Kyoko’s Bakfiets Cargobike

Keeping with the spirit of “practice what you preach” its to be expected that Kyoko and I would be transporting our son P1 around in a Bakfiets Cargobike. We actually considered bringing him home from the hospital in a bakfiets but figured we’d just be tired and Kyoko would have no interest in sitting on or in a bike at that point. In fact we we’re totally wasted tired and definitely in no mood for cycling, even those two flat kilometers. It was one of the few times we’ve ever been happy to see a taxi in Amsterdam. Come to think of it it was also the only time P1 has been in a car in his 11 week life.

After four weeks Kyoko was cycling again and P1 seemed ready join his mom. I hadn’t even begun building our own bakfiets so I “borrowed” one of the WorkCycles rental/loaner bakfietsen for a few days and bolted in one of our Maxi-Cosi carriers. Its probably an exaggeration to say that P1 “enjoyed” the ride, but he did sleep soundly the entire time; It certainly wasn’t bothersome for him.

We’ve had pretty terrible weather this fall and that’s good for keeping customers out of the shops. Thus I finally had time to build Kyoko’s own bakfiets. Perhaps I went a little over the top with the custom wheels with orange hubs (Sram i9 9-speed and Shimano dynamo hub with IM70 rollerbrake), orange painted fenders, lighting wiring run completely through the frame and rear carrier and a hundred other little, obsessive details. The Sram hub is in there just to get some experience with it. We generally avoid Sram gear hubs but Shimano’s are sometimes unavailable so its good to know the alternatives.

But wait… didn’t I recently write that I don’t obsess about my own utility bikes? Yes I did, but this is my wife’s bike, not mine.

Just to note, you might wonder whether its significant that I chose an “old-model” Bakfiets Cargobike instead of the new Cargobike 2.0. The answer is simple: No, Kyoko just wanted an ivory white bike with colored parts and we had a Cargobike 1 and parts that fit the bill. In any case the differences between the two models aren’t enough to really care one way or the other.

Now at 11 weeks old P1 sometimes stays awake while cycling, gazing back at mom or out (mostly upward) at the world. He seems very content tucked in his Maxi-Cosi, inside the canopy. The Maxi-Cosi snaps into his pram (a compact Bugaboo Bee, yes we’re very happy with it)… which easily fits into the rear of the Cargobike box. So Kyoko or I can bring the baby and a complete pram along in case the destination requires a fair amount of walking. Very handy!

The bike is parked in front of our house, where it will mostly live. We figure the very open location on the canal and next to a bridge makes it very visible from two streets and dozens of apartments. A thief would be very bold to fire up a disk grinder to cut through those hardened 10mm chains, though I doubt it’ll stop the local urchins from tagging the box.

11 Responses to “Kyoko’s Bakfiets Cargobike”

  1. mindcaster Says:

    wow, you finished it already! Nice sprint to the finish line, Henry! A beautiful bakfiets for a cute new Dutchie :).

  2. mindcaster Says:

    I’m actually surprised you are posting this now…not glued to the tv? đŸ™‚

  3. henry Says:

    Technically speaking P1 can’t officially be Dutch until he turns 18, but he will nonetheless be an Amsterdammer the entire time.

    Obviously we were following the election with one eye but there was really no news until early in the morning. We’re pleased with the results.. or maybe “relieved” is a much better word.

  4. todd Says:

    same colors as on my #1 brompton: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/2378176418/

  5. henry Says:

    and same colors as the 50’s cabinet Kyoko rescued from the street and restored… but your bike doesn’t have orange hubs. Gotcha there!

  6. Green Idea Factory Says:

    I was planning to avoid getting a pretty bike BUT after being here in Berlin for about seven weeks I have noticed a lot of really ugly bikes (not old or rusty ones, just yucky design).

    Seeing this lovely creation just inspires me even more…

    I once had something orange which people commented on all the time but now I cannot recall what it was.

  7. henry Says:

    Particularly in Amsterdam the bicycles are such a prominent feature of the street scene that it seems almost antisocial to put ugly bikes out there. Really there aren’t many places for ugly designed products anyway.

  8. christian Says:

    Wow–does the sram i9 actually come in orange from the factory, or is this a paintjob you did yourself?

  9. henry Says:

    Nope, I painted both the Sram i9 and the Shimano dynohub myself… along with the fenders and part of the crank.

  10. fiets_503 Says:

    nice job henry. Any updates after nearly a month of use?

  11. henry Says:

    Yeah, its a super sweet riding bike and Kyoko is very happy. Of course its 90% stock aside from the tricky wiring and cosmetic work.

    The most notable technical changes are the Sram i9 9 speed hub and Busch & Muller Fly LED headlamp. One month is much too short to see how they’ll hold up in the long term but our impressions so far:

    – the hub comes with a bag of different, special washers to fit various fork ends… but none fit so I had to improvise my own.

    – the shifter requires this big tube thing by the hub that basically isn’t compatible with Dutch chain cases. Its sticks out and looks vulnerable. I got them to it togther with some careful dremel work, but that’s not realistic for production bikes. So right off the bat its not a hub for most of our bikes.

    – Sram suddenly stopped production of their (terrible) i Brake (drum brake). I had been testing one on another bike so I understand why: it sucked. Nothing could solve the squealing, the action was imprecise and it dragged easily. This means that there’s no utility bike appropriate hand brake available for this hub. Strike four against using these for production. We just used a coaster brake version for our own bike but a hand brake is generally handier on such a big bike.

    – The above two are really unfortunate because it otherwise feels like a really sweet hub. Typically Sram it has a much more “mechanical” feel to it; more clicky precise and efficient than the smooth but peanut buttery Shimano 8 speed. The shifting is perfect and the gears feel nicely spaced. There is no gear that is obviously less efficient than the others.

    – The new B & M LED headlamps with standlight function are incredible. Roll a few meters and the capacitor is already charged up, giving light for a remarkable period. Further the beam is unbelievably powerful, like a motorcycle instead of a 6V bike light powered by a hub dynamo you can’t even feel. Construction is solid, much better than previous B & M lights, which tended to be rather flimsy.

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