My first ride on a real live cargo bike was freaking AWESOME. Even better? I got to do it right here in Holland.
I think I was killing time one afternoon when I wandered into West Michigan Bike & Fitness (326 S. River Ave in Holland, right across from Herrick Library). It was my first time in that shop, and what a lot of fun stuff – cute kids’ helmets, all sorts of options for baskets and panniers… and a Trek Transport longtail bike.
Longtails are kind of a new thing, but they’re exactly what they sound like – a bike with a long hind end. The frame is stretched out more than your typical bike in order to allow for more cargo-carrying capacity. I was really surprised to see one in Holland; my research thus far hadn’t come up with anything closer than Chicago to try out.
We made it a family field trip that Saturday. I took the bike out by myself first, and was surprised to discover that it felt exactly like a regular bike – the fact that it is quite a bit longer than the bike I ride now (an Electra Amsterdam) wasn’t something I really detected. Perhaps because I’m not an aggressive rider to begin with? Then the fun bit – I put the kids on. I began with the 55 pound 5 1/2 year old, CJ. The bike had a different feel to it, but it wasn’t hard to handle. I didn’t like it much when she leaned from side to side, though; it felt like she might throw me off-balance, but at that point I think I was just getting used to it. (Note: Since that ride I’ve popped her on the back of my existing bike a few times. It has a different feel, but it’s really not that hard to adjust to.) After a few rounds around the parking lot, we took it around a few blocks. It was such an amazing feeling to be flying along on a bike with my big kid on the back – WAY more fun than the minivan, if that even needs saying. She loved it, too; there was much WHEEEing and laughing coming from behind. The bike has me leaning forward more than the Amsterdam. It seems like a weird thing to say, but I felt powerful riding it. Strong.
Then I added Kid #2, who just turned 4. So TWO kids on the back, then. It was again a little more awkward to handle, but I got the impression that it was a getting-used-to-it kind of awkward rather than a deal-breaker kind of awkward. I didn’t take both of them out around the neighborhood; I just didn’t feel confident enough for that. And here is where the downside came out – my husband was watching us go around the parking lot and observed that Abigail (the four-year-old) may have nearly fallen off the back. She was doing some sort of crazy woo-hoo thing and, well… things looked a little unstable there for a minute. That tells me that she may not be ready to just sit on a back platform and ride. On the other hand, she may just need something to hang onto, or a little practice.
The other issue is that I’m not sure how confident I would feel putting #3 on here, as well (she would be riding in an iBert front seat). By the time I had 100 pounds of kid on the back it really felt like I was at capacity. Of course, Mae doesn’t weigh much. And again, is this an issue of more practice? I know people do ride with three, so maybe that’s all it is.
At this point I’m not going to be going with the Trek, but I do think it would be worth consideration if I had just two kids, or if my kids were a little bit older. Right now I’m leaning more toward something in the Xtracycle line, if for no other reason than they offer the Hooptie, which is a hoop that goes around the kids on the back to offer them a little more security. It was, nonetheless, a BLAST to ride and I do recommend checking it out.
For more reviews, try – the Trek website, this forum, in comparison to the Yuba Mundo, and the first place where I could even find mention of kids on this thing, and that in the comments, here, brief mention of kids here.