Buying a Cargo Bike?

So now that Mel and I are officially pregnant (that’s what this somewhat cryptic post was about, in case it wasn’t clear), we’ve been trying to figure out how in the world we’re going to keep riding bikes with an infant.

Mel really set the standard high when she suggested that we buy a cargo bike:

Speedy Supermum and her cute cargo
(Photo by Pays-Bas Cycle Chic, via flickr)

I grin from ear to ear when I think about my little Fetus Daughter snugly nestled in a cargo bike.  We like this system because it allows us to use a standard car seat, and it places the precious cargo directly in front of the rider where Mum or Pop can keep a constant watch.  But the $3,000+ price tag is a little hefty, especially since the design of the bike doesn’t lend itself well to being transported any way other than riding it (so, for example, if we wanted to drive the bikes to a trail head before riding, this is of no use to us).  Plus, this thing will require some serious real-estate in the garage.  There are a couple cheaper options than the original Dutch Bakfiets, but none of them are cheap.  We’re totally bummed that we’re having a hard time justifying this purchase.

Mel summed it up best:

I sort of hate it when we talk ourselves out of being badass to be practical.

So the cheaper option is the standard bike trailer.  If it’s big enough, you can just strap the car seat right into the trailer.  Once they’re a little older, there are kid seats designed for infants, like the following:

(photo via Bruise Cronicles)

Or maybe having a kid will just suck my life away and I’ll never do anything fun again.  Yea, I guess that’s an option… we’ll see.

Ok, internet, Now’s your chance to talk me into buying a cargo bike. Ready? Go.

22 comments to Buying a Cargo Bike?

  • Joe

    The best sales pitch I've heard about the bakfiets style cargo bike is in regards to the possible interaction with your tiny passenger. If your child is in a trailer behind you, it's not really possible to talk about or observe their reactions to everything that's whizzing by.

    How much cheaper are those Chinese made bakfiets?

  • "Mel and I"? Come on, now. Mel is pregnant. You just get to enjoy extra ice cream in the house. 🙂

    Get the cargo bike. I ride my bike once per year, and even I think you should get the cargo bike of your dreams.

  • BUY IT!!! It's not like I'm asking for a mini-van. Maybe I should, then this would seem like a sweet deal….
    The range of options we've seen for cargo bikes, including even the cheapest we would consider, is anywhere from $2400-$3000.

  • The cargo bike looks easy enough to replicate, that way you can put your own spin on it. I say DIY!

    or invest in the cargo bike. You are real bikers right? Prove it. 😉

  • Moe

    I would have a very hard time biking with an infant, with all the vibrating and movement, even though I'm sure tons of people do it. Heck, my kid is 7 months old and couldn't imagine biking with him yet.

  • Along with Moe's comment, it's not enough if the child can hold its head up. Perhaps in the car seat it won't be as big of a deal, but the vibrations can bring on shaking baby syndrome. I don't have a link (I know, bad scientist), but this is what Katie found out when she was looking for a baby carrier for her bike.

  • Anonymous

    The cargo bike looks fun, but how many times would you actually use it? 3 Thou is a lot for something you would probably use for a year at most, right? Save the dough to furnish your new house. If you do decide to go with the bike, or any of the options, don't buy it until after the little bundle arrives, then you will have a better idea of what kind of biking you will want to do with her(you won't be able to take her biking the first month or two -at least- anyway).

  • Moe

    Heck, that's good advice for all baby gear. Wait till the little one arrives before buying a stroller as well. Figure out what you'll use it for and then pick out the best option.

  • @all – yes, we're a little bit worried about rattling our babies brains. We're pretty comfortable with the idea of having a kid in a car seat, with additional foam padding beneath the car seat to dampen the vibes.

    As for usage, we are definitely hesitant to buy something if we don't know it will be used, although it's not just for carrying babies. We could use a cargo bike for transporting kids even after they're older, too. In fact, I secretly think Mel wants to buy it so that I'll carry HER around in it (and the baby, I guess).

  • First of all, I would like to say congratulations! WOW! That's really exciting. I wasn't sure what that post was all about (maybe it was the haiku, maybe it was you being pregnant… who can tell?) and, therefore, chose to ignore it. Now that I know, I'm really happy for you!

    Secondly, I saw forget the cargo bike. Sure, it's cool and all and nicer and all, but that's a lot of cash to drop right off the bat. What if you end up liking the bike trailer better?

    There is also the option (with older babies who can sit up) of attaching a bike baby seat onto the back of one of your bikes. They are not super expensive and my sister has been using one for 15 years throughout her 5 children. Just a thought.

    Here's a picture I found on the interweb: http://babybikeseats.net/copilot-baby-bike-seats/copilot-taxi-bicycle-child-seat/

  • Jo

    "Or maybe having a kid will just suck my life away and I'll never do anything fun again."

    Um, pretty much this.

    Just kidding. I like the bike baby seat idea. I've never tried one myself (by the time Boy 1 was big enough to ride in one, I was already pregnant with Boy 2), but they look easy/convenient/fun. Just make sure to first teach your daughter that sticking her foot in the spokes will NOT stop them from spinning, but will instead tear her foot to pieces. I learned that the hard way…

  • Ren

    Rig up some sort of Radio Flier wagon to attach to your existing bike. Yeah, that's it. OR… Get a motorcycle with a sidecar!

  • I missed your announcement post because I was in the hospital with my one-day old, but congrats! She WILL suck your life away and you'll never do anything fun again (I can say that from experience now). The cargo bike is awesome, but I guess you gotta give up some of your badassness when you have kids. It's part of the plan.

  • We have a burley, and it's great, but you're not supposed to use it until your baby is at least 12 months old. At twelve months they're old and strong enough to hold their heads AND THEIR HELMETS up properly without risk of injury. No matter how you feel about a helmet on you, MiniMel needs one.

  • Anonymous

    Hi there, Im Daniel, im the proud co-owner of doubledutchbikes, a Dutch / American cargo bike company whom offer high quality alternatives for the US cargo bike market, our cargo bicycles sell for less then $2000 and are of the highest quality, we are located in NJ and NY and can ship all over the US please visit our website for more information http://www.doubledutchbikes.com

  • Go to instructables.com and find instructions on how to make your own?

  • if you can afford it, get it. life is short.
    i love that you said bad ass on your blog. it's hysterical to me for some reason. ps you guys are going to be FAB parents. and FUN. 🙂

  • what ever happened to the plastic seat that you just attached over the rear wheel? I suppose it's a safety issue

    oh, and while we're on the subject, ask me anything

    Dr David, Ob-Gyn

  • Aaron Reiner

    Stumbled on your post and I'm a father of one, going on two, and we own a cargo bike. We use ours all the time and love it, and if you're even considering it, you will too.
    Let me clear some things up.
    They are vehicles. They are impractical to put on a car, because why would you do that? BIKE there silly! A bike trailer is for recreation, and built from fabric and tubing to do silly things like fold up. This thing is for work and built to take abuse. (that does not mean it isn't fun.) To me they feel way safer as a result.
    Speaking of safety. The ricketiness thing is a concern, these don't have suspension like a car. Wait a few of months before you try if you live on an uneven road. Riding a bike might not be comfortable for your wife right after birth and you probably wont get out with them too much those first few months anyway. They do ride around with small babies in them in Copenhagen, and I have yet to hear of some kid getting shaken baby syndrome. Get a nice carseat with good head support and high sides to protect the head, this is what a helmet is supposed to do. Carseats are designed for much more frightening high speed crashes you won't be in.
    Buy it soon. Your wife can ride these puppies till the day she has the kid, they are that comfy. My wife is 33 weeks and can't ride her road bike cuz her legs hit her belly, but just rode our boxcycle hauling $400 dollars of groceries and our 22 month old. Seriously.
    http://borninjapan.net/2011/01/15/great-boxcycle-adventure-2/
    Having him up front has been great as he points and chatters with us the whole ride.
    Try a few first. It's fun, though skip the "cheap" ones, these are not common enough for quality knock offs yet. For us they were just a disappointment.
    We eventually bought a boxcycle, (which you can get in the twin cities.) Mostly for the increased capacity so it can carry two kids, also because we both wanted to ride in it, we have and it IS awesome. We also liked the trike for stability. Our son made some quick movements when we test road the bakfiets and freaked my wife right out.
    Like I said at the top of this epic comment, we love it. Get one.

  • @David, what's your take on the biking with infants question? Assuming the baby is in a standard car seat, and that car seat is securely fastened inside a cargo bike, probably with some additional foam between the bike and the bottom of the car seat, what's the youngest you'd be comfortable biking with a baby?

  • kimberly

    i’m coming late to this…but i have a ten month old, and have used the bike trailer/carseat option since she was six weeks old…it was great for us…she is already strapped in very securely in the carseat, which is what it is made for…and once in the trailer it was just a matter of adjusting the straps in it to secure the carseat…granted i have only taken her the 1 mile commute with my son to his school and back through our neighborhood…but, as far as vibration goes, she was just fine…and in fact, felt asleep everyday during the commute…i can also still hear her is she gets upset, which was very rare…my biggest concern, since i live in the south, was the heat…because in the bike trailer it seem to be warmer than outside…so,i kept and eye on that often…we haven’t gotten to ride much this summer because of the heat issues…good luck…but, i do have to say…if i had the chance…i would get the cargo bike…it is a great investment…

    • @kimberly – thanks for joining the conversation – Since writing this post, I did buy a cargo bike, and the discussion (both for and against) is continuing on this post.