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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 2,890.00  Including VAT
  • Sidecar Bike Bicycle by KP Cyclery
    KP Bicycle Sidecar
    749.00  Including VAT
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Sunday read: Brooks Leather Saddle Maintenance & Care

Leather saddles have a ton of advantages over synthetic materials – they adjust to your anatomy, they get more comfortable with time, and if maintained well, they last forever and only look better with time. At the same time, if not looked after at all they might start cracking and lose their colour and character. Looking around Copenhagen shows you both ends of this line, the beauties and the beasts. No-one does leather saddles better than Brooks, so we will share 4 easy steps of leather saddle care to make your saddle last a lifetime.

  1. Give it some grease

    Even if you keep your bike indoors, never ride in the rain and only wear velvet pants, leather will have its natural wear. The saddle on the picture is a 1-year old B17 that I’ve ridden in all sorts of weather almost daily. As you see, it is starting to look like someone rubbed a sandpaper over the edges, this is to be expected. Easy medication against it is to take a piece of (clean) cloth and some leather fat. Brooks tells you to only use their saddle polish, but anything will do as long as it is natural and doesn’t have chemicals in it. Personally I would suggest bee’s wax, you can use it for saddle, grips, shoes, handbags etc.

    Leather fat for Brooks Saddle maintenance
    Natural leather fat by Gold Quality

    1-year old Brown B17 Brooks Saddle
    A year old Brooks Saddle with signs of wear.

    Brown Brooks B17 saddle care and maintenance
    Same saddle after a layer of natural leather fat. Rub it on, let it sit and rub excess fat off with a clean piece of cloth.
  2. Cover from rain

    Leather is not a huge fan of water. Just have a plastic bag in your backpack or under the seat for when it rains, pull it over the seat and keep your saddle in order and your rear end dry.

  3. Keep your bike indoors

    This one is not a must, but a rule of thumb is that your bike will last longer the less sun and rain it receives. The Bike Hanger is the perfect solution for bike storage on the wall if you have small spaces or you just want it to be out of the way in the corridor or garage. If you don’t want to keep it indoors then cover the seat with a plastic bag during the night so it won’t soak in the rain.

    White bike hanging on the wall with The Bike Hanger by KP Cyclery
    The Bike Hanger 2.0 in brown stores this bicycle in style
  4. Tighten your seat every once in a while

    In most cases, it will be needed only once a year, but still, it is a good idea to do it. All Brooks saddles come with a special key to tighten them as leather stretches. If you’re not sure when to do it then jump into the closest bike shop and they should give you a good idea and probably do it for you. NB! Don’t tighten a wet saddle!

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

And that’s as easy as it is. Our leather saddle care regime probably takes less than an hour of work a year. It will keep your Brooks leather saddle looking good for ages, and who knows, maybe one day you’ll sell it on eBay for a nice dime.

*We’re happy to do the above steps for you for free in our Copenhagen shop 😉

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Leaning Sidecars

It’s been a little while since the last post – we’re looking to get back into it now as we’ve successfully moved the shop to our new location in Copenhagen (Ingerslevsgade 103, Kbh 1705 if you’re curious to stop by ;) ). Here’s a piece on something that’s been cooking for a while – leaning sidecar history.

Leaning sidecars were first invented by Freddie Dixon, an English motorbike racer, way back in the 1920’s. Dixon was the first to figure out that by having the sidecar passenger control the tilt of the car with a lever, instead of the sidecar being rigidly fixed to the bike, it was possible to take turns a lot faster, and he used this idea to great success in his motorbike racing career. Leaning sidecars were further popularized in the same decade in American motorcycle racing, although now the focus was on having the sidecar wheel tilt by itself, giving the bike rider control. The technology used in these tilting sidecars has come a long way, and we have now been able to come up with our very own leaning sidecar for a bicycle, allowing you to easily carry goods around without knocking the bike itself off balance.

Leaning motorcycle sidecar

Leaning sidecars have many advantages which they can bring to your bike-riding, that make them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be able to carry things on their bike with ease. With a leaning sidecar, riding the bike feels normal, and you aren’t constrained by having to compensate for the added weight of the sidecar. You’re able to take corners as you normally would, leaning in and taking them faster, as the sidecar is able to tilt freely to match the curve of the corner. Furthermore, since the sidecar is able to move independently, you don’t have to worry about holes in the road knocking you off balance – the sidecar can move over these without affecting the stability of the bike itself. On a three wheeled bike, you might notice that the bike rocks around when moving over holes, but this is not a problem with a leaning sidecar.

At KP Cyclery, we’ve specifically designed our leaning sidecar bike to match the demand springing up for more efficient, effective bikes. With more and more households choosing not to have a car, it makes sense to enable your bike to carry goods such as groceries home easily. You’re sure to be impressed with how much weight it can cope with – in testing, we even managed to fit an armchair onto it!

Sidecar Bicycle by KP Cyclery from above
Our version of the leaning sidecar

Stylish and functional, this bike makes a great choice for those who want to cut through urban congestion with ease, and carry goods around safe in the knowledge that they are still doing their bit for the environment. The only constraint on what you can ferry around is your imagination, so you’re sure to find that it adapts to your particular needs perfectly. If you have good balance, and hang on tight, you can even fit a person on it, so it really is suitable for everyone. We look forward to seeing what you can do with yours!

**Rasmus K, if you’re reading this and haven’t checked you inbox, then do so, you just won a set of magnetic lights.

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Why steel is still the king of frame tubing?

Steel is the material that has been on an irreplaceable position throughout the history of cycling. From the boneshakers of 1860s to modern custom builds, it has been the material of choice for many builders.

KP Cykler Boneshaker Animation

From the early 1900s to 1990s, steel was almost the only material used in producing bikes. In 1990s aluminium began its rise as the top choice in racing, only to be dethroned as the end of the decade saw a new material’s rise – carbon fiber. Composite materials have large advantages over metal such as aerodynamics, as it can be easily formed into any shape, and most importantly for racing – weight. Carbon road racing frames have been built as light as 642 grams with a ‘light’ steel frame being around 1400g. With carbon conquering most of the professional cycling, steel is not very likely to make a comeback to the performance world.

But if dreaming of the fastest time on Alpe d’Huez doesn’t give you a boner, then steel is most probably the best option for your urban bicycle. Sure the stiff aluminium gets you up the hill fast, but it also makes for a depressingly bumpy ride on most streets. Get into a crash on a carbon frame, and you better have a plastic bag with you to pick up the pieces – try to google shattered carbon bike frame. Steel frames give you a nice smooth ride on most city street with its lovely little flex. If you get into a crash, it will stay in one unit and hopefully still giving you a chance to guide your bike, or get to your destination once you get back up.

A shattered carbon fiber fork.

These are the exact reasons why at KP Cykler, we love steel  frames – their design is beautifully simple, they age gracefully, and they give you the most comfortable ride for the best possible price, what’s there not to like..?

KP Cykler bicycle 21

The lightest bike in the World: http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/the-worlds-lightest-bike-36902/

History of the bicycle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_bicycle

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Sidecar Bike – How does it work?

A sidecar bike is a great way of extending the capabilities of your bicycle. By having a sidecar, you can easily transport cargo that is simply too large for panniers and racks. But have you ever wondered how a sidecar bike works? It seems like a miracle that it is able to stay attached without causing the bike to tip over. However, there are two simple methods which are used to keep everything balanced- sidecar lead, and toe-in. In this article, we’ll explain just how a sidecar bike works, so you won’t be left wondering anymore.

KP Cykler sidecar bike

The “sidecar lead” refers to the horizontal distance between the rear wheel of the bike, and the rear wheel of the sidecar. The greater this distance, the less of a risk there is of the bike and sidecar tipping over. However, a bigger sidecar lead will also cause the sidecar’s tires to wear out more quickly, so it’s important to get the sidecar lead just right.

KP Cykler Sidecar Bike Lead

The other way that a sidecar bike stays balanced is known as “toe in”. The weight of the sidecar means that the bike will be constantly pulled towards it- something that could pose a big problem if it isn’t dealt with. To counteract this, the sidecar will typically be tilted slightly towards the bike itself. The bigger the sidecar, the more toe in is required, both due to the increased weight and because of the wind resistance that could knock the bike off balance.

KP Cykler Sidecar Bike Toe In

As you can see, it requires a lot of skill to get the balance just right. We’ve worked hard to ensure that every measurement on our sidecar bikes is just right, so that you can be sure of a safe journey, every time.

Motorcycle sidecar setup: http://www.steves-workshop.co.uk/vehicles/bmw/sidecar/sidecaradjustment/sidecaradjustment.html

Our Sidecar Bike: http://kpcyclery.com/product/the-sidecar-bike-by-kp-cykler/