Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Wint3r
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 Feb 2019, 1:11pm

Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Wint3r » 19 Feb 2019, 1:35pm

Hi all.

Just to give you some background, I'm brand shiny new to this forum and I'm a reluctant cyclist, but since having my son a year ago I have found the regular commute to work and nursery a nightmare. I used to catch the bus, but now have to pinch the car from my husband when I can as the bus with my son is time consuming, impractical and stressful as it's a very busy route and buses are usually crammed full.

I live in Bristol and traffic is horrendous, so that, plus cost rules out a second car. Cycling is the most practical and cost efficient means to do commute and get about really. I'd primarily use it to commute and transport my son to nursery, but would like the option to carry additional cargo, such as shopping. I'm pragmatic about my ability here, so I think I'll want an e-bike really as I know I'm not fit or strong enough to transport my son without some support.

I am not keen on trailers as I don't like the idea of him being low on the ground, around exhaust fumes etc. Also I'm not an overly confident cyclist so am unsure how I'd manage steering and general navigation with a trailer behing me. We are only planning the 1 child so a box bike or trike seems excessive.

Doing some research I really like the look of long tail cargo bikes. However these seem to be a bit of a rarity in the UK, so the one's I've found are a bit over my price range of about £2k tops. Are they worth it, does anyone recommend a particular type or thinks they can convince me on a box bike? Or am I better off getting a standard ebike and rear bike seat?

Please let me know if this is better put in the electric bike forum. I wasn't sure really.

User avatar
Wanlock Dod
Posts: 499
Joined: 28 Sep 2016, 5:48pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Wanlock Dod » 19 Feb 2019, 1:58pm

I've been considering something broadly similar, but for different reasons, myself. I would probably recommend an e-bike for a novice or anybody lacking confidence simply because of the ability to ride at a more reasonable speed in traffic given that slower riders tend to find traffic more intimidating. The Tern GSD and R&M Multicharger look like bikes that could potentially fit the requirements. Neither would be cheap, and are probably difficult to find second hand, but could potentially be a lot easier to live with than a box style cargo bike. Whilst the purchase price might be similar to a small second hand car the running costs would certainly be rather lower, and I would expect one to have paid for itself in under 3 years compared to running a car.

thelawnet
Posts: 2210
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby thelawnet » 19 Feb 2019, 2:02pm

I have had a Kona Ute since about 2009.

If you look around you can get them used for about £400

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kona-Ute-ori ... 4097084405

But you'll need to keep an eye out as they are quite rare. They are quite heavy but for journeys of a few miles that's fine. I've done 100 miles on it unloaded, but mostly it's better for local journeys of up to 5 or 6 miles.

The Surly Big Dummy is more expensive and maybe £1000 used.

I don't think you need e-bits, necessarily. The issues with the Kona is more to do with holding the bike up (slightly ones have a center-stand, mine had a kick stand which broke off) when there's weight on the back. A motor won't help at all with this.

In terms of hills if you have a proper hill to go up then possibly you will want to look at e-bits, but I'm not sure otherwise. The gearing is quite low, it's essentially a mountain bike with the big ring removed, though you can potentially make it even lower with a new cassette and/or chainring, depending on what's fitted. In a low gear you shouldn't have a problem with typical small hills.

If you buy a non-electric cargo bike cheaply, used, renew any used parts with suitable low gears (such as 11-36 cassette), and then are still struggling, you can retrofit electric motors later. But I wouldn't go out and spend thousands on a new one, personally. But it may depend on your mileage etc. For typical short journeys of 0-3 miles it should be fine.

Brucey
Posts: 35610
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Brucey » 19 Feb 2019, 2:11pm

local to me Bakfiets are popular

Image

to the extent that there is a Bakfiets parking problem every afternoon outside some schools. However these machines might be easy to handle (much easier than a longbike with a load on, less without obviously) but most local users to me don't have big hills to contend with. In hilly areas e-bike versions are popular. A lot of people run them instead of a (often second) car. I guess that they outnumber longbikes local to me, by at least 4:1.

Anyway if you get the chance, you should try one out. Kids almost invariably love them and of course lugging just about anything is possible in the front of one. A point that shared with just a few other machines is that it is very easy to keep an eye on the passengers and to have a conversation with them etc. There is weather protection (which can be removed in the summer months).

Such machines ain't cheap to buy but they hold their value well, so the ownership costs are lower than you might think; a lot of people buy one and intend to keep it for five or eight years, then keep it even if they don't need it for its original purpose. BTW beware cheap copies; they are nothing like so well made and the boxes are usually made of rubbish that doesn't like getting wet etc. Not the same thing at all.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wint3r
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 Feb 2019, 1:11pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Wint3r » 20 Feb 2019, 8:11am

Thanks for the suggestions. I think ebike is a definite as I want to make it as easy as possible for myself, I know I will be less keen to cycle if I have to do all the work!

martinn
Posts: 309
Joined: 1 Dec 2012, 8:20pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby martinn » 20 Feb 2019, 8:55am

Hi, if you are in Bristol, you could pop along to Rob at really useful bikes.....( In Yate)
He might have something you can look at / ride. However I think he has reduced what he sells, and concentrates on cargo bikes.

Alternatively we got our etrike from https://www.kidsandfamilycycles.co.uk/m.index.htm
They have a wide range.
Your requirements for shopping and (single) child transport maybe quite different.

Martin

andyh2
Posts: 368
Joined: 24 Oct 2007, 8:49pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby andyh2 » 20 Feb 2019, 7:51pm

I tried a few child carrying options over the years;
Brompton with IT Chair brilliant solution for carrying 2-4 yr old where you might want to include public transport for part of the journey and/or have limited storage space at home or unsafe parking at destination.

Child seat on a standard bike was OK but although she was strapped in I didn't feel comfortable when she dozed off and you want a nice stable base bike that can handle the high up weight behind you.

Extra Cycle long bike conversion was nice for bulky lightish loads. I thought it a bit flexy for heavier loads.

Yuba Mundo longtail bike was brilliant and sturdy and could carry 2 grown up passengers without getting noodly. Some of my favourite cycling memories are taking daughter and niece out for picnics on it.

SIngle wheel trailer bike Ok when moving along, handling a bit odd when doing low speed turning manoeuvres

Brilliant Bikes 2 child two wheeled trailer bike, nice and stable and very welcome to have their input up hills.

I tried a Bakfiets trike liked it when standing still, but not when moving as compared to a Bakfiets bike which felt great, though heavy.

Electric options were limited to hub motor conversions when I was using them. Nowadays the crank motored cargo bikes will make for a really practical vehicle.

If you've got the space to store or park a box bike then an crank motored version would be great. Dead easy to use a car seat in the box when they're very small, great fun for them and their friends as they get a bit bigger and reassuring to be able to keep an eye on them all the time. The rain hood makes it really practical to use in bad weather. There's several options available now and though they can be pricey as Brucey points out the better well known makes will hold value well.

Another take on the long tail worth considering would be the Circe Helios. It can be used as a cargo bike with one or 2 child seats and then later switched into tandem (or even triplet) mode as they get big enough to pedal. It's available with or without the Shimano STEPS electric assist.

It'd be well worth finding a store or 2 that have a few options to try out.

I don't use Facebook, but if you do there's a Bristol Electric and Cargo Bikes Facebook group which might have some folk willing to share their experiences and maybe let you look at or even try their set up.

amaferanga
Posts: 208
Joined: 31 Oct 2008, 7:03pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby amaferanga » 21 Feb 2019, 3:38pm

thelawnet wrote:I have had a Kona Ute since about 2009.

If you look around you can get them used for about £400

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kona-Ute-ori ... 4097084405

But you'll need to keep an eye out as they are quite rare. They are quite heavy but for journeys of a few miles that's fine. I've done 100 miles on it unloaded, but mostly it's better for local journeys of up to 5 or 6 miles.

The Surly Big Dummy is more expensive and maybe £1000 used.


I've been looking for a Surly Big Dummy or an xtracycle kit for months. Both are always overpriced. I've not seen a used Ute being sold anywhere. Hopefully I can find one if these £400 Utes.....

mmcnay
Posts: 28
Joined: 15 Aug 2017, 10:10am

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby mmcnay » 21 Feb 2019, 7:09pm

When my boy was little, I put him in a Bobike front mounted seat. It was great. He loved being able to see the road and the traffic - and I could chat to him as we travelled to nursery etc. It takes up to 15kg - he was in it from about one to about three. (Might have been longer, he's a little un for his age.)
This is like the one we had, but we got ours from a bike shop in Brighton.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bobike-Mini- ... Swl2JcYezZ
I had the bobike clamped to a cheap raleigh, a commuter model that had mtb style gearing. It felt fairly 'flickable' with the bobike seat on it, so great for city riding.

He's now got an Islabike which are really good for having them do decently long rides. We also have a Voyager tandem for longer journeys. He loves that too. You can get a good speed up.

User avatar
RickH
Posts: 4504
Joined: 5 Mar 2012, 6:39pm
Location: Horwich, Lancs.

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby RickH » 21 Feb 2019, 10:16pm

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record...

The Circe Helios is a versatile beast. I've had one for about 8 & a half years.

FB_IMG_1532467490936.jpg
Helios with kids (2 child seats is another option)


FB_IMG_1550778739649.jpg
Cargo mode (from Facebook)

With my sight impaired (adult) stoker we've done over 90 miles in a day, Cardiff to Chester in 2 days.

Edited to add: they have an electric assist option.

Wint3r
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 Feb 2019, 1:11pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Wint3r » 22 Feb 2019, 8:44am

andyh2 thanks for the insightful reply! Really useful info there. Will definitely check out that facebook page.

I hadn't considered a tandem. The Helios is almost double my budget if I went for the ebike version. As is the Yuba Spicy curry.

I have found a longtail ebike that I could order online, the Radwagon. Does anyone have any experience using one of those? My other thought was a smaller frame ebike like the Juicy Poco, as i'm 5ft4, I thought that might be easier to handle than a larger frame with a bike seat on the back.

Brucey
Posts: 35610
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Long tail cargo (possibly e-bike), or regular bike for commuting with 1 child in hilly town

Postby Brucey » 22 Feb 2019, 2:03pm

one machine that is often overlooked is an 'Onderwater' (IIRC named after a Mr Onderwater who designed this type of machine, often known as an Onderwaterfiets Kindertandem).

Image

which allows the nippers to chip in (and I think they can freewheel if they get tired, separately from the adult rider). It is also possible to carry a third smaller child on an additional seat (with a static footrest rather than pedals) who sits just behind the adults handlebars.

It is a less good load-lugger than some other machines (it requires a two-minute conversion to remove the handlebars and saddle (four bolts) and to fit a box) but it is a fantastic introduction to cycling for nippers. There is also a shorter version with only one set of additional pedals;

Image

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~