(The above image is from a funny essay about Amsterdam bicycle culture.)
Ever since I went to Amsterdam in 2006, I have wanted a cargo bicycle. One evening as we were leaving our hotel, we saw two little kids wave goodbye to their Oma, climb into a box just like the one pictured above, and ride away with their mom. It was a very sweet scene, and I was amazed that I had never seen bikes like this in America.
That was nearly four years ago, and these types of bikes have exploded in popularity. The Xtracycle seems to be the most popular option in Minneapolis. I see them all over the place, and their owners rave about them. An Xtracycle is basically a bike with an extra-long back end. Fitted with a board, it becomes a super long and sturdy version of a traditional rear bike rack. It’s also one of the most configurable and affordable systems I’ve seen, though we’re still talking a good $500 to get started with a nice conversion kit for your existing bike.
The obvious, much cheaper solution is to just get a simple bike trailer, right? We own a Schwinn carrier which we used quite a bit this summer. It works well, but really only for one very specific purpose: hauling one or two relatively small children. My twins are 2, and already by the end of this summer they were borderline too big for it. So what will we do next year? I think they’re going to be a little young yet to ride tagalong bikes.
The cheapest option of all would be a DIY long-tail cargo bicycle. Warning: welding is involved. Now lobbying Adam to see if I can talk him into this as a fun winter welding project.
If you, unlike me, have anywhere from $500 to $5,000 to spend on a custom cargo bike, check these out:
Xtracycle — one of the more affordable ones
Larry Vs Harry from Copenhagen Cyclery in Chicago — all kinds of Dutch bikes
metrofiets custom cargo bikes in Portland, Oregon — start at $4,800 for full-builds
Clever Cycles, also in Portland — lots of cool options here
There are many, many more options out there. This post was inspired by an NPR story today about cargo bikes, and the fact that we’re due for a winter storm tomorrow. Biking season 2009 is now coming to a close.