FAQ: WorkCycles Kr8 & Bakfiets Cargobike
This page was originally written in 2008 about the WorkCycles/Bakfiets.nl Cargobikes. In 2014 WorkCycles replaced the Cargobike with the Kr8 bakfiets. I’m now updating the page to cover both the new Kr8 and its Cargobike predecessor, of which there are still thousands in service. Some points are also handy to compare the Kr8 with the Cargobike, for those considering purchasing one of these bikes.
Here’s a collection of handy things to know about the WorkCycles Kr8 bakfiets and Cargobike in FAQ form. There’s no particular order and I just add to the list as I think of new questions and answers.
Also you can find much more specific information about the WorkCycles Kr8 on the following pages:
Kr8 Product page in the WorkCycles website
WorkCycles Kr8 Overview page
Introducing the WorkCycles Kr8 blog post
Note that most of the commentary below is geared toward the most common use of the Kr8, Cargobike (and other bikes of this type); family transport. The bike is hugely versatile but carrying multiple little kids, groceries and household stuff is the primary market for these machines. In Holland 90% are used as kid and kid stuff carriers. Of course even family Cargobikes eventually get pressed into service for other purposes: carry building materials, taking the recycling out…
I’m about to set off for my first (test) ride. How do I ride this thing?
Riding a 260cm long bicycle with a box in front and the front wheel steered through a linkage is strange at first… for about 30 seconds, until your mind/body get used to it. After that you forget why it ever seemed difficult.
After setting up thousands of families with these bikes for more than ten years we’ve seen only a small number of people who really couldn’t ride them. Typically it was because they were either inexperienced cyclists and/or just too afraid to relax and ride the bike.
Here’s how to best deal with those first wobbly meters:
How do I carry a baby in the Kr8 (or Cargobike)?
In Europe the standard baby carrier for the car is the Maxi-Cosi. In fact they seem to have something of a monopoly on these. Unlike most of the other makes I’ve seen (especially the American infant car seats) the Maxi Cosi is quite compact and it fits nicely into the Kr8’s box. If the baby is an only child the Maxi Cosi (or equivalent) can be strapped into the bottom of the box, with the baby facing the rider. Do use some sort of pad/pillow/cushion/blanket between MC and the box to soften the ride. Of course this has to be done properly so somebody with either experience here or with good mechanical skills should fit it.
WorkCycles makes a handy Maxi-Cosi carrier that fits the Kr8 as well as Cargobikes and also leaves room in the box for other cargo and kids (see below).
How do I carry both an infant in a Maxi Cosi and toddler(s) on the bench?
No problem with the WorkCycles Kr8. You just need the WorkCycles Maxi-Cosi bridge. If you mount the Maxi-Cosi directly on the floor of the box there will not be enough room behind for the legs of kids on the bench. As a result the kids will put their feet on baby brother or sister in the Maxi Cosi making for an unhappy ride.
Many bike shops install a Steco Buggy Mee in the box. This steel-framed system holds the Maxi-Cosi securely but it unfortunately also takes up most of the volume in the box.
WorkCycles developed its own solution years ago. Its a quite simple “bridge” with straps and a cushion. This Maxi-Cosi holder takes up little space in the box and holds the Maxi-Cosi somewhat higher creating just enough legroom for the kids sitting on the bench behind.
I’ve got twins! How can I ride with two babies in the Kr8?
Don’t panic. WorkCycles has you covered too. It’s not a standard item but we regularly fit a twin Maxi-Cosi carrier setup. The canopy even fits over it too. Custom work is our specialty.
How can I safely carry children too big for a Maxi-Cosi but not yet ready to sit upright on the bench?
This is a common problem here in Holland, where (huge) babies often outgrow their infant car carriers by seven or eight months, before they sit well enough to be secure on the wooden bench. We take an old Bobike Mini bike child seat (the one that fits behind the handlebars), saw off its legs and modify it to fit on the Kr8 bench. This provides much more support for a small child, yet still leaves room for an older child on the bench. Two of these seats will fit side-by-side on the bench for twins.
My kids are too big for the harnesses and/or bench and/or canopy. What can I do?
Its time for the kids to ride their own bikes. They’ve been free loading for long enough! Well… that might or might not be the solution. Kids in this age range can also ride on a child saddle, such as on the Workcycles Fr8, on a simple rear seat, on a tandem such as the Onderwater.
Actually bigger kids can ride in the Kr8’s box, but when sitting on the bench their heads will be bumped by the handlebar. The solution is simple: Remove the bench (or just fold it up).
Can I take adult passengers in the Kr8?
This wasn’t one of our design objectives but sure, why not? Its a great way to show grandma around town, to ride your bride into the sunset, or to film a running race. Just don’t seat adults on the Kr8’s kiddy bench because they might damage it at the hinges. For occasional use just put some cushions or blankets in the bottom of the box. If you’ll be doing this regularly you can fabricate a suitable low bench for your passengers.
Why does the Cargobike’s (not Kr8) Stabilo parking stand swing further forward than is needed?
The Stabilo stand is self-adjusting so that on most reasonably flat surfaces all four legs will contact the ground. The more weight one puts on the bike the more stably it will stand.
Though it seems a little strange there’s really no need for anything to prevent the stand from swinging further forward. Just kick the stand down to release it from the magnetic latch, let the stand fall and pull the bike back enough to roll it onto the four stand legs. Locking the rear wheel lock adds extra security like a parking brake and the 12 gauge spokes won’t be damaged from the force. Pulling the bike further back won’t do any harm but the bike won’t stand stably that way… so don’t do it.
The above is not relevant for Kr8. It has a new stand with an automatic spring return and a stop that prevents it from swinging forward. Just roll the parked Kr8 forward and the stand automatically swings up and out of the way.
Can I get replacements for the Kr8 or Cargobike’s parking stand feet?
Yep, you guessed it: WorkCycles has them in stock.
My Cargobike’s Stabilo Stand sometimes falls from the magnetic latch. How can I fix this?
The magnet is welded to its mounting bolt at an angle. Probably it has loosened and rotated. Rotate the magnet until it contacts the stand perfectly flat and then tighten it securely. It won’t fall anymore. If you can’t tighten it securely the bolt is probably bottoming out. Just add a washer or two under the bolt head in the box.
Again, Kr8 has an automatic spring-loaded stand so the only relevant parts above are standing on the left and pushing the bike forward.
Huh, Magnetic Latch? My Cargobike has an annoying garden gate latch thing to hold the stand up.
Ah, you have quite an old Cargobike, from about 2007 or earlier. We can update it with the newer, much handier magnetic system. It’s not expensive and your shoes will thank you.
My Cargobike has begun to wobble on its Stabilo stand. How can I make it stable again?
This is not an issue with the Kr8 because the stand is a single welded unit. On Cargobikes though, the hinged connection between the vertical and horizontal legs of the Stabilo stand wears and loosens up with use. This causes the bike to sit lower, perhaps not evenly. On a convex parking surface both wheels may touch the ground causing the stand to “hang”.
We have various ways of tightening up the hinged connection between the legs:
How do I get the kids in and out of the canopy?
Our favored method for installing the tent/canopy is to first set the rear batten legs in place, then set the front batten leg on the block and secure the front elastics (or snaps if you have a Bakfiets.nl canopy instead of the WorkCycles/Clarijs canopy). The last step is to just pull the rear elastics onto their holders.
To get the kid(s) in and out just remove one of the rear elastics and open that side like a “gullwing” door”.
Can I seat two kids on the optional second bench?
The Kr8 second bench can be fitted with either one or two harnesses.
With two kids on both the front and rear benches and one in a child seat on the rear carrier one can carry five children with the Kr8. Whether we recommend it or not is quite irrelevant; I see moms doing it all the time here in Amsterdam.
What is really the maximum load capacity of the Kr8/Cargobike?
The advertised limit of 80kg in the box and 25kg on the rear carrier is conservative. The 25kg figure for the rear carrier is actually an EU legal limit for rear carriers while all WorkCycles rear carriers are much, much stronger. Carrying an adult passenger here is no problem if you have adequate tire pressure and a rider confident in handling the load.
The 80kg front load rating is based more on the handling characteristics of the bike than strength issues. A handful of the very first Cargobike 1.0 frames broke as a result of a poorly placed reinforcement.
If you load a Kr8/Cargobike very heavily you’ll note that the steering becomes rubbery and sluggish. The bike is unpleasant to ride and your reaction times will be poor. That’s not safe though sometimes we just have to get something heavy from point A to B and we do it anyway. You can minimize the slow steering by pumping the tires (especially the front) up to their maximum pressure, and riding very defensively. Remember: your braking distance is also going to increase considerably if your bike is equipped with Shimano rollerbrakes. The Kr8 can be ordered with very powerful Magura hydraulic rim brakes for those carrying heavy loads or riding in hillier areas.
Somewhere around 100kg the Cargobike steering really becomes too stiff to be safe. A regular Kr8 can be loaded somewhat more heavily, and a Kr8 XL (15cm longer and specially built for heavy loads) is fine up to at least 125kg.
What are those weird tire valves on my Kr8/Cargobike and how do I use them?
They’re called “Dunlop” or “Blitz” valves and city/utility bikes in most of Europe have them. They’re not better or worse, just normal here. Of course there are special pumps for them, but a pump intended for Presta (French) valves will work sort of OK too.
The correct pump for Dunlop valves is quite handy though because it has a sprung clip to hold the head on the valve while pumping.
Using the Dunlop valve is easy: just pump to fill and unscrew the top to let the air out… which you seldom need to do.
Note: Most WorkCycles we’ve shipped to the USA have been fitted with auto-type “schraeder” valves, and it’s an option on all WorkCycles bikes.
Why are the brake levers pointed so far downward?
That’s so that they don’t smack your kids in the head when you turn. Please leave them that way if you carry kids on the bench. You can also adjust them horizontally if that works better for you.
What’s the best way to lock my Kr8/Cargobike?
A quality hardened chain with 10mm square links and an integrated lock is enough to keep away all but the most determined thieves. A length of 140-150cm enables you to lock to a fixed object in almost all situations. The rear wheel has its own lock and is so difficult to remove anyway that locking it is quite unnecessary. If possible set the bike next to a pole to lock the main boom tube to a pole. Wrap/wind the chain around as necessary to avoid any slack.
In really high theft areas the front wheel can occasionally get stolen. What a thief can do with a super heavy duty 20″ rollerbrake wheel is a mystery but if you’re worried about this you can loop a small lock through the front wheel and fender. Even better is to bore two large holes in the front of the wooden box (use a hole saw) so that you can run the lock through. This is serious overkill for most locations.
How about that optional lock ring in the front of the Cargobike?
Don’t rely on that thing. It’s useless. Seriously. At least in the Netherlands the thieves know that you can break it right off by hitting it with a hammer.
People always toss their trash in my bike’s box while its parked. How can I prevent this?
You could stand next to your bike and yell at every lowlife who does that but this will probably get old pretty quickly. More pleasant is to put the cargo cover on the box when you leave it. The cover has more benefits:
Really, I recommend that every bakfiets be equipped with the cover. We use ours far more than the (admittedly more charming) Canopy.
I find it difficult to ride without hands on the Kr8/Cargobike. How can I do this?
How do I fix a flat tire with all that complicated stuff around the wheels?
Silly foreigner! There’s generally no need to remove the wheel to repair a flat:
The Kr8 takes this yet a step further with the “Escape Hatch”. By removing the left, rear fork end it’s easy to replace the rear tire, inner tube or rollerbrake without even loosening the right axle nut or opening the chain case. Super handy!
What regular checks and maintenance should an owner undertake so as not to become a pain to their bike shop come servicing time?
Not much really.
Tires need air.
The most important thing that many owners forget is to put air in the tires. Even tires that have never had a puncture have some porosity and slowly lose pressure. Especially on a heavily loaded bike properly inflated tires will ride much better and last much longer. Don’t worry about precision – just keep them pumped up.
Chains need oil.
Checking and lubricating your chain is easy and easy to forget since its hidden inside the chain case. Unlike a bike with an exposed chain the Kr8 or Cargobike can be ridden and stored for months in wet weather without touching the chain, but eventually some oil will still be needed. Depending on how much use the bike sees you should occasionally open the little hatch at the back of the chain case. Prop the rear wheel up with a block or hang it from the ceiling with the front supported by the parking stand. Then you can pour oil on the chain while slowly turning the wheel or crank. Any good lubrication oil will work and excess will just drip off into the case. A couple times per year is sufficient.
Chains need adjustment.
If you’re handy you can check the chain tension while the case hatch is open. To adjust the tension you need to loosen the axle nuts and brake reaction arm and then adjust with the axle tugs. If you’re not handy or if this sounds intimidating just leave it to a good bike shop. A loose chain is far less of a problem than a too tight chain.
Keep the gears adjusted.
Perhaps the only critical adjustment on the bike is the cable tension for the gear hub. Properly adjusted a Shimano Nexus 8sp gear hub will run smoothly for a long time. Ridden badly enough out of adjustment that it jumps out of gear it can be quickly destroyed leading to very expensive repairs. The adjustment is quite simple. The Shimano Nexus 8 speed hub WorkCycles fits has a reliable visual indicator next to the rear cog. This can be used to check the cable adjustment. Some Kr8’s (and all the Kr8 V8’s) have an infinitely variable NuVinci hub that needs almost no adjustment at all.
Have the rear hub serviced every few years.
Even the lowest maintenance parts still need a little TLC occasionally and an internal gear hub is no exception. Depending on how intensively the bike is used and whether it’s stored in- or outdoors we recommend having the rear hub opened and lubricated every two or three years. Running it indefinitely dry and dirty will guarantee it’s self destruction and a very expensive repair bill. A NuVinci hub requires no internal service though its freewheel unit occasionally requires replacement.
Does the box require any treatment to preserve it?
The boxes of both of the Kr8 and Cargobike are made from “betonplex” a highly water resistant impregnated plywood used primarily for molding concrete. Its tough stuff. Nonetheless water can seep in wherever the finish has been compromised such as the edges, joints, where accessories have been installed or where its damaged. Protecting it is simple: Paint such vulnerable points with thick paint in a suitable color. This is done at the factory, but adding more after installing accessories or repairing damage is very helpful.
Also important is to protect the box with the cargo cover. It might be quality betonplex… but its still wood.
My rack elastics have died. Where can I get replacements?
Yeah, the original elastics (“snelbinders”) on the Cargobike aren’t the greatest. We have much stronger, longer lasting ones at WorkCycles.
Can I ride the Kr8 in a hilly area?
Moderately rolling terrain and small hills as a part of one’s daily route will work fine for the fit and motivated rider. WorkCycles fits 8 speed Shimano hub gears to most of its bikes and that already provides quite a wide range of gears. The Kr8 can optionally be built with the Nuvinci hub that has a wider range (380% vs. 305%).
A Kr8 V8, with a powerful mid-drive electric motor, is rather easy to ride in even hilly terrain… or it’ll make it practically effortless to ride far further than you’d ever expect on a bakfiets.
If you prefer to ride without the motor the overall gear ratio can also be lowered (or raised) by changing the rear cog. The bike is normally equipped with a 17 tooth cog, thus a 20 tooth cog will lower all of the ratios by 18%. That’ll provide some more hill climbing ease without making the bike annoying to ride on flat terrain. You will spin out of the 8th gear with a tailwind or small downhill.
A 22T rear cog will fit but we found it quite unpleasant to ride, requiring us to ride almost entirely in the 7th and 8th gears. However some owners are happy with their bikes geared this way.
Can I fit a Rohloff 14 speed hub to a Kr8?
Yes, we can custom build a WorkCycles Kr8 with a Rohloff hub and Magura hydraulic brakes. The frame has to be modified slightly so we cannot retrofit these.
Is it possible to add electric assist to my Kr8 (or older Cargobike)?
Yes, but with a few buts and ifs. The lovely Schachner mid-drive electric system we currently fit in the Kr8 V8 will only fit (older) existing frames with modification. It might or might not end up being economically practical to upgrade an existing Kr8 to a Kr8 V8.
There are other options though. WorkCycles offers a reliable and powerful conversion that is “pedalec” legal throughout Europe . Our system use a front hub motor geared either for hill climbing torque or flatland (i.e. windy) assist. The 36V LiIon battery pack and electronics are hidden away under the bench. If you’re cycling with kids under the canopy in the winter the batteries will be kept warm to considerably improve their performance.
We can upgrade the brakes of bikes with electric assist since what goes up must also come down. The low maintenance but not especially powerful Shimano rollerbrakes can be replaced by powerful and progressive Magura hydraulic rim brakes.
My Cargobike has begun to shimmy/oscillate at certain speeds. How can I fix this?
Such a shimmy is a harmonic so it occurs at certain speed ranges and with certain amounts of weight in the box. We see it occasionally though thus far never in dangerous levels as can occur on racing bikes. Its nonetheless very annoying and fixing it can be tricky.
My (nearly new) Kr8 has begun to shimmy/oscillate at certain speeds. Why and how can I fix this?
Yes, a number of customers signaled this oscillation a couple months after we began delivering Kr8’s. After some research we found that it is caused by a steering rod with too much flexibility. A stiffer rod that prevents the wobbling has been developed. Since a couple weeks ago all Kr8’s are being built with the new steering rod and we’re also making replacement rods for the Kr8’s already delivered. There’s obviously no charge for this update. Just contact the shop where you purchased your Kr8.
Can I fit disk brakes to a Kr8 or Bakfiets Cargobike?
No. Do you plan to be going 80km/hr with kids in the box or something?
More seriously though: The first couple years of WorkCycles Cargobikes (2004-2006?) were equipped with a basic model rollerbrake, the only type available at the time. For our local Dutch conditions the braking power was adequate and this was otherwise the most reliable and low-maintenance brake available. When they became available the better IM70 rollerbrake with a substantial heatsink, cooling fins and a higher leverage ratio was offered as an option. These brakes are more powerful and consistent than the standard rollerbrakes used previously and also more resistant to fade during longer hills.
Beginning in July 2008, all Bakfiets Cargobikes distributed through WorkCycles were equipped with the “Shimano IM70” rollerbrake.
Starting in 2011, all of our Bakfiets Cargobikes have been fitted with even bigger replacements for the IM70, called “IM80” or “IM81”. The IM80 or IM81 brake can be fitted to all existing Cargobikes, right back to the very first models.
From its 2014 introduction the Kr8 has been available with either the IM80 rollerbrakes or the much more powerful yet still low maintenance Magura hydraulic rim brakes. Disk brakes have been considered but ruled out for not being nearly as durable or reliable in the rough outdoor life of these bikes.
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