Unclear on the Concept: Cargobike Style


Here in Amsterdam we just ride our Bakfiets Cargobikes, but over in North America it seems to be fashionable to put them on your giant car and drive around with them. Doesn’t seem like nearly as much fun to me, but hey, who am I to complain.

But just in case the guy with the ghetto blacked out Suburban with Cargobike on roof thinks he’s tough, check out this one. It’s a Unimog with the same Cargobike practically disappearing into the bed.

Cargobike in Vancouver, BC on a Unimog

Never heard of a Unimog? Well then check out these videos of Unimogs in action. Suburbans are for pussies!

26 Responses to “Unclear on the Concept: Cargobike Style”

  1. todd Says:

    unimogs are for wusses. badonkadonk: https://www.amazon.com/JL421-Badonkadonk-Land-Cruiser-Tank/dp/B00067F1CE

  2. John . Dublin Ireland Says:

    Those 4 Wheel Drives/SUVs are Extremely Dangerous to Pedestrians. It is Hard to see who is beside you Especially small Children and they Consume a Prodigeous Amount of Fuel. It is Hard to Justify anyone having one especially in Europe on Account of the Price of Petrol or Diesel€ 1.04 for Diesel a Litre €4.68 a Gallon € 1.14 a Litre €5.06 a Gallon for Unleaded Petrol/gaz in Dublin.How many Gallons does it take to Fill those Tanks on these 4+4s a lot I would say.

    Better to get a Small Saloon like a Citroen or VW Polo for Country Driving and use the Bakfiets most of the Time around the City.Who needs Cars anyway I certainly dont,Bikes last practically forever whereas Cars has a Built in Obsolescence that starts Depreciating the moment you Buy them.

  3. John . Dublin Ireland Says:

    Great Videos Especially the one at the washed out Bridge,I didnt think he was going to make it.

  4. Steven Vance Says:

    The family who purchased the bakfiet drove from Michigan to Illinois (at least 100 miles, could have been 500 or more) to pick it up.

  5. henry Says:

    I think a pedal powered Badonkadonk personal tank is on order and we’ve got until April to introduce it.

  6. Cosmo Says:

    The Suburban is so not ghetto! Huge and wasteful? Yes. Maybe even a bit customized. But not ghetto the lights aren’t even blacked out. This crazy thing is almost ghetto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/t_13/2578224585/ but a bit too tasteful to be really ghetto.

    I have been considering driving up to Portland to buy a bakfiets but would have to drive it down to SoCal.

  7. henry Says:

    Cosmo, OK so the suburban isn’t genuinely ghetto but it is certainly “suburban white guy wants to look tough”.

    You don’t need to go all the way up to Portland to find a bakfiets. We have dealers with the Bakfiets in Santa Barbara and San Francisco too. Check out the WorkCycles Dealer page.

  8. Cosmo Says:

    Thanks for the tip on the shorter drives for a bakfiets.

  9. beach mama Says:

    I don’t know who wrote this blog but I found it to be quite offensive. I have been to the Chicago store and test driven a bakfiets….A delight thanks to Stephen. I can relate to the FAMILY who came to purchase. We have an OLD Suburban for our large family and would come in and pick it up ourselves INSTEAD of a BIGGER truck delivering it to me.

    We live in a place where I am continually finding ways to bike. If I purchase a bakfiet, I will be able to get groceries and take my kids to be with our friends and family. We live in a small house by a beautiful beach. It would not be my excess that would benefit you….it would be well intentioned money my husband would create. We would not buy a second car.

  10. henry Says:

    Beach mama,
    Wow, thanks for enlivening my morning with the best comment ever on this blog. I write this blog and if you’d like to learn more about me you can simply check out the considerable writing to be found here in the pages:
    About Bakfiets en Meer
    An American with a bike company in Holland 1
    An American with a bike company in Holland 2

    I also have a family, as can periodically be seen in the posts on this blog. Like our friends and neighbors our family happens to use a bakfiets and a city bicycle as our primary transportation. We don’t have a Suburban, old or new, or any car for that matter. This is much more a function of practicality than ideals since we live in an apartment in the center of Amsterdam where nearly everything we need is within a short bike ride.

    Regardless I do think you’re missing the irony and tongue in cheek nature of my posts and of many of the commenters and I’m curious about exactly what you find offensive here. Bakfiets en Meer is mostly just the musings and opinions of a self-acknowledged bike nut who’s devoted his life to convincing the world to ride bicycles instead of driving cars and trucks. Given the sisyphusian nature of that goal some irony is necessary to avoid going insane.

    Please allow me to comment on your preference to pick up the bicycle with your own Suburban instead of having it delivered with a bigger truck. That bigger truck also carries the bakfietsen and other goods for many other families during its ride thus requiring far fewer resources to deliver each bakfiets. Even more surprisingly the bigger truck with its modern turbo-diesel engine probably even gets fuel economy comparable to your Old Suburban. Of course even better would be to ride the bakfiets home from Dutch Bike Seattle. But if you also enjoy driving a Suburban with a Bakfiets by all means go for it!

    While a bakfiets is certainly very handy and enables one to carry much more on a bike, it’s not at all necessary to get groceries and carry kids. These things can be done on any bike. Concerning excess: When I see a Bakfiets on the roof of a Suburban I recognize that the Suburban is the primary vehicle and the Bakfiets is there as “the second car”. In other words: not really necessary. That’s fine; My family owns more bicycles than we can ride at one time, art on the walls, extra chairs for guests and many other luxuries.

  11. Chris R Says:

    I gotta agree with Beach Mama– Henry, you sound like an arrogant “who am I to complain… I’m profiting from their excesses” jerk. If this is the way you treat your customers who spend $3,000+ on your products what the hell do you do to your enemies? I can appreciate good, clever, tongue in cheek writing. This isn’t that.

  12. henry Says:

    Alright, alright! Guys, lighten up and don’t take me so literally. I’m just being my sarcastic, New Yorker / Amsterdammer self. There is no “set of rules” but when somebody mounts a bakfiets on the roof of a pimped-out Suburban it’s just too ironic for me to not make some jokes about it. And I don’t sugar coat the truth: it’s excessive and yet we do profit from it. If you see that differently then we just live in parallel universes. Apparently I’m just not a good enough writer to get my point across.

    But BeachMama’s comments, while certainly well intentioned, were both righteously serious and factually nonsense. My posts, on the other hand, are never righteous though sometimes they are nonsense… and they’re rarely very serious.

    I’ll work on being a better writer since the me you’re reading into me isn’t the real me nor the me I wish to project. Those who know me personally will back that up but attempting to do so myself would just be pathetic. In any case your business, your support and your riding bikes is very much appreciated.

  13. ChicagoMatt Says:

    While I can’t speak for BeachMama- I can articulate what offends me (and others I’ve spoken to about your blog): Smugness, the general holier-than-thou attitude, overall prickness- just to name a few. Perhaps those of us that toil in the US are not clever enough to appreciate the sardonic nature of your Dutch posts- but you’d think you might have just a WEEEE bit of respect for the people over here that are “paying the freight” (ie purchasing your bicycles). Had I realized that there was such a set of rules that accompanied being a Bakfiets owner/rider- I might not have plunked down $3k for one- nor would I have recommended to the other three people that have done so to buy one… might I suggest that you have Stephan and Steve require all potential Bakfiets owners fill out an application for your approval so as not to let any more “excess” soil our roads/bikeways here in Chicago. This way you would be able to deem who is fit/unfit to join your exclusively awesome club and not merely make snide remarks about us on the internets…

    Commenting on topics/situations of which you know NOTHING about (shipping patterns of LTL trucks in the midwestern US?!?!) is what makes the world (internet) go round- have at it my man… but biting the hand that feeds you (literally)- classless and unnecessary.

    If I’m misinterpreting your post(s)- set me straight. But I’ve been a visitor to this site long enough to see a pretty consistent pattern…

  14. henry Says:

    Chris, Matt, BeachMama,
    Here’s a follow-up to my previous backtracking above:

    In the course of another discussion I mentioned this post to Stephan Schier of Dutch Bike Chicago, asking whether he’d maybe put in a decent word for me here after having put my feet firmly in my own mouth. To my surprise he basically replied that I was being an insensitive prick and would just have to publicly clean up the mess myself. Whoa, I’ve inadvertently pissed off half the state of Illinois and I’ve far too much respect for Stephan’s opinion to continue believing that the problem is just my being misunderstood by readers lacking a sense of humor.

    I suppose I could just say “sorry the post was inappropriate” or quietly remove it but that wouldn’t convey much about my underlying intentions. I am sorry, though, for not understanding that a joke that can easily be pulled off in person is much more difficult to communicate on a blog. That’s what I meant about not being a good enough writer: Sure, I’m a fairly articulate guy but I’m learning that I’m not sharp witted enough to tell this joke in such a way that even the Suburban owner himself has to giggle about the absurdity.

    And that was all I meant to do in the first place: Appear to “naively” misinterpret a photo in such as way that everybody would recognize that it could also be seen that way. A bakfiets on the roof of a Suburban IS plain old funny because so many people wrap these two vehicles up in the stereotypical representation of diametrically opposite ideals. Meanwhile, here in Amsterdam the Bakfiets has evolved from hippie symbol to be regarded by many as the new SUV of the upper middle class: an excessive bicycle for yuppies that takes up too much room on the sidewalk and blocks the bike path. See:

    Perhaps there’s even some truth to these stereotypes but I only concern myself with enticing people to get on bikes. I founded WorkCycles on the principle of making utilitarian cycling attractive for everybody, not just preaching to the choir, and it’s been a long struggle to cultivate a company culture in which all are welcome, hippie or businessman, family or oil refinery, bike riding or Mercedes driving. Actually getting car drivers onto bikes is a far greater victory than selling new bikes to existing bike riders and I’m sure I’ve written as much elsewhere in this blog. So I suppose I could take a sensitivity lesson from myself and learn to be more careful in choosing my topics and words.

    So in writing this response I already see where I’ve screwed up on a number of levels; My sincerest apologies for mistakenly but genuinely offending you guys. It’s clear that I have to take more care in writing ironic humor that makes it’s point without offending half our customers. Discarding it is not an option because it’s simply who I am. Thanks for your understanding and thanks for riding bikes.

  15. Mark Says:

    This has been one of the better threads recently. While I see Henry’s humor I can’t help feeling bad for the people who were so excited by their new bakfiets that they posted the photos online. But when you put things in the public domain you open yourself up to such attacks.

    As far as what is excessive that really is a personal opinion. While many Amsterdammers may condemn cars they don’t seem to have a problem with motoring around the canals in their old boats. And when you think about it, who are we saving the planet for, the overbreeders and religous fundamentalists?

  16. Blaise Says:

    Incredible !

    It’s an american thing to ask for public apologies and stuff ! If they don”t get your joke, you don’t have to aplogize…

    And if they don’t like the way you write, your humour, they just have not to read your blog.

    May be you have been contaminated by some european irony and which doesn’t travel overseas…

    Good luck,

    Blaise – Paris France

  17. henry Says:

    Hi Blaise,
    I appreciate your support but I do also have to consider that I run a growing company and though my blog is personal, it’s also connected to the company I run. Obviously I meant no harm and it’s a pity the jokes didn’t work as intended. But… whether intentional or not it’s simply not good business practice to treat your customers with disrespect. Thus what I wrote in my apology was honest, however annoying it is that others don’t share my sense of humor.

    Actually I think I grew up with this sense of irony in New York and it’s only been reinforced by my life in Europe. I also lived in California for ten years (just before moving to the NL) and that was pure hell from a humor perspective. For me it was just one social misstep after another amongst people who seemed righteous and humorless to me, while I certainly seemed like a cynical, critical, asshole to them. I was constantly accused of being a “pessimist” there, while I countered that I was one of the few optimists because I felt things could always be improved.

  18. henry Says:

    Few Amsterdammers “condemn” cars or motor vehicles in general, nor do they concern themselves with idealistic concepts such as “saving the plant”. It’s just not really in the nature of the Dutch to think and speak in such righteous, essentialist terms.

    Fact is that driving a car in a Dutch city is simply impractical and expensive, while cycling, walking and taking public transport are generally better options. Motoring around the canals in an old boat on a warm summer evening is a pleasure many Amsterdammers guiltlessly enjoy indulging in. That those occasional boat rides are further insignificant from a resource perspective isn’t even a concern.

    Also I did not “attack” the bakfiets on Suburban owner. I merely poked fun at the irony of the photo in the broader social sense. There’s a huge difference between the two.

  19. Shahar Schwartz Says:

    Henry I came to read this blog after finding the best product on WorkCycles website,
    I’ll let you guess that product yourself 😉

    With that said, please remember that most of your readers love your sense of humor,
    I hope this little post won’t change the nature of your comments.

    Shahar – Israel.

  20. henry Says:

    Shahar, Blaise,
    So where were you guys when I needed your support a month ago? 😉

    I can take a couple guesses at your favorite WorkCycles product…
    WorkCycles Cargobike Extra Long
    WorkCycles High Tech Antitheft Spray

  21. BlackDawn Says:

    Right products wrong order, I was fantasying the other day of doing a wheelie with the extra long 🙂

    I’m sorry for the late reply, didn’t see the angry replays until you trackbacked to it, I don’t agree with them, but I also don’t agree with Blaise.

    I think you ended this thread in the best possible manner, and I hope mama & the other’s are no longer offended, as it’s pretty obvious that wasn’t your intent.

    Shahar – Israel.

  22. Todd Edelman Says:

    By the way new boats in Amsterdam – or at least ones used commercially (e.g. delivering bakfiets) have to be emissions-free (tailpipe) though lots of electricity is generated by burning coal.

    See …. okay it seems to be only tourist boats that need to be “clean”, but I needed to make a joke about ironic delivery of bakfiets. But also hydrogen-facilitated propulsion starts with burning coal or gas, etc. (Also be careful you world-saving freaks, the Minds in Motion people are too interested in private cars for my taste).

  23. Todd Edelman Says:

    BlackDawn: I was actually one of the first to test the “Extra Long” and the main problem was that the underside would scrape the paving stones, i.e. “bottom out”, on older small bridges over the canals.

    We tried various solutions such as using larger wheels but while this necessitated the modification of the frame and required a short ladder for wee ones to get into the box it also gave the bike SUV-like centre-of-gravity effects.

    We aborted the experiment after the Dutch office of Calvinistisch-georiënteerde mobiliteitsoplossingen failed to issue a homologation certificate for the vehicle.

    This was a couple of years back and I think as part of his therapy Henry needed to do the bakfiets on SUV thing. As a New Yorker he would not admit this, so while you should not bring it up I DO know that he welcomes queries about the bakfiets Extra Long, because with enough support he should be able to appeal the ruling.

  24. BlackDawn Says:

    Todd: that’s why you should always pop a wheelie with the extra long, if the kids inside are anything like me at that age, they will love it!

  25. Todd Edelman Says:

    OH, the url about Amsterdam requiring emission-free boats is here: https://www.mindsinmotion.net/index.php/mimv34/themes/hydrogen_for_mobility/featured/fuel_cell_boat_amsterdam

  26. Tim Eustis Says:

    I don’t get it? How did they not get the irony of the juxtaposition of a large, multiple-person carrying bike being carried by a large, multiple-person carrying behemoth? And to contrast that with the unimog? Brilliant.

    See below for further juxtapositions: the ultimate in digital output being funneled through old school analog tubes. How is this not supercool?

    MC4 Music Cocoon

    Anyway, we americans sometimes lack, umm, what is the word for which I so intently seek, ah, that’s it: brains.

    I enjoyed blog. But man, I really wanted the FR8 in red. that woulda been cool.

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