Overview: Workcycles Bakfiets Cargobikes
Bakfiets Cargobikes Overview
Overview, 23 April 2012
About the Bakfiets Cargobike
The Cargobike is the ideal way to transport kids, groceries, tools or whatever you need around the city. It is equipped to carry kids safely, stay clean and dry in street clothes, to ride in the dark and poor weather, and to live outdoors. Kids sit in front where they can see the sights and you can see and talk with them. They don’t get sprayed from your rear tire like in a trailer. Most Cargobikes are used for family transport but many businesses have also proven its value as a heavy-duty transport vehicle as well. A Cargobike is an investment, but it is nonetheless a great value for a practical, comfortable and durable vehicle that will provide many years of reliable service… in all conditions. We’ve sold and used most of the bikes in this category but invariably recommend the Cargobike because it simply makes customers happy.
Why a two-wheeler?
A number of features make the Cargobike a fantastic combination of capacity, stability, convenience and pleasant riding. Most importantly it’s a 2-wheeler. It might look difficult to carry so much without a tricycle, but actually the opposite is true; Bicycles (2-wheelers, that is) simply ride much more naturally and easily. This is why almost everybody begins riding a 2-wheeler as young as possible and never goes back to the tricycle. Tricycles are strange to ride and always remain so. Because they don’t lean through corners the handling is unnatural and tipping is common. For up to 3 kids or about 80kg cargo the Cargobike is simply better for most people than any tricycle. After a couple moments adjustment to the steering characteristics you can’t understand why it ever seemed strange.
The Cargobike carries its load very low which actually makes it much lighter and easier to handle with kids, groceries or other cargo aboard than standard format bicycle. To put that more directly you’re far less likely to fall over with your kids, and even in the unlikely event that you do they’ll be low to the ground and surrounded by a tough marine-plywood box. The steering geometry has been ingeniously developed to provide easy, neutral handling both empty and loaded. This is not the case with all load carrying bicycles so, if possible, definitely test any bike you’re considering, loaded and unloaded. You’ll find enormous differences.
The Stabilo Parking Stand and other features
A subtle but key feature of the Cargobike is its patented Stabilo parking stand. The bike stands so stably that kids can (and will) climb aboard themselves and play on the bike while parked. It will not fall over. This is incredibly convenient since you can safely load up your Cargobike while parked; kids, bags, buggy, dog and whatever else in the box, roll off the stand and ride. Compare that to the balancing act of getting kids and groceries on and off a standard bicycle with child seats. In any case the Cargobike enables you to carry loads you never could with a standard bicycle: four kids, a baby (or two!) in Maxi-Cosi(s), 80kg of party or picnic supplies…
The Cargobike is built Dutch-style to handle day-to-day use and abuse. Complete, automatic dynamo lighting with LED headlamp and taillamp mean you’ve powerful lights when it gets dark. The generator is in the front hub where it’s silent, causes imperceptible resistance and is out of harm’s way. The LED lights have a lifespan measured in hundreds of thousands of hours and the taillamp has electronic circuitry to stay on for several minutes when you stop at signals.
Like all proper Dutch bikes, the Cargobike is designed and equipped to be ridden in street clothes, year-round, in all weather conditions. The sitting position is comfortably upright. Stainless steel, full-coverage mudguards with flaps keep you dry and clean and jacket/skirt guards keep your clothes out of the spokes. The drivetrain is completely enclosed in a chain-case where it stays clean, keeps your trousers clean, and requires almost almost no maintenance.
Shimano roller brakes with cast cooling fins ensure solid stopping power unaffected by weather. The Schwalbe Marathon tires have a tightly woven carcass and Kevlar anti-puncture to make flats (and tire replacement) a rarity. An Axa Defender rear wheel lock is included as is a bell and strong rear carrier with elastics. For the kids and gear a rain tent with big windows and flat box cover are available.
Further the Cargobike is built to live outside, ready for action. The paint is a tough powdercoat over a super corrosion resistant zinc–based primer. Many of the components and almost all of the hardware is stainless steel. The box is a water-resistant, hard-finished, marine plywood called “betonplex”. The drivetrain is completely enclosed.
Cargobikes are hand-built to our specifications in the Netherlands. Bakfiets Cargobikes distributed through WorkCycles are special models. The lighting, brakes, gear system and a number of other components have been upgraded, they come in many special colors and are carefully finished and equipped for your needs in our own workshop. These bicycles can only be purchased from the two WorkCycles shops and and a handful of WorkCycles dealers throughout the world.
Can I ride it in hilly terrain?
And now a word about hills: Cargobikes ride and function great but at 35-40 kg with an upright sitting position they’re simply not mountain goats. Making them lighter would mean compromises in durability, practicality or price. A Cargobike is in its element in flat and lightly rolling terrain, though small hills will be fine for a moderately fit and motivated rider. Fitting lower gearing to the 8 speed hub helps, but not loading the bike down so heavily obviously helps much more. For more information about here you can also check out the Cargobike FAQ.
Long or Short?
One of the most frequently asked questions is whether the Long or Short box Cargobike is more appropriate for one’s needs. The only difference between the two versions is 30cm of box length and a couple kg, but that 30cm increases the volume of the box by about 40% making the Long version much more versatile. Here’s a guide based on our experience riding them and working with thousands of customers.
The Long can carry 3 kids in the box with the optional second bench. The Long also has lots of space for groceries and kid stuff, even with 2 kids on the bench. A Maxi-Cosi fits perfectly into the Short box, but it leaves little room for anything else. We offer a Maxi-Cosi holder for the Long box that leaves room for kids on the bench. This is critical for a growing family: First baby in Maxi-Cosi, then toddler on bench, then new baby in Maxi-Cosi plus toddler on bench… Keep in mind that it’s very handy to be able to bring friends along.
The two Cargobikes ride very similarly, but the Short is slightly more maneuverable and lighter feeling. It feels much more like a “normal” bicycle. The Short is nicer for riding in a hillier area and you’ve less tendency to take too much along. Overall, we sell many times more Long Cargobikes than Short ones mostly because the Short version doesn’t offer much advantage for most people.
The WorkCycles version Cargobike
First a little background: Bakfiets is the Dutch word for “cargo bicycle” or “cargo tricycle”. Its also the name of the firm, run by Maarten van Andel, that developed the Cargobike. Cargobike frames are made in Holland and the bicycles are assembled by Azor Bikes, where the Onderwater Family Tandem and WorkCycles classic city bikes are also built.
WorkCycles collaborates very closely with Bakfiets.nl and Azor in the development of the Cargobike. We’re both a local dealer and the Cargobike exporter as well. Because the standard Cargobike has some components unavailable outside of the Netherlands and also because we’re just perfectionists WorkCycles began adapting and improving the Cargobike shortly after its introduction. The result is a considerably improved Cargobike that’s also more suitable for export. We sell only our versions, both locally and abroad.
Much improved lighting system:
- Silent, (almost) frictionless Shimano hub dynamo to power the lighting.
- Basta Pilot LED headlamp, powerful and near infinite lifespan.
- Double wiring along the length of the frame for a dynamo-powered taillamp
- Taillamp is a B & M LED unit (never burns out) with a “stand-light” so it remains on for a few minutes when you stop.
- There are no batteries in the entire lighting system.
Even Stronger Wheels
A stronger rear wheel in the standard mountain bike size and wider tires (47mm Schwalbe Marathon) front and rear. This avoids the strange, Dutch tire sizes of the local Cargobikes. The bigger tires also provide a more secure ride, are more flat-resistant, last longer and provide the option of leaving the front tire soft for cushioning the ride with a baby in the box.
Shimano 8 Speed
Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal gear hub. We love these gear systems. They shift smoothly, are maintenance-free and nearly indestructible, and have a surprisingly wide range of gears. We only use Shimano internal gear systems because they’re currently far better in many ways than the hubs from competitors Sram or Sturmey Archer.
More Powerful Brakes
Shimano IM81 roller brakes with large cooling disks. Stopping such a heavily loaded bike is no easy task and these brakes are much more powerful and heat resistant than the standard roller brakes. Brake modulation is also better.
A adjustable seat post since most Cargobikes are ridden by two or more people, each of whom have their own saddle height. The WorkCycles Cargobike has a quick-release seat post bolt combined with a specially honed seat tube. The saddle can thus be quickly and easily adjusted without fiddling or scratching the post.
Special Colors and Finishes
We also have most of our Cargobikes coated with a special multipart paint process in special colors and color combinations. This originated to avoid theft in Amsterdam, but once customers began seeing Cargobikes in unusual colors, few wanted the standard black, red, orange or blue anymore. The WorkCycles Cargobike also has a special, highly corrosion resistant primer under the color layers. Our colors vary continually, so please ask what we have available. There is no difference in price between the different colors.
For a small fee we offer painted mudguards too. This used to be part of the so called “Cargobike Classic” but after making several hundred Classics we got tired of black and began making them in other colors, according to our seasonal whims. We’ve also since changed all of the bikes to black rims. Since the Classic and the LX were identical mechanically we now just offer the painted fenders as an option. Note that ALL of the fenders, painted or not, are stainless steel.
Warranty and Service
WorkCycles takes a lot of pride in building and finishing our bicycles as thoroughly as possible an we provide warranty and service to match. Our mechanics go through an entire checklist of attention points for each bicycle, often taking 2 to 3 hours. This is always important, but even more so for exported bicycles that cannot easily return for an adjustment or warranty problem.
Each frame carries a warranty of 10 years and components 1 year (except tires). On bikes purchased from the WorkCycles shops in Amsterdam we provide a generous service contract: one free service, 50% off labor in the six and 12 month services and 20% off all labor for five years from the purchase date.
Each version below is available in either Long or Short versions but please be aware that our stock of Long models is always much more extensive. The Cargobike Short is only available in black, dark-metallic blue, red and orange.
Lux 8 speed version
By far our most popular setup, including Shimano’s smooth, wide-range and trouble-free, 8 speed internal gear hub.
GT 3-speed version
With this version you get a Cargobike with few compromises for a considerably lower price. The only differences are a 3 speed Shimano gear hub, a halogen headlamp and standard Shimano IM45 rollerbrakes without the cooling disks. Everything else is the same. Keep in mind that this bike is really only suitable for flat terrain and even then you’d better be prepared to hop off and push occasionally. But if you’re just riding your elderly dog around town the GT could be a good deal.
Below are descriptions of the most common Cargobike specific options. Naturally Workcycles also carries an enormous range of other accessories such as child seats, buggy carriers, panniers and locks. Custom work for special applications is also possible: please contact us to discuss your needs.
The tent-style canopy protects the kids from rain and cold, and (of course) most kids love sitting inside. The rear panel rolls up for ventilation or to talk with the kids. Its almost all windows and is constructed of tough materials to take a beating. We stock canopies in many colors, which vary from day to day. Our canopies are made in the Netherlands, of European materials by Clarijs. Unlike the standard canopies sold elsewhere ours have untinted windows since they mostly get used in lousy weather. Please ask about our current color stock.
The cargo cover is a must. It protects the wooden box, prevents people from tossing their trash in the box, and provides some protection for the little things and groceries you want to leave behind while doing errands. The cover has snap closures on the sides so that kids can sit underneath, like in an old open sportscar. We stock covers in many colors, which vary from day to day. Please ask about our current color stock.
For those wondering what a “Maxi-Cosi” is… it’s by far the most popular baby carrier in Europe. Most babies lie in the Maxi-Cosi until about 9 months when they begin sitting. Since so many Cargobikes are used to carry young families WorkCycles has developed our own Maxi-Cosi bridge that fits in the box of the Cargobike Long. This holder safely carries the Maxi-Cosi so that kids can sit on the bench behind. A Maxi-Cosi can also simply be strapped in the box (without our bridge) but then there’s no leg room for kids to sit behind it.
Twins? Yes, we periodically build twin Maxi-Cosi carriers into the Cargobike Long. It’s not a standard item but we do know how to do it.
Toddler support seat on the bench
This is how to carry kids too big for the Maxi Cosi but not quite ready to sit on the bench without additional support (about 9 to 22 months). We begin with a Bobike Mini child seat and modify it to fit on either side of the the Cargobike’s bench. It takes up less than half the width and utilizes the bench’s original harness. Two can even be fitted for twins. We normally perform this operation on a old Bobike Mini brought by the customer, but will do it to new ones if you don’t mind purchasing and cutting up a fresh child seat.
Second child bench
This is a narrower bench with one child harness that is installed forward of the standard bench in the Cargobike Long. It can be pulled out when not in use. Handy both for families with 3 kids and also for bringing little friends along. The second bench is equipped with one harness, though we’ve seen that some customers ride with two kids on this bench (for a total of four in the box).
If you live in a place where things get stolen, you’ll want this little cable from saddle to frame. It’s neatly installed and doesn’t interfere with the saddle adjustment but it prevents the saddle and post from being pulled out.
Special freight boxes
99% of Cargobikes are purchased for family transport with the standard box, but commercial use sometimes requires a special box. We offer an enclosed box specially designed to carry 60cm wide Euronorm transport crates. It’s made industrial strength from betonoplex and aluminium extrusions.
We can also build custom boxes to suit your business needs. Normally we build a special box rectangular in plan and with vertical sides to fit standard 60 x 40cm transport boxes. Our own boxes are built with panels in a metal frame so that the edges are protected. Slots for tie-downs can be fitted as needed. Freight boxes have no provision for carrying children – that’s what the standard box is for. Please contact us for more details.
Notes, Terms and Conditions
All prices are in Euros, inclusive Dutch 19% VAT and ex-Amsterdam. Prices and specifications are subject to change without notice.
For a transport quote please tell us your country, city, postcode and delivery situation (truck accessible, residence etc).
To order or for more information please contact us. You are also welcome to visit either of our shops. Both locations are open Mon – Sat 9.00 to 18.00.
1019 DE Amsterdam
tel: +31 (0)20 689 7879
1015 GP Amsterdam
tel: +31 (0)20 522 6000
Copyright 2009-2012 Workcycles