Kassa Bakfiets test: English translation

The following is a quick translation of the results from the bakfiets comparison test performed by “Kassa” the popular consumer television program in October 2008. The test process and results were broadcast on 25 October, but are (as of today) not available to view online.

Unfortunately a more detailed report of the results doesn’t seem to be available. The broadcast included considerably more information as well as some priceless footage, such as of one of the testers flipping a Christiania trike in a corner… complete with two children in the box. Nobody was hurt.

All in all my colleagues and I concluded it was a reasonably thorough and intelligently conducted test including bikes from both Dutch and Danish producers . We were obviously also very happy that our WorkCycles Bakfiets Cargobike was the overall test winner… and that’s why I’ve taken the time to write and post this translation.

The most notable omissions:

  • The Gazelle Cabby was not tested. The report mentions that one bike wasn’t delivered in time for the test but doesn’t say which one. I’ll guess it was the Cabby, as it would be fairly obvious to include the one bakfiets produced by a major manufacturer.
  • No mention of key accessories . Some not so obvious features such as the rain canopy can make or break the usefulness of the bike.
  • Discussion of how various bikes fit children of various ages. One of the reasons for the raging popularity of the Cargobike Long, for example, is that it fits everything from babies to combinations of babies and little kids… all with little modification.
  • 25-10-08

    The bakfiets test
    A couple years ago you saw them mostly still just in Amsterdam, but presently you come across them everywhere in the Netherlands: the bakfiets, with two or three wheels. Mostly amongst mothers with children they’re super popular. Now there are a large number of producers with a bakfiets in their line. The prices vary widely. From €700- for a bakfiets on two wheels from Bakfietsgigant to €3000 for a bakfiets on three wheels from Denmark.

    Choice: two or three wheels
    Once you’ve determined how much money you want to spend on a bike comes the most important choice: do you buy a bakfiets with two or three wheels. The advantage of a bakfiets with two wheels is that you’re maneuverable and can easily make some speed. These bikes are also better to ride longer distances. Further, the bakfiets with two wheels is narrower whereby you can more easily ride alongside parked cars. The disadvantage is the stability with children or load in the box at low speed or while standing still. This is primarily a problem when you stand still because how do you hold the bike upright? There is a good parking stand on all the bikes tested but it is difficult to fold it up when the box is fully loaded. There you come to the big advantage of a bakfiets with three wheels: it just remains standing, loaded or not. the only thing you must be careful of is that you don’t corner with too much speed, then the three wheelers have the tendency to flip over.

    Test
    For the comparison we chose fourteen different bakfietsen. Of those we were finally able to test thirteen because one turned out not to have been delivered on the day of the test. We judged the bike on the following components:

  • How maneuverable is the bike?
  • Function of the brakes
  • How do the bikes go uphill?
  • Can you get the bike up a curb easily?
  • How does the bike look?
  • Is the bike comfortable?
  • How is the construction of the bike?
  • Is the bike stable?
  • The bikes
    Our test panel has tested the following two wheeled bakfietsen: De Fietsfabriek (€1495), Bakfiets.nl (€1370), Bakfietsgigant (€699), Work Cycles (€1629). Of the three-wheelers were the following bakfietsen tested: De Fietsfabriek (€1995), Christiania (€1999), Johnny Loco (€1599), Nihola (€2195), T Mannetje (€1895), Bakfiets.nl (€1625), Babboe-big (€1199), Deense Winther Kangaroo (€2995), en de Boxbike from Halfords (€899).

    Test panel
    Our test panel consisted of two professionals and a number of experience experts: parents with children. The professionals are Arend Schwab of Technical University Delft and Jos Louwman, founder and owner of MacBike. They have ALL the bicycles extensively inspected and tested. The experience experts each got two different bikes to test. There it was immediately apparent that a bakfiets on two wheels take some getting used to, because one of the testers fell while testing the first bike, with child and everything on the ground. She got a painful arm.

    Last place
    Because the professionals have tested all the bikes we’ve weighed their scores more heavily than the experience experts in the final results. Notable in the results is that practically all of the bikes scored well when it came to braking and also the maneuverability of most of the bakfietsen was for most of the testers reasonable to good. The only bakfiets that negatively stuck out was the bakfiets from Halfords (Boxbike). According to expert Jos Louwman the bike steers badly and there are too few gears. Arend Schwab called the construction of the Halfords Boxbike sloppy and finds the box heavy. The Boxbike from Halfords ended also in the last place in the test.

    Winners
    The bikes that came best out of our comparison are the two wheelers of Bakfiets.nl and the bike from Work Cycles. It must be noted there that the WorkCycles bike is a pimped version of the Bakfiets.nl bike and thus looks very similar. The experts were extremely enthusiastic over these two bikes. The testers were less so, because with children on board it can be difficult to maneuver. Amongst the three wheelers two bikes jumped out. Those were the three wheeler from Bakfiets.nl and the Winther Kangaroo. For this last bike you’ll need to dig deeply. Its costs no less than €3000. Expert Jos Louwman found it nice and light and called it an advantage that the bike has a permanent canopy.

    Many good bikes
    If one thing became clear in this bakfiets test is there are many good bakfietsen. Those who want to purchase one are advised to look at and test a number of bikes at the store. Do an extensive test ride, with and without kids in the box. Only in this manner can you come to a carefully weighed decision and buy a bakfiets that really fits your needs.

    Here’s the original report from Kassa in Dutch.

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