By Robbie Broughton
That old Velominati rule of the ideal number of bikes one should own being 'n+1' (where n= the number of bikes currently owned) still holds strong at Ride Velo Towers. That nagging, incessant desire of wanting just one more bike has gone from vintage to fixie to another Italian road bike in a matter of months. That terrible, beautiful, aching feeling that wastes valuable time, puts off important work and chores has returned with a yearning and intensity that is suffocating and leaves one with a horrible guilty feeling after hours wasted online. Its focus has veered in a whole new direction, my web browsing history reveals a new world, one that has opened up to me in a way I had never expected. I’m after a cargo bike.
It all started innocently enough one morning as I lazily skipped through the daily Twitter nonsense of Darwin Awards, pseudo intellectual musings from weirdos and adverts for bike products that I have no interest in whatsoever. But my finger hovered over a picture of a portable BBQ resting atop the platform of a cargo bike. Something about it just clicked there and then. The freedom to swing a leg over your old faithful with grill, charcoal and bag of bangers attached to a front rack and heading off to somewhere like the New Forest on a Saturday morning gripped me. It set me off on a trajectory that I feel unable to come back from until the deed has been done. It won’t go until I’ve realized my latest bike fantasy of buying the ultimate cargo bike.
Here is the result of those painstaking hours. Mrs Ride Velo laughed when I called it research with a dismissive comment that included the words ‘Bike Porn.’ But I’ll be the one laughing as I unpack the deckchairs, unfold the picnic table and fire up the BBQ, and all from a platform on my bike.
The Forager by Sven Cycles
We first caught sight of this at Bespoked, the handmade bike show in Bristol, and it had our mouths watering. This was made for the River Cottage, the restaurant of TV chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. It’s got all you need for a day spent in the woods foraging for grub: a mushroom knife, sharpening stone and foraging hook. There’s storage for pots, pans and that all important BBQ so you can stop off for a bite as you wind your way through the countryside. It was apparently inspired by the legendary Land Rover Defender, is made from Reynolds tubing, and bears a Brooks saddle of course. Heritage all round but with a modern twist: its hub dynamo not only powers the lights but also has a USB charger. Useful if you can get a signal in the middle of nowhere. Kind of expensive at £3,900 though. Sven Cycles
The Omnium Cargo Bike
When we went to interview Petor Georgallou a couple of months ago, the Dear Susan frame maker, he was in the process of, in his own words, "bastardising" one of these for a painter and decorator from Brighton. And with a claim to be the ‘fastest cargo bike in the world’ this demanded our attention. Based in the home of the Cargo, Copenhagen, Omnium design, build and sell fast, light and stable bikes that they claim are maneouverable and can be adapted to your needs to hold a large box, platform or child seat with a maximum loading weight (including rider) of 175kg. They’re a no frills bike but manage to look very cool indeed. I like the fact if you took a passenger they’re not dangling out the back or off the front but are secure behind the front wheel. Great bike for a reasonable £1,680 from Long Bikes.
Two other guys from Copenhagen just had to go bigger and better than Omnium though. At 2.43 metres of aluminium from front to back and a claim to carry even more weight than the Omnium you can pack a lot of stuff on here. Built on the principles of the classic Danish Long John and inspired by the inventors’ love of late 60s and early 70s muscle cars, this is slick and perfect for trucking down to the beach with a case of beer and a ghetto blaster. Also brilliant if you have a need to transport stuff around for your business like railway sleepers or telegraph poles. We love all the accessories like the aluminium lockable box. This is a gorgeous and sexy bike. Yes, a sexy cargo bike. The guys say that the Bullitt “will get you from A to B faster than a speeding…er…bullet.” Not cheap though with a starting price of £2,130 from Larry Vs Harry UK.
Metrofiets Speciality Cargo Bike: Beer & Bike
Those yanks from across the pond just had to go a step further than everyone else. Check out the Beer & Bike bike. Metrofiets have been custom building for years but they really went to town with this one. “We approached Christian Ettinger, owner and brewmaster of Hopworks Urban Brewery, about building a full custom beer bike that could carry two kegs, some pizza, and a bumpin’ sound system. Soon the bike bar was born and the party-goers are never far behind." These guys hail from Portland, Oregon where “bikes and beer are like peanut butter and chocolate” and they’ll build you one of these with a two tap draft tower and all the hoses for connecting to some beer kegs for $5,400 at Metrofiets.
The Boxer Rocket
But us Brits know something about bike building too. The Boxer Rocket is the Rolls Royce of cargo bikes and comes in at a shade under £5,000. It’s an art deco design paired with a heavy duty 1930s airline inspired frame with a central headlight, indicators and a very loud horn, all operated from the instrument ‘cluster’ on the handlebars. This is built for your passengers’ comfort with leather reclining seats and is possibly more a work of art than a vehicle. This is a heavy bike, or trike, to be more exact, and has an electric motor to keep you going up those hills. You’ll need it! The Rocket was originally built as a one off but created such excitement that they went into full production. The original is on display at the Design Museum. They accept no liability for creating any future astronauts among your kids as a result of your ownership.
Back to Copenhagen and a design classic in the Christiania. Terence Conran bought one of these back in 1997 for home deliveries from his flagship grocery store, Bluebird. Since then thousands of families have been using them to transport their kids and all the kit that goes with them around town. Meanwhile businesses from florists, reataurants, handymen to painters and decorators have loved these stable old war horses. You can get a light classic for £1,928. They even do a 2-wheeler for £1,544 at Christiania Bikes UK. Bargain!
Butchers & Bicycles Mk1-E
If you’re in the market for a 3-wheeler you could do a lot worse than checking out these guys. Hailing from, yep you guessed it, Copenhagen, they started their business in the meat-packing district of the city, hence the name. They came up with a design that offers all the stability of a 3 wheeler without compromising on the ride. On this you lean into the turn in the same way you would do on a normal 2-wheeler. It’s “built to tilt.” This looks to be moving cargo bike design on to a whole new level and they offer a great range of accessories. Their opening door at the front of the carriage is very regal! Check out their video below to see how the bike really does tilt! This is an ebike and you’ll have to pay a fair bit for all that ground breaking technology: £4,432 at Butchers & Bicycles.
Of course, most of these bikes require a significant amount of space. Your Boxer Rocket or even Christiania aren't going to fit in the hallway of my flat, and hanging them from a wall isn't an option either. With a sinking heart I now realise that unless my home turns into the Tardis overnight I might have to resort to a rather less glamorous option. A few weeks ago we announced that IKEA, not to be outdone by its Danish cousins across the Baltic, would be launching its own cargo bike, the Sladda. At only £450 for the basic bike this looks like an absolute steal and you can hang it on a wall. No idea where the blasted trailer is going to go though!