My Cargo Bike Review
Why buy a family cargo?
If you're reading this review you're probably already warming to the idea of buying a cargo bike as the benefits are quite obvious; they're cheaper than a car, they don't use petrol, you don't have to pay tax, it's great exercise, they're easy to park and they’re good for the environment. But the hefty price tag is off-putting. Even though they are cheaper than a car, a cargo (or box bike) is still pricey for a bicycle!
For our family it just made sense. My young children were starting school and our house is just that bit too far for them to walk or scoot. We really don't need a second car because we are close to everything (shops, friends, doctors, trains and buses). I'd also heard that parking at our new school was 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 for a second.
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.
- 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.
- The 3 wheelers, like mine, can sometimes feel like they are going to tip over if you take a corner too fast. This nearly happened to me when I pulled into our corner shop too quickly. I jumped off with just enough time to keep it upright (nothing was dented except my pride!).
- Cargo bikes feel a bit unstable going across steep slopes. There is a short section of our school run where I have to cross a very steep driveway and I shout to the kids “lean to the left…now lean to the right”. It's quite fun but you have to remember to balance your weight on uneven roads like this.
- We are very lucky to have wide 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 onto the road 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 me.
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 electric (battery pedal assist) took some work because there is a really big price difference.
Non-electric cargo bikes are absolutely fine if you have a short journey, flat roads, if 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 years of age 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!
For me, going electric was definitely the right choice because it's so easy. The battery power does make a real difference. Sometimes I switch off the battery just to give myself a work out and I really feel it on my legs.
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 high 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 should also factor in having to buy 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 bikesthen 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 affordable price.
· The look. While it’s cheaper than the high end models, it still has the traditional Dutch bike style.
· 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 4 small children and school bags. I also do my weekly food shop using the bike (no kids).
· The handlebars are a comfortable distance apart which gives an easy turning circle and the seat is nice and comfy!
· 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. 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.
EDITED TO ADD: I use the Curve on flat roads or gentle hills. I think it would be difficult to use on very steep roads. The electric assistance is good but it does require effort on steep hills.
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. This is annoying. 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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