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Bike curious - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Bike curious
I will do a proper update soon, honest (& might even get round to reading other people's journals & commenting on them!) but right now I have a question which is a bit more time-critical and I'd be really grateful for answers from people who know about bikes...

So, now that Imogen is nearly 6 months old (!) it will hopefully not be too long before I can put her in some kind of bike seat & actually start cycling regularly again, hurrah hurrah. A colleague has offered me a standard sit-up-on-the-back child bike seat for free (so I will probably say yes to that anyway) but I still feel that what I'd really like is a Bakfiets-style cargo bike. The problem is that a) they are frightfully expensive, and b) nowhere in Oxford stocks them, so all the bike shops I've talked to have basically said "you don't want to buy one of those" & have instead tried to try to talk me into buying a bike seat that will fit on my normal bike (ie the sort of seat they actually sell).

HOWEVER, a cycling-mad colleague sent me a link to this cargo bike on eBay, in Oxford, for what looks like a very reasonable price (compared to the new cargo bikes I have seen online), and I am tempted. I am going to go and have a look at it tomorrow (Tuesday) and what I really want to know is: what should I be looking for to determine whether it's actually a sensible thing to buy? The description mentions "patches of rust on the frame" (they look quite trivial from the photos) -- what's the best way to check if these are a serious problem, & what work would need to be done to fix them or stop them deteriorating any further? (NB I'm not really concerned about cosmetic stuff, I just need to be able to reassure myself that it's safe.) Is it likely to be a problem getting parts for it if it's an odd make of bike?

To be honest the key question may turn out to be "is the bike actually short enough for a tiny person like me to ride it?", but I can figure that out when I see it.

Any other advice re babies-on-bikes is also welcome (unless it's "argh don't do it", but I know you're all more sensible than that. :-) Thank you in advance, kind people!

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juggzy From: juggzy Date: September 19th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know that Rachel loves her put-the-kid-in-front bike, and Charles seems perfectly happy in it - I expect she'll be along in a minute to extoll its virtues!
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sebastienne From: sebastienne Date: September 19th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

not very helpful, sorry

Someone quite often parks one of those outside the SBS. I always think that it looks awesome!
jinty From: jinty Date: September 19th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Electric Bike shop on Magdalen St has previously offered to send stuff along from its Cambridge shop if one wanted a trial of stuff they don't have in stock normally, and they do stock cargo bikes, so I'm sure that getting parts for it will not be massively difficult. Good luck!
j4 From: j4 Date: September 20th, 2011 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I did talk to the Electric Bike Shop man but he was a bit cagey about what would happen if he got a bike over from Cambridge & I then decided not to buy it -- it wasn't quite "you'd be obliged to buy it" but I got the impression he'd be pretty pissed off if I didn't. Also, he definitely seemed to be trying to talk me out of being interested in a cargo bike, & I really don't know how much of that was a belief that it wasn't the best bike for me (or at all) & how much was the knowledge that it's an enormous thing that he'd have to keep somewhere in a tiny shop. :-} Fair point about the parts, though, he might be more willing to get them as they'd be smaller!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: September 19th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would be very very concerned about lack of neck and back support; she's very young for all the jouncing about and absolutely too young for a back of the bike seat. A 3 point system may no longer be street legal for such a small baby and I would check around widely as to whether just-sitting-up is sufficiently strong for a bike seat. She needs a helmet: do they make them that small? presumably it has a raincover?

Bring a tack hammer and tap all the welds and joints. Look for signs of bending and dodgy repair. Check the wheels and axles as you would for any bike. It looks bloody heavy, as well - but you are very strong!
fanf From: fanf Date: September 19th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some friends of ours put a child's car seat in their bakfiets.
htfb From: htfb Date: September 19th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
New, that's for sale (at, eg, kidstraffic.nl) for 779 euros. Linking to a bakfiets.nl model at 1800 is a bit disingenuous.

As far as I can tell this is the same as the Halford's model that comes last in the test at http://www.babboe.nl/bakfiets/pers/test-kassa. There's what may be more of the same review at http://www.dekinderfietsspecialist.nl/bakfiets/boxbike.htm

The suggestion that the handling is pretty rubbish might strongly limit what you could do with the machine.

It looks as though the front of the bike is garden-furniture-quality, d-i-y-able equipment, and the back is generic cycling parts. You certainly wouldn't have difficulty replacing bits: the front tyres might be a nonstandard size but even so the bike shops can order them in without trouble.

The parts I'd be most concerned about are the brakes. I can see what looks like a rim-brake on the rear wheel but can't make out what's on the front. If they are flimsy pressed metal brake arms I'd be pretty unhappy, given the weight of the loaded bike. The rear brake is more important for this geometry than for a regular bicycle. For an ordinary BSO, replacing or upgrading parts is a bit like throwing good money after bad, but of course this is a machine for a specific job. So maybe you could upgrade the brakes if necessary. If the wheels are steel (shiny and prone to rust-spots), rather than aluminium, and if the brakes are shoes on the rim rather than hub brakes, I'd be very unhappy indeed---braking against steel loses all traction in the wet.

For rust, I'd be most concerned to look at the tube along the bottom from the pivot behind the box to the bottom-bracket where the pedal-cranks attach. That's close to the road so exposed to spray, and a critical single point of failure. Anything else breaking would be safety-tolerable. It ought to be fairly obvious whether the tube is actually producing flaking rust or whether it's just marked where the paint has got chipped.

htfb From: htfb Date: September 20th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops. In an earlier draft of this, I explained that "BSO" was cycling-forum slang for Bicycle-Shaped-Object, meaning a cheap bicycle which is just insufficiently well built to be a useful vehicle. They get bought, ridden a couple of times, and die rusting in sheds. Cycle King used to sell a lot of them when I was in Oxford.
rmc28 From: rmc28 Date: September 20th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Some useful recent discussion here if you didn't see it: http://plan-survive.livejournal.com/305601.html
j4 From: j4 Date: September 20th, 2011 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, I hadn't seen it!

BTW congrats on your speech at #ldconf, sounds like it went stormingly! :)
ghoti From: ghoti Date: September 20th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm about to acquire (as in, it's on order and should be here this week), this trike.
The Ebay trike is not the same as this one, so my test-riding experiences and knowledge may not be relevant.

I test rode the 8 speed version extensively, and found that 7 gears was enough for me. I don't think 3 gears would have been, even in Cambridge.

There are options to either fit fixings for a car seat (Maxi-Cosi) or a baby seat that fixes to the floor of the box for a Bakfiets. That may not apply, and in any case, whether you can get either the fittings or someone to fix them in Oxford is another matter.

The handling on a Bakfiets takes a little getting used to, but is fine after half an hour or so. I would be less certain about another trike, especially if you're not used to riding a trike. I tried one like this and it wasn't much better than an ordinary trike for handling, which means you should expect to overturn it a lot when you first start riding.

j4 From: j4 Date: September 20th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting, thank you! The one you're ordering looks like exactly the sort of thing I really want. :-) I'm not used to riding a trike, but obviously I'd practice a lot without a baby (& with less precious loads eg bags of spuds) first. The Kangaroo bike looks very precarious!

Oxford is sadly short on places that deal with cargo bikes. Did you get yours from the bike shop in Hope St Yard? I am wondering if I might be better off just coming to Cambridge to buy a bike. :-}
shermarama From: shermarama Date: September 20th, 2011 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Would a trailer be an option? Over here there are specific kinderkars and you do see a fair number of them, though not as many as bakfietseses (plural, whatever.) I've also seen a kinderkar being used separately as a pram, which depending on where you're going could be useful. Then again there's the whole safety problem with trailers in the UK because cars don't expect bikes to have them. But I can't say, having seen lots of people stomping on the pedals to lumber up to speed on a bakfiets, that I've ever thought they looked worth all the work to me.
venta From: venta Date: September 20th, 2011 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)
A colleague of mine regularly uses a trailer to tow his two children (now approx 18months and 4 years) to nursery. I think he's been doing it since child 2 was around a year old.

j4, if you're at all interested in the trailer as an option, I can enquire for details (when said colleague stops having a disgusting cold and brings himself back to the office).
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lnr From: lnr Date: September 20th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm afraid I have no advice Janet, but wish you lots of luck finding something suitable.
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