Saturday, November 3, 2012

Family Cargo Bike Research

We are thinking of upgrading our family biking experience from a baby seat in rear with trailer in back (more on our family biking here and here). It has been great to take them both along with me. I mean FABULOUS and great and I love it.

But they both want the baby seat.  Who could blame them?  It is open air, and you can talk to Mommy.

One major benefit I like about the trailer is the oodles and oodles of storage space.  I can fit two kids in it (I don't, though, I only fit one-- I don't want them way back there without supervision doing who-knows-what to each other), plus 2 bags of groceries in its trunk plus whatever they are willing to hold at their feet and on their laps.  I also have the rear rack of my bike for storage (which I use for a child currently).  I also have a little clip-on front bag where I keep my phone, keys, wallet, tissues, a change of pants for the recently potty trained child, and snacks for the rider behind me

But all of this gets a bit heavy and tugs at me.

So... I started researching.

It seems like in places other than the USA, and in some areas of the USA like Portland and the Bay Area (wait- that's where I live- why don't I see this???), there are some pretty cool family cargo bike setups.  I am not going to repeat them all here, since they are pretty easy to find using my BFF Google.  I am just going to tell you about what I am considering as our next step.

Here is what my hours and hours of research on this has come to/ this is what I am thinking about:

The Madsen Bucket Bike

8 speed step-through bike with a bucket in the back with 2 benches and 4 seatbelts. Can hold 600 pounds. Disc brakes, double kickstand.  Optional front and rear racks. $1500.


  • available at REI (read: I have a huge dividend there this year and their return policy can't be beat)
  • can load stuff in back without spending a ton of time organizing it
  • Multi-rider height adjustable


  • Fairly upright body position
  • Are they too far back there?
  • Can't test ride (NOTE: I got to ride one!!! See here)
  • Will they be too close to each other and me too far away?
  • Will the bike be able to corner ok and take hills ok?

The WorkCycles FR8

8 speed step-through Dutch-style bike with a long rear rack (to hold 2 child seats) and an optional child seat on saddle behind handlebar. Can hold 550 pounds total. Coaster brake, double kickstand, optional rack in front. $2300.


  • Looks like a bike
  • Multi-rider height adjustable
  • All on bike together 
  • Sealed chain (pants won't get caught)
  • Integrated lights


  • Coaster brake (hand brake available though)
  • May need to adjust smaller child seats to fit my children (are they too small/ need seat belts)
  • Will the child between my legs by ok sharing the handlebar with me?
  • Slightly difficult to wade though all the options
  • The SF dealer just moved to Sausalito

The Xtracycle Longtail Edgerunner (to be released in the spring)

21 speed with smaller (20") rear wheel to lower center of gravity and make it more stable. Longtail bike. Disc brakes. Double kickstand.  $2000 before the kids' seats (+/- $300) and bags (+/- $200).


  • Could add on electric assist
  • Multi-rider height adjustable
  • Stable
  • Test rode this (after writing the rest of this post). Amazing. As stable as I thought it would be, plus easy up and down a short hill.  I was also really impressed with the Xtracycle folks (I went to their HQ and rode the prototype).  My kids were quiet and calm, and the older one said it was the best one (he has also been on test rides of the Big Dummy, Xtracycle Radish, and electric Yuba Mundo).  Easy to start from stopped, and to stop quickly.  Also fine to U-turn and I even had the courage to lean a bit into a curve and it felt fine.   I also test rode with the Hooptie and liked the product quite a bit.  
  • Awesome double kickstand
  • Kids can climb on without help 
  • Can lift it
  • Can do a braze-on front storage (that means it's attached to the frame directly) or a clip-off little front basket.


  • Could add on electric assist (at what point are you not really riding?)
  • Expensive (but I suppose they all are)
  • We will need a better solution than the kickstand as a foot rest for the front older child (many options, though)
  • The stock pedals didn't really grip my feet (will need pokier ones)

The Xtracycle-approved Surly Big Dummy  

21-speed mountain bike style longtail. Cable brakes. 400 pounds' capacity. $2000 before the kids' seats (+/- $300) and bags (+/- $200).


  • Test rode it. Felt like my bike, but with some extra room in back for the boys and a couple of huge panniers (3 grocery bags' worth on both sides= 6 total). 
  • Stable
  • Compatible with all the Xtracycle components
  • Supposedly easy to ride on hills and under a load


  • Um..... expensive. Can't think of anything else. 
  • Oh, are those the best brakes around?
  • Could just keep adding stuff (or is that a Pro?)

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  1. Lovely blog u have here!

    U should check out the Babboe Cargobikes. I live in LA and got one a year ago! Can't live without it :)

    Keep on writing!



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