Cargo Bikes

I’ve had an interest in cargo bikes for a while and was inspired by this company to write a short article on what’s available for us here in Australia.

The owner of Cargone Couriers sold his car and bought a cargo bike to do his courier runs on. You have to love anyone who sells his car and replaces it with a bike. So let’s celebrate the cargo bike in his honour.

First thing you need to know about the cargo bike is that you should call it a bakfiet. Reason being is it will make you look like a pretentious wanker to your friends, but a pretentious wanker who knows more about cargo bikes than they do. Go ahead now and lord it over them with your worldly bicycle knowledge.

Next thing you need to know is they’re crazy popular in Holland but will make you stand out like a streaker at a cricket match in Australia. I’ve seen one on the Gold Coast and one in Bangalow and that’s about it.

I don’t own one yet but sincerely wish I did. They’re on a long line of bikes I intend to own one day when fortune smiles on me. So, with no serious intent to actually buy one I have been casually pondering the opportunities available to purchase in Australia over recent times. Here is some of what I’ve learned.

First up is Cargo Bike. If you Googled “cargo bike’ to get here you no doubt already visited www.cargobike.com.au.

Cargo Bike sell a neat looking range of tricycle cargo bikes. Tricycle cargo bikes are generally cheaper and more accessible than their two-wheeled brethren. The problem for us Gold Coasters is you’d by unlikely to pass over the appalling Southport Bridge without incident. The shared footpath/bicycle path is barely big enough to two normal bicycles to pass. If one of those bikes happened to be a tricycle cargo bike you’d be totally stuck. The bridges over Chevron and Isle of Capri and even worse. On Isle of Capri a cyclist can’t even pass a pedestrian without the pedestrian pressing themselves up against the rail. The road is the obvious choice but if your bike is half the width of a car and you’re relying on the dopey Gold Coast drivers to avoid you then you’re gambling with too much to lose. Lumbering across an accident hotspot like the Southport bridge with a wide load is not something I’d do for kicks.

If you can cycle around the Gold Coast without crossing a bridge (maybe you live down the southern end) and are desirous of some cargo bike options, consider this:

The Cargo Bike MkI. That means it’s a “mark one” . Wow, see you’re learning things already.

A cargo bike for $595. You have to be kidding. It has six gears (which you could ditch…more power to the single speed cargo biker!), what look like drum brakes front and back and some yucky looking plastic pedals (but its $595 dude!). Paint your company logo on the side and you’ve got the best rolling advertising on the Gold Coast. I guarantee you’ll go no-where without people staring. Bung in an esky and become an ice-cream vendor. Bung in some kids and you can ditch the car.

The MkII is a fully appointed cargo bike with v-brakes and seat-belts for the kiddies. Cargo Bike says:

Great family cargo bike with the extras requested from our first model. Better handling and braking, plus added bonus features including rain cover, lights, padded kids’ seats and locking brakes. Smaller front wheels give the bike better stability and the in-hub gears make changes smoother. Will manage hills better than the Mark 1, and the added reflectors and child steps make this the choice of those with small children.

What would you call your second stab at cargo bikes? I present, the Mk II.

It sells for all of $1165. (I’ve bought frames worth more than that.) They also have the same model but with a 7-speed Nexus hub. For a single-speeder 7 gears should be a luxury, even when hauling two screaming children and a week’s groceries up a hill.

Next up, in order of Googling, is Cargo Cycles. (I have to say that many of these players weren’t even on the market last time I looked. The growing number of companies in this field must mean that someone is buying them in Australia. Or they’re indulging in a quixotic episode that will soon lead to financial failure…)

They have two main bakfiet models, the Shorthaul and the Longhaul. They’re both two-wheelers, which have to be more fun to ride and will get you more places on the Gold Coast.

Cargo Cycles Shorthaul.

The Shorthaul has drum brakes, Nexus 7 speed rear hub, and room for two (apparently small) kiddies and is $1,599.

Cargo Cycles Longhaul

Cargo Cycles’ Longhaul is the same as the Shorthaul except it’s longer. You could fit the whole family in there. Rip out the seats and you could stash a surfboard and your wettie no worries, with room for a six-pack on the way home. Hell, you could take both dogs and your girlfriend along for the ride. It costs $1,699.00.

Next up is the Gazelle Cabby. These have to be one of the premier cargo bike in Australia. They’re certainly distinctive for it’s tarpaulin cargo box.

Gazelle Cabby

The Gazelle Cabby attracts a premium price, at $3,000. The problem is, once you’ve checked it out all other cargo bikes seem somewhat less attractive. It has the biggest range of accessories for any cargo bike in Australia, including covers, seatbelts, baby seats…and looks pleasingly absurd naked:

Naked Cabby. Tee hee.

And a filum with people making it look like pleasantly light work carting around two extra people on a bike:


Cabby from Gazelle Bicycles Australia on Vimeo.

While we’re in the premium market, lets take a look at Harry vs Larry. The Bullitt cargo bike manages to look tough and fast. If you like the idea of owning a cargo bike but don’t really like the idea of looking like a git then perhaps the Bullitt is for you. It’s the bike that Cargone Couriers ride.

Bullitt cargo bike by Larry vs Harry

The Larry vs Harry name came about by these two guys Larry and Harry making cargo bikes together with similar but sometimes opposing philosophies. The interaction between these two great brains brought us, supposedly, the Larry vs Harry cargo bikes. They make other cargo bikes but to my knowledge the Bullitt is the only available in Australia, from here at Dutch Cargo Bike.

Finally, you get a set of hydraulic brakes with the Larry vs Harry Bullitt. I often haul around a trailer and when you need to stop on a decline with a full load nothing short of disc brakes will do. I sometimes drag it round on my fixie now (which has caliper brakes) and stopping can be dodgy at times. I’m sure you’re meant to ride your cargo bike around at a leisurely clip but I can’t imagine ever doing that, or any other fixie rider. Forgetting you’re on a cargo bike and riding full clip with dogs, boards and shopping bouncing around everywhere would be the norm for many of us.

Also available from Dutch Cargo Bikes are the Long and Short Bakfiet. They come with Nexus 7 speed gears and roller brakes, a marine ply box and enough accessories to suit most needs.

A dutch cargo bike from Dutch Cargo Bikes.

Prices are around the $3,000 mark. For a review of the electric version read this article at bicycles.net.au.

Things start to add up once you’ve got the Bullitt dressed and ready to roll. Including the box the whole bike will set you back around $4,000. We’re a long way from the $495 we started with but that’s the price of quality.

FreeRadical by Xtracycle

If you want to haul cargo but don’t really want the bakfiet type cargo bike there is an alternative. One of the best alternatives is the Xtracycle, a device run a longer wheelbase on a normal bike.

The FreeRadical above Xtracycle is a kit you add to your existing bike. With the longer wheelbase you can now add decks and bags and other kit (some of which comes standard for the roughly $600 asking price) and get something that looks like this:

Loaded Xtracycle

The picture above is of the Xtracycle Radish, one of the complete bikes you can buy from Xtracycle. They’re hard to find in Australia but they do sell here and for just a little over $1,000.

For the fully committed the big option from Xtracycle is the Surly Big Dummy. It’s the same concept as the Radish above but made burly and ready for serious hauls. I believe you can buy it as a frame and as a complete bike her in Oz.
Surly Big Dummy

The Xtracycle is well supported with extras and add-ons and they have a bunch of enthusiast keen to show you how to fit all manner of unwieldy objects to your bike. Feel free to search You Tube.  

Yuba Mundo

The Yuba looks like it’s built solid and it too comes with all manner of accessories.

Yuba carrying a SUP

I’m encouraged by the picture above of a Yuba carrying a SUP. If it can carry one of those monsters it’ll definitely haul a standard board. They’re priced at $1,250 at Cargo Cycles.

Kona deliver a lot of bike for a good price. At just $1,399 the Kona Ute has a long rack, some big-arse panniers to go with them and disc brakes to make the whole caboose stop on time. Like most bikes in this category the Kona Ute isn’t exactly common, though it does have the advantage of being a Kona. I’m sure your local Kona dealer could get one in for you. I saw one at Brunswick Street Bikes and they’re impressively long in the flesh.

Kona Ute

That ought to give you plenty of options if you’re interested in carrying a load. I’d love to hear from anyone running anything like this on a single speed . I’ve always run my trailer on a single speed, even when hauling my wave ski around. If you’re out there on one of these bikes then please let me know.

3 Comments

  1. nigelpasco

    These are simply awesome… how did I not know of these before?! ok, so I have only scrolled down to look at the pictures so far (I have bookmarked and will have to come back when I have reading time) – but they were great. I currently ride a melvin star 18 speed with my daughter sitting in a Weeride bike seat – now I am going to have to investigate the Gazelle Cabby – thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  2. peter santos

    What about the Christianiabikes, Australia’s most popular cargobikes, both the trike and 2wheeler was just rated ‘top pick’ for cargo box bikes by Ride On Magazine.
    If you like more information please feel free to contact me
    Cheers
    Peter
    psbikes.com.au

    http://rideons.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/ditch-the-car/

  3. James Pollock

    Hi Peter, thanks for your comments. I’m a big fan of the idea of cargo bikes (but don’t actually own one myself even though I’m constantly carrying large loads on the bike). I was a bit off-topic when I wrote that article but hell it’s my blog and I’ll get off-topic any time I want. The Pilen Sport looks more like something that would appeal to my readers even though it cheats by having too many gears (but I’m always prepared to cheat).

    Let me know if you would like to feature any more information about any of your bikes on my blog. I’m always keen to widen my experiences and provide fresh topics of interest for my readers.

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