Cargo bike options for older kids and adults

We’ve had Busby our bakfiets for almost 5 years now. He has been a fantastic investment and I’ve got so much use out of him. However for the past couple of years I’ve struggled as the kids are bigger and heavier than they once were. The hills are much harder than they used to be and I find myself walking more because the bike is too hard. The kids also fight for elbow room when squished into the bike, especially when they’re wearing thick coats.

Here are the kids back in 2013 when we first got Busby. They look so little.

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What solutions are there for a family with older kids? Ideally they’d cycle around on their own bikes but that’s not an option in a city without protected paths. One option is to buy a car which is what every other family here does but we don’t want to do that. Another option is to get a bigger cargo bike with electric assist. Do electric assist cargo bikes for teenagers and adults exist?

In the US a company called Organic Transit makes the Elf. It’s an electric trike with solar panels and room for two biggish kids/teenagers to sit in the back. I’ve admired the Elf for a long time and if I lived in the US I’d definitely buy one.

I really like these car-bikes because they combine the convenience and comfort of a motor vehicle with the health benefits you get from a bicycle. There are several car-bikes about to flood the market but most of them are for one passenger. There’s the Norwegian-made Podbike:

From Sweden comes the PodRide which is expected to go on sale this year:

In the UK the Sinclair C5 is getting a facelift by the original creator’s nephew. The new bike is expected to be available for Q2 2018 and is called the Iris eTrike.

These all look like fantastic vehicles but where do the kids go?

Some cargo bike manufacturers have started making a taxi or rickshaw version that can accommodate adults. Bakfiets has the Elektrische Riksja.

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Christiania has the Model T:

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Triobike has a taxi:

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These look like modern rickshaws but they’re frightfully expensive and all three are designed in flat cities which makes me wonder how well they’d copy in a place with hills. The Triobike looks particularly nice but it has a hefty £7,000 price tag.

You can also get 4-wheeled bikes like this:

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My old bike shop in York is selling this for just under £3,500 but it’s advertised for use on campsites and tourist parks so perhaps it’s not suitable for city commuting.

What other car/bikes are there? Does anyone know?

8 Comments

  1. That last one, from York, says “500W brush less electric motor”. 250 W is the maximum for a road-legal bicycle so that’s presumably why they’re selling it for off-road use.

    Call me a wimp if you want but I like the idea of the enclosed ones. I get the impression the Podbike won’t be cheap somehow but the Iris looks possible. The house I’m building is about 2 or 3 kilometres from the local village including about 1km up a fairly steep hill (the hamlet name means “slope” in Gaelic) so electric bikes have been on my mind.

  2. No way to get the Bakfiets converted to electric locally? At a quick glance there do seem to be plenty of kit options. Then maybe deal with the crowding issue by way of a one-seat trailer, or alternatively a rear jumpseat for Elizabeth while she’s still small enough.

    1. I have looked into converting the bakfiets several times. The conversion kits cost more than the bike but it’s still an option. Elizabeth is too big for a rear jumpseat but a rear trailer could work for a little while.

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