First Weekend with a Box Bike

After a long wait, I am happy to announce that Mel and I are now the proud owners of a the 2011 Box Bike from Joe Bike. For those of you who don’t know, “box bike” is a generic term for a type of cargo bike that has a large box between the handlebars and the front wheel.

Joe Bike Box Bike

Joe Bike Box Bike

Mel and I decided to buy a box bike specifically to be able to carry our new daughter KP around with us while we bike in a way that we hope will make cycling as fun for KP as it is for us. We hope that the box bike will allow KP to enjoy the fun of feeling the wind in her hair (meaning, in the future when she has hair…).

Joe Bike Box Bike Panda

Joe Bike Box Bike Panda

For now, since KP is way too little to use the built-in seat in the box, we’ve found a way to attach a spare car seat into the box. We’ve placed a few layers of foam in the bottom of the box, and attached a nylon strap that we use to keep the car seat firmly attached in place. The box is just barely big enough to fit a standard car seat.

As I think any owner of a box bike will tell you, the best part of using a box bike to carry around kids is that the the kids are positioned right in front of you where you can easily keep an eye on what they’re up to. Here’s my view from the saddle:

KP in Box Bike

KP in Box Bike

Like riding in a car, KP tends to fall asleep instantly once the box bike starts moving.

Since I’m sure more than one person out there is wondering about it, yes, we have considered whether KP is too young for this kind of thing. Yes, we’re taking it easy, going very slowly at first, and taking great care to avoid major bumps in the road. No, we don’t really have any idea of how bumpy is too bumpy for a kid at any age, let alone an infant. But for now, we’re comfortable with our approach.

Box bikes have distinct drawbacks as well, which I’m sure I’ll talk more about later. Over the next couple weeks, I’m sure I’ll have more to say about box bikes in general, our experiences, and this particular model. Stay tuned for that, if you’re interested.

In the mean time, what do you think of box bikes in general? Would you ever buy one? Why or why not? Wanna come test ride mine?

[UPDATE: A full review of my experience with this bike is here.]

17 comments to First Weekend with a Box Bike

  • marla

    i would like to test drive holding kung pao.

    what a novel idea – the bike box. you aren’t constantly looking behind you and wondering if they are ok.

    she is cute as a button.

  • Moe

    Love the idea, and I’m glad you guys are doing it. The bike looks super slick as well. What kind of harness doss the built in seat have? 5-point?

    Dean is 13 months old now and I’m still hesitant to even pull him in a Burly.

  • @marla – thanks!

    @Moe – 18 point harness! eh… more like a 3-point. two over the shoulder, one between the legs – no lap belt.

  • Raegan

    Is anyone else concerned that Reuben is taking pictures of himself WHILE biking with his newborn?

    Reuben, please tell me you don’t bike around vehicles with her in the box.

    I will say though…..I wish I could sit in the bike box and go for a ride!

  • @Raegan – where else am I going to ride it? How do you ride a bicycle anywhere if not in the street with cars?

  • AnonyMouse

    I think your hobby borders on the dangerous and is not good for the child’s welfare.

  • Tuittu

    Reuben, it’s great. I’m sure it’s good to be careful with bumps, but chill – Western countries and America especially are making life with a baby more difficult than it should be. Yes, we want to avoid avoidable infant deaths and injuries, of course, but that shouldn’t mean that babies can’t do anything or that you can’t do anything with a baby. Friends of mine did a backpacking trip with a fairly small baby and it was all good. They had to turn back before planned, but that wasn’t because of the baby, it was because of their dog!

    Watch “Babies” (movie with babies from four different countries) to gain perspective. (Although I don’t recommend adopting the African tribal way, I think they actually have a fairly high percentuage of infant deaths – and mothers’ deaths too.)

    I like the seat! Better than the one that you drag behind. Car seat is good for a very small baby – meant to keep them safe.

  • @Tuittu – Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ve been meaning to watch “Babies.” Several people have recommended it to me now.

    @AnonyMouse – Please explain why you think it’s dangerous. (This is a serious request. If you know something I don’t, please help me understand your concern).

  • Joe

    I think it’s great that your’re out and about with the little on in tow (or in this case not in tow, you get it). What about the bike itself, how does it ride?

  • The bike itself rides pretty well, though not as well as it could. Sit tight (hurry up and wait already) and I’ll post a full review of the bike and how it compares with other box bikes out there.

  • I would be worried about hitting something or being hit by something. In car you’re obiously more protected. This doesn’t feel very safe to me. Sorry man, I’d like to be supportive.
    i had my 3 year old in a bike seat that sat on the back of my bike years ago. He wore a helmet and had is feet straped into the thing and that made me really nervous. Only used it once.
    Newborns are a littel fragile in my opinon for something like this.

  • Mrs Sankary suggests that you only ride in parks and bike trails and stay away from traffic. Seems reasonable. She think’s is probably ok. She’s also an RN if that adds to her cred…

  • @Sank (and others) –

    I appreciate all the concern and advice from everyone. I know that a lot of people are really uncomfortable with the idea of carrying kids in a box bike, especially kids as young as KP.

    I am aware that there are many risks involved, including being hit by a car, running into something else, just toppling over and dumping her out of the box, and general bumpiness. I don’t have any way of quantifying or measuring these risks, so I can only rely on my gut feelings about what is safe for my daughter and what isn’t. Of all the risks, I am least concerned about getting hit by a car – I am not afraid of cars on most Minneapolis streets. I am most concerned about bumpiness. Rest assured, I am seeking out smooth pavement, whether that be in parks or on streets.

  • This whole thing really cooks my egg. I’m no engineer but something on the order of a bazillion people die in auto accidents every year, many of them children. Are we all freaking out about how unsafe automobiles are when it comes to transporting out kids? Of course not because when we bought the car seat at Target we spent the extra dough for the Eddie Bauer edition with double plus safety features and styling because we really love our kids blah blah blah. I’ve been carrying my son on my bike, commuting every day, since he was about 6 months old. Before that he regularly rode in a trailer. If that’s not reckless and irresponsible enough, I also pull him in the trailer when I cross country ski, down hills, when it’s really cold. He started doing that at about 4 months. The biggest threat our kids face in terms of their health and well being is inactivity and all that goes along with it i.e. obesity and chronic disease. I want my kids to grow up understanding that riding a bike, or walking, is every bit as ordinary as driving, maybe more so. I don’t ever want him to think that getting on a bike is something inherently risky or extreme. What sort of outcome could I expect if I were to say to my son “Well buddy, it is a nice day today but just to be on the safe side, I think we better get the car out of the garage and drive the 2 miles to school, because biking is just to dangerous”?
    The box bike looks really terrific. I’ve never ridden one but I can imagine all sorts of uses for it beyond carting the kids around. I started with an Ibert seat, which was great and I highly recommend. Now my kid has outgrown that and I have an Xtracycle Peapod on my Big Dummy, also a great choice but I miss having him in front of me. My advice, load up KP, go for a ride and enjoy every minute of it. Riding the bike with your kids is some of the best fun you can have, and I could never say that about car trips.

  • @Mitch – Thanks for the vote of confidence. I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Mom

    Wonderful, Reuben. I’m all for it. I know you’ll be very careful. You know I’m the biggest worrier around, and somehow I’m not worried about you and Claire…just have a wonderful time and Claire will love it.

  • NYMom

    I’m really interested in getting a bakfiets style bike like the Box-Bike so I’m really interested in what you think of it now since you bought it. Do you still love it? Any complaints? We have 2 kids (a four year old and a 17 month old) and I’m sure you know that these kinds of bikes can be really pricey. This one attracted our attention because of the price. How’s it holding up so far? I’m really interested in what your thoughts are 3 months later.