Have you ever fallen for a bike at first sight? Ever seen a bike you instantly loved and wished was yours? Maybe you just got a glimpse as you passed and you’ve kicked yourself ever since for not stopping to make its acquaintance. Did you turn around and go back looking, only to be left with a fleeting memory that haunts your dreams?
I have such a bike stuck in my mind. I was searching for used kid-carrying box bikes, with an impossibly small budget. I recall an old Madsen with a four-seater bucket for $700 that I really wanted, but couldn’t quite afford or seem to justify. (I still wish I had tried that one out: I’m curious how the bike rides differently with the box in back, instead of in front.) I passed on a lot of cargo bikes that could only carry two kids. I skipped over electric bikes that were way out of my price range. Then as I was scrolling through Offer Up, I found this incredible European beauty. At over $1,000 I didn’t think I could swing it, and I have regretted it ever since!
Look at that front box. Two benches. Room for four kids. Benches look easy to remove. Back rack is already installed. The seat and style are gorgeous. It looks like an effortlessly smooth ride. What a beauty! And the description says it folds.
I know. Maybe if we’d met, my dreams would have been dashed. Maybe this bike and I wouldn’t have been a good fit. Maybe it looks better in the photo than in real life. Maybe the image is nice, but the ride isn’t as great as it looks. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
Or, maybe I missed out on the best bike of my life because I didn’t pony up the money when I had the chance!
I’m on the hunt for a new bike. I’ve never ridden another cargo bike besides my first one (a Tom LaBonty-made gem). I love my bike. But like some first loves, we may not be lifetime mates. I’m struggling to pull the weight of four kids and their stuff, so I want to shop around and see if another model will help me out. I’m thinking about the way bike racers buy expensive light-weight frames and components in order to go faster, or the way hikers on the Appalachian trail try to lighten their pack weight to help them on the long journey. I’m not going nearly that far or that fast, but I could use every bit of help that I can get.
Will a lighter cargo bike feel easier to pedal up a hill? (Is there such a thing as a “lighter cargo bike”?) Is a brand-name cargo bike somehow more efficient to pedal? Or am I going to need an e-assist to feel a difference?
I’m still pretty new to this bike scene. I know there’s a bike out there for me. (Or maybe my forever bike is the one I already own, and I should learn to be content with what I have.) But it’s hard for me to shake this bakfiets from my mind. I know it’s out there, somewhere…have you seen it? I’d sure like to meet it in-person, go for a spin, learn its name and make, and see if we’d be good for each other. If you recognize it or are the happy new owner, please leave me a note. I’d love to say hello.
Shannon is a 36-year-old mom of five who lives in downtown Hillsboro. Her column appears weekly. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org