Cargo bikes have been making real in-roads in the last few years. Bike companies as varied as Trek, Kona, and Yuba have taken the long tail design made successful by Xtracycle and developed their own versions of go anywhere cargo bikes. Madsen has gone the route of combining the useful and child friendly box design of the bakfiets and merged it with the Xtracylce concept for a boxed long tail. I’ve ridden most of these bikes. They are great and extremely useful (especially for a father of 2 young children), but all of them have an Achilles heal: weight. There is just no getting around the fact that pedaling 50-80 pounds of bike plus whatever cargo you have to ride up a hill is at the least difficult and more often means a super granny gear or getting off to walk. An electric motor would help, but until recently custom builds like the Stokemonkey was your only option.
Your cargo bike options are about to get electrified, offering what I think is a a real, all around car replacement. Earlier this year, Trek announced it was pulling it’s Gary Fisher brand under the Trek name and dubbing it the Gary Fisher Collection. One of the new bikes announced with this name shuffling was the Transport, a bike barring a striking resemblance to the Kona Ute. Trek took things to their natural next step by also announcing they would offer an electric version of the Transport to give you that extra push up hills.
On the other side of the pond, a new prototype electric bakfiets was presented at Eurobike. This is one of those developments that makes you wonder what took so long. Bakfiets have long been the big kahuna when it comes to carrying things by bike. Their huge buckets and design putting cargo low and infront of you made them a great option. Plus they are almost always built with fenders, full chain guards, locks, and dynamo lights making them ideal for everyday use. Unfortunately, they are the heaviest of cargo bikes and are usually pair with internal hubs that have limited gear range. This is probably one of the reasons their popularity has been limited to flat countries like The Netherlands and Denmark.
At Eurobike, Dutch designer Wytze van Mansum introduced his prototype of an electric bakfiets that is set for production in the near future under the Urban Arrow brand . You may remember van Mansum from his very cool Dutchess protoype made last year. In addition to all the regular goodness of the bakfiets, he has used lighter materials and designed a clever built-in lights. Pair the electric motor with actually including cup holders, and you just might have a cargo bike mainstream American could really get into. Exciting!
Finally as with any rising products, you soon will have those wanting to ride the trend with no business in the industry. They provide products that are usually heavy on style and light on substance. Enter the fine folks at Puma who are producing their version of a cargo bike called the Mopion . Aside from the color choices inspired by Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, the Mopion really is a half hearted attempt at fullfiling the needs of utility cycling. There is storage in a reasonable sized front rack (though no where near the hauling capacity of long tails or bakfiets), however the design comes from Biomega , who specializes in “urban bike design” with almost no urban utility in their other designs. Wanting to ride after dark or when the road is wet? You’ll be a mud splatter ninja rider. Yes you can add lights and fenders aftermarket, but curiously there appears to be no braze-ons for fenders on this bike. To each his own, but you’d think they’d give you the option to add gear to make the bike useful. Still, more bikes on the road capable of carrying things the better, and Puma’s entry hopefully signals more cargo bikes to come.