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msu2001la 09-07-21 09:35 AM

E cargo bike for tight urban spaces with 1 kid - box or long tail?
Hi - hoping to get some advice or feedback on options for cargo bikes that are more compact/narrow. I think I could squeeze one in my garage behind my car, but it would be pretty tight.

I would mainly be using this bike to ride my 5 year old to/from school. We can walk now (she likes to scooter or ride her own bike on the sidewalk) but I'd just like to streamline things. Walking takes me around 20mins, and biking would cut that in half (or more).

I like the idea of a front-loading box style cargo bike. I think my daughter would like riding in front more than behind, and I see options for rain canopies that might extend our fall/spring biking a bit. That said, these bikes all seem huge. The Urban Arrow Family is 112lbs empty, and 8.5ft long. This bike seems like it would be awful to operate on city streets and it probably doesn't fit in my garage. Are there other front-loading box style cargo bikes that are more compact and also might be a bit lighter? Ideally something more like 24" wide and less than 7ft long.

I've seen "long tail" bikes (like the Rad Wagon), buy they seem way more limited in terms of cargo carrying, plus I think my kid would have more fun riding up front. The rain canopy option for the Rad Wagon seems pointless as the kids legs are still exposed and she'd be getting hit with more spray on the back. I worry if I go with this option, it wont' be viable for the majority of the school year and I'll just end up driving her.

Any suggestions? Is it naive to think that I could ride her to school on a cargo bike during crappy weather? I'm not talking about snow days or polar vortex, but maybe temps down to the 20's-30's and/or light rain, etc.

Any tips from urban parents out there on this topic?

brianinc-ville 09-09-21 01:48 PM

The Larry vs. Harry Bullitt is 46cm wide and 243cm long (18" x 96"), and the electric version weighs 61.7 lbs. I don't know of too many front-loaders that are smaller. My Douze F1 (which is now called V2; I've got the 800mm Soft Box) is somewhat bigger than a Bullitt, smaller than an Urban Arrow, and I recommend it highly (I don't know much about the e-assisted version, though). Here's my 2:

The front-loader is definitely worth it. I've been riding with my daughter since she was 2 months old (she's 2.5 years now), and every moment shared with her has been a joy. Plus, the ease of carrying lots of stuff is not to be underestimated (case in point: last weekend we went to an outdoor concert with my daughter, 3 folding chairs, and a 16-quart cooler, all easily fitting in the box. This would be much harder with a longtail.). Instead of getting a smaller bike to fit your garage, you might want to think about a different parking area -- for instance, I don't have a garage, but I have a very small overhang near my front door (about 4' wide by 10' long) where I've been locking up my Douze (with a big Kryptonite NY Fugeddaboudit chain and an ABUS locking anchor, plus a frame lock) for several years with no problems. If you can put a locking anchor into a brick wall or a concrete slab, you could probably park it in an alley or courtyard. It all depends on your particular situation, obviously. The largest size of motorcycle cover will fit most front-loading cargo bikes. Most people passing my house probably think it's a gas grill.

As for weather: definitely. The rain canopy on our Douze keeps the cargo area perfectly dry even in serious Southern thunderstorms. Winters here are about what you describe (frequently in the 20s/30s), and it's been no problem. The canopy keeps the kid fairly warm by itself, and you can always give her an extra blanket.

Your concern about operating a large bike on city streets strikes me as misplaced -- if you can fit a car on your streets, you can definitely fit a cargo bike. It sounds to me like you haven't test-ridden any of these bikes yet; I'd definitely recommend that you go check some out in person. Not sure where in the Midwest you are, but we had a really positive experience with Four Star Family Cyclery in Chicago, as well as the now-defunct Coast In Bikes in Milwaukee. I think Carolyn Weber from Coast In, who sold us our Douze, is still doing cargo-bike-related stuff with DreamBikes, so if you're near Milwaukee, you should look her up.

SirLeaflock 09-09-21 04:57 PM

I have a Surly Big Dummy that I carry up to 3 kids on, or recently 2 kayaks. I've been meaning to log in for a while now to answer you and suggest looking at a Bullitt. I've gotten the impression the pedal powered version works really well if cost is an issue. The Douze mentioned above looks like a great choice though, especially with the easy ability to break it down to 2 pieces. If you want your kids covered, I can't imagine being happy with anything but a front loader. If size, weight and ease of storage or maneuverability trump that, though, you might find the Bike Friday Haul-a-day, or especially if easily transporting 1 kid is your main need the Ever-E-Day intriguing. If I hadn't come upon an affordable opportunity to build up a Big Dummy at The Cargo Bike Shop in Madison, WI, we would likely have a Haul-a-Day now. It's adjustable, so your kiddo could ride it themselves before too long even! I haven't ridden any front loaders, but the Urban Arrow does look like a beast in person to me. I find myself wishing I had some place to store a Bullitt, though :-)

msu2001la 09-10-21 01:33 PM

Thank you both for the responses.

I'm in Chicago - will definitely check out Four Star and you are correct, I have not test rode any of these yet. Four Star's website is awesome and they look to have a ton of options, so I might just head up there this weekend and chat with them, hopefully they have some of these bikes in stock for me to look at.

My concern with riding on city streets is less about the physical dimensions, and more about just handling the weight of a cargo bike (with kid) and maneuvering slow speed at intersections, stop signs, etc in tight bike lanes and/or between vehicles. Our bike infrastructure in Chicago leaves a lot to be desired and being able to dodge opening doors and stop quickly, as well as squeezing between lines of stopped cars are all useful capabilities. These situations strike me as more challenging on a front-box style cargo bike, but maybe that is a non-issue.

I actually saw another parent at my daughter's school riding a Bullitt earlier this week and briefly chatted with him about it. I have seen bike messengers on these bikes before but never really dawned on me that they could be equipped to carry kids. His had a plastic box that his kid rode in, but I see on the Larry vs Harry website they also make a seat accessory, rain cape, etc. The box actually looks more fun for kids to ride in, even though I'm sure the seat is way more comfortable.

Thank you!

alias5000 09-10-21 05:37 PM

I have a Circe Morpheus turned into front-loading cargo bike with custom canopy. I can only add my voice to those saying that having the kid sitting up front is awesome for both.

The Morpheus might not be for you as a front loading cargo bike unless you feel like doing a lot of diy for a box and canopy. But it might be awesome as tandem when using the kiddy crank system. E upgrades are available.

Independent of that, have you checked out the tern gsd? They seem to have quite a nice canopy setup with the new model and it's really space efficient

brianinc-ville 09-12-21 09:42 AM

I work in Chicago sometimes, and when I'm there, I always use Divvy to get around (though I've only ridden a cargo bike there once, when I test-rode a Bullitt at 4-Star). Coming from North Carolina, the infrastructure there is pretty great -- but the best Chicago infrastructure of all is the grid of residential streets and alleys. Lane-splitting and riding in the door zone are always risky, no matter what kind of bike you're on. What I think you'll find, though, is that in practice the cargo bike doesn't feel wider than your ordinary bike. Once you get used to the steering, the actual experience of being on the road isn't too different. One advantage, though, is that people in cars tend to give me a lot more space when I'm on the Douze, especially with the kid.

I should have mentioned that if you can figure out how to buy a Douze (the F1 is now called the V2), you could buy it with the 600cm front section, which would take the overall length down to 243cm, exactly the same as the Bullitt, and the width down to 58cm (24") -- but that would of course give you significantly less space for the kid and cargo. My wife and I both found the Douze's steering way more intuitive than the Bullitt's, but I think you'd get used to the Bullitt with a little practice. I don't think there are any Douze dealers left in North America, but it might be worth asking Clever Cycles in Portland.

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