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FAQ about the cargo bike - bikemanhattan.info

FAQ about the cargo bike

vintage

What is that and where can I buy one?

It is a Bullitt cargo bike designed by Larry vs. Harry.  The largest distributor in the US is Splendid Cycles in Oregon.  Big Poppi (here in Manhattan) was able to special order it for us.

How much did it cost?

Splendid Cycles keeps an updated price list here.  The cheapest model is $3,000.

$3,000!?

and maybe $500 more for lights and accessories (rack, bags, box, rain and snow gear, lights, etc.)

!?!?!

I bought it in 2011 because riding my bike with my kids transformed the hassles of driving into the joy of having fun with my kids, hearing the sounds of nature, bumping into friends and lots of spontaneous fun.  I didn’t expect it to save me any money, but after 2 years riding the bike in all weather conditions I realized that we no longer needed a second car.   The AAA estimates that the average cost of owning and operating an average car is $9,122/year.  We have spent less than half of that on the Bullitt.  Total operating costs have averaged about $20/year (tubes and brake pads).

But can you really ride it in any weather?

We have a vinyl shell that goes over the front to keep the kids warm.  If it is really cold we can throw in a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer.   The bike handles just fine in the snow.  Having the front wheel out front of the box provides remarkable stability.  The bike ‘wants’ to stay upright.  It is very hard to tip even at slow speeds.

snow

 

Can you really haul everything you would in a car?

Sometimes more.  This is me riding with both kids, a full load of groceries, and a canoe from Dick’s.

TowingCanoe

 

Is it hard to ride?

The steering feels funny when you first get on, but after awhile you appreciate the remarkable stability.  The low box keeps the center of gravity low and having the load up front makes it easy to manage.  Many “longjohn” riders claim that they have a 9 block learning curve.  You feel hesitant for 9 blocks.  After that you love it.  Honestly, the bike is so smooth it is an absolute joy to ride.

Can you really go anywhere on bike in Manhattan?

Yes, and it is getting better every year (and you can help by offering your input here).  I figure I am always within a 20 minute bike ride of anything in Manhattan.  At a leasurely pace of 12 mph you can go 4 miles in 20 minutes.  That will get you all the way across town.

BikeEverywhere2011

Are the kids comfortable riding in it?

Sleeping
Where can I do a test ride?

I don’t know of any dealers nearby that keep them in stock, but if you want to try one out, let me know and you are welcome to ride mine.

Are there cheaper box bikes similar to the Bullitt?

Double Dutch Bikes has similar bikes for $1399.  Reviews are mixed.  The Bullitt has a real premium feel, but you pay for it.  The Double Dutch looks good for the price.  A good inexpensive alternative used to be JoeBike’s Boxbike, but they stopped making them last year.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Wesch

Chair of the City of Manhattan Bicycle Advisory Committee, avid bicycle commuter, and a cultural anthropologist.

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5 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    I just got a Bullit last month! I’m still trying to figure out box/rain cover options. Would you mind sharing more information on the setup you have?

  2. Michael Wesch says:

    I built the box by bolting it right onto the frame (so it is not really a box that can stand on its own – it is just 4 pieces of plywood bolted to the frame to create the back, bottom, and front. I used metal corner pieces to connect the side panels.

    The kids seats are car seats, which we liked because it was the easiest way to get a 5-point harness and comfortable seating in there. You could probably find some used ones for almost nothing. We wanted ours to match the bike so we bought some cheap new Evenflo seats for $45 each. I had to cut them up quite a bit to get them to fit snugly, but they turned out great.

    For rain, I use this canopy originally designed for the radio flyer wagon: http://www.amazon.com/Radio-Flyer-WC30-Wagon-Canopy/dp/B000FEP8JY I removed the clips, leaving the ends looking like basic tent poles. Then I drilled holes in my box where those “tent poles” stick down into. It is solid and easily removable.

    For cold, snow, and heavy rain I add a vinyl cover over the canopy (as seen in the image above. All I did to create this was take a sheet of clear vinyl and drape it over the top. I folded it like I was wrapping a present until it was snug on all sides, then I used vinyl glue to glue the fold I created to make it fit snug. I then added some velcro on the vinyl and on the box to fasten it down.

    All materials for the above come do about $165 (including child seats). If money is no object, Splendid has some box-canopy options running $750-$1300 (pretty pricey in my opinion, but they are nice) http://www.splendidcycles.com/products/bullitt-accessories/

    Let me know if any of this isn’t quite clear. I can post more pics if you need them.

  3. Jon says:

    Great blog post, and the box you built is excellent. Nice way to widen the platform, and still keep it looking sleek. Are the dise panels the LvH side panels? Can you share how you attached them to the plywood (you mentioned “metal corner pieces”)

    Thanks

    JP

    • wesch says:

      Yes, those are the Larry vs. Harry side panels. My side panels came with metal corner pieces that were designed to attach the side panels to the frame, but they worked just as well to connect to plywood. You can see one of them in the last picture bridging the top of the panel to the plywood. The plywood itself is just bolted to the frame piece by piece (it is not a box that could be removed and stand on its own. Instead, it is 4 pieces of plywood bolted to the frame to create the “box”) You would not need the side panels if you wanted to do it more cheaply. You could just put plywood on the sides as well and just use 90 degree metal brackets to connect them to the box.

  4. Jon says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! And for the details. We’re renting a bullit this weekend and hope to purchase one in the future. This “box” design is great! Thanks again.

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