My Cargo Bike Review
Why buy a family cargo?
The benefits of cargo bikes are obvious; no petrol, no tax, exercise and they’re good for the environment. The price is a little off-putting at first, but with some research, it soon becomes obvious why owners are crazy about them (including me!).
For our family, it just made sense. My young children were starting school and our house is a little too far for them to cycle themselves or to walk. We really don't need a second car because we are close to everything we need (shops, friends, doctors, trains and buses). I'd also heard that parking at our new school is very difficult (like most places!). After a lot of research, I took the plunge and bought an electric cargo bike. And I don't regret it.
The children love going in the bike and it gets a lot of attention. Drivers often slow down and let us go before them. Once, a man actually stopped his car to take a photo! Elderly women have told me they wish they had one for their own children and old men will often cheer as we whizz past!
Things you need to know before buying one.
- A cargo bike is really only feasible if you live quite close to your destination because changing or repairing a puncture, on your own, is tricky (as I discovered!). I won’t use the cargo bike for a ride of more than 20 minutes now in case I get another flat. I do use magic foam (as we call it) to get us back home but it's still a pain. Our ten minute school ride feels just about right in case we ever need to walk home.
- Without the back-up of a car, I need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. So I keep a hat, gloves and a rain coat under the kid’s seats because there's plenty of room under there. I don’t think I would risk cycling with the children in really icy and slippery conditions.
- The three wheelers, like mine, can sometimes feel like they are going to tip over if you take a corner too fast. I nearly did this at the local shops recently. I jumped off with just enough time to keep it upright. Nothing was dented except my pride! This has never happened with the kids on board though.
- Cargo bikes feel a bit scary going across steep slopes as you have to balance the weight. There is a short section of our school run where I go across a steep driveway and I have to shout to the kids “lean to the left…now lean to the right”. This is their favourite part of the journey but it’s a bit stressful for me!
- We are very lucky to have cycle paths where we live but there are times when I have to cycle on the road with other traffic. Cargo bikes are obviously bigger than your average bike so they stick out a bit more. While I’ve never had any road rage from other drivers I do cause delays for some cars behind me if they're not in a positon to overtake.
Why choose electric (battery operated)?
Selling the idea of a cargo bike to my husband was actually pretty easy. But convincing him that I NEEDED an electric one took some hard work because there is a big price difference.
I think non-electric cargo bikes are fine if you have a short journey, flat roads, you're super fit or if you plan to carry just one child. I know people who are very happy with theirs.
However, I plan to use my bike until our children are at least 7 and 9 and that could be be quite a weight to push without pedal assist. The truth is, I don't enjoy getting the kids ready for school every day and I personally wanted to make the morning rush as easy as possible!
So for me, going electric was definitely the right choice because it's hassle free. Sometimes I will switch off the battery to give myself a work out and I really notice the difference on my legs, especially going up hill.
So which electric cargo did I choose?
I went for the Babboe Curve Electric. Currently £2,399.00 on their website: www.babboe.co.uk
Before deciding on electric, I had narrowed my search down to the Nihola and the Christiania. Both of these brands are popular in Denmark and the Netherlands, they have excellent reviews and they look great. But the price of their electric versions ruled them out for me. It’s not just the cost of the bike you have to think about. You will also need a rain tent for winter, a good quality lock and a protective cover if you plan to keep it outside.
Babboe is a Dutch company who market their bikes on safety and affordability. If Nihola and Christiania are the Audi and Land Rover of Cargo bikes, then I’d say Babboe is the BMW; a tad more affordable but still stylish and built with quality.
What I like about the Babboe Curve E :
· The price
· The look. While it’s cheaper than the high end models, it still has the traditional Dutch bike feel
· The brakes are really good. I've had to do emergency stops a few times.
· The built-in back wheel lock is a great idea
· The battery power is effective. When I am in top power I can get up to 25 km/hour.
· The box is spacious. There’s plenty of room for school bags, a bit of shopping, plus my children and their friend!
· Comfortable. The handlebars are a comfortable distance apart and the seat is nice.
· The materials have a quality feel
· It comes with three lights (two on the front and one on the back).
· The rain tent is excellent quality.
We live in France so I bought my bike from a local family business (Locasmala). Suprisingly they were a bit cheaper than buying directly from the Babboe website. They delivered the bike fully assembled and have been very helpful. I borrowed one of their bikes while I waited for delivery (3 weeks). However, the advantage of going directly through Babboe is you can contact them directly for any help. Locasmala are like a "middle-man" but they have been great so I'm happy with the route we chose.
Things I would change:
· I’ve had two flat tyres in a month. I’m going to upgrade to some tougher ones.
· There is no digital clock on the speedometer which is a pain on the school run.
· The safety lights on the Babboe Curve E have their own AAA batteries (like normal bikes) so you need to go around switching them on and off. It would be so much easier if the lights were controlled by the main battery but I suspect that would increase the cost so I can live with it.
· The seat belts for the children are fiddly and I have difficulty getting the kids in and out of them quickly when the tent is on. I hope this can be improved.
But overall, the positives outweigh the negatives. I personally think the Babboe Curve E is the best value family cargo bike around.
I give it our Five Little Stars
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