Although bikes aren’t known for being able to carry heavy loads, cargo trikes can. Alix Stredwick, a member of Cycling UK and the founder of CarryMe Bikes, examines the options available in the UK.
Why cargo bikes?
In the event that you’re hoping to get little kids around from A to B and you can’t fit them on your ordinary bicycle, there are heaps of choices out there. Or, if you run a courier service like Zedify or a small business like Green Workforce in London and need to move light freight from one location to another, a cargo bike is definitely something you should think about.
A cargo bike can be a great alternative to a car molding for trips to the garden center or the weekly store.
How do cargo bikes work?
There are numerous varieties of cargo bikes. A box-bike, a longtail, a pedicab, other types of trikes, and a “mini cargo bike” are the most common options. They all have distinct markets, and their prices range from those of mini cargo bikes, which are comparable to those of the typical regular bike, to those of pedicabs, which cost several thousands of pounds.
Nowadays, many can be equipped with electric assist, which you’ll be glad you have when you’re hauling two kids, their belongings, and the weekly shop up those unnoticeable hills on your regular bike. You’ll have to pay more, but you won’t look back.
Additionally, it might be prudent to select a model that includes all of the essential features of true utility vehicles: chaincases, rain tents, back racks, mudguards, and other accessories
Choose a cargo bike that has high-quality components because it will be used a lot. A low frame will make it easier to get on and off when loaded up, and hub gears and brakes should be well protected from the elements.
However, you must first define what you will be carrying: An exceptionally youthful child? Young children? Children who are older? Another grownup? Or freight? What kind of freight? Then, how long are your trips going to be? Is time of the essence? If so, do you want to keep your vehicle agile and maneuverable, or would you rather have a three-wheeled vehicle with more space but likely a slower speed?
Most importantly, think about where you’ll keep it. Remember to include the cost of accessories like child seats, high-quality locks, and rain tents in your uppermost budget.
Try a few different kinds to see how they feel to you and how much capacity they actually have. This is the best advice. Check the weight limit for the rider, the vehicle, and the load. It would be ideal if a friend or neighbor had one: Try one of theirs and inquire about their experiences.
Look for things that will simplify your life, like a frame with a low step-through, an integrated stand, and accessories that are well-designed to meet your requirements.
There are a lot of high-street bike shops in the UK that sell cargo bikes, and some of them are only dedicated to selling cargo bikes. These include the Cambridge School Run Center; Bikes that are really useful outside of Bristol; Dorset’s cycles of children and families; and The Flying Dutchman, London Green Cycles, and CarryMe Bikes in London.
Some even specialize in making cargo bikes by hand, like Derby’s The Cargobike Company and Bristol’s Rodford Built Transport Cycles.
The best stores will let you rent one to see how it works in your own home or place of work before you buy it. You can save money on your purchase by renting a cargo bike from many of the aforementioned businesses, including CarryMe Bikes and The School Run Centre.
An app-based community cargo bike share program called OurBike operates in several London boroughs. Hawk My Wheels’ Attempt Before You Bicycle plot permits clients to recruit another bicycle from £30 each month, with the cash going towards a buy in the event that you choose to purchase. A cargo bike is available for rent at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling for trips within and around the city.
It’s possible that the cargo bike you choose will alter your life!
The term “Pedelecs” refers to a type of electric-assist cargo bike that is gaining a lot of popularity in the cargo bike market. Urban Arrow, for example, only sells electric-assist cargo bikes and does not sell a version without a motor. You can schedule a test drive at one of the company’s UK dealerships.
A pedelec bike has an electric motor that only starts working when you start pedaling, hence the name “pedal electric.” When you freewheel or exceed the speed limit, the motor stops working.
According to current UK regulations, a vehicle with a motor of up to 250 watts and a maximum speed of 15.5 mph (25 km/h) is not considered a moped. You won’t need a license, a motorcycle helmet, or anything else like that.
If you are going to be pedaling a lot of weight, traveling relatively long distances, or climbing steep or long climbs, a cargo bike with e-assist is the obvious choice. This is up to you to judge, but walking just three miles to get two kids to school without e-assist takes a lot of effort! However, it will substantially raise the cost. In any case, whenever you’ve attempted it you might think about how you at any point adapted without it.
Types of motors Cargo bikes typically use one of two types of pedals: mid-drive motors that are attached to the bottom bracket where the pedal cranks join the bike frame and hub (wheel) motors that are typically installed on the front wheel(s).
Each has advantages and disadvantages, but Shimano Steps and Bosch mid-drive systems are currently the more advanced. The bike’s transmission, or drivetrain, is powered by a mid-drive motor, allowing for highly efficient assistance on long or steep climbs.
A torque/cadence sensor can also be utilized in mid-drives; It adjusts the power based on how quickly your legs are spinning or how much torque (force) is being applied to the cranks. A system that seamlessly integrates with your own muscle power is provided by this.
Shifting might also be available: a gear change that happens automatically, similar to how an automatic car does. If you’re used to having complete control over your gears and cadence, this might take some getting used to. However, mastering it can be surprisingly simple and result in a pleasant and useful riding experience.
Battery technology is evolving rapidly, and high-quality batteries are often equipped with a carrying “handle” to make it simple to remove them from the bike. Additionally, they are significantly lighter than they were in the past.
If you lock your cargo bike in a garage with a charging station, some systems can be charged there. For some, you have to take the battery out to charge it, but this might still be a good habit for safety. Without a battery to power it, an e-assist bike is much less valuable to thieves!
The battery is in a variety of places; When retrofitting a system to a non-electric assist cargo bike (see below), it can be installed inside the box of a box-bike, under a bespoke rear rack, or attached to the frame. The Tern GSD longtail cargo bike can hold two batteries, allowing the energy to last longer without accelerating the bike!
Is it new or used before?
With wires hidden and the bike designed to carry the system, a cargo bike with a motor and battery is likely to look “cleaner” and perform better. In comparison to the non-electric model, its frame may be slightly different; To make room for, say, mid-drive motors, Bakfiets’s e-cargo bike has a different frame design around the bottom bracket.
However, standalone retrofittable systems can be less expensive and relatively simple to install with a little technical know-how. Typically, they are wheel versions with a hub-drive, but mid-drives that can be retrofitted are also becoming available.
When selecting and installing your motor, exercise caution. It’s possible that the bike’s design did not take into account the additional forces that a motor will exert on components like the spokes and rim of the front wheel. Ideally, you have selected a high-quality cargo bike with extra-strong spokes and wheels, but double check.
You should also think about upgrading your brakes; For the speeds and forces of e-assist bikes and trikes, rollerbrakes are not really the best choice.
According to some, adding a motor to a bakfiets-style trike is more expensive and difficult than adding a motor to a bike. This is due to the fact that whereas a two-wheeler only requires the replacement or upgrade of the front wheel, a trike with two parallel front wheels requires both to be equipped with a hub-drive motor.
As a result, you might want to start with an e-assist cargo bike. Once you see how helpful it is, you won’t be sorry you did it.
The Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery and the Introduction to Lithium Batteries
What Is a Lithium Battery?
In lithium batteries, lithium ions are used to store energy. Lithium ions move between a lithium battery’s negative and positive electrodes when this kind of battery is working. Consumer electronics, production machinery, industrial robots, automobiles, and so on all make use of lithium-ion batteries. High-capacity electricity storage is a characteristic of these batteries.
How does a LiFePO4 battery work?
In lithium iron manufacturing of lithium ion batteries the cathode material is lithium iron phosphate, and the anode is a graphitic carbon electrode. Lifepo4 batteries are known for their long service lives, electrochemical performance, superior thermal stability, and other smart characteristics. The most widely used type of lithium battery, these lifepo4 batteries maintain a nominal voltage of 3.2 volts and are used to replace lead-acid deep-cycle batteries.
versus a Lead-Acid Battery Lithium-ion Battery Lithium-ion batteries have a higher capacity and are more efficient than lead-acid batteries. The majority of lithium-ion batteries are at least 95% efficient.
Due to their dependability, efficiency, and long lifespan, lithium-ion batteries are preferred to lead-acid for many applications. Lithium-ion batteries charge much faster than lead-acid batteries. Additionally, lead acid batteries last between 300 and 500 cycles, whereas lithium ion batteries last between 300 and 5000 cycles.
Although the initial purchase and installation costs of lead-acid batteries are lower than those of lithium-ion batteries, the long-term price of a lithium-ion battery evens out the odds.
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