How to get a cargo bike in Canada
There must be times when you'd like to take a big load of groceries on your bike. Or you've thought of taking your kids around by bike but a trailer doesn't look safe enough. A cargo bike, or boxbike (from "bakfiets" in Dutch), is a versatile tool for this. I've collected information on how to get a cargo bike in Canada. For more info, read the wikipedia article on cargo bikes.
- Cycles Melim - builds strong, functional cargo bikes in Montreal. They can build them with internal gears, disc or roller brakes. Email
- Manuel Cappel - builds beautiful cargo bikes and trailers in his Toronto Island workshop. Manuel uses used bikes but new components to create strong bikes that can carry heavy loads. The bikes are cheaper than newer bikes with a price of about $2000 for a built bike (powdercoating extra). Give Manuel a call at 416.203.7717 to arrange a visit to his shop to discuss requirements. It takes him about a month and a half to build.
- Paul Laursen of Invodane - builds long john and trike cargo bikes (images: long john with double kid seats, large work trike. He uses aluminum frames with all new components in the cargo bikes. The City of Toronto Bicycle Promotions uses two of the bikes and have worked well for them. He sells them starting at $2500. Email Invodane or call (416-443-8049) for more information.
- Intercycle, of Au Coin du Pédaleur, Quebec, makes a variety of utilitarian trikes, heavy "cycle trucks" and pedi-cabs. The quality looks like these cycles are made for industrial or tourist use, and not for faster on-road use - they still have an important role even if they aren't made with the lightest cromoly, etc.
- Conifer Cycle makes bike trailers and cargo trikes in Peterborough.
- Build your own. Tom's cargo bikes has plans for building your own long john. Fun, but not an option for most people.
Importers and Retail - Eastern Canada
- Curbside Cycle - Imports the Danish Nihola tricycle cargobike and Dutch Babboe cargobikes.
- Urkai - Sells Bakfiets.nl bakfietsen/boxbikes, Onderwater Family Tandem bike (carry kids and let them help pedal) and other city bikes in Canada. Free shipping most parts of Ontario and Quebec.
- Bikes on Wheels and Cycle Solutions (Parliament St) carry the Birota, a cargo bike that comes in long john or two wheels in front varieties. The bikes are inexpensive and this may be reflected in the build quality. I'm particularly concerned about the connector in the frame normally seen on low-end folding bikes. BoW claims the Birota is made by Norco but all I can find is a Dutch website showing the Birota bikes.
- Allo Velo of Montreal carries Metrofiet, Bullitt, Gazelle cargo bikes / bakfietsen, and Biria city bikes. An impressive selection.
- Workcycles currently has no Canadian distributor for its bakfietsen/boxbikes and city bikes in Canada. For now Workcycles ships individual bikes to Canadian customers. Packing/shipping: standard format bike: €295, cargobike: €800.
Importers and Retail - Western Canada
- Vancouver Long Bikes imports the Yuba Mundo, created specifically for developing countries but also useful for Canada.
- The Bicycle Family of Vancouver is importing the Long Haul, Tri-Haul from CAT in Oregon in addition to making Vancouver-specific customizations (to the gearing and box) and building/customizing trailers. They say they will be fabricating cargo bike frames in Vancouver soon.
- The Transportation Alternative of Vancouver imports the Bullitt (Danish-built, sleak, aluminum long-john) and Yuba Mundo.
- Bike Bike is a Calgary bike shop that carries Joe-Bike, Yuba, XtraCycle, Nihola as well as other urban-friendly bikes.
Builders and Retail - United States
- Center for Appropriate
Transportation - They make some cool
bikes, including a Long Haul cargo bike that's been
imported and used by the Community Bicycle Network in
Toronto. They can build them with a box (starting at $2600 USD) or with a cage. They also make a tricycle recumbent cargo bike called
Update: CAT is now offering cargo bike building classes. Check their website for more info.
- CETMA Cargo, out of Eugene, Oregon, is a one man shop making versatile and very sturdy cargo bikes / long johns. The basic setup includes a large "no-skid" platform and he also sells boxes and rain covers to keep kids dry. Price: $3150 USD + shipping (around $300 in USA). Made in USA means no tarrifs! Shipping takes about 4-8 weeks.
- Metrofiets - is now making cargo bikes out of Portland, Oregon. They currently focus on the "long john" cargo bike. It looks pretty stylish and has a nice wooden box similar to the Bakfiets (starting at $3700 USD).
- Joe Bike - Joe Bike of Portland, Oregon, sells a number of longtail-style bikes such as the Surly Big Dummy, Sun Atlas Cargo, Yuba Boda Boda, Yuba Mundo, as well as the Civia Halsted and the Soma Pickup Artist, both cycletrucks. They no longer have the Shuttlebug boxbike.
- US Importers of Workcycles - There are number of stores selling cargo bikes from Workcycles of The Netherlands. Most of them carry the two-wheeler bakfiets, though Workcycles also makes a variety of tricycle bakfietsen with two wheels in the front. Some of these stores include Clever Cycles in Portland, OR; Dutch Bike Seattle, Varsity Bike and Transit in Minneapolis, MN. The bakfiets ranges from $2750 to $3000 USD.
- Icycle Tricycles sells new and used tricycles out of Portland, Oregon.
- Madsen Cycles is a US company that makes cargo bikes with the bucket in the back.
- Lightfoot Cycles makes trikes that can be built with a variety of custom platforms - flatbeds and boxes - for carrying cargo.
- Worksman Cycles is a classic made-in-USA bike manufacturer of sturdy, basic industrial bicycles, including their Low Gravity cycletrucks.
Background to the cargo bike
A cargo bike is a bicycle that has been especially built to carry larger amounts of cargo such as groceries, bricks, even children. The cargo bike that has become the most popular is often called a "long john", first appearing in the 1920s in Denmark, Sweden, and The Netherlands. The long wheelbase bike with a box in front is now typically called a bakfiets or boxbike. It can carry a lot of weight and can be quite easy to drive once you get used the feel.
There are now a number of different types of cargo bikes. There are number of companies making longtail bikes with the cargo carrying capacity in the back, including the Yuba Mundo, Xtracycle, and so on.
North American companies are also getting into cycletrucks which are typically of the similar length of regular bikes but with a smaller front wheel and a front cargo deck attached to the frame and not the fork to allow stability in carrying large loads. These include Civia Halsted and the Soma Pickup Artist. Cycletruck designs have been around for almost a hundred years in Europe and North America.
Read up more on the Dutch CargoBike on this article in Velo Vision Magazine where the author, Jonathan Ward, explains why he chose the CargoBike. Bakfiets and Workcycle are the best known Dutch cargo bike makers.
If anybody comes across an interesting new cargo bike company, let me know. For instance, I'd be interested to find out when the UK company, Cycles Maximus comes to North America, though I've heard they're out of business. They've got some interesting, hardcore cargo trikes with electric assist. They sell a Lynch PowerDrive e-assist that supposedly can get 250kg up steep hills. If true, then it may be a winner for heavy loads, though it appears it may only work with trikes.
Look at the Cargo bike gallery for ideas of what's possible.