Originally, bicycles could barely manage to carry a single person. Now you are able to turn them into your own bipedal minivan, complete with folding seats that allow for loads of cargo space, a place to put the kids, and a dangerous way to try to move your mattress. These cargo bikes are quickly gaining in popularity domestically, as the United States catches up with the more refined parts of the world where they can be seen pedaled by the most sophisticated citizens.
Whereas other bicycles give you the same basic design, you’re going to see a lot of variance in the way a cargo bicycle is built. Sometimes the storage rack is on the front, sometimes the back, sometimes the middle, and sometimes a combination of places. Depending on your riding style, you may want to test pedal a few before you settle on one. You’ll also need to decide whether you’re going to be moving boxes, your little yellow basket, or those kids you supposedly “love.” Whatever your freight, move it better with one of the 10 best cargo bikes.
Yuba Boda Boda
Pro: Electric assist ready
Con: Only 8 speeds
Quick Turn: City dwellers needing a nimble machine that offers a featherweight body and enough storage for a trip to the store will find the Boda squared to their liking. Customize it with as much or as little load-carrying as you need while secure in the knowledge that it will still be able to slide around a few cruiser bikes on your path to glory. Handling is sports car responsive and the weight is stair friendly.
Pro: Chro-Mo fork and frame is TIG welded
Con: Hates hills
Super Duty: No wilting daisy, we’re willing to forgive the Fr8’s Avril-Lavigne-esque name because it’s such a hefty midtail hauler. Capable of handling the heaviest of riders and the largest of loads, you can stow on the front and rear, depending on your riding style and the needs of the package. Best of all, you can set it up for a passenger or add a tow package, then just change it around when you need a different setup.
Pro: Seats and straps included
Con: Flat handlebars require acclimation
Baby Basket: Perhaps the king of the domestic bakfiets (meaning “box bike”) these are made right in San Diego, rather than over the Netherlands where these were first made popular. Best for transporting children, the Schoolbus lets you put your kids or your gear right up front where you can see them. Simple steering, a shorter body, and steadier handling make this style a much safer choice if you feel like being a responsible child owner.
Surly Bikes Big Dummy
Pro: Massive towing capacity
Con: Loading requires symmetry and practice
Backend: Built around a longtail frame, the Big Dummy is a smart design that creates a stiffer, straighter core by not retro-fitting an old frame with storage options, but uses a single piece to create the distinctive look. 4130 steel from stem to stern, you can throw on some fatty tires if you so wish or tack on accessories up front or in the rear. The gears are the star of the show, giving you plenty of push, torque, and raw power for hauling.
Douze Cycles Messenger V2
Pro: Multiple cargo sizes available
Con: Internal gear hub only
Swap Meet: The biggest problem that bikes have is being able to actually adapt to circumstances and needs. A mountain bike can’t change its stripes, but with the Messenger V2, you might be able to get a little more than a standard cargo bike can offer. You can literally snap it apart for adjustment, or change how it operates entirely. Whichever way you roll, it’s a stiff, straight, sporty ride meant for the urban cyclist.
Larry vs. Harry Bullitt
Pro: 3 dropout choices
Con: Very narrow
Middle Man: We can’t sing the praises of the Bullitt loudly enough. Loaded up with Shimano gear for a no-fail design, it uses aluminum to keep weight low, while still staying on pace with their steel competitors in terms of durability. It’s a long john makeup with a distinctly Danish presence that’s centered like a Buddhist monk.
Yuba elMundo BionX
Pro: Easy to use
Con: No integrated lights
Absolute Power: The BionX is the top dog in the fight between electric assists for bikes, and with good cause. When its 350 watt direct drive hub is slapped on the back of the gorgeous Yuba Mundo, what you get is an e-bike for the ages. 4 levels of pedal assist with charging options, a 25-50 mile range, regenerative braking, and 8.8 amp hours capacity are just the beginning of this ride or regret it machine.
Butchers & Bicycles MK1
Pro: Airflow basket reduces drag
Con: Takes time to learn
Short Round: Right from the heart of Copenhagen comes a tadpole tricycle that is made to turn standard bakfiets into sports bikes. Using a turning system that enhances the stability of the vehicle during cornering through city streets, the MK1 uses its abbreviated body and special stability suspension to keep you on track and upright even weaving through obstacles courses while fully loaded. It veritably begs for speed.
Pro: Damn hard to tip
Con: No stow straps
Family First: One of the oldest bicycle makers in Denmark, where pedaling is practically a religion, the Kangaroo gets its name from the forward pouch (we guess) where you can store your youngin’s or a keg of your favorite brew. You can get it in any style you like, from a hauling trike to a streamlined two-wheeler, each with the option to turn into an e-bike. Suspension keeps passengers safe and lagers from foaming up while also making the ride smooth for the operator.
UBCO Utility Bike
Pro: Power outlet and USB port
100% Sport: Rather than starting with a basket or a board for storage, the team at UBCO started with fun and built up from there. Their utility bike is an electric off-roader that was crafted and refined in New Zealand, where we’re not even sure if they know what pavement is. As such, it is made with a 3 HP brushless motor on each wheel that lets it hit the horizon. Oh, and there’s a rack on it too.
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