Introducing the WorkCycles Kr8 bakfiets… Finally!

WorkCycles-Kr8-Green-Orange 10
The Kr8 handles so sweetly that even a petite mom (160cm, 47kg in this case) can easily ride with a considerable load.

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote about our mighty, new Vrachtfiets. But wait, there’s more news at WorkCycles! The WorkCycles Kr8 bike is finally here and (patting self on shoulder) it’s just fantastic! There will actually be two Kr8’s: The two wheeled version of the Cargobike/Long John type seen here, and a linkage steered three-wheeler (wheels turn, box doesn’t). The Kr8 two-wheeler is now available and the trike will be ready later this year. After ten years of selling our Cargobike (Bakfiets.nl sister bike) the Kr8 represents a considerable evolutionary step on every front; It’s much lighter, steers better, has better ergonomics, a better parking stand, more customizable and it can be packed and shipped more easily. Hundreds of important details like the bench seat and its belts have been improved as well.

WorkCycles-Kr8-Green-Orange 2
Lots of details to be seen here: Flange to split frame for shipment, cables cleanly routed behind a channel…

As with other WorkCycles bikes, the frames and parts are modular. Both Kr8 bike and trike share the same rear end. It’s borrowed from the Fr8 & Gr8, complete with Adaptive Seat Tube which offers great ergonomics to fit practically everybody. Like its siblings the Kr8 will fit riders from somewhat under 160cm to well over 200cm. A huge improvement over our previous Cargobike is the Kr8’s more biomechanically efficient seat tube angle.

Kr8 Groen Oranje LRC 7 kids
Both the Fr8 long rear carrier and Gr8 rear carrier fit on the Kr8. Are you (wo)man enough to ride with this many kids?

Having the Fr8/Gr8 rear end also means that the same rear carriers and accessories fit the Kr8 as well. Two kids on the rear carrier with another four in the box, and one behind the handlebar? Sure, with the Fr8 long rear carrier that’s possible. Can you actually pedal over the bridge like that? No, probably not.

WorkCycles-Kr8-Green-Orange 6
WorkCycles Escape Hatch (removable left fork end) for easy tire changes

Like the Fr8 and Gr8 the Kr8 also gets WorkCycles’ handy Escape Hatch so the rear tire or inner tube can be easily changed without opening the chaincase or having to adjust drivetrain parts. Separable frames and a box that flat-packs mean that Kr8’s can be packed and shipped more cheaply, with less chance of damage. The Kr8 bike fits in two boxes, each somewhat smaller than those we use for city bikes. WorkCycles exports some 75% of its bikes so the shipping factor is critical.

The Kr8 might very well be the worst kept secret in the history of bikes. We’ve actually been working on them for three years. Why the long development period? The challenge is that Workcycles is ambitious yet small, and we had all that other stuff to do the past few years too. WorkCycles begins production of a new model not on the basis of model years or other marketing based criteria, but when it’s really ready to make customers happy. We vowed that each Kr8 version had to be both unique and better than the competitors on practically every level. So we divided the project up into several components and rolled up our sleeves.

Cafe Brecht Workcycles Bakfiets 1
Note that this WorkCycles classic bakfiets actually has the same rear frame as the Kr8. We take our modular concept seriously.

The modular chassis elements described above were the most straightforward part of the project. The rear end is actually a refinement of the unit we’ve been using to build our classic bakfietsen with 8sp gearing and hydraulic brakes. Powerful Magura hydraulic brakes are thus an option on Kr8’s too. These cost more than the standard rollerbrakes but they add braking power for hilly terrain, reduce friction and weight, and make it much easier to fit electric assist. Otherwise Kr8’s will be equipped with maintenance-free Shimano IM80 rollerbrakes.

The front frames are entirely new. The two-wheeled Kr8 has a box of the same length as our previous Cargobike Long, the sister of the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike. The steering geometry, though, has been refined to sharpen its handling and reduce the turning radius. We’ve sold so few short Cargobikes in the last years that we don’t see a need to build one, but we’ll add an Extra Long Delivery version if the demand is there. The new Kr8 trike front end is particularly nice. It’s linkage (ackerman) steered so the box remains fixed while the front wheels turn, car style. That endows it with really easy, stable handling and a remarkably low center of gravity. When the parking brake is engaged with a big handle a foot folds down under the front of the box to prevent tipping. The kids can climb all over this bike with impunity.

WorkCycles Kr8 Grijs Blauw
Choose your own colors from about 200 options in the RAL range.

Developing a bike chassis might actually be easier than a good passenger compartment, especially one that’s safe, light and flat-packs for shipping. After experimenting with several box concepts we settled on a unique tubular frame with thin wooden panels. It’s several kilos lighter than our current wooden box and more damage resistant too. The current WorkCycles/Clarijs cover and canopy fit the two wheeler’s box and new ones will be designed for the trike. It’s even easy to replace or customize the panels. Want a box with clear, Lexan panels? Aluminium, colored plastic, perforated metal…?

Kr8 parking stand

The two-wheeler’s parking stand is also a critical feature yet strangely ignored by most manufacturers. After almost fifteen years on the market Maarten van Andel’s Bakfiets.nl Stabilo stand remained the standard (pun intended) by which others are judged, and all have fallen pathetically short. In it’s current form with magnetic latch the Stabilo is quite good. The Kr8 stand had to be at least as good. It also had to be different, both because Workcycles doesn’t imitate and because the old Stabilo wouldn’t fit the Kr8 anyway. After several tries we’ve succeeded here too. The new Kr8 stand is also a super stable four legger but its simpler, welded construction is more robust. It’s no longer necessary to flip the stand up with your foot; Just roll the bike forward and a spring linkage pushes and holds it up.

WorkCycles-Kr8-Green-Orange 4
Yay! A cargobike with easily adjusted harnesses for the kids. The bench has been beefed up too.

As we all know the devil is in the details and there were hundreds of details to work out: routing the cables cleanly, tough and handy benches, trimming weight, engineering the center coupling, making it pretty and actually manufacturable… Just the boxes alone were a big project. The Kr8 two-wheeler is all done and the three-wheeler will follow in a few months. They retain all the goodness of our previous Cargobike yet with improvements throughout:

– The Kr8’s are remarkably light. The two-wheeler is more than 15% lighter than our current Cargobike… and some of the competitors are unspeakably heavy.
– The sitting ergonomics, steering geometry and very low center of gravity make them easy and sporty to ride. The Kr8 is a nice bike
– Kr8 two-wheeler can be boxed for transport throughout the world. With some more development the trike will be as well.
– They look great and can be readily customized with special colors and features.

WorkCycles Kr8 Ocean Blue Apple Green

Needless to say we’re really proud of our new babies. They’re a couple solid evolutionary steps beyond anything else on the market and suitable for a broader range of situations than our previous bikes. The only remaining challenge is to think of better names. Kr8 will stick but how to differentiate the two- and three-wheeled versions? Your suggestions are welcome!

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76 Responses to “Introducing the WorkCycles Kr8 bakfiets… Finally!”

  1. henry Says:

    I’ll venture a guess that riding a Kr8 with kids aboard across the Pyrenees would be slightly more difficult than on a 75hp motorcycle.

    No mountains here but we do have wind and plenty of very strong racers to make you suffer.

  2. Rui Martins Says:

    Since you speak of “plenty of very strong racers to make you suffer.”, I read one of your posts about racing in a track, http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2012/11/14/racing-bikes-at-workcycles-really/. I gotta say I envy you, I always wanted to do that.

    Yes, just slightly more difficult. 😉

  3. Johan Says:

    Hi, the Dutch babboe model also recently is sold in the US, I believe no pictures of this one in this blog yet. It is quality and affordable, some Dutch parents started that company 10 years ago or so and they have become the biggest in the Netherlands. Great stuff:-). Myamsterdambike.com are selling it in the US to deliver at your home address, rather convenient… Pyrenees…I would not do that hill!!!

  4. henry Says:

    Pfff, yet more spam from Babboe. Will it ever end?

    Johan has been posing as a neutral party placing links to myamsterdambike.com wherever possible but doesn’t seem to realize that there’s some animosity between WorkCycles and Babboe since Babboe began posting (fake) comments in my blog. They promote their poor quality bikes and denigrate those of competitors, including WorkCycles amongst others.

    If curious about the Babboe spam episodes or just want a humorous diversion have a read through the comments here:
    http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2008/07/11/roundup-reviews-of-various-family-transport-bikes/

    Anyhow Babboe are NOT quality bikes nor are they “great stuff”. Kindly read the above for clarification. Here are some pictures of real Babboe bakfietsen in the wild:
    https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=babboe%20rot

  5. Ray Says:

    Regarding the Pyrenees: Can an Alfine 11 take more torque than an Alfine 8? Its not the number of gears, its the lowest ratio that will make or break a mountain tour on a cargo bike. The lowest ratio of Alfine/Nexux 8 is relatively efficient (one gear set in action) and in my experience it is also strong. Alfine 11 is a complex beast, and is unlikely to be advantageous unless geared lower (reliably) than a Alfine/Nexus 8.

  6. henry Says:

    Ray,
    I just don’t know whether the Alfine 11 is stronger than the Nexus/Alfine 8sp. We’ve tons of experience with the various incarnations of the 8sp and almost none with the 11sp.

    The 11sp’s lowest gear is the same at 0.527 (52.7% of the input ratio), but the range is wider: 409% vs. 305%. Thus you can use an input ratio with the 11sp that would otherwise be too low with the 8sp. I’d recommend 38/22 or even 33/22, both of which we can fit.

    Given that both hubs have exactly the same lowest ratio I’ll venture a guess that they also both achieve this by using the same single gear set… probably even using the same internal parts.

    The two hubs probably share quite a few parts. The main differences would then be in the extra gear set used to make the upper three ratios, the shifting mechanisms and the sealing. The Alfine 11 is an oil bath hub whereas the Alfine/Nexus 8 has a little oil for the gear sets and grease for the bearings

  7. Ray Says:

    Henry,

    I’m kind of interested in hubs so I’ve thought about it a lot, and I suspect Alfine 11 is actually a development of Nexus 7. The lowest gear ratio being the same as Nexus/Alfine 8 is pretty suspicious, but note the lack of a direct drive gear (as in Nexus 7). That means they have two planetary gear sets in there with almost the same ratio, but used to raise and lower the ratio in opposition to each other. That is definitely a page from the Nexus 7 playbook.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-mechanics/775816-alfine-11-design.html

    Kind of off topic, but anyway I’d be good and suspicious of just how much torque an Alfine 11 can take compared to Nexus/Alfine 8.

  8. Elliot Says:

    I wonder what the restrictions would be regarding laws etc. There has to be some sort of safety issue here, no? That being said, if I could get my hands on one of these, I’d be ecstatic.

  9. henry Says:

    Elliot,
    WorkCycles sells bikes all over the world and in eleven years we’ve only heard of a few so called “safety restrictions” on child carrying bikes:
    1. Minimum age of child on bike in some parts of USA is 12 months… largely ignored.
    2. Child saddle behind handlebars apparently not legal in Austria… largely ignored.
    3. No more than two kids on a bike in Denmark… completely ignored.
    4. Children only to be carried on approved bikes (Japanese only) in Japan… our few customers there ignoring without problems.

    Now of course I’m not actually recommending that you break local laws, just noting that they’re not always sensible or based or appropriate.

  10. Maria Paz Says:

    Hi! I need a bike to carry my two youngest children. The kr8 looks lovely, but I assume it doesn´t fold or dettach so that you can carry it on the back of your car, right? What choices do you recommend that can be transported in a big suv car? I´m leaning towards buying a zigo leader x2, what´s your opinión on that bike? Also, where can I find these kinds of bikes in South America (Chile) or how much would the shipping cost? Please I would really like to hear from you. Tanks!

  11. henry Says:

    Hi Maria,
    No, the Kr8 (and every other cargobike, 2- or 3-wheel) is not suitable for carrying behind a car, even a really big car. We tested the Zigo years ago and weren’t impressed. I’ve never written about the Zigo but several readers wrote about their Zigo experiences in the comments of this post: http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2007/10/04/triobike-internet-reviews/

    The only real, independent review of the Zigo is here:
    http://carfreecambridge.com/2011/10/family-bike-shopping-part-iii-zigo-leader/

    If carrying the bike by car is the prerequisite it’s just not going to be a box bike of any kind. My recommendation would be (of course) a WorkCycles Fr8. On the Fr8 you’ll comfortably carry two kids of any ages and it will fit on a rear carrier… not every carrier but some are rated for carrying e-bikes and other heavier bicycles. The topic of Fr8 on car carrier has been discussed in the @WorkCycles Facebook group several times.

    WorkCycles ships all over the world. Just contact us via the WorkCycles website for more info about the options and shipping costs.

  12. Danna Douglas Says:

    Hi Henry. I need some advising and don’t know where to best ask my questions . Please remove is it’s inappropriate on this thread. I am a single mom to a 5yr old, 16 month old and a 3 month old. Ive recently become disgusted with driving everywhere. Everything we do is in a 5 mile radius. Most things are under 2 miles. I’ve begun walking everywhere with a jogging stroller but am absolutely craving a cargo bike as our transportation instead. I’m not a biker at all. I wouldn’t know the first thing about bikes. I’ve spent weeks pouring over every article I can find and speaking to bike shops and wholesellers and retailers all over the United states. I should say I do NOT have much disposable income as a single mom of three. It’s for financial reasons that I’m stuck with babboe being my ‘ high end expensive choice’. From what you’ve said, it’s not even quality yet it would take all of my savings to get it. Dare I ask about the WIKE Super Cargo Trike? It’s $1000 less than the babboe. So, if my choices are wike or babboe, would you say it’s better to not have one at all and just walk? Lol… Surely one of those is better than nothing. It’s just sad that’s it’s such a huge purpose and taking all my savings to make a non quality purchase. I live in Florida. It’s flat!!! And I’m never going more than 5 miles away. What are your thoughts?
    Also: I’m not an experienced biker. I’m not awful, but I only biked as a child and for fun, never for transportation until this recent desire. Where I’ll be biking has lots of crosswalks and signals. Lots of starting and stopping and even getting off bike for the weirdly placed cross walk signals. For these reasons, I think a trike would be best suited for me. Is this assumption wrong?
    I would REALLY appreciate your expertise . I’m looking to place my order Monday!
    Oh… And I also expect to only use this for 4 years and then move into something different. For now, I’m really looking for it to be family time where we talk and interact on our rides so I’d really like them I front of me in a box style bike.

  13. henry Says:

    Hi Danna,
    I’d rather not have this thread get hijacked by Babboe employees who seem to scan the Interweb for any negative mention of their bikes and then bombard the comments as fake bike owners. See here for an example:
    http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2008/07/11/roundup-reviews-of-various-family-transport-bikes/

    My evaluation of the Babboe bikes and company has already been stated and I’ve seen nothing since to change my opinion. The Wike trike I’ve never seen but their two wheeler is very obviously the same Chinese BSO (bicycle shaped object) that shows up with ever a different name on it, I suppose to avoid liability claims. I could be wrong here but my gut reaction is… RUN AWAY!

    A second or third hand bike of quality origins would be a safer bet than either of the above, and probably cheaper too. It’d certainly be cheaper in the long run. There are also less expensive bikes being made in the USA. There’s a fellow named John Lucas who builds solid looking, moderately priced cargobikes. He posts photos periodically in the @WorkCycles Facebook group:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/workcycles.bikes/

    There was also a guy in Portland, OR building quite cheap cargobikes from discarded old bikes. His bikes from several years ago looked pretty sketchy but I understand they’re getting better.

    I hope that helps. As for trike vs. bike you need to try some bikes. Even in Florida there are some bakfietsen in use. I know we’ve sent several to Gainesville and there are a bunch in the Jacksonville area.

    Good luck!

  14. Aslak Moe Says:

    Idea for names for 2- and 3-wheeler Kr8s:

    The thing is that for the market, these bi- and tricycles will be probably be conceived so differently that they probably should have entirely different names, even though they from a builder´s perspective are similar.

    So my advice is: Keep Kr8 as the name for the two-wheeler (already well established), and for the three-wheeler, use what I suppose is the last wordplay possible with _r8: which is Tr8, meaning attribute in english and tries or seeks in dutch.

    In addition, the Tr-sound has connotations with the digit three, as in the trio, troika, triad.

    Nice, eh?

  15. henry Says:

    Thanks Aslak, Those are good!

  16. PeterC Says:

    I know that the Dutch are tall people, but many of your export markets don’t share the stature! Yours is the only bakfiet I’ve seen that specifically mentions rider height suitability. Do you think the kr8 would be comfortable for a 155cm rider?

  17. henry Says:

    PeterC,
    If the 155cm rider in question has normal to long legs for (her?) height she should be OK on the Kr8 without modifications. If needed the seat post can be replaced with one that allows the saddle to be lowered another 2cm and a narrower (sportier) saddle helps too. So, yes, it will probably work just fine.

  18. Kuno Says:

    Dear Dylan and team,

    after a long wait, the E-assisted cargo super bike Kr8 has arrived in Zurich! Our 15-months old daughter loves to ride it so much that she even accepts the helmet without any further issues. Quite the contrary she does not want to have it taken off anymore! Taking her to daycare has now 2 hurdles – the first to get her out of the box and the second to say good-bye.

    Even though we had to wait a bit longer for the bike to arrive – the whole set-up, packaging, and shipment was very professional and we can really recommend the work cycle to anyone interested in a heavy duty bike!

    Best wishes,
    Kuno

  19. Andi Says:

    Finally my kr8 arrived, yay!
    Packaging and shipping was great, so is the bike. But reassembling took a while: unfortunately, some screws for the box were mixed and I had to change them until everything was in place.

  20. Andrea OBrien Says:

    Hi,
    I amwondering when will the kr8 trike be available and do you have any images/information on it please?

  21. henry Says:

    Andrea,
    The Kr8R three wheeler is still in development and we do not have a date when it’s expected to be available… certainly not before Summer 2016 in any case.

  22. Andrea OBrien Says:

    that’s the e assist one-plenty of hills and strong wind and ran in Dublin!

  23. Chris Says:

    The new box doesn’t look like it seals at the joins, do you recieve any complaints with wind and water entering through the corners on the box?

  24. henry Says:

    Chris, I think one customer in Minnesota, USA or another very cold place mentioned that he lined the box with a blanket or sleeping bag in the winter months. Otherwise no, it doesn’t appear to be an issue. Actually in most cases it’s an advantage since water drains easily and dirt falls out too.

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