Test: Carrying a Newborn on a Bike

A little background here: Many moms carry their babies around by bicycle here in the Netherlands. It’s pretty much a necessity when families live in densely packed cities where driving an automobile is neither practical, pleasant or affordable. At WorkCycles we’ve always recommended that this be done by putting the child in a Maxi-Cosi (by far the most popular make of car seat for infants), secured in the box of a bakfiets. We mostly do this in the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike but a number of others are good as well. We have a lot of experience with this system and haven’t seen any problems. Customers have even told us stories of accidents that their babies SLEPT through. In short a baby appears to be fairly safe in a protective car seat, in a sturdy wooden box, only several centimeters from the ground.

But not everybody wants to ride a Bakfiets and we customers regularly ask us to mount the Maxi Cosi on the front or rear carrier of a standard format bike… which we’ve steadfastly refused. Colleagues of ours do this regularly and quite a few customers have left one of our shops and gone straight to “brand X” where they’ve bought a bike equipped this way. We haven’t really helped the customer in such a case and we’ve lost a sale as well. I wanted to research the matter further.

bike-steco-baby-mee-maxi-cosi

Photo: Example of a bike equipped to carry a baby in a Maxi Cosi over the front wheel, NOT from WorkCycles.

Setting the Maxi-Cosi on a front carrier seemed like a BAD idea but perhaps acceptable with our new, super heavy duty and stable Fr8 bike. So I built a test rig and experimented with Pascal, then 2 mo old. Kyoko and I each rode the bike for an afternoon on a variety of (quiet) roads and smooth paths in Amsterdam.

One of our complaints with carrying babies on standard type bikes is that the parking stands are inadequate to hold the “load” stably. This is particularly true since the baby is set high over the front wheel while most bikes have their parking stand beneath the crank axle. That’s just not stable. The Fr8 is built differently: The rack is mounted with just enough clearance over the front tire and a very wide and stiff stand is integrated into the “Massive Rack”. This rack and stand are actually rated for over 150kg of cargo so a few kg of baby, Maxi-Cosi and the overbuilt system were not going to tax it. Test one passed with flying colors.

The system holding the Maxi-Cosi looks cheesy but it’s actually extremely solid and secure. I wouldn’t have put my 2 month old son in there otherwise! I bolted a board to the carrier and strong tie-down straps secure the Maxi-Cosi. In the bag below the Maxi Cosi are a stack of blankets and cushions for shock damping. It’s not visible in the photos but Pascal IS strapped into the Maxi Cosi under the blankets.

Riding the bike with baby aboard was obviously no problem, but wasn’t nearly as confidence inspiring as having the baby low in the wooden box of the bakfiets. There remained something unnerving about having the baby so high and in your sight line.

While riding we discovered the real problem with such a system: damping of large amplitude vibrations from the road surface… shaking the baby in other words. On perfectly smooth surfaces it was fine, but even the smallest irregularities in the road caused Pacal’s head to shake up and down. Even with the giant 54mm tires of the Fr8 so soft that they almost rolled on the rims, a small pothole or root pushing through the road caused unacceptable shaking.

Project over thus:
The shocks transmitted through the bike in such a format are simply unacceptable for a small baby, and short of an elaborate suspension system there is no way to counter it. An adequate suspension would require much more vertical distance between the baby carrier and front wheel and this setup was already as high as I would consider acceptable. Thus any further work in this direction would require a bike with a much smaller front wheel.

We maintain our position that carrying a baby on the front of a “normal” format bike is not acceptable and will not offer this until we’ve found a better approach.

Be Sociable, Share!
Email This Post Email This Post

43 Responses to “Test: Carrying a Newborn on a Bike”

  1. David Hembrow Says:

    I’ve seen these baby seats mounted on the back of a lot of bikes, but never on the front before. There’s a definitely advantage to being able to see your child as you cycle.

    There is a photo somewhere of my (now 14 year old) daughter sitting happily in a bike basket when she was a couple of months old. We didn’t really transport her that way though, which is just as well as I think social services in the UK would have descended on us and taken her away if we had. If they had, she’d probably have grown up without cycling, and be heading towards obesity due to travelling everywhere by car.

  2. henry Says:

    David, the Steco Baby Mee is indeed designed to be mounted on the rear carrier. We find it a rather dubious way to carry a baby, but it’s certainly better than doing so like on the black bike above. A couple Amsterdam shops do this a lot and it’s really scary looking. Firstly the Maxi Cosi sits very high, so high that it can actually interfere with one’s sight line. Secondly the baby is cantilevered our forward of the front wheel. Sorry, but a baby is not a bumper.

    We’re still working (slowly) on a better solution. It’ll require another type of bike, though, thus you might see a new variant of the FR8 on the market next year.

  3. Julian Says:

    Hi Henry – thanks for posting this! I’ve been obsessing about this a bit as our son’s due date approaches. I’ve found most infant solutions quite sketchy as well. Amidships position (to reduce travel from impacts from front and back wheels), placement as low as possible to reduce rotational momentum with tipovers, use of well-secured rear-facing standard car seat, and being in a position where neither driver nor bike can land on baby all seem important.

    Other issues that I’m trying to find a real evidence basis for is the whole head/neck stability issue. You read a lot in the safety literature about how infants do not have appropriate musculature to support their relatively large heads, and thus cannot mitigate jostling and impact forces the way we can. There is also vague concern about unrecognized repeated minor head injury from shaking and subtle impacts, as well as stresses on their necks. They of course, cannot communicate specific discomforts the ways toddlers can, so it’s hard to know if those are being missed. But I suspect we’re in the realm of expert opinion rather than actual studies here (I’ll keep looking).

    The bakfiets solution is currently the only one I’d feel even semi-comfortable with trying (even that violates all sorts of American Academy of Pediatrics and other US injury prevention recommendations – admittedly, a conservative bunch when it comes to cycling). My friends used a Chariot Sidecarrier (http://chariotcarriers.com/english/html/sidecarrier.php) and infant sling (\not intended to be used while cycling\: http://chariotcarriers.com/english/html/accessories.php?accID=2), and liked it. Other eager parents in the US use similar infant slings in rear trailers, which worries me in terms of a lot of jostling (placement right over the axle) and not-infrequent tipovers. The upcoming Taga stroller/trike might be something I’d try with an infant (are you thinking about carrying this?).

    I’ll be very curious to see what you’re working on with a new FR8 variant. I drooled puddles in the Clever Cycles showroom this fall when I saw the gloriously orange FR8 with the big rack and front stand. In the meantime, since we’re bakfiets-less, I’ll wait until he’s at least 9-12mo and use our Bobike Mini seat, unless I jury-rig a rear-facing car seat low down in the Madsen Cycles bucket first. But even then I’ll probably wait until he’s 6mo, as much as that pains me.

    I understand wanting to keep FR8 development under wraps for now, but it’d be fun to follow along with your prototyping in this blog …

  4. henry Says:

    Hi Julian,
    We’ve equipped hundreds of bakfietsen to carry newborns by mounting a Maxi-Cosi in the box on a padded platform. There’s even room for toddlers on the bench behind. My son Pascal has been riding in one since one month old.

    As you suggest the long wheelbase, vertically compliant frame, low position and distance from the front wheel make an enormous difference in the smoothness of the ride experienced by the baby. Assuming one rides with moderation and a soft front tire the shocks transmitted don’t appear any worse than those in Pascal’s Bugaboo carriage (with suspension on the wheels). Trailers, on the other hand, bounce around considerably and with the baby directly between the wheels, will certainly transmit much more shock.

    Richard and I rode the Taga at Eurobike. It was very well executed considering it’s complexity and the designers were working on some attractive accessories. But it didn’t seem like something one would enjoy riding for more than a kilometer of so. II would regard it more as a big stroller that rode decently in bike mode than a bicycle to be compared on equal terms to something like the bakfiets.nl cargobike.

    New FR8 variations? There are a number in the works and we’re not sure which ones will be great enough to warrant production. One could extrapolate from the article above that safely carrying a baby plus older child with a smaller footprint than a bakfiets is something we’d like to enable. Exactly what form that’ll take is still a question mark. We’re also working on three-wheelers but there are already so many on the market that we have to figure out exactly what we’re adding to the equation. The only new version that’s definite is a lighter, “city bike” variant, probably called “Fast FR8″.

  5. Dottie Says:

    I just found this blog, but I’ve been riding one of your bikes around Chicago for months. Every day I get comments about how gorgeous / cool / awesome my bike is!

    That picture with the baby seat is so funny to me. It looks like when I recently strapped my nephew’s car seat to my front rack to return it to my sister. I was only transporting the car seat, no child, of course. I thought, drivers are going to think I’m crazy, but what they don’t know is that I could be a Dutch super mum :)

    Here’s a picture of the set up: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3363/3227896932_6d243330bf.jpg?v=0

  6. henry Says:

    Dottie, A lot of Dutch parents would consider that a perfectly reasonable way to carry a child. See the next post about the mom who carries three kids on her WorkCycles FR8, one of them on the front carrier… without any seat at all. Also popular is for kids to stand on the rear carrier with their hands on dad’s shoulders, watching the world go by from a nice high vantage point.

    I’m guessing you got your bike at Dutch Bike Chicago? It always warms my heart to hear from happy WorkCycles riders!

    Chicago seems to be quietly becoming the top cycling city in the US while Portland and New York make a bigger fuss about it.

  7. Dottie Says:

    Yes, I did get my bike at Dutch Bike Chicago. Great people over there who really care a lot about the bikes! Chicago is a good place to cycle and I appreciate the steps the mayor is taking to improve it. Chicago as a whole is a top city that doesn’t make a fuss about it – there’s more going on here than corrupt politicians :)

  8. Julian Says:

    Thanks for the detailed reply! I just saw this lovely and innovative “short john” bike, linked from the clever cycles gang. This Frances Small Haul might be a nice design starting point for a lighter, shorter, baby-friendly bakfiets. Of course, it’s built for speed and touring, and thus not-so-Dutch, but the cargo bin just looks so much like a bassinet it’s hard not to fantasize about baby transport.

    Check it out:
    http://francescycles.com/galleries/cargo/#3123111045

  9. Susannah Says:

    What do you think about carrying an infant on an Onderwater family tandem in its bakfiets configuration? I mean, assuming of course that the baby was in a maxi-cosi that had been securely fastened into the box. I’m curious about this because I think the Onderwater family tandem is a good solution for kids who are old enough to pedal, but not old enough to deal with our rather scary streets (I’m in the US), and it would be nice to get only one family bike when the time comes instead of having to get one and then another.

  10. henry Says:

    Susannah,
    The safety of a baby on a bike is dependent on the length of the bike’s wheelbase, how close to the center of the bike the baby lies, the shock absorbing capabilities of the infant carrying system, how far from the ground the baby is, the stability of the parking stand and the protection around the baby. In almost all of these areas the Onderwater is better than a standard bike but not quite as good as the Bakfiets Cargobike Long.

    One of the real tricks to doing this properly is holding the baby carrier securely but not rigidly. It must absorb shocks and vibrations to prevent them being transmitted into the baby.

    I think for the parent very conscious of the factors involved and willing to adjust their riding style the Onderwater Tandem can make a fine baby carrier. And then it’s really handy later on when the kids can pedal along.

  11. HeleenH Says:

    I would rather have baby on my back in a safe carrier (like a Mei Tai or wrap style carrier) than on the front. I have NEVER fallen on my back while cycling, but I have had my then pregnant belly bump into the handlebar (the point in the middle). I have carried my baby/toddler on the back when I had bought just too much stuff so I could put the toilet paper in the child seat and the child on my back. Luckily now I own a bakfiets, should have bought it earlier…

  12. Frits B Says:

    Aren’t you forgetting one of Nature’s instinctive reactions? People who fall automatically try to return to the foetus position and catch the impact where it does the least damage. Just try falling down stairs. I’ve done it a few times and it was mostly my back that hurt.

  13. HeleenH Says:

    But the stairs are a completely different story than the bicycle, Frits! I have never ever fallen off a bike backwards, like you would when you go down a stair. Actually the only time I have hurt my back(side) when falling is when sliding down the stairs.
    Normally you fall in the direction you are moving, which usually for humans would mean you fall on your face. You put your hands in front of you to break the fall and reduce damage. If you fall on the bicycle with your child strapped on your chest like so http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2010/07/12/how-the-amsterdam-papa-rolls , the back of the baby will be very badly hurt by the stuurpen, the point in the middle of you handlebars or another part of your bicycle. With baby safely strapped on your back like this http://prutsen.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/img_1759.jpg or like this http://media.photobucket.com/image/draagdoek%20rug/marjolein1999/Kermis017.jpg your body takes the damage and baby stays safe. I wouldn’t try it with a contraption like this http://www.ouders.nl/beeldwoordenboek/rugdrager_soeting216x165.jpg

  14. Frits B Says:

    Don’t agree. The direction of the fall is the same on a moving bike as it is going down stairs (which I only mentioned as an example): forward. Our natural reaction is to hunch and catch the blow on side and back. I had a perfect example of this a few weeks ago when an elderly woman had the rear wheel of her bike slide away from under her. She duly fell on her left hip and turned on her back, bike on top of her. No damage, just a lot of street dust. Cars from both directions stopped immediately.

    Undecided, I’m afraid. It would be asking too much to call for a test with real babies.

    (I’m 71, I do call women in their sixties elderly :-)

  15. HeleenH Says:

    From my own experience of falling of bikes with (emergency stop) and without (icy patch on a hump in the road) pregnant belly I completely disagree with you. I have never fallen in a way that would compromise the health of a child wrapped securely on my back. I have fallen in ways that would very seriously damage a child, had it been carried in the front.

  16. henry Says:

    Heleen,
    Though I’ve never been pregnant, as a former bicycle racer I have experienced and witnessed countless bicycle falls and crashes. My and most of my former peloton-mates backs will always have the scars to show that one tends to land on our sides and back. Landing on your chest or face tends to happen only in the most unexpected, extreme and scary falls.

    I have no scientific evidence (though I’m 101% confident it’s out there) but I’m sure that the natural reflex is to protect one’s face, chest and heart by assuming the “crash position”… a compact ball with the arms as protection. This is why motorcycle racers wear back protectors but not chest protectors and routinely walk away from 200km/hr falls.

    I agree with Frits that cycling with a child on your bike is a bad idea. Though I dislike calling anything associated with utilitarian cycling “dangerous” this certainly approaches the description. If you fall like this the natural tendency will still be to protect the front of your own body and there is absolutely nothing you can do to protect the child on your back.

  17. Peter Wassink Says:

    Henry,
    I’m a follower of your excellent blog and currently occupied with the problem of how to provide bike transport for a toddler and baby twins (still underway).
    This thread seemed appropriate enough to post this puzzle.

    As a baby, our first girl (almost 2 years old now) went in the maxi cosi inside our Cabby bak and riding that way always felt 100% safe and pleasant (low, shock-less & eyecontact!). But since there is no room for two maxi cosi’s in the bak i figured adding a steco on the rear could be the solution. I already bought a steco second hand but to be honoust the idea of placing one of the babies out of sight behind my back on such a high and slightly wobbly contraption does not appeal to me at all.

    I am now considering maybe building a custom rack to be bolted to the caby bak frame that can hold two narrower babyscales (so far i’ve found only one manufaturer called Weber)

    Would you care to give your thoughts? do you know the Weber babyschaal?

  18. Henry Cutler Says:

    Peter,
    We’ve done the bike for baby twins plus toddler a couple times, but in our Cargobike and not the Gazelle Cabby. With some creativity and construction the same principle could be applied.

    Our standard solution for twin babies is a double Maxi-Cosi carrier. The front MC is mounted as far forward as possible on the floor of the box with a cushion underneath and nylon web straps on either side. The rear MC is secured the same way on a shelf that temporarily replaces the bench seat. A similar but more compact system could be used with the Weber babyschalen. It would just cost more than a couple second hand MC’s. You also cannot carry the babies around in the babyschalen as you can in the MC’s.

    The Weber babyschalen are OK, if somewhat strangely shaped and very expensive for what seems to be a beer cooler foam molding with a simple fabric cover. The attachment is just a series of slots trough which you’re expected to thread straps. Melia in Rotterdam makes a rip-off of the Weber; lower quality and price.

    Your 2-year old daughter will have to settle for sitting in a child seat on the rear carrier until the twins are mature enough to sit up. In the Cargobike we would then add the second bench seat to create three seats in the box but with the Cabby you’ll have to invent something since there’s no second bench available.

  19. HeleenH Says:

    I guess our different experiences show there is a difference in which a ‘mom on the schoolrun/ doing groceries’ and speed cyclists fall. Yesterday I held a poll on a forum of moms and none of them has ever fallen on their back, except for one who was carrying a baby on her chest who purposely landed on her back to protect the child.
    This is the poll:
    Val met de fiets
    I.v.m. een discussie op bakfiets-en-meer graag jullie val-ervaringen ;-) Als je met de fiets valt, waar kwam je dan op terecht/had je de meeste schade?

    Handen en knieën 46.43 % (13) (hands and knees)
    buik 3.57 % (1) (Stomach)
    rug 3.57 % (1) (Back)
    zij 28.57 % (8) (side)
    heup 17.86 % (5) (hip)
    bips 0.00 % (0) (bottom)
    eigenlijk overal 0.00 % (0) (basically everywhere)
    ergens anders 0.00 % (0) (somewhere else)
    Total votes: 28

    I agree carrying a baby strapped on your body is not the first choice of transportation, but if for whatever reason there is no alternative, I firmly believe strapping them on your back is much safer than carrying it in a babybjorn linke contrapition on your chest like shown in http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2010/07/12/how-the-amsterdam-papa-rolls/ where I meant to put my first comment.
    In the comments below my poll one of the parents added that when she fell while carrying baby on her chest, baby hit the steer first.

  20. Christian Says:

    Dear all,

    we’re expecting our first baby, and have to think about a way to get around in the future. Our favorite so far is a cargo trike. Due to the fact that few dealers are around in Braunschweig / Germany, who sell cargo bikes, we’ve only tried the Christiania and are quite happy with it.
    However, we’re thinking about a way to fix a MaxiCosi in it. The dealer told us to just put the MaxiCosi in and secure it using the belt.
    I’m not happy with this solution and therefore looking for a more robust and secure way, like fixing a MaxiCosi holder on the bottom of the bak where I can just click the MaxiCosi in.

    Anyone experience with this? So far, I was only able to find this:
    http://www.fietsenbestel.nl/product/2/149-01595/Babyzitjeshouder-Steco-Babymee-Babyzitje-In-Bakfiets-Excl-Montageplaat.html

    Thanks,

    Christian

  21. Peter Wassink Says:

    “we’re thinking about a way to fix a MaxiCosi in it. The dealer told us to just put the MaxiCosi in and secure it using the belt.”
    But if you think about it, thats excactly how the MaxiCosi is mounted inside a car…

    Henry, a belated thanks for your reply.
    Meanwhile the twins are here and no solution yet.
    Incidently… shortly after moving house (yes to make room for them) I saw our new neigbour arriving home on his brand new very sexy looking grey fr8 kruisframe
    Darn, how i wish that was the solution,
    Might just have to buy one anyway ;-)

  22. Hugo Martins Says:

    Dear all,

    Can I apply this on every type of bicycle? (mine is this one: http://pt.ruadireita.com/bicicleta-specialized-fsr-xc_36721/ )

    Is it the same as this: http://www.kinderwagensupply.nl/Autostoeltje-Accessoires/Fietsdrager/Steco-Baby-Mee-Bike-Fietsdrager/ ???

    How can I adapt it to the front of the bike instead of in the back??

    Thanks in advance for your replys.

  23. henry Says:

    Hugo,
    Please read the post. It explains very clearly why it is NOT recommended to carry a baby this way.

  24. Peter Says:

    Hugo, I’m no expert but it doesn’t seem like a good idea.
    The Steco-baby requires a stable platform and the rider of this bike is in racing position.
    maybe you could make the steer much higher so you could sit upright. still you’d need to extend the frame either front or at the back to be able to mount the Steco-baby.
    probably the best option for this bike is a trailer.

  25. Randi B. Says:

    Thank you very much for such a wonderful website!
    I just recently had a baby who is now 5-months old and I was wondering if there is any way of carrying him in a bike trailer. Would it be safe to strap in a Maxi Cosi? Or is there a bike trailer out there specifically for newborns?
    We rode in a friend’s Gazelle Cabby with Maxi Cosi last weekend here in Italy near Valeggio sul Mincio (Verona) and my baby loved it, but we found it very cumbersome to transport it. We would like to easily take the bike to other areas in Italy in a station wagon (bike mounted on top or back of car, bike trailer in the rear compartment).
    Thank you!

  26. henry Says:

    Randi, I must confess that I’ve limited experience with carrying kids in trailers. It just seems rather passive and uninteresting for the kids back there. Strapping a Maxi Cosi in an appropriate trailer would probably be safe, assuming you can find a way to dampen the shocks effectively. In a bike trailer the load (kids in this case) is directly between the wheels and the trailer is very light thus it must transmit considerable shocks to the passenger.

  27. Randi B. Says:

    Thank you very much Henry for your answer and your opinion. I will take it into consideration. I’m very happy to have stumbled on your website and will keep taking a look now and then for articles on this subject, as well as letting other friends know about it.

  28. G Says:

    Have you reconsidered this approach recently? I’m investigating options on carrying newborns on Brompton bicycles – which certainly have smaller front wheels!

  29. henry Says:

    Newborn on a Brompton = Bad Idea. Infinitely worse idea than newborn on long wheelbase, fat tired, cushy riding, extremely stable handling and standing Fr8.

    Have you considered carrying the baby in/on other conveyances such as a top fuel dragster, track bike or shopping cart?

  30. G Says:

    I figured! So aside from a Bakfiets or similar you don’t really recommend any method of carrying a newborn on a bike? I’ve seen others recommend the car-seat in the trailer option, but I know the rear wheel on a Brompton (in particular) is very prone to bumps/vibration (fastest way to whip cream is to put it on the back of the bike) and I’m not sure how you would be able to dampen those vibrations. The reason I’m asking Brompton specific questions is that we don’t have a car, and for longer multi-modal journeys we would never be able to get a Bakfiets on a train. A Brompton is always allowed, and a normal bike might be a good compromise, but as you’ve pointed out you don’t think that mounting a car-seat on a normal bike works either. Any other suggestions welcome! Thanks for a very informative website.

  31. henry Says:

    The lawyers are probably licking their lips as I write this but here goes anyway: I really don’t think carrying a baby on your chest while cycling is such a terrible idea. Obviously I’m assuming a low-risk and aggression cycling environment such as in the Netherlands, extremely mellow cycling, and you need a bike with a very upright position and roomy cockpit to do this comfortably.

    It’s very common in the Netherlands and my wife and I did it with both of our kids occasionally. As you point out a bakfiets is not ALWAYS the most convenient option. We used an Ergo Baby carrier which is comfortable and has good support for both baby and parent.

    Yes, there are certainly risks involved but I believe they’re small. The most likely danger would seem to be poking baby with handlebar in a minor fall.

  32. G Says:

    … following my previous questions, baby has now arrived. He’s 3.5 months now, and I have taken him on short trips while wrapped to me (on my front). However, he’s a big boy and is beginning to get wriggly, so we need to look at a new solution (and indeed find one for when he’s older). The recommendations that babies are 9 months old before most of the bike seats are used – is that a developmental limit (i.e. can hold head up, sit unsupported or similar) or is it a weight thing (too lightweight for the seat?).
    In your experience, do babies progress from the Maxi-Cosi solution straight to the baby seat at c. 9 months?

  33. henry Says:

    I think nine months is roughly when most kids can sit and support their heads well enough to be safely ridden around in a child seat on a bike. Yes, kids who’ve outgrown their MC at 9ish months can just be plopped into a Bobike or Yepp Mini. I did so with both of my kids and though somewhat floppy for the first few weeks they seem none the worse for wear.

  34. Celeste Says:

    I have a 7 month old baby and have cycle with her strapped to my front first and now to my back since she was a couple of months old. However she is getting heavier and was thinking to put her on a maxi cosi at the back of my bikehttp://www.mammoet.nl/details/home/Nieuwe-artikelen/Puch-fresh-plus-nexus-7v-dames-50cm-2012-nu-afgemonteerd/ would that be a terrible idea?? Is a mama fiets a better option?

  35. henry Says:

    Celeste,
    Why not just wait a couple months and put your baby in a front child seat? Not only do I not like putting Maxi Cosi’s on regular bikes you’d spend €100 for something that will be irrelevant before the spring is over.

  36. Celeste Says:

    That´s a good point! I´m completely lost when it comes to bikes.. therefore which kind of bike would you recommend as a mama fiets? Thanks!

  37. henry Says:

    For carrying just one child any sturdy city bike with a long wheelbase, fairly high handlebar, plenty of room between saddle and handlebar, good brakes etc will do. Of course I’m describing a quality Dutch bike because this is exactly what they’re designed for.

    And yes, we’re partial to our own Workcycles bikes because we design and build them to be the best transportation bikes you can buy. Fr8′s and Gr8′s are my favorites… but that’s of course no secret.

  38. deborah blench Says:

    Hi Henry, great article, thanks. I’m about to get my (t’ Mannetje) bakfiets kitted out for a maxi-cosi. Do you recommend just the baby stucco mee frame, or also the padding I keep reading about? Is it possible to have both the frame and the padding?

  39. henry Says:

    Deborah,
    The Steco Baby-Mee holds the MC just fine but it takes up tons of space in the box. We prefer our own, little bridge with padding.

  40. Christoph Says:

    Assuming we want to go for a cargo cycle / baby carrier (e.g. maxi cosi) combination: Is there *any reason not to choose the Bullitt?* http://www.larryvsharry.com (If you can afford it, of course)
    Among the cargo bikes I’ve found on the Internet and in shops, I like it best. The passengers can sit in the front, it’s relatively lightweight (we live in a hilly area), the rider’s sitting position is rather racy, quality seems fine (especially gears and brakes are a concern when riding up- and downhill) etc.
    Of course we would add the side panels or fit a slightly wider (wooden?) box to the frame, and we would get some sort of weather protection.
    Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts!

  41. henry Says:

    Christoph,
    The Bullitt is a cool bike though it’s really a different animal than the various family-oriented long-wheelbase bikes like the Cargobike or our new WorkCycles Kr8. It’s essentially a light, strong, fast cargo hauler for couriers. You can certainly outfit a Bullitt to ride with a child and set up appropriately it should be good fun as a sporty family bike. Some of those mods will end up being a lot of work; Think about designing and making your own canopy for example. I’m also not sure there’s space for two kids, especially if one’s in a Maxi-Cosi. A “practical” bike though, in the sense of being low maintenance, something you can leave outdoors, ride comfortably in all weather, handle some around town abuse the Bullitt is not.

    The Bullitt’s sitting position is not “racy”; It’s strangely extreme, in fact much steeper and lower than a racing bike. The steering geometry is also rather odd. For these two reasons women generally dislike the Bullitt or sometimes can’t even ride it. Several female blogger/reviewers have written about this.

    So sure, if you’re handy and want to build a sporty kid carrier for fun papa time the Bullitt would be a good basis. If you intend this to be the Family Truckster to share with your partner look further.

  42. Christoph Says:

    Thanks, Henry! Well, my partner has tried a Bullitt, and she enjoyed riding it a lot. A bike mechanic (cargobicycles.org) said they had already fitted an Urban Arrow’s canopy to a Bullitt. So at least these points are sorted out :-)

    However, are there considerations about vibrations when carrying a baby, or is the situation the same as with the other, heavier models?

    Thank you again!

  43. henry Says:

    Christoph,
    Having only ridden Bullitts only a few times and never with a critical eye toward vibrating babies I can only speculate. It’s a very stiff frame and the box is normally built right into the Bullitt frame rather than on top of it so that will transmit more shock to the child. On the other hand the wheelbase is long and the child is not directly above the front axle so that helps.

Leave a Reply

Preview: