A promising new cargo bike, made in Eugene

The CETMA cargo bike during a preview/test-ride session at Clever Cycles earlier this month.
(Photo: cleverchimp on Flickr)

When Clever Cycles co-owner Todd Fahrner speaks, I listen. That’s because long before he helped make his shop a raging success, I knew him as an innovator and a deep thinker when it came to the geeky side of bike love (and no, I’m not saying this because his shop advertises with us). Bottom line is, Fahrner knows bikes. Especially cargo bikes, and he’s not an easy critic to win over.

CETMA Cargo bike, made in Eugene-6

The cargo deck.
More photos here
(Photos © J. Maus)

So when I heard he was excited about the latest creation from CETMA Racks’ Lane Kagay, I took note.

Kagay is known for his well-reputed front-loader racks, made in his shop in Eugene. They’re well-made and as a result they’re sold in bike shops across the country. Over the past year, Kagay has been busy fine-tuning a another front-loader — a cargo bike.

Kagay delivered a sample of the production-ready version to Clever Cycles last month and Fahrner stopped by our office last Thursday for a test-ride.

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As I pedaled the bike around the block I asked Fahrner (he was sitting in the cargo deck) why he’s such a believer. For starters, Fahrner said, Kagay took in a lot of advice and feedback throughout the design process. Kagay used the CETMA website as a sort of cargo bike development blog, where he detailed every step of the design/build process, open-source style.

CETMA Cargo bike, made in Eugene-5

Fahrner also pointed out that the bike has a promising strength-to-weight ratio. The main reason for this is in the design of the cargo deck. “The usual design for the cargo box,” he said, “is to have one, overbuilt rod with a heavy box, which has no structural value”. The CETMA design has more of a perimeter frame construction, which Fahrner says is a more efficient use of material.

Another noteworthy feature of the bike is its separability (is that a word? Kagay uses the term “bi-partable”). Just a few inches behind the head tube, the bike can be unbolted. This means different modules can be attached to the front (say, if you want a shorter cargo deck), and the bike is easier to ship.

Kagay says the bike can be broken down into a standard UPS shipping box and can get to any doorstep in the U.S. for about $200 (or ship it via Amtrak and pick up at a station for $50).

CETMA Cargo bike, made in Eugene-8

Lower weight than the traditional bakfiets, combined with an ability to use a different front end, is especially appealing to Fahrner because it means he would be able to install his Stokemonkey electric assist unit to it. Fahrner developed the Stokemonkey before he had visions of opening his own bike shop. Then, when the store opened, he shifted focus to the business and shelved the project (it is now available once again from Cleverchimp, the in-house brand of Clever Cycles).

Fahrner has been reluctant to “Stoke” (to install a Stokemonkey) a Dutch bakfiets because the weight of the bike, combined with the long front end, makes stopping (with the added juice of electric assist) difficult. The CETMA cargo bike provides a much better platform for the Stokemonkey (not to mention it has disc brakes versus hub-brakes on the bakfiets). Fahrner also likes the downtube design, which is sort of like a mixte, because it provides a perfectly sized space to house the Stokemonkey hardware.

According to Kagay, the new CETMA cargo bike is in full production and available now. Would-be buyers can choose between either a frameset, which they can build up with custom parts, or as a complete bike with a build of “good-quality components”.

Frame sets are $1,850 and complete bikes go for $2,900 (plus shipping on both).

Fahrner says he’s hopeful that the pricing structure will permit Clever Cycles to stock them and become a dealer, but that remains to be seen. U.S.-made bikes from small manufacturers like CETMA often have a hard time building in enough pricing margin to make anything but manufacturer-direct sales a reality.

Regardless, the CETMA is a welcome sign that the cargo bike revolution is alive and well. Kagay has created a smooth-riding (even at low speeds), versatile hauler that is sure to make going carfree or car-lite an even more viable option.

For more information on the CETMA cargo bike, check out CETMACargo.com.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Zaphod
15 years ago

I’m hoping to be able to justify an upgrade from an Xtra to something like this or the Metrofiets for my coffee business. I’m glad there are more and more local options for this modern approach to an old technology.

Jordan
Jordan
15 years ago

This bike is rad! I came across a CETMA partner who makes deliveries with a neon-green version this weekend in Eugene. He had about 500 pounds on it. My friend actually used this bike in the weekend’s alley cat. Haven’t heard how it turned out yet.

Brad Ross
15 years ago

I bet you could haul two kegs on that thing. I need one.

Travis Wittwer
15 years ago

Will (has) the CETMA caused any controversy like Metrofiets caused when they were in the post “Update on Metrofiets, the Portland made Bakfiets”? I ask because the arguments used against Metrofiets could be used against this bike creation as well. (Not that I would want that for either case.)

redhippie
redhippie
15 years ago

From the pictures, it looks as if the front disk brakes are mechanical BB7s. How well do these work compared to hydraulic, given the long cable routing to the front wheel?

Also, it is great to seem ore manufacters of these bikes emerging and pushing the design envelop.

Good luck

Paul Tay
15 years ago

Very kewl. But, WHAT is the problem with my $99 Wally World trailer?

Jon
Jon
15 years ago

does anyone else think that looks like a lot of rake? its hard to tell from the picture but it looks like it would have a negative trail. was the steering very twitchy? looks nice though, i would like to ride one

todd
todd
15 years ago

@Jon #7, the rake is deceptive. note that the axle is far rearward of the fork blade midline, so it’s not extreme as it looks. this let designer/fabricator mike gould use a single piece of metal for both the dropout and the disc brake mount. on the other side, a similar approach receives the steering tie rod.

steering geometry/feel with bikes in this format is a subject near my heart. trail isn’t the only important factor. but i’m firmly of the opinion that very low trail, in the 20-30mm range, is more appropriate than higher values, and this bike has that.

any time you have a heavily weighted front wheel, whether from a large front cargo area or from the rider’s weight in a longtail format, the flop resulting from higher trail hurts low-speed handling, while the extra mass forward cancels out whatever “twitchiness” at speed you might expect from the low trail figure.

RussRoca
15 years ago

I’m pretty intrigued by this bike, even though I have an awesome Bilenky. I hope to come up this spring/summer to give it a test ride at Clever Cycles! Now if only you could hang a hand-painted sign on it somewhere 🙂

todd
todd
15 years ago

@Travis #4, the metrofiets peeps took some heat for lack of originality in an early prototype of theirs, which showed, shall we say, flattery of the most sincere kind toward the bakfiets.nl Cargobike. recent metrofiets development has shown a much more distinct personality both visually and structurally, which i think puts most of the controversy to rest.

i think the cetmacargo introduces at least as many great new ideas as ideas it shares with existing long-john designs.

todd
todd
15 years ago

@redhippie #5: compressionless housing makes long cable runs not so bad. hydraulic would be better yet, and there’s nothing to prevent you from building up a frameset with hydraulic brakes if you’re ready to bear the extra expense.

i think the braking issues with bikes in this format have more to do with the odd weight distribution across wheels in loaded/unloaded states than with the braking technology used. it’s always going to be easy to lock up the front wheel of a bike resembling this when you have little or no load up front.

todd
todd
15 years ago

@Paul #6, your trailer is awesome. how many hundreds of pounds is it rated for again?

gabriel amadeus
15 years ago

This bike is amazing, can’t wait to test ride it! Can’t believe it took this long for someone to come up with ~50lb long john too.

Mine weighs twice that, but looks cooler IMHO…

Mine weighs twice that, but looks cooler IMHO…

Travis Wittwer
15 years ago

, thanks for the perspective. I hope all will see it that way.

mark e
mark e
15 years ago

cool, I look forward to trying one out myself. When do you anticipate getting some into the shop, Todd?

todd
todd
15 years ago

Come on down, Mark! We have #001. We’re fiddling with it, working on a box/canopy design, but it’s basically for sale at the same time.

Paul Tay
15 years ago

#12, Todd, how many hundreds of pounds ya gotz?

todd
todd
15 years ago

paul, i don’t know if this bike has a formal load rating yet, but i think i would attempt 400 with it, based on how gracefully it handles 250. but i’m not going to go further comparing with a walmart trailer. slingshots, shotguns, and howitzers each have their place.

Paul Tay
15 years ago

Todd, I am game for an adjustable trailer that can roll everything from a beer cooler to a full-size fridge. Hitch it to a tandem or an assisted for the extra “uuump.”

todd
todd
15 years ago
Rob P
15 years ago

Has anyone tried one of these Cargo’s with a NuVinci gearless hub yet.