The New Home Economics

All I want for Christmas is a cargo bike

10 Comments

(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.

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10 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas is a cargo bike

  1. Also check out Madsen Cycles. http://www.madsencycles.com/

    Spendy (around $1300), but I think they’re gorgeous and wish I could afford one with the giant cargo bucket.

  2. Check these out. I got the whole bike (i had no existing bike) for around $700. It was on sale, but still. Great quality, way more sturdy than the extracycle attachment. can hold 440 lbs on the back, extracycle can on get around 250lbs.

  3. I have a Madsen bucket bike and love it. I had an Xtracycle for about 18 months and switched to the Madsen for a couple reasons – i like that it has seatbeats (if we fall over, my son wont be ejected from the bike) and i like the added capacity over my Xtracycle.

    Having said that, an Xtracycle is a great entry into the whole concept of cargobiking and definitely recommend them if you are wanting to try cargobiking without spending a lot of money.

  4. Xtracycle can be purchased and installed realitivly inexpensivly. What I have save in gas over the last two months has covered the cost. Also I live in Tahoe where today’s temp is currently hovering around 4 and is supposed to top out at 22 an it snowed yesterday about 18 inches. If I didn’t have to go off the hill to pick my mom up from the hospital I would be riding my bike to work. Tomorrow for sure.

  5. does adam know how to weld?? if so, that’s awesome.

    • Christina: Adam DOES know how to weld at a minimal level, and his brother has welding equipment and is quite good at it. I’ve got some handy in-laws.

      Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

  6. did this story on npr inspire this blog post?
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121034522

    that is really cool about the welding. really the jack of all trades he is!

    • Yes, I linked to it, you silly goose. 🙂 So far he’s not responding to my excited suggestions, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. That Yuba Mundo looks super cool though; I had never heard of those.

  7. oh yeah i see it now at the very bottom. silly me!

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