So, with our bakfiets on the way to being converted with an electric motor, I had a go at our neighbour's electric cargo bike today. It is of a different style to our bakfiets, in that it is a two wheeled design that is also quite common in The Netherlands as a bike for getting kids to and from school. I noticed on the Babboe Website that it is a slightly more expensive design than the three wheel design that we own.... and I was curious to try it out, as I've seen quite a number of parents riding this design.
Well, after an hour of riding around with it, both with the electric motor assistance and also without, I have to say that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to this style of bike. Let us start with the advantages, which are that it is much thinner and also a bit lighter to pedal than the bike truck that we have. It also steers and handles pretty much like a normal bike, and so you can just pedal and steer it in almost exactly the same way...
However, it does have some pretty severe disadvantages that I was really not fond of... the first being that the way that the steering moves the front wheel which is on such a long axis away from the back wheel (acting as a pivot for the turn) meant that every slight turn on the handlebars was quite heavily amplified in the turning of the bike. Now, that was okay when you were more at speed... but at low speeds, it did mean that you had to keep correcting back and forth as little tremors in the handle would turn the bike. Likewise with off-centre axis weights... so, if you shifted you weight around, or if the kids in the bucket moved around too much. It would have an exaggerated effect compared to a normal bike.
Still, once you had some speed up, it handled very much like a regular bike and you wouldn't really have to change much about the way you rode a bike... unlike the three wheel cargo bike that we have.
So, the three wheeler bakfiets that we have... is very much more truck-like. The turning mechanism makes for more difficult turns, as you don't have such a great length between the turning and the back wheel pivot point... and it just feels heavier to ride, perhaps as there are three points of contact with the ground? Still, the fact that there are three points of contact means that you have no need for a kickstand! It is stable enough, as long as you put the brake on!... plus, you never have to put your feet on the ground when you are stopped!
The bike is much more stable when the cargo is moving around... but the riding style does take some time to get used to. You need to approach bumps (like ramps) at a directly perpendicular angle... or you will be thrown off the bike!... and you NEVER stand up... as you will fall off when you turn! That was a lesson I learnt early as I got thrown off the bike and nearly sent it and my kids into traffic!
You are also sitting quite a fair bit higher up... so, much in the same way that a truck surveys the traffic, you are also able to survey quite a fair bit ahead.
So, between the two styles of cargo bikes, I do prefer our type better. You do have to learn a new way of riding... but once you do, it is easy to switch to... it is more like the difference between driving a car and truck rather than a car and a slightly longer car!.... and once you do, it is a much more stable platform for those annoying squirming cargo packets that you have to lug around!
Account banner by jimramones