Riding through this snow all alone

The Bakfiets is doing well, thank you for asking! And to all of you who think commuting by bicycle through the winter is not possible I tell you, it is. It’s even possible up here in Stockholm with a cargo bike and it’s lots of fun.

PS. I will update the gallery as snow keeps falling.

winter tires on the CargoBike (Bakfiets.nl) Short

Lots of people treat winter as the bike commuting off-season and most winter cycling tips out there are either written by buy-as-much-accessories-as-you-can-but-seldom-ride cyclists or people who just don’t ride their bike at all during winter but believe their opinion matters nonetheless.

I’ll soon bicycle commute for the fourth winter in a row and I’ll do it with the CargoBike (Bakfiets.nl) Short for the first time this year. I tried to find information on what kind of tires people use to get these tanks roll through snow but could not find many different alternatives.

Most seem to go for Schwalbe Marathon Winter but I really didn’t want tires with spikes. I don’t think spikes are necessary around Stockholm and I’ve been doing just fine without for the last four winters (the one time I crashed during winter was on a bike with spikes). Moving 100+ kilograms on 20+ kilometers everyday is already hard enough and I didn’t feel like pushing harder on the pedals because of the added rolling resistance of studs (whatever people say spikes DO increase rolling resistance) and so I went for my own setup:

Winter tires on a Bakfiets.nl Short, Stockholm, Sweden

I’ll keep you posted. Let’s roll.

Bakfiets.nl CargoBike Short: four months & one thousand kilometers later

It’s been exactly four months since Fizz #1* and I pedalled back home on a classic Dutch Bakfiets we picked up at Gamla Enskede Lådcyklar. Four months and 1000 kilometers in the saddle later I believe time has come for a few pictures and some feedback.

Bakfiets CargoBike Short, 1000 kilometers in 4 months

So far, so good

We’ve been to places, we’ve transported stuff and we’ve had fun, a lot of fun. I guess that’s sort of what I expected the experience would be but I have to admit it’s been even smoother than I anticipated. Never in the last four months did the bike fall short and a bigger vehicle was needed. It just does the job.

It does the job and IT JUST WORKS.
I’ve come to a point in my life where I want stuff that just works. I really can’t be bothered with fixing and tweaking anymore and if there is something I love about this box bike is that: it works. I have not had a single mechanical issue in 1000 kilometers. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Ingenting. I barely had to pump the tires now and then to keep the pressure required for heavy duty. That’s how things should always be. Period.

Winter & Fizz #2 are coming

Maybe it’s a little too early for a proper review though. Temperatures (slowly) begin to drop and I have yet to swap the Schwalbe Marathon Plus for a pair of mountain bike tires that I hope will help keep the rides fun and safe during winter. At the same time Fizz #1 is also looking forward to sitting next to Fizz #2. Fizz #2? Well… she doesn’t know it yet. Twice the fun soon?

I suggest we meet here again in a few months.

* You got that? Right?

Stockholm Cargo Bike Festival 2015

A few pictures from the first Cargo Bike Festival held in Stockholm on September 19, 2015. One of my neighbors -who I sent a link to the Facebook event to- ordered a cargo bike right after he and his family went and tried all the bikes available for test rides. I can only call that first edition a success.

Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws

This 1996 Australian study suggests that a mandatory helmet law for motor vehicle occupants could save seventeen times more people from death and serious head injury than a similar law for cyclists.


Stockholm Cargo Bike Festival 2015

What, when and where?

When: September 19 (together with Stockholm Bike Carnival)
Where: Arkitektur & designcentrum, Skeppsholmen
Event on Facebook: here
In Swedish: Svenska lastcykelmässan 2015 on Cykla med lastcykel

The Stockholm Cargo Bike Festival exists to promote the development of energy-efficient & space-efficient urban transportation through cargo bikes, create general public awareness, get the attention of the media, politicians and authorities.
Cargo bikes will be available for test rides so any one can experience their true potential firsthand.


Babboe Nordic, Bullitt STHLM, Cykelfabriken, Cargobike, Ecoride STHLM, Enskede Lådcyklar, Levande video, Livelo, Nordiska cykelkompaniet, Move by bike STHLM, Norvelo, Söders cykel & Velove Cargobikes & Trailers

This entry will be updated as more information becomes available.

One box, two legs & fourteen islands

Two weeks and two hundred kilometers later the Bakfiets.nl CargoBike Short is already part of the family daily routines.

What happened?

We’ve been thinking about getting rid of our car for a while but it really took the imminent birth of Pignon Jr. #2 for us to set things in motion. I have always been riding with Pignon Jr. #1 to preschool and other places already but the car came in handy once in a while. It also came with all the costs associated to convenience which, at the end of the day, are just not worth the money.

One of the biggest argument against owning that particular car though was that it simply is not a family car (3 door-VW-Golf-kind-of gas sucker). Owning a car “designed” for things a family of four tends to do and carry would basically mean, for us, owning another, bigger car that we would still only use twice a month or less anyway.

And that’s pretty much how the whole family ended up at Gamla Enskede Lådcyklar on a Sunday afternoon just a few hours before Måns closed the store for a month.

After so many weeks (months?) looking at cargo bikes specifications, reviews, and videos online I was sure I would ride a Butchers & Bicycles MK1-E back from the shop (it was actually because Måns had a MK1-E available that we went to his shop in the first place). But he, Måns, did what not too many shop owners do anymore and guided us through the process of choosing the right bike for us and our needs and had us try several cargos that he suggested (in the following order) we took for a spin.

nihola.com Family

We first tried a trike (I came for a MK1-E remember?) and pedalled around the block on a nihola.com Family which -it was the first time both Madame & Monsieur Pignon rode a trike- was a very nice introduction to three-wheeled bicycles.
nihola.com, Family
The bike was easy to handle and pleasant to ride but we felt that it would feel a bit bulky and not so nice to manoeuvre on longer rides (we don’t exactly live in central Stockholm and a roundtrip to Hötorget, for instance, is about 16 kilometers). – around 24,000 SEK

Butchers & Bicycles MK1-E

Next, we tried the Butchers & Bicycles MK1-E -finnnaaaallllyyy- and… I’m glad Måns got it back in one piece!
Butchers & Bicycles, MK1-E, Black & White
I know I wasn’t used to riding a three-wheeled bicycles but, compared to the nihola.com Family, riding the MK1-E was a completely different experience which, in my trike novice opinion, wasn’t of the riding with the family type. Sure I only rode it around the block for a couple of minutes but I couldn’t really figure out how to tilt it back on sharp corners and keep the rear wheel on the road. Madame felt it was not as stable as the nihola.com Family and did not feel confident in its saddle. First impressions are key and we decided it just was not a bike for us. – around 50,000 SEK

Bakfiets.nl CargoBike Short (and Long)

Last we tried what I thought I would never ride (and like) ever -for reasons I still can’t really explain- and within a couple of seconds knew it was exactly the sort of bike I had to have: a classic Dutch Bakfiets.
Bakfiets.nl, CargoBike Long
We (Madame Pignon is 8 months pregnant) tried both the long (Måns’ bicycle with electric assistance) and short versions and felt -probably due to the fact that they are pretty much regular two-wheeled bicycles, only a bit longer- like we always have had one. Easy to ride, easy to manoeuvre and easy to maintain (not much can go wrong on simpler machines). We had a deal -18,000 SEK- and rode a Bakfiets.nl CargoBike Short home.

Two weeks and two hundred kilometers later then and I would like, once again, to thank Måns for his help and for opening the shop on a sunny Sunday afternoon on his way -on a cargo bike obviously- to the lake. You’ll probably see us again sometime in the future… that box already feels too small.

To be continued…