TrioBike & Internet Reviews

An acquaintance Todd Boulanger in Portland Oregon (USA) spotted a new “4 in one” bike called the Zigo at the Interbike trade show and sent a note with a mention that was like the “very nice European bike that does the same” but much cheaper. I’m not sure whether Todd couldn’t remember the name of this European version, or simply didn’t want to mention it.

triobike with copenhagen bike babe mommy

Regardless its called the TrioBike and I’d almost forgotten it until Todd’s mail. The TrioBike is a Danish designed product and its something of a joke amongst my colleagues here in Holland. Some laugh about it but how such a horrible product has won design awards, gotten mountains of (internet) press and glowing reviews from around the globe is both puzzling and troubling. One more lousy bike on the market doesn’t concern me, but the power of armchair internet reviewers does. Then again there are hardly any TrioBikes on the road so maybe its only a matter of perception and annoyance.

Before I go further here, let me clarify my position:
I have ridden and looked very carefully at the TrioBike. In fact, considering the miniscule number that have been sold I am probably one of the few people who have actually seen, touched and ridden it. My fellow colleagues at Workcycles have also ridden the TrioBike and share my opinion.

At Workcycles we sell workbikes and load-carrying bikes of all kinds, the largest number of which are used for child transport. That means that we talk with and share the experiences of thousands of families who transport their kids and groceries by bicycle. We don’t build the bikes ourselves but we do assemble them, modify them for kids of various age combinations, repair them and rent them. Our most popular and family-pleasing child-transport bicycle is the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike. We’ve sold around 1000 Cargobikes already.

Workcycles does not make any bicycle that competes with the TrioBike, and we do business with Amazing Wheels, the Dutch TrioBike importer. We could sell TrioBikes if we chose to, though probably not after anybody associated with the company reads the following assessment. Realistically though, my one personal blog post will only be lost in the flood of positive reviews and awards.

More importantly, I’m writing this post not to denigrate the well-intentioned but poorly executed TrioBike, but to lambast all the lame-asses (lame-assessers?) who evaluate products they’ve never seen, never mind tried or owned. Most of these “internet reviewers” and design award panelists clearly have no involvement in and know nothing about the field they judge. I happen to know this and other egregious examples in the bicycle world, but I assume its also the case in other fields as well. It frustrates me so I’m writing about it.

The Trio Bike case is one of absurd optimism and lack of realistic criticism, but absurd and inaccurate internet reviewing often works in the negative sense as well. I’d be a rich man if I had 5 cents for every know-it-all who comments about the dangers of each and every format of child carrying bicycle on the market. “If the kids sit in front they’ll get run over”. “If the kids sit in back they’ll get run over”. If the kids sit in the middle they’ll get run over”. “If the kids don’t wear helmets the parents are reckless murderers”. “If the parents don’t wear helmets the kids will be left to starve as orphans”. Front child seats behind the handlebar have been referred to as “suicide seats”. “Wooden boxes will make deadly splinters”. “Kids will freeze their tongues on aluminium boxes”. “Two-wheelers are unstable”. “Three-wheelers are unstable”. Its all BS, folks. The fact is that these comments are almost entirely just opinions with no basis in facts or experience. The reality simply suggests that cycling is quite safe, especially when compared to the statistically evidenced mess of carnage known as automobile driving.

On to the TrioBike itself…
For those still reading yet not familiar with the TrioBike its a simple concept: A very attractive, modern-designer bakfiets made so that the front child carrier section can be decoupled from the bicycle frame behind. The bike can be ridden without the child carrier, and the child carrier can be pushed without the bicycle. Thus its referred to as “Trio” for the three modes. Its a worthy idea though multifunctional products always come with compromises. Unfortunately bicycles have little room for design error so that seemingly small compromises can have enormous influence on the function of the bicycle.

I do not know exactly who is behind the TrioBike but I can add much more information than is to be found in the many internet reviews:

    – TrioBike is an actual firm in Copenhagen, Denmark

    – The TrioBike was designed by ID firm designAgenda in Hellerup, Denmark. Just to note: All bicycles developed by ID firms seem to be miserable failures. I can name numerous other examples so please write if you know an example to the contrary.

    – My industry sources tell me that the TrioBike is made (extremely cheaply) by a huge firm in China, shipped to Poland where they’re assembled and then forwarded to regional distributors.

The Trio Bike does look very stylish and was introduced with lots of fanfare and publicity. Since then its received many a glowing internet review by those who’ve never ridden it, and probably never even carried children on a bicycle for that matter. That’s partially because it is effectively “vapor-ware”: There are a few out there, but very few and most are still sitting in the shop of the poor sucker who listened to the distributor salesman without trying it for himself. Note how difficult it is to find a picture of a Trio-Bike actually in use, as opposed to in an advertising photo supplied by the manufacturer.

TrioBikes are mostly to be found in webshops that specialize in design furniture and the likes. The performance demands of a bicycle, especially one that will carry your precious little ones, are simply higher than most furniture.

Here’s my best attempt at an unbiased review of the TrioBike, approximately in reverse order of importance:

    – The construction quality and finish work is excellent – chinese bent, machined and welded aluminium, smoothly formed plastic box in a sandwich construction and so forth. Its pretty, looks high quality and in this regard it is light years ahead of many of its competitors.

    – The TrioBike is quite sporty and made with parts suitable for recreational single bikes… but this trike is big and would generally have to be stored outdoors. The aluminium frame and special plastic box will probably be fine but the rest is certainly not up to that task – all those chromed nuts and bolts, steel brake disks, exposed chain, and connection system will rust, making your lovely modern design bike very unattractive.

    – The trike to stroller conversion mechanism is too technical for most people to use. At the extreme risk of sounding sexist, few women will be able or willing to deal with it. (family bikes are mostly ridden by women, as evidenced by the images in their site and literature) Add a little wear and tear and corrosion and it’ll be convertible only when absolutely necessary. In the real world the TrioBike will simply become a three-wheeled child carrier bicycle (bakfiets).

    – It has a men’s style frame, available in a single frame size. This is simply inconvenient for a city vehicle and few women are willing to ride a bike with a men’s style frame. Perhaps its different in other countries. Regardless of the stand-over height, this bike has the bent-over sitting position of a racing bike – unsuitable for city riding. The stem is an “Ahead” type, thus not adjustable in height. The saddle so narrow and hard that it’d be suitable on a racing bike.

    – There are no mudguards, no chain covering, jacket guards, lock, or lights. OK, I exaggerate: there are some little LED lights in the handlebar and recent examples seem to have short, aftermarket plastic fenders.

    – There are no steps or other means for kids to climb into the box. Its just a slippery looking, round plastic form. Are mom and dad supposed to heft the kids into the bin or is this a sort of athletic challenge for the kids? How will the sleek plastic box look with the resulting foot streaks and prints?

    – The front wheels of the TrioBike are set far back in the front child carrier section and the side walls are high, sloping toward the front. This means that kids will climb in from the front. However the bike behind is very light, meaning that the trike tips under the weight of the kids, lifting the rear wheel into the air and consequently letting it swing around the steering axis and then fall with considerable momentum to wherever gravity takes it. That could be… onto mom’s white trousers (remember: no chain cover), into traffic, off the edge of the canal, or into a parked Mercedes. Just to note the Nihola and Winther Kangaroo also have this tipping problem, though at least the Nihola remains straight with its tail in the air since it is linkage steered.

    – Now here’s the best part: The TrioBike rides terribly. The steering is so stiff that it can barely be maneuvered while not moving. At even moderate speeds the steering is so awkward and twitchy that its a truly scary experience. There’s always the feeling that a bump or quick maneuver could toss the whole rig over. Even if one could master it it would never be even remotely pleasant. Riding a bicycle should be a wonderful, natural feeling experience, not one to “get used to”.

How one could design such a thing and bring it to market is absolutely baffling to me. The basic concept is excellent but then the product development process went completely wrong. Many basic design factors reduce the suitability of the Trio-Bike to hardly anybody. It was supposed to be a convenient mommy bike but who is it for now? Even if it were just a lovely and cool bike for just a niche market that’d be OK too. After all that’s the case with most of the highly specialized bikes the recreational bicycle industry offers. But the killer is that the TrioBike is just unpleasant riding and inconvenient to use in practically every way.

So why does it nonetheless garner so much praise? Do people simply WANT it to be true? Do some regard all new things as good things? Are people so gullible as to believe the far-fetched claims of manufacturers without a critical eye? Why not a healthy mix of optimism and criticism?

At the same time the TrioBike doesn’t sell, and great working child carrying bikes such as the Bakfiets Cargobike sell very well. Apparently and thankfully there’s a considerable gulf between the internet know-it-all reviewers and the actual buyer/user. It still annoys me though. Flame away…

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46 Responses to “TrioBike & Internet Reviews”

  1. Feddo Says:

    I’ll bite.

    I was intrigued by the TrioBike because it looked really cool. Making a few calls and looking for the thing in real life proved to be impossible. Add to that that the price is hefty and you can’t test ride it anywhere nor find real-life pics anywhere of the bike, and it didn’t take long to see through the hype.

    Common sense also prevailed, because as Henry mentions, no chain guard, fenders or lights and a ” sporty” riding position added to a men’s frame make it not in the least bit suitable for what my wife and I were planning to use the bike for.

    Again, though: it looks really cool. ;-)

    I’ll also add that in the skiing world, the same kind of armchair-critique of (generally) European practices by (generally) American critics is also found to be highly annoying. So, kudos to Henry for an unbiased review and transparency of his motives….

  2. Anu Says:

    I am quite happy with mine!

  3. henry Says:

    Hi Anu,
    I’d be very curious to hear about your experiences with the TrioBike. We were obviously very unimpressed and the few customers who’ve visited and mentioned the TrioBike say pretty much the same thing as we found.

    Where are you located? I’m surprised to see an Austrian email address when there are few such bikes in use in Austria. We have sent a handful of Cargobikes and city bicycles to Vienna.

  4. craig Says:

    We have a trioBike and bought ours on a recommendation from Fifteen Restaurant who use it as their cargo bike here in London. Thanks for that Ange and Fifteen! We love it and can say that for our young family of four it has changed our lives. The shops, the scool run and the park are no longer wet walks or car journeys. We disagree with the comments of the poor guy or that wrote the review and hear the old familiar lies being rehashed that were sent round the internet before we purchased. All we can say is he’s never been near a trioBike with those comments. We were at Cycle2007 in London yesterday to look at trioBike 2.0. Even better than the Original. I suggest the reviewer gets out more. It won’t be on a trioBike I guess because we’re it’s way out his minimum wage and mindset. Keep living in the past and the world keeps moving forward.

  5. henry Says:

    Craig,
    I appreciate your taking the time to write about your experiences and I’m also very happy that your family is enjoying your TrioBike. Fact is that moving the family around by bicycle is simply wonderful, regardless of the bike. That you’d probably enjoy it even more on other bikes is quite irrelevant

    At the same time you could have better skipped the cheap and incorrect insults. For the record:

    1. “Minimum wage and mindset, living in the past”?” I, the author, am the owner of Workcycles, ( http://www.workcycles.com ) one of the most successful and respected firms in this field. If you do a little research you’ll find that I’ve more than considerable experience in the area of load-carrying bicycles, particularly for child transport. I’m not sure how much more future oriented one can be.

    2. I wrote the above TrioBike review specifically because of the absurd discrepancy between the overly optimistic hands-off reviews and our experience with the product itself. I have never found “the old familar lies being rehashed” that you refer to. Where are they?

    3. Not only have I spent time with the TrioBike it came up recently in conversations with two other colleagues. Both are popular transport bicycle (“bakfiets/transportfiets” in dutch) retailers and had actually purchased TrioBikes to sell which resulted in far worse experiences that we had. At least Workcycles didn’t lose any money on them. Its great that you’re happy with your Triobike, but its also possible that not all share your opinion. There is some proud Ford Pinto owner out there and certainly another who thinks that Honda makes terrible cars.

    Enough for now. I’m going to ride my own transport bike somewhere like I do almost every day of the year. Happy cycling!

    Groeten,
    Henry

  6. Guy Says:

    I chatted to the inventor at the cycle show in london, about the new 2.0 version of the triobike launched October 2007. They had the first 2 bikes off the production line flown in specially for the show.

    I filmed Sammy taking 2 kids around the test track and it looked quite easy to use. I played with it myself and was easy to steer.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JQHBJyQjfXY

    Guy

  7. David Says:

    God bless youtube. The company seems to have addressed some or your concerns, Henry, in terms of lights and mudguards, but the issue of the center of gravity being far forward remains. Do any of you regular Triobke users find this to be an issue? Thanks–d

  8. Craig Says:

    A couple of misleading earlier comments from a laughable litany of lies that need addressing:

    “- My industry sources tell me that the TrioBike is made (extremely cheaply) by a huge firm in China, shipped to Poland where they’re assembled and then forwarded to regional distributors.”

    China’s a long, long way from the truth according to the independent consumer body Trendwatching. The carrier is manufactured in Denmark.

    http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/stillmadehere.htm

    Perhaps you should consider dropping those ill-informed industry sources rather quickly.

    “TrioBikes are mostly to be found in webshops that specialize in design furniture and the likes. The performance demands of a bicycle, especially one that will carry your precious little ones, are simply higher than most furniture.”

    1.) trioBike was developed in cooperation with the Danish Safety Council and complies with Standard – DS/EN:1888.2003. According to Forbrugerstyrelsen, this makes it the safest tested design currently on the market for your precious little ones.

    2.) The seats for trioBike are manufactured by Bramminge Plast, the company responsible for Arne Jacobsen’s Swan and Egg chairs.

    Why compromise on safety… why compromise on design – for your precious little ones.

    Alternatively, if it’s an old tea chest mashed on to a heavyweight rod iron that you seek for transporting your precious little ones, then trioBike is unlikely to be your carrierbike of choice. Consider hiring a welding kit and rummaging round the local scrappers.

  9. henry Says:

    Okee, I just did a little research and have a definitive answer: The frames and bicycle parts of the Triobike are made in Taiwan. The box is indeed made in a cooperation between the Vita Sheet Group who makes the plastic sheets and Gibo Plast who does the thermoforming and foam filling. Both firms are in Denmark. You can find all this stated clearly on the following sites:

    http://machinedesign.com/ContentItem/68250/Abicyclebuiltforthree.aspx
    http://www.gibo.dk/sw17167.asp

    Yes, the seat cushions are made by Bramminge Plast in Denmark:
    http://www.triobike.com/ill/static/sader_uk.html

    So the TrioBike bin is made in Denmark but the chassis and bike are definitely made in Taiwan.

    Regardless of what safety councils have approved it I will simply repeat that the TrioBike is one of the worst riding bicycles I and my colleagues have ever tried. Its a neat idea and it looks cool but isn’t effective. I know of a number of TrioBikes that were purchased with high expectations but don’t get ridden and that’s a huge shame

    I don’t know why you assume that I’ve a prejudice against modern design. To the contrary I’m actually an industrial designer by trade and education and have worked for one of the most prestigious ID firms in the world. For the record I really dig the modern look of the TrioBike. I also stated in my review above that the TrioBike is nicely made from quality materials, regardless of whether that manufacturing actually occurred in China, Taiwan, Denmark or on the South Pole.

    I also resent these ridiculous claims that modern design is somehow the diametrical opposite of timeless designs in materials such as steel, leather and wood. Beautiful, functional objects can be manufactured in many ways. What we don’t appreciate is compromising usefulness for “design” as some sort of higher calling. Make attractive, interesting products… but make them GOOD! Stating that the TrioBike an ineffective product does not mean that the alternative must be garbage lashed together at the scrap-yard.

    Again: Its great that you’re happy with your TrioBike but your comments above are incorrect and insultingly written. I simply wrote our findings in a post that was really about the absurdity of armchair reviews.

    TrioBike has now introduced “TrioBike 2.0″. I hope that they’ve improved the bike hugely, but the very fact that they’ve seen a need for a ground-up revision after only a couple years suggests in itself that the first model had problems.

    -Henry

  10. Neil Donovan Says:

    I saw my first TrioBike here in Copenhagen two days ago. I have to say that I was shocked to see that the first thing that the parent had to do before unloading the little ones was to set-up a little ‘foot’ at the front of the cargo box to prevent the whole thing tipping over! Surely, that is a an add-on that has had to added by the designer when the balance issue became apparent in real use?

    Cargo bikes are a big thing here in Denmark and we spent quite some time looking at the options. First we started with a tow-along trailer (from Chariot in Canada and a great, if expensive, product). But my wife wanted to have the kids in the front to talk to – fair enough. The traditional, Christiania bike is the one that has been around longest here and is an iconic design. However, I have always had a problem with the concept that one must turn the whole load carrying ‘box’ and its contents in order to steer.

    Thus we settled on the Nihola which steers by turning the front wheels and has been a great purchase. Others seem to agree, it is rapidly becoming the child carrier of choice here in Copenhagen.

    Interestingly, I saw one of the Bakfiets cargo bikes here yesterday for the first time.

    -Neil

  11. Carlos Labraña A. Says:

    Hi Henry,
    here isthe mising link for production in Poland:
    http://www.idealeurope.pl/eng/news.htm

    best regards

    Carlos

  12. henry Says:

    Hi Carlos,
    Thanks for filling in the missing info. Confirmation thus that the TrioBike is manufactured in Taiwan and assembled in Poland. So much for doing business transparently ;-)

    Groeten,
    Henry

  13. Anu Says:

    And I am still quite happy with mine.
    I first saw a trioBike in the Copenhagen Airport Newspaper two years ago and realised that it was exactly the vehicle of my dreams: a pushing chair with that I could roll along myself, too. I don’t know, why there are no cargo bikes on the streets in Austria. I had to purchase mine without trying, but I find it OK to ride. For my little town (Wiener Neustadt) trioBike is simply perfekt to take children in the kindergarten and to shop afterwards for the family. Nihola doesn’t look so comfortable in winter – nor for a child of 9 months like my third. People keep asking questions about trioBike. It seems that most mothers and quite a lot of fathers, too, share my arguments against the trailers: with trioBike I can see my children and talk to them. And they are absolutely happy and proud.
    These cargobikes You find so overwhelming have just 2 wheels? Not so good to stop or to ride slow, I would mean – as waiting for a child on a small bike to keep pace. I am a slow one. And I have no experience with expensive super-sport-bikes. In my childhood one was just happy to have a bike, so I enjoy, what I have.
    Rolling greetings,
    Anu

  14. Rasmus Says:

    Turns out that an “old tea chest mashed on to a heavyweight rod iron” beats the Triobike any day on this reality test done by the DanishTVchannel DR: Go to http://www.velorution.biz and click the link in the ChristianiaBike article.
    The test between Nihola, ChristianiaBike and Triobike is summed up with ChristianiaBike as winner in close race with Nihola. CB wins because of smallest turning radius, most space for children in the seat and best exit/entry. Nihola has best handling and the parents feel seating for the children is safest. The Triobike has poor handling, very large turning radius and is out of question when the women testing the bikes are discussing which one they would choose.

  15. Dennis Says:

    Quite a discussion you’ve kicked up here. :) Living in Denmark, I initially was also attracted to the sleek look of the Trio Bike, along with the uniqueness (you rarely see them, even here in Copenhagen)

    . But even without riding it, closer inspection revealed that bike wheels are just too messy/cumbersome to be switching around twice a day, plus many of the issues identified above.

    We too ended up with a Nihola (used), and so far I’m really happy with it.

  16. henry Says:

    Anu,
    Thanks for writing again. We completely agree that for daily use putting the kids in trailers is no match for having them up front where they get a good view and can talk with you.

    Your comments about two-wheeled versus three-wheeled carrier bikes have some validity, though not nearly as much as it would seem without trying. With the very low center of gravity stopping and starting are no problem. Riding slowly does take a little getting used to but not much. For very extreme stop-and-start riding with a considerable load we do recommend a trike, but that’s rarely the case with child transport.

    We promote the Bakfiets Cargobike simply because it makes so many families happy and e hardly ever get negative feedback. But I’m certainly not advocating replacing your TrioBike – Use it well and enjoy!

    We’re curious about your experience detaching and reattaching the bicycle to the child carrier, though. Do you do this regularly or just leave the TrioBike complete as a trike? How well do you feel the mechanism functions?

    Groeten,
    Henry

  17. Craig Says:

    This should give Henry, his Dutch welders and those Danish hippies another good giggle while they’re waiting for the next solder order to arrive arrive at the squat.

    Another prestigious international Design nomination was announced on Monday 19 November…. guess who for??? I’ll give you a clue… it begins with t and ends with 2.0 ;)

  18. Feddo Says:

    Can. of Worms. Open.

    I think the point of the original post was to point out that version 1.0 was a “bad” bike – albeit it good-looking – to ride in comparison to the competition, yet it received glowing reviews by people who did not ride it. Period.

    If you read the comments here, you will see that the director of Triobike unequivocally confirms this:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/finding_the_per.php

    Why is Craig so adamant in defending the Triobike, when it is not even really being attacked? Henry even points out that it is extremely well made and looks the business. Yet, version 1.0 was ridden and did not ride well in comparison to other 3-wheelers.

    I think the posts here are pretty un-biased and transparent as to everyone’s motives, what’s yours, Craig?

  19. Craig Says:

    No motives Feddo. It just warms my heart when “thinking outside of the box” gets the praise and publicity it deserves. And hats off to the triobike director for welcoming the world to his Copenhagen test track.

    Maybe if you empty the worms from that open can you might be able to use it in a cargo bike design of your own. Don’t forget to test it against heavy metals before you begin manufacturing.

  20. Feddo Says:

    Fair enough. Nobody denies that it is a beautiful bike to see, and apparently Henry found the “finish” of the bike to be near-perfect.

    But I still would not buy one if the ride is worse than, say, a Danish hippie bike or a Dutch design bike. No matter what the design community or the armchair-reviewers think… I like really expensive design furniture as well, but it’s usually pretty uncomfortable, and due to the price, I would stress about my kid(s) messing up the cashmere-fabric of my $6000 Danish design couch. So I’ll stick to the Swedish design, cheap version couch with washable fabrics….

    I wish I had the skills to design a bike. Unfortunately, I am only an end user.

  21. Michael E. Says:

    Any further thoughts on the Zigo Leader design? http://www.myzigo.com

  22. henry Says:

    Hi Michael,
    Well, the Zigo is 4-in-1 so it must be one better than the 3-in-1 TrioBike, right? ;-)

    Actually, I’m very hesitant to say much about a bike I’ve never tried or seen in person, hence the post above.

    However a couple notes about the aesthetics of the Zigo Leader seem fair. From what I can see on the site it appears that the Zigo is aimed at a different audience than the various Danish and Dutch family transport bikes. Instead of a heavy-duty, all-weather, daily rider the Zigo seems to be recreationally oriented: a fun way to take the kids to the park on a sunny day, yet folds up to put away for winter. That probably better matches much of the North American market though it won’t prevent some creative, hard-core cyclists from fitting mudguards, chainguard, lights, bell, kickstand, locks, a rear child seat etc to make it more practical.

    The only technical issue I can comment on from the photos is that the child pod is forward of the front wheel contact patch so Zigo will have the same forward tipping problem as the TrioBike. That’s at the least disconcerting and annoying, and at worst could cause a safety problem; You’ll need to address that.

    I’m guessing you’re Michael Ehrenreich, MD, Founder of Zigo? Perhaps it’d be handy to talk sometime. You can contact me via Workcycles: http://www.workcycles.com

    Groeten,
    Henry

  23. Michael E. Says:

    The wheels of the Zigo Leader have actually been moved forward somewhat since the prototype that you see in the photograph. In any event, even with the earlier configuration, there were no tip problems with two children in the Child Pod. Also, since the Zigo Leader converts to a stroller, we need to balance the issue of forward tip while in carrier bike mode, with back tip while in stroller mode. I’ll give you a call to discuss the project further.

  24. henry Says:

    Hello Michael,
    Thanks for your addition. Balancing the forward and backward tipping issues is indeed tricky. Such competing design requirements are the challenge and often downfall of many combination products. Below is some clarification about the trike tipping issue.

    The forward tipping of the trikes is never a problem with the kids sitting in the box. Its a function of the ergonomics of the kids climbing in and out of the bike (“child pod” in the case of the Zigo”). Perhaps its been rectified by moving the Zigo’s front wheels forward, but the prototype on the Zigo site looks like it would certainly tip if, for example, a five year old put his full weight on the front of the child pod while his sister is already sitting in the pod. This is quite a normal situation and what we’ve experienced with the much heavier Nihola and TrioBike.

    Depending on the maturity of the kids and the situation the parent/rider might be: at the front of the bike helping the kids in, at the back of the bike… or not present if the kids are just playing (as kids do). In other words the parent isn’t always there to help counterweight the trike.

    Please take this as constructive criticism from somebody who’s observed the experiences of thousands of families with child carrier bikes. Trikes tipping forward is a real safety issue. Do real-world user testing to make sure its right since it will certainly come back to haunt you if its not. Just to note, additions such as a little fold-out foot aren’t really solutions – they’re just workarounds that likely won’t be deployed when needed.

    Kind regards,
    Henry

  25. Richard Wilson Says:

    Michael,

    As a father of two young boys and, for full discloser, the owner of a Bakfiets cargobike here in the US, I’d strongly second Henry’s recommendation for real world testing.

    Parked at the playground our bakfiets often becomes a play structure in its own right and the stability of the bike is constantly tested by gelato fueled tots crawling on and off from all directions in all conceivable (and often parentally inconceivable!) combinations. Keep in mind older children will often want to play “driver” while smaller children clamor about in the passenger box, so it’s important that any parking brake is not easily disengaged. Side-to-side stability is also a consideration if the bike is light or at all top heavy as kids will hang and pull off the side… The bakfiets handles all these situations very nicely – except, of course, deciding who gets to “drive” next ;-)

  26. Bakfiets en meer » Blog Archive » Nihola on its Nose Says:

    [...] For more reading material about the TrioBike have a look at this earlier post where I used it as an example to complain about how ridiculous and inaccurate online “reviews” can be. The comments that follow get rather bizarrely heated and emotional. Click to your heart’s content: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  27. Velorution Says:

    As a shop we have been selling Christiania tricycles, Niholas and Cargobikes for more than 10 years; as a courier service, after years of experimentation with all the above, we have narrowed down our fleet to Christianias: as a father of 3 children I have been using the Christiania tricycle for more than five years. I just want to make three points:
    1. We do not sell the Trio, for exactly the reasons very eloquently explained by Henry above.
    2. We don’t sell the Nihola anymore (for reasons not related to its quality); when we did and people were able to test both Christiania and Nihola, 85% chose the Christiania, even those who at first prefered the steering of the Nihola; similarly 95% of the people who test both Christiania and CargoBike, choose the former.
    3. Children are not ‘into design’. They prefer the more spartan but roomier box of the Christiania:it is their floating playhouse.

  28. henry Says:

    Hi Velorution,
    (for those unfamiliar Velorution is Andrea Casalotti who knows what he’s talking about)

    Thanks for adding your experiences. At WorkCycles we sell almost entirely Bakfiets Cargobikes for pretty much the same reasons you describe. It is very interesting that our experiences with the Christiania and Cargobike are basically opposite but that must be a matter of Londoners having different needs, conditions and tastes than the Dutch. When it comes to family transport we can hardly give trikes away here. Of course we do still sell the bigger three-wheelers for many other applications.

    But in principle the Christiania and the Cargobike remain the “best of breed” despite the more “fashionable” newcomers. Their simple, well developed constructions work properly and the “open source” wooden boxes can be easily adapted to the needs of each growing family.

    Just to note I wrote some more about some of these child transport trikes in a later post:
    http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2008/05/18/nihola-on-its-nose/

    Also worth noting is that WorkCycles hasn’t dismissed the idea of family trikes; We’re actually developing one of our own. It won’t be cheap or a hip design object but it will be a very carefully thought out machine that addresses the shortcomings of the existing models. Finishing our second shop and getting production of our new FR8 up to speed have first priority so I’d estimate a 2009 introduction.

  29. Bakfiets en meer » Blog Archive » Eurobike 2008: Things you won’t find elsewhere Says:

    [...] the similar sounding TrioBike (which I’ve previously maligned for various reasons – see here and here) and Zigo, the Taga approaches its tasks very differently: “Continuity” is the [...]

  30. Bakfiets en meer » Blog Archive » WorkCycles and Bakfiets.nl win in Kassa bakfiets comparison test Says:

    [...] test but have become cynical after seeing so many bizarre “test results” and reviews (see my post about the TrioBike reviews). After watching the program I was mostly just relieved that it went smoothly, that they’d [...]

  31. If Taga is the answer, what was the question? : bakfiets.co.uk Says:

    [...] pavement equivalent of a Hummer. I am reminded of Henry Workcycle’s piece from ages ago on the TrioBike. It’s astonishing what ridiculously complex bikes people can get built and generate media [...]

  32. BAKFIETS en MEER » Blog Archive » Bicycles… Forever. Says:

    [...] I don’t normally expect to find intellectually stimulating material in the pages of Wallpaper magazine, not surprising for a glossy with the byline “International Design, Interiors, Fashion & Travel”. Mostly it just reminds me of my vapid days in industrial design, as do most “designer bikes” such as the Bamboomega and the Triobike. [...]

  33. Martin K Says:

    Henry,

    after bashing the triobike V1, have you ever had a look at V2, and at the mono version (not convertible in any form)?
    We just tested the Winther Kangaroo and really liked it, we will test a Christiana bike in a few days. We are also considering the Triobike, but face the usual problem: None around here in Germany.

    So, it is always interesting to see how others view it.
    I just finished talking to trio on the phone and they said the first generation trio had flaws and they think they improved a lot with version 2.

    We actually do not like the 2-wheeler versions of Cargobikes, after viewing the dutch TV test “kassa”, we also remain in our preference for the 3-wheelers. (well, we did not understand all of it… the dutch are so much better at German than we are at Dutch)
    Downtown with slow speeds we feel that 3 wheels have advantages especially while stop+go.

  34. henry Says:

    Martin,
    In the past couple years since I wrote this piece about the original TrioBike I’ve hardly seen or heard anything about them… aside from the comments here and perhaps a couple more press release type pieces lacking real content. People seem to have stopped talking about the TrioBike, in favor or better options. Both the Christiania and Winther Kangaroo are good bikes, though very different ones. For such an investment it’d be worth making a trip to Amsterdam where you can see and ride every one of these bikes in a day.

    I’ll let our customers speak for two-wheelers over three wheelers for family transport and there’s no contest; We stock both in the WorkCycles shops but sell several hundred two wheelers against maybe two three wheelers. Almost everybody who rides both chooses the easier, more natural riding, less tippy two wheeler. That was also the result of the Kassa test by the way. They considered the Bakfiets.nl and WorkCycles Cargobikes the overall winners but noted that the testers did initially have some preference for the trikes.

  35. Martin K Says:

    Henry,

    thanks for the quick reply!
    Well, maybe a trip to Amsterdam is a good option!
    Do you mean that you have the Kangaroo bike in stock yourself so that we could have a ride in comparison to 2-wheelers or do you have dealers nearby who offer this possibility.
    Maybe there is even the chance to test the trio v2 and the mono in Amsterdam at the beginning of the year as they have deales in the NL soon.
    As you said, the design and finish of the Trio is really intriguing.
    If nothing else speaks against it, we will consider it.
    But if it proves too flawed, then we will rather buy something else.

    By the way, there have been users here and there on the net giving positive accounts of the trio. And the Danish Cycling union had a more detailed test recently. It is in Danish only and Google translates pretty bad.
    But they find hardly anything not to like…

    The kassa test was watched from our side mainly and while looking at the women and men riding the bicycles we saw some problems with the 2-wheelers that we were fearing ourselves.
    We also saw a women falling over with a 3-wheeler while turning..
    It SEEMED as if the 3-wheelers were safer.
    Speaking Dutch helps there, I see now. ;-)

    Who knows, maybe we will meet in the future…
    All the best
    Martin

  36. henry Says:

    Martin,
    It’s all just speculation until you’ve ridden the bikes and preferably spent some time with them, as there are many considerations beyond the handling characteristics: the parking stand, getting the kids in and out, a range of suitable accessories for carrying kids of various ages and keeping them warm and dry, lighting etc etc. We rent the Cargobike and Cargotrike and if you buy one we subtract the rental costs.

    Only a few of the available bikes have built up a substantial user base and those are the bikes you should seriously consider: the bakfiets.nl/workcycles cargobike/cargotrike, christiania and nihola each have a broad following and tens of thousands on the road because they work well, the quality is good, the prices are reasonable and they’re supported by a network of knowledgeable dealers. The Winther Kangaroo is also a good bike but has a more limited audience as a result of it’s price and sporty intentions: it’s just not suitable for parking outdoors in the city.

    I don’t consider any of the other bikes to be serious contenders. Regardless of what I think the Triobike would have earned some popularity if it were a good bike, and it never has, version 1 or 2. BTW in the one Danish test I read the testers favored the Nihola and Christiania very heavily over the TrioBike. But forget about “reviews” – you need to test for yourself and talk to other real users.

    WorkCycles stocks just the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike and Cargotrike and we have the Taga as well, but that’s something different. In principle we’re a Winther dealer but the Kangaroo just isn’t something for our local customers so we don’t stock it. We used to do Christiania but we’ve replaced it with the better made, better priced, better serviced Cargotrike.

    But there are several other dealers in Amsterdam that will have all of these bikes to try… except possibly the Triobike which i something of a joke amongst bike shops.

  37. Martin K Says:

    Henry,

    we just drove to Amsterdam today and had a look at your 1st shop at the Veemarkt. My wife liked the 2-wheeler bakfiets more than she thought, and the same goes for me.
    It is not as hard as thought to start and get going, and at higher speeds it rides nearly like a “normal” bike.
    Turning is a bit difficult, though.
    There remain two things: 1. quite narrow child compartment 2. styling, or lack thereof (and a better child compartment – padded seats etc.)
    But, to be honest, it was very worthwile coming over and having a look. It is a very good bike and we will definitely consider it.
    Richard in your shop was very competent and very nice at the same time. Thanks to him!
    Then we went to het zwarte fietsenplan in the Spiegelqwartier. They had a triobike V2 amongst a load of other bakfiets.
    Now I understand all your points:
    The triobike is definitely the wrong bike for Amsterdam!!
    1. the streets have a strong curvature, especially at the sides, that make any trike uncomfortable to ride
    2. the streets are narrow and sides are often spiked with little columns to keep people from parking / riding through.
    So, for these two reasons alone, the triobike is just not usable in Amsterdam.
    I guess Copenhagen must be a different city.
    We live in a village, and so these two constraints do not apply, really.
    Remains the riding experience, and that was better than expected (after reading your review). But I can see that at higher speeds my bicycle instincts have to re-learn or I might have difficulties when reacting to sudden events.
    Well, thanks again for pointing us to your bikes, we really like them.
    Now it’s time to decide, which is not too easy…
    All the best from Germany!
    Martin

  38. Das perfekte Rad | lubuxlloyd Says:

    [...] Zwischenzeitlich bin ich über ein interessantes Blog gestolpert, in dem ein offenbar sachkundiger Mensch kein gutes Haar am TioBike V2 lässt. Und ich muss ihm in allen Anklagepunkten Recht geben. Interessierte lesen hier. [...]

  39. nom domaine Says:

    nom domaine…

    [...]Bakfiets en Meer » Blog Archive » TrioBike & Internet Reviews[...]…

  40. Heather Says:

    I actually own a triobike mono and this review is terrible! The front of the box has a kick stand preventing it from tipping over even when adult passengers climb in. And it has a built in keyed lock at the rear wheel and parking brake on the handlebars. There are things I’d change, but overall, I LOVE my bike!!

  41. Henry Says:

    Heather, this review was written five years ago, long before your bike was even designed. From what I’ve heard the company has since gone bankrupt and been restarted with new models. So perhaps it’s no great surprise that this review doesn’t describe your bike well.

  42. Andreas Says:

    The guy who wrote this article needs to get his facts right. It is only the Triobike V2 that you can have for 3 purposes. And the do not sell it anymore. The four models that they sell, they are not “3 in 1″.

  43. henry Says:

    Andreas,
    This post was written in 2007! Seven years ago I had my “facts right”.

  44. Danielle Says:

    I really appreciate this conversation as I’ve been trying to find a great cargo bike for over a year and have not found it yet. Some of the earliest postings from this thread are still accurate in that I live in the US and my closest retail source for the TrioBike is in Montreal, Canada. I guess the TrioBike isn’t taking the biking world by storm yet. From what I can see online about the new TrioBike Mono it looks beautiful and seems well designed for transporting children. This is what I’m looking for, but I also want the bike to feel easy and enjoyable to ride – like a great, regular bike – able to go up a few moderate hills, even. Is this too much to hope for with a cargo bike?

    I wish I could test ride the Trio Mono, but there are none near me. It seems too big a risk to buy it from Canada without trying it first. I’ve tested a Christiania 2 wheel and 3 wheel cargo bike. There were things I really liked about the 2 wheel (which had e assist) it but it felt like I could easily tip over if there was too much weight in the front and with kids that is a deal breaker. The 3 wheel Christiania was very easy to ride, but the joy of riding a bike wasn’t there – felt like I was pushing a cart around, which is basically accurate:). I’m hoping to test ride an actual Bakfiet and FR8 next week. I hear FR8’s are supposed to be great bikes for cargo and can be outfitted to seat kids. But, it’s not the same thing as a Bakfiet style where kids have a designated environment to sit and nap in, bring their dolls and whatever else. Henry, do you have any suggestions for types of cargo bikes and models I could look into that are great for transporting kids and cargo but still make for a wonderful ride like great bikes?

  45. Dara Says:

    I am a disabled 68 year old woman in the US. I can only stand up for a few seconds without excruciating pain. Therefore, I need 3 wheels so I do not have stand to support the bike at a light.

    The only sports that I can do are biking and swimming, and I can’t get to a pool everyday.several years ago, I switched to an all bike lifestyle for health reasons. (Blood pressure was rising unbelievably without exercise, danger of osteoporosis without weight bearing exercise, unhappiness with no activity, etc).

    I have an American “tricycle” , which I have electrified that I can use when I do not need to carry much.

    But i needed a real cargo bike. It is difficult for me to peddle a 70 pound bike up hills. I lost so much strength before I hit on this bike-only lifestyle. (In the past two years of biking, I have restored a little of my former strength, but it comes back slowly at my age.). Babbo is so heavy that I thought I might not be able to move it. I had not heard of Trio. I considered Either, but thought that Christiania and Nihola were better. Since I am no longer strong, I worried about steering Christiania. I desperately wanted a Nihola.

    In 2011, a west coast bike shop imported 60 Nihola, which is their minimum purchase. They dud no sell well at all. (Americans want to think “green”, but they will nt give up their SUVs, and apparantly, a Nihola is too expensive to be a weekend vehicle.). They had to ship individual bikes all over the US, one a a time to dispose of them. I was lucky enough to get the one shipped to my city.

    I passionately adore it, but I have some serious problems. I am posting to ask for help. I canoly rodé it a maximum of 4miles in a day because it does not fit me. The bike is so dmooth, and with the Shimano Nexus gear hub, it is just so smooth. I plan to have major changes made to it if possible. I am posting to ask for help.

    The bike is built with the rider directly over the pedales, which causes teo serious problems. 1- it throws half my weight forward only the handlebars, which my wrists cannot tolerante. 2-My left leg is in serious pain When it is behind the vertical plane of my bod.y.with my body direcyly over the pedals, My lef knee is in pain constantly.

    I need to sit behind the pedales, like I do on my American-made tricycle (which cannot carry enough). I am planning to have this wonderful bike cut up and rewelded to put me behind the petals. Since I love this bike so much in theory , I hate to destroy it if this does not eork for me. Does anyone have a different suggestion? I really wish I could find a way to use a large cargo bike.

    Dara. tarolli2011@

    I am posting this on Android, which Mamés wierd changes to what I have Tyler. Rudy, When I try to correct my typos and their bar changes, it makes wierd changes far from where I ser the cursor. I hope you can read this post OK.

    PLEASE, if you can offer advice, I would appreciate it.

    I tried to change some things above, and it deleted part of my email address. If you can offer an idea, my email is
    tarolli2011@ gmail.com

  46. monika Says:

    I’d like to send out a warning for the Zigo Leader. we used it about 8 times before my youngest was born, after that i couldn’t because in the babyshell my daughter came to close to the plastic cover.
    It got rusty anyhow and the steerblock was not working what caused the tires to wobble when using the pod without the bike. Also the wheels collapsed when the car was folded ans the wheel axle even came out because of that!

    Now the youngest is old enough to sit up staight i took them both for a ride to find out the ‘safety’ belts got loose (one waistbelt, the other the harness) Never thought of testing it, but when i did, it came loose very easily, my strength is probably not as much as the impact of even a minor collision. See for yourself:
    http://youtu.be/akf5venHFrA
    http://youtu.be/8s76WZBL7Ho
    The belts are attached to the fabric, and I don’t think a new(er? I only used them a few times) could solve the problem. Transporting my children without the safetybelt/harness i don’t think so. Besides the fact that I wasted €1.599 I’m afraid its just not a safe bike, so be careful please.

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