> The Bakfiets Cargobike: What got me going on Bakfiets?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What got me going on Bakfiets?

This is an excerpt from a comment I wrote on the Bakfiets flickr group discussion board earlier this evening... I haven't had nearly as much time to write on the new cargobike as I would have liked over the past year, so I thought I'd share it here as well. I'm trying to make this more of a blog about the role this bike has taken in my life this year rather than random collection of Bakfiets tidbits.

"A couple years ago, just after we moved into our leafy old Portland neighborhood, I kept having sightings of this luminous and energetic being - a beautiful blond Dutch woman with cute little kids - whizzing around on a classic black, short wheelbase Bakfiets. I would often see the bike sitting in front of the bakery or local hair stylist or pass her as she disappeared behind the green of a roundabout with a big load of groceries then go home mumbling over and over to myself

b - a - k - f - i - e - t - s - . - n - l

trying to remember the proper spelling until i sat down immersed for long Google sessions. Anyway, it's just as Mikael & Aaron from Copenhagen Girls on Bikes understand so well - attractive women going about their daily lives on city bikes are a most powerful influence...

Long story short: she started it...

The bike was such a strange beast, unlike anything I'd ever seen, let alone ridden. As a road and touring bike nut of 20 plus years I'd long experimented with putting together the ideal load carrying city bike and the capacity of the Bakfiets box blew me away. The design had an incredibly visceral and emotional appeal for me as the new father of two young children born during a most brutal and wretched oil war. It seemed like such a fantastically elegant way to ferry your children around a flat neighborhood such as ours and the ultimate two-wheeled middle finger to the flocks of overbearing, "safety" obsessed matrons in Hummers, Yukons and Escalades. To have my children grow to know the sights, smells and sounds of our neighborhood while we ran our daily errands deeply appealed to my idyll of city life. It's been one of those rare possessions that inspires you to live a simpler, more peaceful life with greater connection to your community and it has helped bring to light more clearly than any way I know the dehumanizing vulgarity of the automobiles we've been lifelong brainwashed to love."

What got you going on Bakfiets? Write and tell me more!


Blogger De kokende mamma said...

Hi Richard,

Since last week I am the proud owner of a Cargo Long, bought at Henry's in Amsterdam.

What brought me there? Well, first of all I am an Italian mum living in a trendy neighbourhood in Amsterdam. This means we were rampant Yuppies when we moved here, and then all of a sudden the whole neighbourhood was growing pregnant bellies, then the whole fleet og Boogaboo's in all colors (mostly red, though) started appearing on the streets, then lots of bakfiets, to make it short: I needed a bakfiets in order to soothe my Italian trendy design thirst, and to integrate with the Dutch mums and dads.

You know, trendy Dutch parents, if they just can, go for the third kid. Having already two boys (aged 3,5 and 5,5) and a tired back from lifting 17 kg. Luca to and from the front sit several times a day, hating rain but not being able to avoid it since I live here, I just NEEDED a big cargobike, for kids, grocery, riding them around with friends on my Mamma-days.

And yes, somehow this powerful vision of a woman riding het kidsbike was working on me too (and a couple of gorgeous dads too, let me assure you).

So, that's it.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must have seen the same woman a few years ago. She rode up to a coffee shop, picked her sleeping child out of the bucket and placed him on a pillow on the floor. She had her coffee while reading a magazine before returning the sleeping child to the bike and pedaling off.

The opening of a bakfeits dealer here in Portland has coincided with my wife and I expecting our first child (no coincidence I swear). So I hope to put my deposit down this weekend and then join the throng of Portland bakfiets.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Almost as soon as we found out that we were expecting a baby, I bought a front-mount bike seat (a Bobike Mini) for junior to ride in, as soon as old enough.

When my daughter Sarah was 7 months old it was confirmed that she has Pallister-Killian syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder. The symptoms of PKS are many and varied, but include hypotonia - poor muscle tone, resulting in "floppyness". Sarah doesn't have the strength or control to hold her head up for long, especially if being bounced around on a bike with a helmet on. We've ridden up and down the street with her in the Bobike seat, but an upright baby-seat is not a viable option for longer rides.

Around that time, I saw my first picture of a bakfiets, on a . I immediately saw the potential for carrying Sarah - possibly by mounting her car seat in the box. Riding in front of me, I'd be able to keep an eye on her and make sure she's okay. The future of family cycling.

No shops in Australia stock bakfietsen. There is
one shop interested in handling them, but genuine bakfiets.nl bikes are expensive units to bring in to our great Southern land, let alone hold in stock.

They're also a bit rich for me - with a disabled two year-old who now has a little sister, and a garage already full of my own bikes, a multi-thousand dollar Dutch-built bakfiets is not a luxury we can justify right now. I'm sure they're great bikes, but we have to economise.

With business contacts in Asia, I started searching for cheap bakfiets copies. Many readers will scoff at the idea of a far-Eastern bakfiets. I think the Chinese know a few things about building and riding bikes... especially where heavy loads are involved.

There's been some talk about Asian bakfietsen with poor steering geometry. Steering geometry is a fundamental of bike design, which the Chinese have been managing for some time now. One manufacturer getting it wrong on one bike is not a fair indication of the whole continent's ability to build good bikes.

With some Dutch inspiration, built up with internationally-renowned drivetrain components, I don't see any reason why a bakfiets welded in China should be inferior to a bakfiets welded in Holland.

I found a few Chinese manufacturers of bakfietsen (mostly for the European market), and picked what appears to be the best of them.

My Chinese bakfiets arrived this week, and it's brilliant. Next step is to set it up for Sarah, and ride off into the sunset :-)

After that... now that I have the supply chain connections, I'm planning to import and sell a few more Chinese bakfietsen into Australia.

Watch this space...

5:26 PM  
Blogger Travis said...

I have been dreaming of a cargo bike for years, and now, thanks to a generous gift from my parents, I can obtain one. I have three boys (8-5-3) and we bike quite a bit. We usually have to use a "bike train"--my bike (+) tailabike (+) trailer http://bikenounverb.blogspot.com/2008/07/wittwer-bicycle-train.html

It works, but looking forward to something more suited to the purpose. Love your blog.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Guy Browne said...

Your post captures exactly my thoughts on why I've wanted a bakfiets for several years now (ever since our 2nd child was born). I could not have written it any better. I picked up a used one on Thursday and we are having a great time.

12:27 PM  

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