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Portlander starts Bakfiets Blog

Posted by on October 27th, 2006 at 9:21 am

[Screenshot from Richard's blog]

Northeast Portland resident Richard Wilson is on a Dutch bike kick. Like myself, he’s especially smitten with cargo bikes, or “bakfiets.”

In fact, he likes them so much, he’s started a Bakfiets blog that he hopes will become the, “…go-to resource for bakfiets and to stimulate serious interest in the bike as a solution for the US market.”

Richard’s motivation is not just from bike lust, he’s also expecting his second child next month and he’s looking forward to blogging about how well babies and bakfiets mix.

Richard recently took delivery of a new bakfiets from The Dutch Bicycle Company, a Florida-based company I mentioned back in August.

[Can't do this with a Burley]

I think 2007 will be the Year of the Utility Bike here in the U.S. I’ve noticed a surge in interest from the media, cyclists, and the bike industry in utility, cargo and commuter bikes.

Believe it or not, cargo bikes have started the march toward mainstream; Surly’s got a stock Xtracycle long-bike, and a U.S.-based importer of Dutch bikes told me that one of his bakfiets models will be featured in an upcoming issue of Cookie Magazine, a glossy mag for well-to-do American mommies.

Can Oprah be far behind? Will bikes supplant the mini-van as the vehicle of choice for soccer moms? That remains to be seen, but I think we’re on the verge of a small-scale tipping point phenomenon.

These types of bikes are long overdue in the U.S. and I’m sure it won’t be long before someone opens a dutch bike shop in Portland (hint, hint).

Three cheers for bakfiets!

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Comments
  • Paul October 27, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    I hope these take off – it would help bring the price down. The main obstacle for me is the hefty price tag. Especially with more and more stock Xtracycle options.

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  • ben October 27, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    i’m so thankful for richard.

    he’s been a quasi-touring mentor for me….
    theres a lot of stuff i had no idea about in regard to the touring world….

    and he’s been really rad answering so many questions for me….and sharing advice.

    to think i just met him by chance by buying a bunch of his ortlieb stuff off of craigslist.

    i can’t wait to see and your kids rolling around in that beast!

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  • ben October 27, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    i’m so thankful for richard.

    he’s been a quasi-touring mentor for me….
    theres a lot of stuff i had no idea about in regard to the touring world….

    and he’s been really rad answering so many questions for me….and sharing advice.

    to think i just met him by chance by buying a bunch of his ortlieb stuff off of craigslist.

    i can’t wait to see and your kids rolling around in that beast!

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  • ben October 27, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    sorry, computers at work suck.

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  • Richard Wilson October 27, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Ben, and thanks Jonathan for posting a piece on the blog while it’s still in its infancy. Please stay tuned to my blog for much, much more. I’ll have some detailed photos of the bike itself soon, lots of info on Dutch child carrying gear and tales from the road, etc.

    Shipping cost was definitely the most painful hurdle to overcome in deciding to give the Bakfiets a try. And yes, the price is a bit hefty with the strong Euro. But from what I can see, plenty of people in the area seem willing to cough up much bigger chunks of cash for Carbon and Ti road and mt. bikes with a much shorter lifespan and much less real world utility (I too am guilty as charged, here). Compared to cost of ownership of even the rattiest car, the Bakfiets is the greatest bargain going… And you’ll be healthier, your kids will have lots of fun, you’ll get to know your neighbors and city better, etc., etc… but I’m preaching to the choir here, non?

    *** The Light at the end of the tunnel ***

    Rumor has it that fellow NE resident Dean Mullins, who coincidentally ordered his Bakfiets the same time I did from The Dutch Bicycle Company, will be selling these and other cargo & transport bike solutions locally sometime very soon. All I really know about this is that you should keep your eye on http://www.clevercycles.com in coming days for the launch of what promises to be a really great development for utility cycling in Portland. (and just for the record, I don’t have any business affiliation with these guys, it just turns out we had both been seeing our Dutch neighbor riding her Bakfiets around Broadway for months and were finally spurred to action by Jonathan’s recent “Bakfiets on Broadway” post).

    I invite anyone seriously considering a Bakfiets Cargobike to contact me for more info and to come by for a look and a test ride some evening or weekend. Better yet, bring your kids and take them on the test ride with you! Spreading the word on these great bikes is my little piece of bicycle advocacy that I hope will help make Portland an even greater biking city and I am looking forward to seeing many more Bakfiets on the road in our community soon.

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  • Cate October 28, 2006 at 9:55 am

    “Can’t do this with a Burley” How will he keep child, stuffed animals, etc. dry when it’s rainy?

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  • Richard Wilson October 28, 2006 at 11:02 am

    Cate – there’s a raincover with big windows that goes on and off in a few seconds:

    http://bakfietscargo.blogspot.com/2006/10/how-to-dress-bakfiets.html

    It’s also much easier to communicate with children when they’re up front with you – you can easily reach down and pat them on the head/helmet and point things like pumpkins or animals out as you ride. A plus for safety is that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to look back on check on them – I never liked that part of using a trailer with small children. And they can see more as they have full forward field of view since they’re sitting up higher and not down low in a trailer.

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  • Cecil October 28, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    I met Dean M last night as he and his crew were heading off from Ladd’s Circle on the People’s Ride – it was so exciting to see a bakfiets in action and to hear about his venture! Saving up my pennies now . . ..

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  • dsaxena October 28, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Yeah, Bakfiets! I was in New Zealand in January and all (as far as a I saw) the mail delivery is done using these, even in the really hilly parts of the cities.

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  • Cate October 28, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Richard, thank you. The bare naked version looked potentially wet.

    I totally agree with the points about having kids, cargo, etc. in front. With or without les enfants, it looks like a great idea.

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  • Macaroni October 28, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Ben, you must work for the government.

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  • Macaroni October 28, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t have kids but I always thought that if I did, I wouldn’t haul them behind me, so this looks a lot better for safety and communication.
    But how much do these suckers weigh?

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  • Richard Wilson October 29, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Macaroni – let’s just say that I’m not terribly worried about getting doored… Jeez, no idea – maybe 75-80 lbs? If I can figure out how to weigh it some weekend after a few beers I will take pictures and post the results ;-)

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  • Cate October 29, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Richard, loading docks often have big scales you could probably use – many companies and hospitals have them.

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  • Dabby October 29, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Heavy, heavy, heavy, which translates directly into momentum, if you can push the weight fast enough.
    But sadly, the average person would not be able to do this, due to the strength required to build up the speed.
    Maybe a cargo half the weight would be effective here, unless the city is planning on flattening out some of the bumps…

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  • JimK October 31, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    I have an Azor Heavy Duty Transport bike, basically just a conventional bike but built super-strong. I weighed it – 60 pounds. These Bakfiets must be up around 100 pounds, I would guess. I wonder about the gearing. I wish my Azor were geared a little lower – but my legs are getting stronger!

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  • Scott Mizee February 14, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I’ve been riding my borrowed Bakfiets around Portland for a week now and man do I love this bike. It has given me sooo much freedom! I highly recommend it. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions.
    scott dawt mizee (at) npgreenway.org

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