For those of you who know us, you know that we ride bikes because we love cycling, in all its shapes and forms, and ride with a number of the different tribes in and around Adelaide.
When we found out that Sarah was pregnant, apart from a string of expletives as we discovered this fact the day before we were departing to ride to Lorne, it was pretty obvious to us, that the baby will of course need a bike. Yes, it could be a tad early I know, but I started a bike fund for Smudgelet, as I knew it would be easier than waiting until it arrives, and then try to find the cash necessary!
So after looking at striders, trikes, tag alongs, dragon poles and all other types of bikes for kids, we decided that what we would really need first is a cargo bike. No, we’re not expecting Smudgelet to ride it, instead we would put Smudgelet into the box on the front. Immediately some might say that that is just so dangerous, especially with a baby! What you need to understand though is that the boxes on cargo bikes are made of timber, secured onto a steel frame, and that there are mountings in them for either a car seat or a baby capsule. The other positive about these, is that the baby is in front of you, not bouncing along in a trailer behind you where you can’t see them.
When you start to investigate the options available, it’s amazing how many types and brands of cargo bike there are available, sadly though, none that we could find available in Adelaide. We did quite a bit of research online, as this is an investment in our future, and also needs to be something that would keep the heir to the family bicycle collection safe. We did the customary thing too, of investigating what bikes we could import ourselves, and balanced out the risk of doing that, versus supporting “local” bike shops.
I offered the bride a lift, she said no :-(
We managed to do almost both. We went to see Sam at Treadly, knowing that he and Em had a cargo bike from one of the Dutch cycle specialists, and also had a baby that they were transporting in the cargo bike. Turns out Sam is the Adelaide supplier for psbikes, which was what we had short-listed our choice to, so we were onto a win there! Sadly though, these are rather large bikes, and a significant investment for any bike shop, so he didn’t have one for us to try. Given that there are so many varieties available even in the Christiania range supplied by psbikes, we weren’t prepared to make a decision based on internet research only, we wanted to ride them, and make a decision based upon our experience with them.
We got in touch with Peter Santos, owner of psbikes, and arranged to catch up with him the next time he was coming to Adelaide to make some bicycle deliveries. We thought that with the surname of Santos, coming during the TDU would have been awesome, but circumstances didn’t allow for that sadly. Instead, he was coming to Adelaide in the last weekend in January, which really worked out better for us, as we had no spare time during the Tour anyway!
There are already a number of Christiania bikes in Adelaide, and Peter arranged for one of the owners to bring his in for the demo too, so that we could chat with someone who actually owns and rides one, and get their opinion. So on the day of the demo, we had two two wheeler cargo bikes, two three wheeled, and a trailer to play with, test out, and generally kick the tyres on. Awesome stuff really.
They are fantastic bikes to ride. For pure speed, we found the two wheeled models with the 8 speed hubs could really get some speed up. Starting off with them though, it could be a little wobbly, and certainly with about 40kg of Mojo in the box, and not overly happy about it, I could feel the movement through the bike. It’s never going to be a bike with a tight turning circle, but it did respond well, with a rear coaster brake, and front disc brakes with a park brake. The centre stands on them are great, and provide a great balance for the bike, so much so that even with three kids climbing all over them and mucking around, it didn’t wobble at all when parked. The park brake built in is also excellent, the bike could be left on a slope with the disc brake locked on, and was going nowhere. It looked awesome in all its black glory, but given that Mojo took up pretty much the whole box, it was not going to work for us.
The all black two wheeler
The next one we tried was the tricycle version. Now this was starting to be more what we were after. The box on the one that Peter brought over fitted three kids in it with no worries. There were footsteps built into the frame to help the kids climb over and into the box. There were fold out bench seats, seat belts, and various other anchor points for securing baby capsules and seats, and any other load that you may choose to carry. These come with a seven or eight speed, and standard again with the coaster rear brake and disc brakes with parking brake on the front.
The standard box trike!
The ride on the tricycle version seemed a little unnatural at first, as you can’t lean into a corner as you would on a road bike, instead you stay upright, and feed the bar through your hands to turn. The feeling soon passed, and it felt quite comfortable to ride it, and turning was quite good too. Given that it was a tricycle, it also meant that you immediately had better balance when starting off, as the weight was all over the front axle for the box. The kids all jumped into this one together, and were taken for a ride around Rhymill Park in what seemed to be very comfortable conditions. All we got from the kids as feedback was comments such as; “go faster!”, “take us for another ride”; “we want a turn” etc etc.
The Trike and the Trailer
Even so, we kind of felt that with three kids in the front, there might not be a lot of room for other things, such as Mojo, groceries, and whatever else kids want to take with them for an outing. (Note, these are a mates three kids, we didn’t keep them, we gave them back after the bike demo was over!) So the next bike to test out was the one that was brought in by a local owner.
Now we’re talking. Again, it was a tricycle version, and he had brought along with him his two children on a bench seat, a kids car seat, picnic blanket and all sorts of stuff that the kids may want to have with them for the ride. This was the bomb. The box was massive. They use this as their second car, and it can fit the two kids, a weeks worth of groceries, and a couple of cases of frothies for Dad with no worries. It has electric power assist, 8 speed cluster of course with the power assist, disc brakes all around, and was a beautiful looking beastie.
The ride was awesome. The power assist is used to help on the climbs, not that within the general city limits we have too many cols to climb, but if you’re carrying anywhere up to 100kg in the box, you may need that little extra assistance. The disc brakes are excellent, and provide fantastic braking abilities. Again though, much like driving a car, if you load it up and take off at speed, it will require a little more braking space.
The Business Bike
This was the bike for us. We spoke with Peter about how we could spec it up, and defined for him what we wanted to use it for, and Peter had some awesome suggestions for us. Given that Mojo is getting on in years, and does not have the climbing ability of a toddler for getting into a box like this, we’re getting Peter to turn the front of the box into a hinged ramp, so that when we want to take Mojo for a ride, we can lower the ramp and she can walk on. These bikes come with all the mounts for summer and winter protection for the boxes, so that no matter what you are carrying, it can be easily protected from the elements.
We’re hoping to get it in time for Womad, as by then Sarah will be just over seven months pregnant, and possibly not all that keen to sit on the standard saddles we have on most of our fleet. Instead, we’ll load the box up with everything we will need for the day, including Sarah of course, and I’ll pedal the cargo bike there. There’s enough room in the box to even open up a fold up chair for her to sit on, so that she doesn’t have to try and get up off the floor.
We have almost an unlimited choice of colours for the bike and the box, as Peter builds these bikes up, and can arrange to have the bike powder coated any colour available, and can produce the timber box in any colour we like, and even add whatever graphics we may want to have on it. At this stage, we are still leaning towards a conventional black bike frame, with an orange box, but we still have time to change our minds on this!
We really can’t wait to get the bike now, and to start having some fun with it.
The other delivery Peter was making was a Christiania trailer. This was amazing. Instead of fixing to the rear axle of your bike, it actually has a mount for the seat post. This makes it quite easy to hitch and unhitch from your bike. The other thing that makes it rather cool, is that when you unhitch it from your bike, you can then put a handle onto the towing connection, so that it becomes a large trolley! The owner of this one has decided they don’t need a car, but they do a lot of shopping at the markets. With this trailer, they can drag it around the markets, filling it with produce as they go, and then attach it to the bike for the ride home. Very awesome indeed.
The Christiania Trailer
To see the full range of bikes from Peter, check out http://www.psbikes.com.au, and also chat to Sam from http://www.treadlybikeshop.com.au, the Adelaide distributor. (If you drop in at Treadly, check out the bespoked bike in the display window, so sexy.)
Keep the rubber side down,