Lightweight bikes are fun. The idea of going fast, on pavement or off, isn’t just enjoyable, but seen as the pinnacle of cycling for many. However, in recent years there’s been a shift in direction and diversity for a myriad of cyclists. Now more than ever, varying styles of bicycle have proliferated North America to not only increase the bicycle’s audience, but practicality as well. The pinnacle of practicality in the bicycle world is the cargo bike. They may not resemble anything like a good full-suspension mountain bike, but these bikes are just as fun.
The original cargo bikes were used to deliver mail, milk, and other items. These bikes similar to a normal bicycle in size, but were installed with heavy-duty carriers front and rear to carry the additional weight and stress of delivery. Popularity of these bicycle waned with the proliferation of the internal combustion engine, but recently these bikes have experienced a resurgence in popularity and technology.
This resurgence is for good reason. Not only are cargo bikes much less costly to operate than a scooter or car, but they’re near-silent in operation, they don’t use fuel, and they can navigate both open road and tight quarters alike. Statistically speaking, most city-dwellers live a majority of their lives within four miles of their home – a distance that takes a while to walk, but is inefficient to drive. The cargo bike bridges the gap between walking and using a car, and does so in a way that matches your lifestyle. Not only is the cargo bike useful for carrying heavy loads, but they’re an excellent way to carry young children as a car replacement.
Most modern cargo bikes have some sort of front-loading capability and are based off of the “Long John” (or bakfiets) style. They offer versatility with either a low flatbed for maneuverability, or with a box. Bikes from brands like Larry vs Harry and Urban Arrow resemble this ideal, but bring their designs into the twenty-first century with quality materials, smooth performance, and even electric pedal-assist. Other bikes, like the Orbea Katu, follow the cycle truck formula: 20” wheels, tight wheelbase, and a fixed front rack to offer nimble handling and a stable platform for a myriad of loads.
Why ride a cargo bike? Perhaps because they’re a dream to use for the car-adverse. Maybe It’s due to how efficient the cargo bike is on resources, time, and energy. Above else, it’s because of how engaging one can be for the rider and potential passengers alike. In other words, cargo bikes are a fun way to get about. Skeptical? Come on down and try one for yourself.