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Does your cargo bike flex?

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Does your cargo bike flex?

Old 05-21-19, 02:15 PM
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Does your cargo bike flex?

I've been successfully commuting (11 miles each way) on my touring bike recently, but there are days when I need to carry more weight or bulk than I can comfortably put on that bike. I've been looking at long-tail cargo bikes but I'm considerably put off by the amount of flex that I feel when the bike has a load on it. Unloaded they ride great, but when I put 50 lbs or more on the bikes, they begin to wag behind me - especially when I'm climbing hills out of the saddle (which I like to do). I've tried both a Surly Big Dummy and an old Xtracycle with the same results. I also tried a Yuba Mundo. The Mundo did have less flex but it was heavy and I prefer the more forward riding position I could get on the other two bikes.

Do I just need to accept a certain amount of flex?
Do cargo bikers avoid standing up to pedal?
Is there a stiffer bike that I should try?
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Old 05-21-19, 10:30 PM
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Question What loads are you carrying?

I built a touring bike frame from frame components of cargo & tandem bikes , 22+ years ago ..
toured Ireland & Scotland on it

It is quite solid ... does weigh 40 pounds.. I worked together with a builder of cargo bikes , in Eugene Oregon..

Using one of his own long wheelbase front loading linkage steered version of the Danish Long John , in 4130,
(Owned by a friend who started a bakery CoOp)
carrying a 10'x10' folding market vendor's tent frame and canopy, ...that stuck out a few meters ahead of the front wheel
moving it across town to put up for shade over a petition signature gathering effort, in front of the Post Office..
Then, It did need some steering correction. as I navigated our small town

you are offering speculation .. I have no answer..

Austin ? talk to the guys running the compost by bike company ..

saw them on a PBS TV story..

Rather than buying, off the shelf which you found inadequate, ..
have something built
for your specific load hauling needs?


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Old 07-03-19, 07:53 AM
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late response. I’d look at Bakfiets type cargo bikes. A lot of what you are perceiving as flex may be a heavy rear load wagging the front end. I had a Kona Ute and it handled horribly until I put on a front load. My experience with long tail bikes is limited but it seems to me it’s inevitable that a heavy rear load will always influence the front end
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Old 07-04-19, 04:57 PM
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When adding lots of weight all kinds of things change from the norm. For many many years I pulled a modified burley flatbed with my dog. That's another set of factors of shifting weight. One thing for sure with loads I've found is standing up off the saddle is a trick / art to master. To find that " grove or sweet spot" over and over in one fluid move seemed to be easier just staying seated. Rowed crew some in early college days and the boat nearly stops if things are rushed too fast and too slow it's just all wrong. I do have a trek transport. It came available at a price not even close to any dummys I've seen but never did any real tweaks to it. A couple of times with a decent load it just didn't feel right, needed some gearing adjustments. And when I rigged it up to tow a bob trailer same thing but worse. It's only geared with a 2x8 and the lower gears are what I needed.

Nowadays I get weird feedback it seems, if your not riding a single speed or it's not a 1x your just not in touch with cycling. In reality tho I really like the 3x7 or 8 or 9 alot. There was a reason why they were brought into the big equation. On some of my bikes I even prefer rigid forks and handrails. I guess I'm an old fast.
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Old 07-06-19, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I wrestled with this issue a lot and after several rides on different bikes - all with some degree of flex when loaded (although I never tried one with some weight in the front) - I went with my gut feeling that I just wouldn't feel good about a bike with that kind of movement. It would always bother me to some extent and thus probably lead to diminishing use over time and eventually to the thought that I should have listened to myself from the start. So, I changed direction and like @ocsawdust faced the issue of being cool or not. I bought a used Burley kid trailer to increase my cargo capacity and I'm happy to report that it fits my needs so well I all but forgot about the perception issues.

I had used a trailer to haul my kids when they were small but that was years ago and that trailer had long since moved on. I remembered it fondly though, so I found an older one for $50 and brought it home. It has lots of room (even though this is a single-seater model), a reasonable weight capacity and attaches quickly. Here's why I find it such a good option for me:
  • It eliminates the need for a new bike! Much more economical (although not as much fun).
  • It makes my current daily rider, a Surly Long Haul Trucker, that much more versatile. I can leave the trailer at home or hook-er-up as needed. With panniers and a porter-style bag also on the bike, I have tons of capacity. The easy hitch attachment means I can make this decision spontaneously right before I'm going to leave.
  • The trailer eliminates all the flex-y issues I had with the long tail cargo bikes. As ocsawdust points out, it does introduce some other weight transfer issues, but I find them much more palatable and if I give some thought to how the trailer is loaded it really rides very comfortably.
  • With the single-seat trailer, I am able to ride on sidewalks and bike paths in my area while still leaving enough room for oncoming bikes and pedestrians to pass. This wouldn't be an issue with a cargo bike but I was concerned about a 2-kid trailer.
I have an 11-mile commute to work and I sometimes carry food for 10 people along with supplies and equipment to get me through a 24-hour work shift. The trailer approach has made this very doable and I think it's ultimately an even better solution for me than a long tail cargo bike.
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