Custom my dream impossible?
May 18, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Is it sensible to have this bicycle custom made?

I would like to create a bicycle that can carry my two children (8 years and 6 months), groceries and me. I dream of something like a hybrid between the Christiania bike and a pedicab. Am I asking for too much? Will I need legs like Lou Ferrigno to pedal this creation? Am I making this too complicated? All of that said, I know my youngest child will need to be a year old before he can wear a helmet. However by having the pedicab, can I buckle his car seat into it?

If I’m not out of my mind and this is possible, where would I start looking to have this created? I’m in the Twin Cites.
posted by MeeMaMN to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Dunno, if it's "too complicated," but it's certainly ambitious. You can rest assured that you will have a unique creation, at any rate, which I think is always something to be supported.

However, you can carry a couple of kids and four bags of groceries by getting a trailer and front and rear bike racks (panniers). You can get racks that fit grocery bags perfectly, and most would suggest the kid-trailer for safety reasons.
posted by rhizome at 10:18 AM on May 18, 2009

As with all things bike the Dutch have you covered. Lots of inspiration on the Dutch Cargo bike Flikr Pool. Can't imagine these being any harder to pedal than a bike with trailer and we take ours all over the place.
posted by Mitheral at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2009

Xtracycle kit, perhaps?
posted by sourwookie at 10:27 AM on May 18, 2009

You're talking about a trike with two wheels in front and a cargo area between them that can hold kids as well as groceries, right?

I don't think you need anything custom built—Christiana indicates this model is aimed at transporting children, and is available with a raincover, removable child seat, etc. I'm not sure what more you'd need.

Having something like this custom-built would be very expensive (probably more than having a Christiana imported specially), and I wouldn't be surprised if some/many/all custom framebuilders shied away from building anything to transport small children because of liability concerns.
posted by adamrice at 10:28 AM on May 18, 2009

If you do decide to go the Dutch bike route, the closest place that sells them is probably Dutch Bike Company in Chicago.

If you want a local custom builder who has done some some creative problem-solving, you could try Curt Goodrich.

I like the Dutch Bike solution myself. A bakfiet is pretty much going to be perfect. And you can strap a variety of kid seats to it as needed.

Danish people (none of whom look like Lou Ferrigno) pedal these things all the time. They even have 'races' on them. So you'll be fine.
posted by iwhitney at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of these would probably cover you. And if not one of these exact models, there are lots of weird pedicab-type things out there -- you won't need custom-made.

Have no clue what the legalities of small children, car seats, and these might be in your municipality, though.
posted by Zed at 10:33 AM on May 18, 2009

I met some people in Portland who are working on a four seater "bike car" where everyone pedals and energy can be stored in a big spring for fast take-offs from a dead start. That sounds like more than what you need, I'm just pointing out that people do fabricate these kinds of vehicles. You're not out of your mind.

Here in Eugene I've seen a number of what I call "cargo bikes" that have truck-like beds on them up to five feet long. They're sort of like really long Christiana bikes. Maybe someone could make you something like that with seats as well as cargo space?

Can you get a cargo box affixed to an existing pedicab design?

You need to find whoever builds pedicabs or other custom bikes in your region and start talking to them. What you're asking for does not seem overly difficult, based on what I've seen rolling around since moving out here.

I know this doesn't provide you with specific places to look, but you also seemed to be asking whether this kind of bike is even feasible.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2009

Lots of great looking Danish cargo bikes too. You see tons of folks of all sizes and ages peddling around lots of cargo (kids, groceries, tires, suitcases, boxes, etc).

This cargo bike is pretty sweet too. Comes in black if mint/blue isn't your thing :-)

Not sure which is safer/easier - to have your kids in front or out back. I think the trikes with two wheels and the box look super sturdy because they really don't tip very easily (even when you're getting on/off).
posted by barnone at 10:45 AM on May 18, 2009

My friend Patrick got his Christiana customized by Clevercycles. It does indeed fit two small children, and if you manage to get something that fits groceries for a four person family as well I beg you to update this thread with it when it gets finished.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2009

Worksman makes industrial bicycles here in the US. They have some front-loader tricycles that would work for what you want.
posted by orme at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2009

How about one of these?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:13 AM on May 18, 2009

You're going to have legs like housejacks (which is great, imo).
posted by reflecked at 11:14 AM on May 18, 2009

I've got a 5-year-old and a second baby due in August. We're a one-car-family, so I do a lot of bicycle transportation with the 5-year-old.

My plan when the baby comes in August is to get a Chariot Sidecarrier for the baby (which will accept a specialized baby carrier), while continuing to use the Trail Gator to tow my 5-year-old when he doesn't want to propel himself.
posted by u2604ab at 11:22 AM on May 18, 2009

You definitely want a front-box 3-wheeled cycle (Christiania-style) rather than one with a box in the center. The christiania-style are more stable and nice and you'll feel more okay about leaving your kids in it. You don't really need that much extra space for groceries, but it's possible you could mount a child seat behind the main seat on one of these bikes.
posted by beerbajay at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2009

I have three kids, and think about this a lot. Some options:

Besides the above Xtracycle, Surly makes the Big Dummy which is essentially a one-piece Xtracycle.

Some parents like the Bakfiets cargo bike. I believe this has a seat, and it can come with a cover as well.

I just heard about the Madsen Bikes cargo bike. This has a bench seat in the back.

Since one's 8 years old, you may prefer a tandem that can take a family; Bike Friday makes folding (easier to store or transport) tandems and triples that can fit kids smaller than yours in the rear and middle (if a triple). You could put a smaller seat either fore or aft on the tandem, or think ahead and buy the triple (which converts to a tandem!). A lot of families seem to love theirs, and I'd love to have one. Or, of course, there's always a smaller trailer for the little one.

I don't know what kind of hills you have. If it's relatively flat you shouldn't have a problem. If not, I know of an electric assist for only one of the above: the StokeMonkey for the XtraCycle, although there are undoubtedly ways to add assist to some of those others.

For storage reasons I'd personally prefer not having the big honking cargo bikes, but they can certainly be useful. At the moment the kids are 6, 3, and 1 and we use a trail-a-bike and a double trailer with two pullers. If I ever took all of 'em out myself I'd have to make a long train, I guess, until I get one of my dream bikes above. :)
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2009

The Dutch cargo bikes mentioned are all fine, but over here behind the dikes, they are also the symbol of being totally middle class. It also means designer jeans, kids called Fleur and Olivier, a Volvo stationcar for the shopping and wicked wild sex with a secret lover. Ride one and you will be called a "bakfietsmoedertje" (little cargo bike mum).
It can also be done in style. Take a look at this mother of a machine. A real bike, handles much easier and allows you to pedal twice as fast.
posted by ouke at 5:42 PM on May 18, 2009

Ha, found this picture on the bakfiets en meer blog about bikes in Holland. It illustrates the sentiment against cargo bikes in general. The sticker on the cargobike roughly translates to: FUCK OFF with this #$@!? BIKE. It's really an anti-social bike. It's too big, really. And you probably can't even ride it normally (yes bad translation of a badly written dutch text)
posted by ouke at 5:54 PM on May 18, 2009

There was a dad at my daughter's former school that had his bike, then a trail-a-bike then a Burly trailer! has lots of cool pics of different kid carrying options (you may have to be a member to see the pics.)
posted by vespabelle at 10:14 PM on May 19, 2009

« Older How do I figure out what is taking up all the...   |   Don't look into the light! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.