Cargo bikes – they are becoming hard to miss. Spotted more and more frequently on cities pavements and country lanes around the UK, as busy parents look for more eco ways to travel. Riding them for everything from the school run to the weekly shop. Essentially these stylish bikes are – a bike with a cargo box in front and although they may seem like a wacky mode of transport, they’ve been a popular choice for young families in Europe for years now – and seems we are now converts! So, what do you need to know before you invest? As a Babboe cargo bike starts at £1,600.
We spoke to Judith van den Briel, Marketing Director at Babboe – the makers of the number one cargo bike of Europe who have been developing affordable and safe cargo bikes for over 10 years.
JUNIOR: OK, Can we just ask what’s wrong with just a ‘normal’ bike?
JUDITH: Nothing – if you only want to ferry along one child! Add a second child or new baby to the mix and cycling seems impossible. This is where cargo bikes come into their own. Young children enjoy the freedom of the cargo box, with some models carrying up to four children and even baby seats. Single bike seats come with their own issues too; bike compatibility, bad weather and limited space. With a cargo bike, accessories like rain tents and sunroofs keep little ones covered, and the bike grows with your family too.
JUNIOR: So, tell us who really uses this new style cargo bikes?
JUDITH: Originally a Dutch creation, the cycling-mad nation has been pedalling cargo bikes for years. By the 1890s, dedicated cycling paths were already being built in the Netherlands, and a strong cycling culture has existed ever since. In fact, over a third of Dutch people list a bicycle as their most frequent mode of transport, meaning that the cargo bike is a go-to for many young families. We have especially noticed this year that they have become such an increasingly popular sight along UK country lanes – they’ve been popping up everywhere – from Central London and Brighton to Cambridge and the Lakes!
JUNIOR: And, typically what are & when are they useful?
JUDITH: They are ideal for functional trips like the daily shop and school drop-offs but, also make for a fantastic fun family day out too. They offer parents the option to cycle when a single bike seat or a five-seater car is no longer an option, when carrying small children from A to B.
JUNIOR: What about hills and uphill paths, surely thats an issue for a parent with more than one mini passenger?
JUDITH: It’s no secret that the UK is a fair bit hillier than the Netherlands, but luckily there’s a simple (some may say sneaky!) solution. Many manufacturers also offer electric versions of the cargo bike, which makes heavy loads (up to 100kg on some models!) and steep hills a doddle! Of course, they are an easy way to keep fit, stay active and of course more eco way to travel – so, parents can get active and enjoy a love of the outdoors whilst children are very young and not capable of cycling longer distances.
JUNIOR: You have mentioned Eco but, really how green are they?
JUDITH: Compared to a second car – very! Cargo bikes are really coming into their own now as more and more people are looking for ways to make ‘active travel’ an option. As an alternative to a car, the eco-friendly benefits are clear; emission-free, for every mile driven around one pound of CO2 is saved. Think of all that CO2 saved on a leisurely family ride in the countryside. In fact, in a recent poll* 83% of parents believe that choice of transport plays an important role in leading a sustainable lifestyle – that’s another tick for the cargo bike.
JUNIOR: What about maintenance – how easy are they to look after as they are an investment?
JUDITH: It may be surprising, but cargo bikes are actually very low maintenance. The most important thing is to keep the bike dry and clean; accessories such as covers are available if the bike needs to be stored outside – locks and distinctive personalisation are good ways to protect your bike too. Of course, simple checks including tyre inflation, chain lubrication and bolt tightening are a good idea to regularly check – and, we also recommended that brakes, gears and brackets are looked at every six months too. The newer models of cargo bikes boast upgraded and improved features including front and rear disc brakes and high-performance batteries which take just 4-6 hours for a full charge – ideal for longer distances and cycling holidays.
For more information on Babboe’s cargo bikes, head to the website: https://www.babboe.co.uk/.
* YouGov poll