Posted on

Custom Step-Through Cargo Bike

Step-Through Cargo Bike

The mission of our cargo bikes, similar to all cargo bikes, is to have more cycling, healthier people, coherent societies and fewer cars and less pollution in the World. When this vision gets through to political parties, we know there will be an impact on what we do. This vision has come alive thanks to Estonia’s Reform Party. The party has been the political leader for the majority of Estonia’s short history and is lead by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

Request from the customer

Electric bikes with step-through frame for local elections so female politicians can use the bike with a skirt on. Bikes have to be painted in party yellow and custom graphics are needed for the cargo box.

Nighthawk Step-Through Cargo Bike

Process of the Custom Step-Through Cargo Bike

As always, modern 3D modelling comes in handy when making custom geometries. We dropped the top tube of the frame much lower and moved the battery from the head tube to the bottom of the top tube. Templates of the box and windscreen were sent to the graphical designer at the Reform Party who added their slogans and design.

Step-Through Cargo Bikes

Result of the Custom Step-Through Cargo Bike

The result turned out stunning. We ended up liking the design so much that we are now considering making the step-through cargo bike a standard option for the frames. We think it looks still agressive and sporty enough to carry forward the essence of our bikes, but at the same time practical and unisex. In addition, we ended up making the whole box from a reflective material that adds to the looks and safety of the bike.

Client response

“Thanks so much for working furiously against a tight deadline with the last day all-nighter. The bikes look amazing!”

Until next builds!

Much love,
KP

Posted on

How to choose a cargo bike

Cargo Bike Nighthawk

There’s a myriad of cargo bikes out there. Each has its own purpose and a user alike. How to choose the right cargo bike for you?

Why are cargo bikes getting more and more popular?

Cargo bikes have been around for about a century, but this is a fact that many are eager to dismiss. So why is it that it seems like a modern-day invention? The answer seems to lie mainly in the legislation of different countries and also the shift in mindset. A bike was a strange thing to use as a practical means of transport in many countries from the 1960s-2000. Luckily we are coming out of this tunnel from the other end. People want to keep happy, live healthy for longer and be more environmentally friendly. By traveling less distance with petrol, we would save money by ditching the car or public transport subscription.

Long John cargo bike

Kaspar riding Nighthawk Cargo
Nighthawk Cargo

The first and perhaps most popular type is the Long John type cargo bike. This type of bicycle was first invented in Odense, Denmark, in 1923 by the Smith & Co Company. Same place we first started. Long Johns are best for people who like to have a fast, nimble, and stylish cargo bike. The cargo area is relatively aerodynamic, and it’s in front of the bicycle. For example, it’s perfect for hauling packages and children as they are visible and easy to communicate with. Depending on a manufacturer’s geometry, riding this bike can feel like riding a standard bike. Since it’s as narrow as a regular two-wheeled bike, a Longjohn is perfect for countries with not-so-many proper bike lanes.

Trike

Family riding Trike
Trike / Bakfiets / Kastenfahrrad

Probably the second most popular cargo bike type is a tricycle. This bike, also known as Trike / Bakfiets / Kastenfahrrad, has two front wheels and a box in-between. This version of a cargo bike is often the choice for families when both parents share a bike. It’s more easily adjustable to fit a smaller and larger rider by only rising or lowering the seat. The handlebars stay in the same place as they are attached to the box. Another consideration is the number of children. Three or more children usually don’t fit into the front of a Longjohn.

The down-side is that these bikes are usually slow. When steering, the handlebars move away from the rider, and at slightly higher speeds, they will feel like tipping over because they don’t tilt.

Long Tail cargo bike

Long tail cargo bike
Long tail cargo bike

The Long Tail cargo bike is not so popular in Europe but seems to be the no.1 choice of cargo bike in the US. Two-wheeler as well, this bike has a long rack in the back. The rack itself is a part of the bike frame, making it rigid.

This bike’s strength lies in its dimensions because the frame is as narrow as a regular bike and only slightly longer. The size and weight make it easy to store and carry it up and down the stairs. However, the cargo ability is not comparable to the bikes mentioned above. It is comfortable to sit up to two kids on the back with child seats, but everything else like a school bag would need to be held by the child or somehow strapped to the frame. When hauling any other type of cargo, it needs to be in a bag, again strapped to the frame with no possibility of ’just tossing it on there.’

Bicycle sidecar

Bike with a sidecar
Promotional sidecar bike in action

Lastly, if you want to stand out, then there are options like a sidecar. They are relatively uncommon, but you wouldn’t believe the number of looks we have gotten in Copenhagen when riding this thing around. Every day, someone would pull up on the side and say,’ Hey, wow… A sidecar… I’ve never seen one before… That’s super cool!’ 

With slightly less cargo space than Long Johns or Trikes, this option is perhaps not as practical, but it turns heads like nothing else. And when allowed to tilt, it feels like a regular bike, only a bit wider. However, carrying children is not safe because of the proximity of the wheels on either side.

Electric or not

I had been skeptical about e-bikes for years, but I love them now. I have been riding fixed gear, single-speed, road, and sidecar bikes for years and loved it. After commuting more than 10 km one way every day, in the evenings, I felt like not wanting to commute much more and perhaps needing to take a third shower too. With an eBike, I estimate that my yearly mileage has grown by 30-40%. I never need to think whether I want to ’go there’ on a bike because it’s just as fast and convenient as a car. So if you aim to live car-free, sweat-free 5000+ km per year everyday life, then yes, go electric.

Choosing the right cargo bike

In conclusion, If you’re even considering a cargo bike, you’re already doing the best thing possible for your health, the city you live in, and the environment – cheers to that! Next, think about what you plan to do with the bike: the commute’s daily length, how hilly or windy your region is, and what you will carry.

Choose Trike if:

  • The commute is up to 5 km / 3 miles one way.
  • The road is not too hilly, windy, and bumpy.
  • You need to carry three or more children.
  • Speed is not an issue, and you want to share the bike with your partner.

Choose Long Tail if:

  • If you’re carrying a child on a child seat or
  • Your only cargo is a bag that straps to the frame.

Choose Sidecar if:

  • You want to stand out or advertise your business.
  • You do not need to carry children.
  • You wish to use your bike as a normal one.

Choose Long John if:

  • You want a bike that feels like a standard bike.
  • Goes fast
  • Has cargo space for two children and room to spare.
  • Nighthawk Cargo Bike Frameset Avatar
    Nighthawk Cargo Bike Frameset
    1,490.00 1,590.00  Including VAT
  • Nighthawk cargo bike product picture
    Nighthawk Cargo Bike
    2,290.00 2,590.00  Including VAT
  • Sidecar Bike Bicycle by KP Cyclery
    KP Bicycle Sidecar
    749.00  Including VAT
Posted on

Mikaël’s Nighthawk Custom Cargo Bike

Nihghawk sidedoor

This will be the first post of a series that will be featuring our Nighthawk custom cargo bike builds. Unlike most other manufacturers, we produce our own frames and don’t outsource this work to the Far East. Doing so, allows us to modify each bike to needs and liking of the customer. So too was the story with this bike.

Request from the customer

A pass door to be added for a dog or a child into the left-hand sidepanel. Sidepanels should be black without logos. Custom color – RAL 4009 – pastel violet.

We suggested that the door should open forwards. So just in case, the rider forgets to lock it, it will slam closed when riding rather than get stuck somewhere. Custom color for panels and frame is not a problem.

Rough skech from the customer

Process

We started by 3D modeling the door opening. Once that was done, we knew the sidepanel would need some reinforcement not to bend around the door. We figured the easiest would be to add another layer of sturdy DiBond material around the door and try it. If that fails, we would weld a small metal frame for the door. Next, we acquired several types of hinges and latches from a local hardware store to test.

Result

The pass door worked like a charm right from the start. We managed to find a latch that has a spring stopper inside so there is always some tension for the latch not to open accidentally. The double layer of DiBond around the door worked well and panel is rigid. Client choose Pastel Violet for the frame, which turned out to be a real looker! Another great custom cargo bike on the road!

Nighthawk cargo bike sidepanel pass door

Client response

“It looks sick man. […] I’ve already sent the photo to a few mates and everyone’s commenting on that door. Amazing job, turned out a lot better than I expected. […] I went for a one hour bike tour outside the city under pouring rain – it was a fantastic ride!”

Until next builds!

Much love,
KP

Posted on

Why cargo e-bike can save the World

If you’re reading this post then you probably already agree that bicycles are a great way of reducing the impact on the environment, help stay fit, and also save money. But what makes cargo e-bike stand out, sure you can haul around a lot of stuff, but what does it mean – how does it change the everyday behavior of a person?

Cargo

The ability to carry everything you need with a bike is appealing, but even after years of cycling with different bikes, I’m still surprised at what a cargo bike can carry and how easy it is. When commuting with a regular bike, you’re often stuck with a backpack. This makes the back sweat annoyingly fast and puts a lot of strain on hands. Not only that, but it also means you have very limited space to carry anything. Commuting on a cargo bike means you can take along your exercise gear, children and still do weekly groceries with one trip. This sounds nice, but when you experience it, it’s a lot more, it’s revolutionary. When I think back of the years of cycling I did before a cargo bike, I wonder why I was putting up with the misery of tieing plastic grocery bags to my backpack to be able to carry even a little extra than the backpack itself managed to fit. These days my regular cargo includes a backpack with sports gear and lunch box plus a couple of Bike Hangers to be dropped off at a parcel machine on my way around the city.

Hauling with a cargo e-bike
Carrying a Cristmas tree with a Nighthawk Cargo

Cargo e-bike

A modern invention that we see making a big impact on all urban cycling is the use of electric motors on a bike – even more so on cargo bikes. Sure, a cargo bike can move fast but add some wind, hills, or a heavy load into the mix, and due to its not so aero-efficient loading area, it’s not so fast anymore and you can forget about the non-sweaty back we were talking about earlier. Yet with a cargo e-bike, any trip becomes a joy-ride. Right before converting to my electric cargo bike, I was commuting on a road bike. I like going places fast so I always needed to take a shower after a ride. Sure I was feeling like I was getting a decent exercise under my belt with each ride, but after 30 km of all-out effort every day I wasn’t looking for extra trips in the evening. Electric bike transforms all of that – you ride as far as you like, as often as you like just like you would with a car, plus you can forget all that bad traffic.

E-bike motor

Being present

Another aspect non-bike person probably never thinks of is how connected to your surrounding you are on a bike. Studies have found that cycling boosts the local economy as people don’t need to look for parking and can stop virtually right when they see a shop or a kiosk of any sort. Also, you are connected to the people that cycle and walk around you. When in a car, road rage is easy to appear, locked in a steel fortress it’s easy to feel overly superior and shout at other drivers without them hearing anything. Could you ever imagine something like this happening on a bike? When cycling in Copenhagen, I have always felt the connection first hand. When someone cuts off your way, one can get a little angry inside, but because you’re both out in the open and close to each other in this situation, people tend to smile and apologize wiping that initial anger away with a blink of an eye. Cargo bikes are often used to carry children and this is where this point becomes especially precious as instead of being a nervous person behind the wheel of a car, you can be relaxed zen-like person being the best possible example to your children.

Bicycle ride is like a meditation

Physical health

All this means you cycle a lot more. Since you don’t need to plan what you will be doing, you can pop into the shop on your way back from work, go to the gym, or other workouts without worrying how to carry the gear – commuting in a way that follows our evolutionary past. It’s only in the last century that people have started to be physically non-active. The results are clearly on display – people getting fat and developing a myriad of health issues to go along. Thanks to medicine we live longer, but years lived healthily suffer for not appreciating what our bodies have evolved for over millions of years – a hunter-gatherer walking along with the fields for hours on end. Yet in today’s World, it’s hard to find time for anything. People’s days are packed, trying to be super-efficient. So why waste that precious 1 hour or more than most people spend sitting in cars, stressed about traffic. Even when cycling with an eBike, you are physically active helping live longer, healthier, and happier. Cycling has proved to lower the risk of death and heart disease by around 50%. And the best news is that the first 2 hours spent on a bike a week have double the effect of the following hours. So you can achieve a lot with very little, and with a cargo e-bike, those first 2 hours are guaranteed to be achieved week in, week out.

Give an cargo e-bike a try!

The cargo e-bike is truly the only real human-powered machine that can take on the car, and in an urban environment, throw a bunch and see the car fall. 1-0 knock-out. The reasons people come up with for not letting go of their car-dependent lifestyle are plenty – bad weather, sweat, distance, speed, you name it. But for each of those, there is a solution if you’re willing to give it a try. Everyone has heard that there is no poor weather but poor clothing. The same holds when cycling as the people of Oulu, Finland are showing us. Right on the arctic circle, people in the Oulu cycle even in the winter. How can I cycle to work when I get sweaty – don’t get sweaty if you don’t want to take a shower? Get an eBike, sure it’s a bit of an investment, but when you consider the running costs the investment will pay back in a year, max. Also in an urban environment, a bike is often much faster than a car. So get on your bike, live healthy for longer, soak in your surrounding, and be part of the community.

If you don’t know which cargo bike is suitable for you, then read our blog post about it: How to choose a cargo bike.

Posted on

Easy Steps to Prep Your Cargo Bike for Spring

bike maintenance

April is here, and it’s time to get your bicycle out and give it some love before taking it back on the road. This bike spring maintenance guide has some easily doable steps for anyone who wants to prep their bike for the next season.

1. Give it a good clean

If you use your cargo bike for commuting, there’s a chance that it hasn’t seen a good clean for a while. Grime can collect up thru autumn and wither months. A good wash can prevent rust and chain replacement, and your bike feels fresh. Use a bucket of water, dishwasher, and rags to get it clean. Start with the chain and the drivetrain, then move to other parts of the bike. Don’t forget to lube your chain afterwards.

2. Brakes

Brakes

Check if your brakes are in good condition – tighten the cables if needed. Simply roll the bike back and forth and press the brakes. If the lever comes closer to the handlebars than you would like, use the tightening barrel by the lever or the brakes to tighten the cable. Once you’re happy with the adjustment, don’t forget to tighten the locking ring. If you have hydraulic brakes and the lever is moving further than optimal then go to a mechanic and have your brake fluid changed and brakes bled. Check the wear of brake pads – if you hear any metal against metal sound during braking then you get some new pads installed right away. Using pads that are worn down to metal will damage your rims or discs depending on the type of brake you are using. If there is no metal sound yet, just visually check the thickness on the pad that is left. If in doubt, contact a local bike shop.

3. Bike chain

Bike chain

At the beginning of a new season, replacing a chain is almost a must. If you’re not super geeky about maintenance and don’t ride every day, then once a year can be a perfectly okay interval for changing a chain, and what better time to do it than in the spring when you’re brushing off the dust anyway. So before getting the bike out, pop by a bike store, get yourself a new chain, or if you don’t have the tool to break the chain, simply get it replaced at a shop. Most shops will be happy to do it without scheduling a time beforehand.

4. Bike lights

lights

Bike lights are useless if the batteries are dead or they are not blinking bright enough. Check if they are still fit to protect you in the next season. We have some excellent magnetic lights in the KP Cyclery store if you’re looking for a change. They attach to any steel frame and turn on once connected, shut down once removed.

5. Handlebar tape or grips

Light blue urban bike with brown leather brooks handle bar tape
Brooks leather handlebar tape on our KP Cyclery bicycle in Laguna Blue

Check the condition of your handlebar tape. If it is leather, perhaps it needs a touch up with some leather grease, or you are in the mood for an entirely new tape. Either way now is an excellent time to decide and order the one that will cheer you up for the season to come. Brooks is the right choice for a classic look. For a super funky look, you might want to check out the stuff BTP bar tape has. As far as grips go, I personally like the foamy model called Feather by Prologo on my Nighthawk cargo bike.

6. Saddle

Tightening Brooks B17 saddle
Use Brooks saddle key to tighten stretched saddle. Quarter of a turn at a time, tighten until you reach desired tension.

Leather saddles need maintenance once per year. Spring is the perfect time to wax your precious saddle with some bee’s wax (or any other good quality natural leather wax) and tighten it. Find ways to do it in our Leather Saddle Maintenance & Care guide posted earlier on our blog. If your saddle is non-leather, then check if its cover material is still intact and there are no cracks.

7. Tyres

Have a good look at your tires, pump some air into them (you will find the required pressure on the tire’s wall), and make sure they’re not punctured. The good idea is to do this a couple of days before you go riding for the first time as you might otherwise have a slow puncture and get stranded halfway through the first ride of the season. If they are worn or cracked, replace them.

Happy cycling!

Man and Woman walking with their bikes in the park
Posted on

Happy 2020!

Looking back at 2019, we have every reason to be thankful. This year saw us become more stable and grown up as a company, it provided memories behind the handlebars and a new product in our line-up – the Nighthawk cargobike. So here’s a quick look back at what 2019 delivered and what to expect from 2020.

Bike rides of 2019 provided thrills and a decent mileage. Having completed the Nighthawk cargobike prototype in late 2018, 2019 would become the year of proper testing. In 2019, I did 3300 electrified kilometers of commuting on the cargobike. Combined with 600 non-electric kilometers on a single speed bike, the total fell just under 4000 km. Hopefully 2020 will surpass this number 🙂

Bike Travel in Finland 2019
Most memorable kilometers of 2019 were spent on a 4 day trip in Finland. Travelling on a single speed bike, those climbs provided a challenge for my knees which gave up just 14 km before the end. Happy memories though. Trip course: Lahti – Tampere – Jyväskylä – Lahti – Helsinki.

The product of 2019 was definitely the forementioned Nighthawk cargobike we recently launched. Not only has it been a thrill riding it at speeds reaching 70 km/h, but it has also changed cycling for me personally. EBikes definitely seem to be the future of commuting and I’m excited to see what the future will shape up to be on that front for us.

KP Cyclery Bicycle Frame Buidling Jig
2019 marks the year we got serious about frame building. This is the jig that can take cargobike and regular frames alike.

2020 and beyond seem bright for us. I still can’t say that we have made it, but the plans we have for 2020 with expanding the reseller list for the Bike Hanger and launching the cargobike feel a lot more mature than the plans of the past years. Hopefully the harvest of the seeds to be planted in 2020 will carry us into the bright future we are looking for.

Christmas tree on a KP Cyclery Nighthawk Cargo Bike
Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We are forever thankful that you are along for the ride!

Yours,
Kaspar

Posted on

DIY Cargo Bike – Part 2

Continuing where we left off, we will start with the more fun part of welding on the cargo bed area. If you missed the first part you can find it here.

Welding the cargo bed.

Like mentioned before. The bike’s geometry is made from points, what comes between them is only aesthetical. So this part was quite fun as everything that mattered had been aligned and locked into position. The only thing you need to worry about here is that you have enough space for pedals and the front wheel.
DIY cargo long john

New steerer, fork modifications.

After this step, you will notice the progress stopped. The frame was left unfinished for almost a year before having time to continue. As a next step, all the excess was cut off, and the head tube [guide to frame tubes] shortened. Also, the fork got modified to fit 20″ wheel as originally it was meant for 700c wheel, and disc brake mounts added. It’s important to check that you don’t make the fork too short or too long, so the cargo area will be parallel to the ground. Now I finally also cut away the extra parts of the down tube and fitted a new steering tube. I went for A-head stem for this. This bike was an experiment and I didn’t want to spend time and money ordering specialized fancy tubing. So I found some precision tubing that fits the stem and the headset from Onninen. It is quite heavy with 2 mm walls, but as I knew I would make it an e-bike, the weight was not too big of an issue. Improvements for next time: Go for Chromoly steerer and head tube to save some weight. Order early in the process.
DIY Cargo Bike

Outsourcing lasered parts.

Now you could do this on your own, but I saved a lot of time and also made things look nice by ordering some of the parts laser-cut like fork dropouts, steerer end, bearing holders for steering arm, etc. You can find my DXF files here if you find them useful.

The finishing touches.

At this stage, I bolted on a bottom bracket, cranks, an old chain, and went for a test ride. Everything felt nice, so the only thing left was to weld on last tubes, disc brake mounts (you can find mine under the above link), cable holders, kickstand, and then it was time for the paint shop.
DIY Bullitt cargo bike

Assembly day!

After everything arrived from powder coating, it was finally the time to assemble everything. All went smoothly and the bike was in one piece in no time.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KP Cyclery | KP Cykler (@kpcyclery) on

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! (and cure)

Early testing revealed some flaws I had described in the last post about handling. After hitting 30 km/h the bike almost always got hit by speed wobble. With this problem, the bike would be rendered useless. Luckily I didn’t get discouraged as even the guys at Larry vs Harry also seem to have a problem with this, and the cure is to add a steering damper like the one used on motorcycles. I ordered one and attached it to the bike, and..    ..it solved the problem for a while before it broke down and leaked all the oil out after just 600 km on the bike. Then winter came along and I left the bike unused until this spring. After talking to some other frame builders I heard that this problem was common, many of them had also been fitting their bikes with steering dampers. The problem seems to be that the front end just gets too light as the problem is less evident with cargo on the bike. Anyway – I set to work early spring and made new damper fittings that would increase the working range of the damper. Having now done 500 km at speeds of 35 – 60 km/h without any steering wobble it seems that the bike is finally finished. Improvements for next time: a.) Design your bike with steering damper in mind from the beginning. b.) Keep shallow fork angle, short fork rake, and thus a large amount trail. This may improve stability if you want to resist using a steering damper.
DIY Cargobike KP CYCLERY

To summarize, this project turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. Before setting to work, my mind was set at 50/50 chance that the bike would work as well as it does. The Bafang 750w electric unit works well, the geometry is working with the steering damper, there is plenty of cargo space and it goes as fast as you wish. The mileage speaks for itself – currently, I’m averaging 150-200 km per week and only use the car for a short ride once a week to keep the brakes from sticking, etc. So if you have some welding skills and you’re thinking about building yourself a cargo bike- GO FOR IT! Also as a side note, we are constructing a jig to weld some more frames, so you will soon be able to order a proper cargo bike frame from us 🙂

And here it is – doing 45 km/h:

Posted on

DIY Cargo Bike – Part 1

KP Cyclery’s DIY cargo bike anyone with an angle grinder, old steel bike and welding machine can make without any special tools.

Firstly a disclaimer. As this bike was a personal experiment then I didn’t use the regular amount of planning and modelling. Many methods would not be used to make a proper product and currently I’m constructing a jig to hold everything in place when making this kind of bikes in the future.

With that cleared away, let’s dive into this DIY Cargo Bike project. It was started 2,5 years ago and I finished the bike roughly 8 months ago. I wanted a long john type cargo bike when we decided to move to Estonia, as there will not be a luxury of so many cycle paths. So already when still in Copenhagen I started the project.

The geometry.

Something that irritates me a little when people see my bike is they say – oh did you make a Bullitt replica. In part that is true. But also true is that long john type cargo bikes were used a hundred years ago, so you shouldn’t be afraid to make something similar. Of course most of the geometry should be similar to an existing bike that has been tested and sold with success. So you can use a lot of the geometry here: http://larryvsharry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/technical_wireframe_bg1.png
Improvements for next time: a) Plan as much ahead as possible. If you have access to 3D CAD program then use it. Model everything, check that nothing collides when steering, etc. Get the geometry right – I find 69-degree headtube, 20 mm rake and thus 77 mm trail best for our bikes.

Chopping an old bike into pieces. Welding a new down tube.

I knew I wanted to do as little work as possible, so I found an old bike, dissembled everything and started cutting away. After cutting away the down tube I took a long 2-meter tube I wanted to use for the new down tube. Then I aligned it to the middle of the fork and welded to the bottom bracket. It is important to keep the fork on the bike at this point as I was not using a jig and needed some reference points. Keeping the new down tube long would also be giving me reference points for later alignment of the new fork. Before welding, I made sure the seat tube and new down tube were parallel by bolting both the welding table. PS! If tubing sizes are different then you need to use something for distance under the frame tubes if the frame is of smaller tubes. 

Improvements for next time: a) I would consider building a jig even for 1 piece. b) If not then I would run another tube under the down tube to align the new down tube with the rear axle center. c) I would make the down tube from round tubing as it will have some rotational stress.
DIY cargo bike

Welding on a new top tube.

Now I cut off the steering tube and cut the old top tube shorter, using it as a guide for the new top-tube alignment. This way I could make sure the new steerer would end up in the middle of the bike. Had I used a men’s frame I would have probably kept the original top tube. Note: keep the guiding tubes on the frame as long as you can. They help against heat distortion from welding.

Improvements for next time: a) Make this from round tubing for more resistance to rotational forces/torque.
DIY Long John Bike

 Welding on the new head tube.

Now this one was the biggest mistake and can also be for you, so pay attention and read improvements. Steerer position will affect the whole handling. So what I did correctly was to make sure the head tube is in position before welding the cargo bed. All the tubing in between the bottom bracket and head tube can be misaligned without a problem – if the head tube, rear triangle and the bottom bracket are located correctly. So using the 2 meters long new down tube, I could be quite confident that the middle of the front hub would be in the correct position. But getting the fork exactly straight in relation to the frame is more tricky. I used an extra piece of tubing and welded it to the new down tube. The other end was bolted to the fork.
DIY cargo bike 5
Now I didn’t double-check the alignment properly here. I would strongly suggest using an inclinometer here. Or at least a spirit level to make sure the seat tube and head tube are aligned. Next comes the head tube angle. You need to make sure you have a proper amount of trail to keep the steering stable. I didn’t pay enough attention to this and ended up with almost half the trail of a Bullitt (more about trail and steering here). 

Improvements for next time: a) After setting up the fork take a photo of the frame as best as you can from the side. On your computer open the photo with an image editing program and calculate the head tube angle or just compare it to this blueprint of a Bullitt. b) I would buy an inclinometer from the web to check all angles. They are quite inexpensive, starting from 10€ on the web.
DIY Cargo Bike Trail

The Problem.

I mentioned the steering will be where you can make the biggest mistake. What I ended up with is speed wobble when running over bumps at speeds over 30 km/h. Science is not exactly sure why it happens. In my case, I think it is a small trail combined with slightly misaligned front and back wheel and square tubing for top tube and down tube which make the frame flexible sideways. What I did to compensate is that I added a motorcycle steering damper. This worked, but I want to experiment further. This year I will cut the fork again and try to increase the trail. I will post an update later this year whether this worked. I believe Bullitt also has trouble with high-speed steering stability as they also now have a steering damper for as an extra option. Improvements for next time: a) Experimenting further has shown that enough trail fixes this issue. I went for a 77 mm trail (road bikes have around 55 mm) and now it is really stable.

To be continued.. Part 2

Posted on

New product launch + more updates of this season

It’s been a long time since our last post. Despite this, it has been a joy to see a constant flow of new subscribers – sorry we’ve kept you waiting.

So what’s happen while we’ve been a little less active on the blog..

  1. New product launch on Kickstarter – Bike Hanger Copenhagen series.

    Most important stuff first – we’ve recently launched our latest Bike Hanger on Kickstarter! See and support it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/820118192/the-bike-hanger-copenhagen-series/
    I
    t’s been in the works for a while, and we finally got the result we were aiming for. The change goes hand-in-hand with our switch in suppliers, and don’t worry, we’re still producing in Northern Europe 🙂 Now the quality is even higher and instead of chromed metal we use Aisi 304 grade tubing.
    The new Bike Hanger is inspired by white-walled flats of Copenhagen with the light colour pallette, as is the shape ,to go with the taste of bike lovers who are more into modern looks than our original vintage looking Bike Hanger.
  2. Some special work
    We’ve had a couple of cool projects where we’ve made some bike trailers and special sidecars. We can’t talk about the latter too much yet due to the status of the customer’s project. But the hint here is to look our for some green bikes and sidecars in Amsterdam. We’ll share some pictures on our instagram soon. The other custom project we just finished are bike trailer for bike rental company called Donkey Republic. Check them out if you haven’t already – they have an excellent platform for renting bikes when travelling, we’ve used them with my wife in different cities.

    KP Cyclery Bike Trailer
    First prototype of bike trailers for Donkey Republic in the winter setting.
  3. Extra project
    Another one you might be interested to hear about is a personal project where I cut up an old frame I had lying around. So I’m using the rear triangle from it and the fork. The fork has been shortened and disc break mounts have been added. The frame so far still lacks some tubes and disc brake mounts of its own, as paid jobs need to come first – but I’ll get there one day.

    The bike will feature disc brakes, alfine 8-gear hub, 750W motor and 52V 14,6 Ah battey. So it will be fast and able to carry a lot..

    KP Cargo Bike
    KP’s personal cargo bike project

Thanks for tuning in! Hopefully you won’t have to wait so long for the next one.

Love,
KP

Posted on

Berliner Fahrradschau 2017 – Our Experience from This Year’s Show

After last year’s Berlin bike show, we already signed up for 2017 in June. 2016 had been deeply positive, we got some good resellers, a lot of interest, a steady stream of sales throughout the year that followed and some genuine fans. Obviously we had some expectations going into 2017’s edition – and Berlin did not disappoint.

KP Cyclery at Berlin Bike Show
BFS 2017 was great fun – we just need to get a bigger booth next year.

How was it for KP Cyclery?

As mentioned, 2017 was similarly positive, we had a ton of interest in the Sidecar and nice Bike Hanger sales. I must admit, I thought that since our Sidecar is so different from all other cargo bike variations, there would be some that would say ‘that doesn’t make any sense’. But the notoriously engineering-minded Berliners and Germans seemed really impressed by our ingenuity. The Sidecar turned heads at our booth and even more so when out for a test ride. The tilting function amazed people with a constant crowd of cameras pointed at it. Surely there ought to be a few of them riding around Berlin soon.

KP Cyclery Sidecar Bike At Berliner Fahrradschau Berlin Bike Show
Danny showing off the Sidecar Bike – what a crowd pleaser it turned out to be. Photo credit: René Zieger / BFS

Our friendly neighbours

One might expect that all of the exhibitors at the fair would be competitors and thus not overly friendly towards each other. However in the bike industry, it is the complete opposite. We we’re lucky enough to be neighbours with other remarkable visionaires – Halbrad (half-bike in English) and Brix / Sandwich bikes.

At first sight, we thought Halbrad we’re exhibiting a type of a foldable bike. After close inspection, it turned out to be what I called an unfoldable foldable bike. Designed to be allowed on trains without bike ticket, this nifty little thing is quite fun indeed.

Halbrad Halfbike at Berlin Bike Show
Halbrad (Half-bike in English) looks like a foldable bike, but isn’t.

Across from our booth, were the Dutch geniuses from Brik and Sandwich bikes. Brix bikes stood out with their crankshaft technology and Sandwich is a bike, with a frame made from planar surfaces – you can have the fun of assembling the whole thing.

Shaft Drive Bicycle at Berlin Bike Show 2017
Brik bikes makes classy bicycles with shaft drive instead of a chain.

Our two favourites

Other than our own stuff turning heads, there were some real gems to look at. Our own personal favourites were the PonyJohn bike by Retrovelo’s founder Frank. The bike features hydraulic steering, electric motor, and electric gear. As the man himself said – ‘that’s the maximum you can get out of a bike.’ The hydraulic steering really blew my mind.

PonyJohn Cargo Bike at Berliner Fahrradschau 2017
PonyJohn Cargobike features hydraulic steering, electric motor and electric gears – wow!

The 2nd favourite of the two was KleinLaster. This bike just stood out from the rest by the sheer passion that is seen in the craftman-ship. The whole frame is beautifully brazed and later filed down for an outstanding finish. What we loved is that the frame is kept without paint, only a clear coat goes on top of the raw frame, displaying the welds in their natural beauty. And of course the chain that connects the handlebars to the front fork is just cool to look at.

Kleinlasten beautiful raw cargo bike at Berlin Bicycle Week
KleinLaster is beautifully crafted cargo bike with a chain between the handlebars and the fork. One of our two favourites from 2017.

What’s next?

As said, 2017 edition of BFS was once again a hit. We will certainly be present again in 2018. Aside from that, the life in a small and young company is always a rollercoaster and turbulent. We are hoping to do at least a few more shows this year – let’s see how things play out in the near future. Keep following the blog, Instagram and Facebook and we will surely pass on a message of other shows where you can find us.

Cheerio,
KP, Danny and the team