Thursday, February 7, 2013

Replacing a Second Car with a Bike

We have decided that we can never see ourselves getting a second car again. With a second kid on the way though we have been starting to have serious discussions about a bike for car replacement. My plan was to do two kids on the Halsted but that really isn't a viable option  even if we were to get e-assist (what is e-assist?). Mounting the Halsted is hard with two seats and the storage is just not "enough" to be a serious car replacement. I also really dislike having M seated behind me. It throws off balance and I find it hard to keep an eye on him, it weighs you down. In no way would we get rid of the Halsted but add to our fleet. Two cargo bikes is not unheard of in the family bike world at all.

Enter the front box bike discussion. With young kids in the city a box bike or long John style have potential to last us for years. I have been reading Hum of the City's cargo bike reviews for the past week really starting to figure out what is a viable option for us going forward. There are only a hand full of bikes that might work for us. Two main things, my height is 5'3" and we have some hills to climb in our neighborhood in an otherwise flat city. Additionally on the east coast we only have access to so many bikes to try out in person I am not ready to buy a pricey bike blindly.

A traditional Workcycles Bakfiets although lovely in every way is just not going to work for our hills. They have coaster brakes (scary going down hill!) and cannot be converted to e-assist (annoying for up hills! ). But the main take away we want from a Bakfiets is the kids in the front in an easy load on and off box! The low gravity also makes it possible to strap a carseat and a very little baby in safely. So here is our current short list of bikes with boxes in front we want to try out.

Current Front Runner: CETMA
+ our local bike shop carries one so we could try it out in person
+ we could customize the bike ourselves since each is made by hand in the USA
+ the child box is something we could build ourselves
+ two sizes available
+ can be hooked up with e-assist
+ lighter side of cargo bikes under 70 pounds
+ bi-partial so we could take it apart bring it with us on car trips

- they take a long time to build
- not a step through frame but still accommodates riders as short as 5 feet.

The maybe: Gazelle Cabby
+ it is available in NYC to test ride
+ it is compatible w/ Yepp seats
+ the box folds up to save room
+ step through frame
+ 85 pounds

- the box's fabric may not wear well since this bike will live somewhat outside.
- rollar brakes so we'd have to see if we could do disc brakes on it
- heard it can be bad on hills
- not sure if it is Bionx compatible.

The urban legend: Urban Arrow
This new Netherlands addition seems fantastic on paper but doesn't appear to exist in the wild or will be imported to the USA any time soon.

The I'm most likely too short for: Builltt
This was HoC's choice and I totally understand why it made sense for their family!

I really think this bike is perfect for hills and kids. But the minimum stand over is 5'4". For a cargo bike I like my seat much further down so I can plant both feet on the ground to stabilize the bike. It is one of the aspects of the Halsted also a 5'4" minimum that makes riding it with the weight of two kids hard.

Bummer because there is an east coast dealer who works with a local
bike shop here in Philly for test rides!

**A quick note these bikes are not cheap think $3-6k with electric assist  (remember this is a car replacement and not a weekend warrior ride) so we do not plan on being able to swing a new bike until another year . Not really sure how I will bike with M and no. 2 until then so stay tuned for that plan!


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