bicycle · bicycle framebuilding brazing fillet silver brass bike frame · cargo · cargo bike

One year/5K mile update on the cargo bike

Sure beats the backseat of a car. Sadie on the 3 day camping trip.

The initial post on the construction of this bike is here.

It has been about a year and well over five thousand miles on the cargo bike. I have used it for daily transportation, camping with the dog, and commuting almost exclusively; at least a hundred miles a week. After the first couple of months, it was the bike I preferred to use on all rides.

some impressions:

It carries almost anything I need.

The way it supports itself when I let it go is awesome. I get off it and it is propped up without me having to do anything.
My dog can come with me.

The dog mat can act as a rain cover for all the stuff underneath, and it works great.

It has a bigger presence on the street, and I feel like my place in traffic gets more respect from drivers. Seems like I get honked at less on this bike. Maybe that is just my imagination.

I can park this rig on the street just like any other car, locking the front wheel to the frame with a U lock. A thief would have to either break the lock, or carry it away in a truck. Loading this bike in a truck would not be easy since it is so long and heavy. While it would go to the bike rack if there is one, there is no reason I should not be able to use the free parking allotted to cars on our public right of ways. And the bike looks like it belongs there anyways. I would not leave it there overnight, however, since parts or the whole bike might be missing in the morning.

I always have the usual necessities with me under the dog mat (rain cape, tool bag, gloves, U lock, grocery bags, liter of water, sweater). Hidden under the mat, to the casual observer it looks like there is nothing is in the bike basket. There is no reason to leave any of this stuff at home. Saving weight or making room for other stuff is not something I think about with this rig.

It has a “crush zone” up front. If a car door is flung open in my path, I have over 3 feet of structure in front of me to help absorb the energy of the crash. Seems like this would help, although I don’t have direct experience with this thank goodness.

The flat bottom of the cargo area allows me to put it on a bucket, stool, or stump and work on the bike. The flat side allows me to lay it on either side in a stable position to take the wheels off etc. A  bike repair stand is unnecessary.

The flat cargo bottom also allows me to take it along on a car trip. This bike does not require a roof rack. In fact, it IS a roof rack in and of itself (photo below).

It is a ready to go touring bike. Just throw everything in and go. No fiddling with panniers or trying to make everything fit. My wood lawn chair fits in the cargo area with lots of room to spare.

It is 2 feet longer than a regular bike. My wife will not let me bring it in our small house. Fortunately, we have a small garage.

It is not easy for the dog to stand up in the basket or move around a lot when we are underway. I stop once an hour so she can get out to stretch her legs. She is exposed to wind, bugs and sun. I cannot take her out a long way on a hot day  unless I follow a stream or river so she can cool off.. A dog trailer would address these limitations, but for my situation, the current bike works fine.

It is heavy, and awkward in tight spaces. 44lbs (as pictured with rack, fenders, lights, etc etc). I could carry it upstairs if I had to but would not want to do that every day.

I take up a bit more space on the road. I can’t ride right next to the curb like with a normal bike. I just need a couple more inches though. For me it is not an issue at all, but could be for someone who is starting to learn to ride a cargo bike.

It would be hard or impossible to keep up with a fast rider on a regular bike with this rig. But that is none of my riding these days. If this was in an all bakfiets race, this bike would have a distinct advantage because of lightweight and rider positioning. This bike does not seem especially slower than my usual commute bike.

 

If I had this bike to make again, what would I do different?

The brace from the upper inside of the basket going to the seat tube would go to the front derailleur area instead of the seat post area. That would make the tube shorter, and I am sure it would provide enough support. Brazing it near the seatpost insertion causes distortion that makes reaming the seatpost opening a more difficult job.

Run the steering  and brake cables inside the upper basket tubes. A heavy load resting on the top of the basket could pinch the steering cables making it harder to steer. I would need to figure out a way to do this so the cables are free and not in housing, and easy to replace..

The rear upper basket tube (that runs parallel to the handlebar) would be either 1/8 inch bigger, or a thicker gauge (.049 instead of .035). It supports a fair share of force. It is presently 1 1/8 .035, which seems to work  fine, but I would be more comfortable with a bit more material there.

 

 

Bike strapped to car with canoe straps. Dog mat cushions the rear of the basket, supporting the bike on the roof. Tires contact front and back of roof. Straps run inside car to secure bike. I just roll the bike up there, put the folded mat underneath, and strap it in place. Takes about 10 minutes. Totally secure at 70mph; no bike rack needed. The strap at the handlebars holds the front wheel straight as I roll it up onto the roof. This is on a 2000 honda accord. An extra bike could be strapped onto each side of the cargo bike. Just have the front wheel in the basket and strap them together.

I can probably fit this to most cars by adjusting how thick to fold the dogmat (which is a Z-rest sleeping pad) under the basket. All kinds of stuff can be carried in the basket too. At first I was looking into ways to make the frame splittable for easy transport, but now I think: why bother.

 

 

lounging at 15mph

 

Huckleberries were easily seen along the road, and several berry stops were made.

 

flat items like clothes were kept under the dog mat.

THE END

 

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3 thoughts on “One year/5K mile update on the cargo bike

  1. I would be inclined to design your front end around trail not around headtube angle. I made a cargo bike once that used a salvaged front fork with a 20″ wheel. Once I measured the fork rake/offset and determrined that I wanted 65 millimeters of trail the headtube angle established itself. Still have this bike and it rides like a charm.
    Chris Allen

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  2. Hi! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about DOG BIKE BASKET I am glad to stop by your site and know more about dog bike basket. Keep it up!
    Safety is a serious concern when riding along with your pet, so be certain to follow all safe riding procedures. Plus, your dog should be wearing a harness that can be attached to the safety strap included in the carrier unit. The safety strap will keep your dog from jumping or falling out should you have to make some erratic maneuvers.

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