Friday, June 01, 2012

Should I buy a cargo bike?

Many years ago, when I visited Seattle, a friend picked me up from the airport in what Americans would probably call a "sub-compact". As we drove into the city, she told me that most people in Seattle had big cars (I don't know if the term SUV even existed in those days) "in case they accidentally go to the mountains one weekend".

John Berenyi once told me that when buying a car, people make a choice, then do a lot of research, and then buy the car that they wanted anyway.

This is all by way of introducing my current dilemma. I have a Velorbis bike that I love. (I've written about it previously.) But I rode a Bullitt cargo bike a few months ago, for about 5 minutes, and kind of fell in love with it. Ever since, I've been looking for an excuse not only to buy a cargo bike, but to buy the Bullitt.

In Australia, it costs an arm and a leg ($3,400 for the base model, and probably at least $4,000 by the time I spec it up).

I've started an in-house campaign (literally, a campaign in my house) to purchase one.
Photo: Amsterdamize

There are alternatives. Cargo bikes are starting to proliferate in Melbourne, and there are a few players. For example, there's, who do nice stuff, and there's the Gazelle Cabby. I rode a Cabby a few years ago (when I bought my Gazelle, (which I also wrote about), from Commuter Cycles, and I remember liking it.

The real dilemma, however, is that if I buy a cargo bike I'll have to get rid of the Velorbis, because I can't really justify having both. I sold the Gazelle to Alex, Marcus' long-time sports coach (who is very happy with it, by the way) shortly after I bought the Velorbis.

When I mention to people (who, generally speaking, don't see bikes as "normal" transport) that I'm thinking of buying a cargo bike, they always ask me why I want one, and I always ask them why they, or my neighbours, wanted a (generally exceedingly ugly) SUV. The answer, of course, is that I don't need a logical reason.

The Velorbis is capable of carrying quite a large load. For example, it's carried Marcus in the past. It can carry a case of Heineken. (I don't look as good as the person in the photo here, but the case of Heineken looks the same.)

Most recently, I've carried Marcus' saxophone and (temporary) crutches on it to and from school, as shown in the photo. Surely I've made my case by now that I need to make that purchase?


  1. Funny that I'm having the same thought you are at the same time but on the other side of the planet. Here in Canada it's equally difficult and expensive to get a Bullitt. I can't think of a logical reason why I should since I have a porteur bike I built up last year but I just feel like I really need it so much and I scouring the internet for justification. For what it's worth: $4000 is a lot less than a sub-compact.

  2. expensive may be the wrong way to look at a Bullitt - in fact these bikes can load up to 180kg including the rider and safely bring you from A to B in a very short time. no need for fuel, parking tickets etc. if you would compare running cost with a small car, you will reach payback time in about 18 months, after that it's pure profit. last but not least, the quality of the Bullitt warrants a high resale value should one become inclined to sell it........

  3. dalos6:30 am

    Hello Gerry,

    The end of my dilemma after having tested the Bullit, a classic Bakfiets and a few different Christiania bikes in the past years was this:

    It's versatile, it's durable and you can "spec it up" onto a level of space shuttle for 2 thousand bucks.


  4. Anonymous12:32 pm

    Did you buy a Bullitt?

  5. Anonymous7:50 pm

    My boyfriend just took home his new Bullitt today. I am sure it's going to be challenging...we live in a high first floor apartment (in Chicago) now, but with 2 heavy lobby doors. We're moving to a 3rd floor place with some roomy back deck stairs, but he might have to get a storage unit. This bike doesn't easily lend itself to apartment living! But as you've all mentioned, he just really fell in love with it and wanted one. Also he does film shoots, so he can load up all his film equipment (especially since we don't own a car).

  6. Hi Lemonmem - would love to know how you & your boyfriend go with the Bullitt.

    My own purchase plans have stalled for the moment, but my wife just bought a new car, so I have some ammunition!