs). The load capacity, excluding the driver, is 100 Kg. The wheel track is 86 cm (34″) and total width 90 cm. We could not find in the Kangaroo website any information about the gearing, hub or braking. There are only four dealers listed on the Kangaroo website, so they are not easy to find. The price is not listed, but it is quite high. One blog entry says it would cost $4,000 to bring one to the U.S. Despite what appears to be a nice design, other carrier bikes seem better priced.
Bella BikeBella Bike is another Danish carrier bicycle product. It seems the Danes love their cargo bikes. It is a box style bike with a large front carrier for children or cargo. Bella bike has a unique rear-wheel steering. We have not tried it but have been told it take some getting used to. The Bella Bike comes in a staggering array of colors and designs, so it is easy to express your personality with it. It is rather large, and can carry up to four children. This seems larger than needed for most; certainly it is over-sized for the U.S. market. It has a reinforced aluminum frame, wooden floor panels for the box, an internal Shimano 7-speed hub for the bike, a front hand brake and rear coaster brake. The rear wheel has suspension and it comes with lights and bells, as do many European products. Bella Bikes also makes the Bella 2, which is lighter and designed to carry two children. The Bella 2 costs about US$2500 in Denmark. In the UK we found it listed for the equivalent of US$2610 plus the cost of the seats, which will add another US$240. [In the UK, the same company also offers the Zigo Leader at equivalent of US$2230, or 22% cheaper than the Bella 2.] Overall, a nice look with a lot of design options. It is priced in line with the boxy type of carrier bikes common to Northern Europe, and like others it looks quite heavy. Still, another nice carrier bike from Denmark.
Christiana is another Danish brand of carrier bikes, making what they call in English the “transporter trike”. Christiania makes multiple models, some for cargo and some for carrying children. The Christiania Model Light is the one that they say is expressley designed for the transport of children. The maximum load of the Christiania Model Light is 100Kg plus the driver. It has front disc brakes. The carrier box, like many in Europe, is made out of plywood of “waterproof quality”. The total length of the Christiania Model light is 208 cm and the width is 87 cm. It appears to be tiller steering. It is not clear from the website what gearing is included, since 3, 5, 7, and 8 gears are listed as “Supplement”. We don’t know how “light” the Model Light is, but it still looks quite heavy, as it is made of plywood and mostly steel alloy. The Christiania Model Light sells for approximately 1,400 to 2,000 Euro depending on the setup.