We’ve got a bakfiets!

We have been very busy here. So busy in fact, that I’ve neglected my blog. But I have some great news to report today: we have wheels! Just two, completely carbon-neutral wheels.

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This is an original Dutch bakfiets, a second-hand one, built especially for lugging children and shopping around town and countryside. I have wanted one of these for at least 6 years so this is a dream come true for me. They cost a small fortune in New Zealand and it wasn’t cheap here either but still half the price of getting one in New Zealand.

Yesterday I took the kids for their first ride to the large Tesco superstore on the outskirts of York to get some supplies for our new home. It didn’t look very far away when I looked at the map and there was a dedicated bike path the entire journey so I didn’t have to worry about cars at all. But being unfit and not getting the opportunity to cycle very much in Auckland I was pretty exhausted by the time I got back. It was a wonderful ride though and the kids loved it.

The Bakfiets is the Mercedes Benz of cargo bikes. Everyone says they are a dream to ride and I completely agree with this. I thought I would find it hard to balance all that weight on two wheels but it was so easy. I do occasionally take Elizabeth out on my bike in Auckland and she sits high up in a seat on the back. The bakfiets was easier to balance with two children and cargo than the setup I have in Auckland with just Elizabeth. I find with my Auckland bike, that when Elizabeth wriggles, I get unsteady. This just did not happen in the bakfiets even with two kids wriggling up front. I suspect it must have something to do with the low centre of gravity of my load.

A bakfiets is just like riding a regular bike. What does take a bit of getting used to is turning. It is quite a long bike and so you can’t take tight corners so easily and the front wheel is a fair distance from the steering wheel so it feels a little strange at first. After one ride around the block though, I felt like I had the hang of it.

People were quite taken with seeing us out riding on this bike and I got lots of positive comments from people on the way. York is a great place to cycle as it has lots of off-road cycle ways. Here are the pathways we travelled to get to the supermarket yesterday.

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This is the York racecourse at Knavesmire.

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There is no legal requirement to wear helmets over here and I can understand why. If you’re cycling slowly on a pathway like this and never have to cycle on roads shared with cars, then I don’t think a helmet is really necessary. I actually took mine off part-way through the journey because I got hot. The kids wore theirs the whole way because if we tipped over accidentally (and this is a possibility) then they’d bang their heads on the ground.

We don’t plan to get a car while we’re here. So far, we’ve made all our long trips by train and just walked everywhere once at our destination. I love this and it gives me a strange sense of freedom to not be chained to our car. The bakfiets is our SUV bicycle.

8 thoughts on “We’ve got a bakfiets!

  1. Daniel and Elizabeth look very pleased with themselves! My first thought on seeing your load was how heavy it must be and then, thoughts of traffic, of course. Just stick to bike paths and put up a little flag perhaps. I am familiar with that racecourse. If I’m correct I believe it has a very long straight – over two miles – which is the length of our Melbourne Cup.

    1. The load was heavy but the bike is designed for heavy loads so it handled it with ease. I didn’t come into contact with any traffic at all as there are so many bike paths and they’re completely separate from the road. Why can’t all cities do this?

  2. I must admit I have never seen or even heard of a bakfiets, but they look very practical and like you said carbon neutral is always a good thing. I got lost either in this post or a previous one where exactly is your new home ?

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