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  • Utility Bikes – replacing the car
  • Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    I am slowly managing to replace the the car with bike or foot. I am mulling over the idea of a load lugging utility bike along the lines of a Genesis Brixton to reduce my reliance on the car even more.
    So, talk to me about utility bikes, recommendations, uses, can you get the weekly shop on it etc etc. Are there any other bikes i should be looking at?

    Premier Icon scruff9252
    Free Member

    Following with interest – have been mulling over a (e?)cargo bike myself to replace our second car now that wfh has been normalised.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Because of my circumstances with not having any ground floor storage I use a trailer and converted e bike as a utility bike. If I had ground floor storage for it tho I would have an electric backfiets type bike – the ones with the small front wheel and big box in front of the rider. Expensive but good and very versatile with huge load carrying ability

    this sort of thing – there are other manufacturers

    https://www.bakfiets.com/elektrische-bakfiets/cargobike-classic-long-steps

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    Maybe utility bike is the wrong description. The Genesis Brixton is the type of thing i am thinking of. So, front and rear racks, space for a frame bag if i want/need extra space. Some nice big capacity panniers/rack top bag. Geared to be rideable when loaded. Usage is weekly shop (only 1.5 miles away) plus in the week trips to local convenience store for bread/milk/beer top ups.

    Premier Icon benp1
    Full Member

    Have a look at the elephant bikes as well if that’s the sort of thing you’re after

    I’d struggle with getting my weekly shop on that. But we’re a family of 5. I can fit it on my Big Dummy though

    Premier Icon pypdjl
    Free Member

    We went down to 1 car and got a Surly Big Dummy for local shopping trips + sprog transportation. Fitted a bafang motor to it as it is pretty hilly here, and the sprogs are heavy. It has been great!
    If you only rarely need a large cargo capacity you could always get a trailer for a normal bike instead of going full cargo.

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    I’ve a proper cargo (bakfiets style) bike that I use for ferrying round 2 kids, or 1 kid plus shopping, or a big shop or whatever. Ita way more practical than something with panniers, you can just throw stuff in it and go. If you’ve got the space for one I’d reccomend it above a ‘utility bike’ for that use case. Worst for just riding around on, though

    The other advantage of bakfiets style is the weight is all low down when you’re loaded up. I think mines rated to carry 80kg, I regularly have 40 in there and have gone above 100kg total a couple of times when lugging kids and camping gear.

    Premier Icon wombat
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    I’ve sort of done half this over the past year.

    I still have the car as I need it for work but have bought a Bob Yak copy trailer and use that with a couple of 20l panniers on a Dawes Galaxy for our weekly supermarket shop, 1 1/2 miles each way, could do it without the panniers most weeks. I’ve extended this to include pretty much all shopping trips within the city ringroad (York).

    Perfectly possible to do this for our family of 4 adults.

    The only exceptions are if I need to shift particularly heavy or bulky items but I’ve managed to deal with those as part of longer trips (so far) avoiding using the car for a specific shopping journey.

    Premier Icon himupstairs
    Full Member

    We’ve had a a proper box in front cargo bike for about 6 years and it’s brilliant. A full weekly shop for a family of four goes in the front, and with a proper rack and panniers at the back you can carry flippin loads.

    Our kids are 4 and 7 and still get whizzed around in it – I’ve recently added an E conversion kit and it’s even better now.

    If you’ve got somewhere to keep it and can afford one of the better electric versions, get one!

    *We’ve had trailers, and various combinations of panniers etc, but the cargo bike is so convenient it just gets used all the time.

    Premier Icon willard
    Full Member

    A lot of them over here in Stockholm, including some really nice ones. I’ve seen local craftsmen using the extended Bakfiets style ones for carrying tools and there are a lot of the tricycle ones around for kids, dogs and shopping.

    If I had a need for that level of cargo capacity I’d consider a Livelo (https://livelo.se/) because they are pretty compact and seem to be lighter than a lot of the other sorts I see. They do come with a price premium though.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    There are a lot of STW threads on this in the last few yrs, may be useful.

    I do most of grocery shopping and local chores (up to 20 miles) on a bike. Decided to seek a utility bike option. So started with a Kona Ute, and discovered by trial and error that my thinking was all wrong and MTB-y. Ended up with something much better for the job (a strong Dutch utility bike with smaller wheels and stepthru frame, dynamo, kickstand, guards, roller brakes, loooong sturdy rack, hub gear, etc)

    If was carrying more plus kids etc would look at Bakfiets or similar

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Full Member

    Have a look at the elephant bikes as well if that’s the sort of thing you’re after

    We have an Elephant bike. My God it’s heavy.

    Premier Icon kevs
    Free Member

    I’ve got two cargo bikes (one front box, one longtail mtb) and are selling our second car now.

    Our car has done less than 500 miles in the last year (both still working full time).

    I’ve moved everything from guinea pigs, still in the hutch! To double divan beds and fridge freezers. Normal use is two heavy four year olds though

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    Keep getting tempted by the Gazelle (dutch) bikes if you want something practical, normal bike shaped and able to carry a bit of stuff. https://www.gazellebikes.com/en-gb/models

    I’d love a bakfiets but way too many awkward restrictors (to keep motorbikes out) around here that I’d get stuck on if I wanted to use my usual cut-throughs.

    Premier Icon himupstairs
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    Was going to say.. something like a gazelle heavy duty NL is perfect for the sort of thing you are describing, and much more suitable than the genesis.

    Totally bombproof everything, relatively undesirable, and built to live outside. As above, comes with lock, racks, lights, full chain case, hub gears and brakes etc etc.

    If I ever replace my elderly but also bombproof batavus dutch bike it’ll be with a gazelle.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    A lot of them over here in Stockholm, including some really nice ones. I’ve seen local craftsmen using the extended Bakfiets style ones for carrying tools and there are a lot of the tricycle ones around for kids, dogs and shopping.

    There’s a carpenter in Cambridge who uses one. Nice idea, but very limited carrying capability for 4×8′ sheets…..

    I’ve often thought about getting a proper cargo bike, but they are more expensive than a half decent 2nd hand car…

    Premier Icon tthew
    Full Member

    Not going to replace the car(s) but I have been mulling for a while a bike that is just ready to go with lights, lock, racks with bags permanently in place and flat pedals for all shoes. Often once I’ve found all that stuff for one of my existing bikes I may as well just walk to the local shops or I’m in the car to town.

    I also have no room or desire for an n+1 so I’m going to repurpose my DayOne with a Nexus 3 speed hub wheel and flat handlebars. There will doubtless be a thread!

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    Ended up with something much better for the job

    Such as?

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    ^ sorry was called away mid-edit!

    Was a Batavus Personal Deluxe

    Like this

    Also never worry about it being nicked with a Trelock wheel lock, and an extra integrated cable lock that pullsout of the frame. Add the fugly looks. It’s a tealeaf-repellant. Stealth tech! The weight is on the heavier side of ‘sedate’ so not a nippy option, but I soon grew to like it’s smooth, silent, zen-like surety. The slightly feet-fwd crank position and wide swept bars gives a relaxed cruiser feel, keeping CoG lower still, and the strength + stability is such that I’ve lugged insane weights that would have had the Ute (or even my steel tourer) noodling and creaking.

    Had to swap a cog and chainring to winch up the Malvern Hills. If I was rich I’d probably buy something similar with e-assist, just because I’m getting creaky tbh. As it is the acoustic beast does the job. It also has road presence and seems to attract less close-passes, especially with giganto-panniers.

    I’ll do between 4 mile or 16 mile round trios depending on whether shopping in village or city. It will carry as much as you can get in panniers.

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    I’ve often thought about getting a proper cargo bike, but they are more expensive than a half decent 2nd hand car…

    and there in is the issue – people look at the upfront cost and not the long term costs.

    I replaced our second car with a camper and pre covid used my E-long tail – set up with guards and dynamo lighting for most day to day tasks.

    worked well and looking forward to getting back to it when i actually have places to go when the wifes using the car. – I also have a kona Rove thats set up with dynamo lights and guards if i dont need to carry a load.

    Theres no denying that as a someone whos 2 miles from the nearest village that the car is more convenient and that the half mile of fast A road to the village is better negotiated in the car – But thats also part of the problem so I’ve slowely been widening the single track between us and the village to get the trailer up it for nursery runs – not a hope in hell your riding a bakfiets up it. – The postie trying to take his van up it was a great help though.

    One thing i am in the throws of to improve the convenience is moving the daily bikes out of the garage to a more convenient location.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    If you only rarely need a large cargo capacity you could always get a trailer for a normal bike instead of going full cargo.

    ^ This too. I once lugged 5 bags of groceries in a puppy crate strapped on a large Carry Freedom Y trailer

    Not as much fun as the Batavus by a long shot but possibly an extra shopping bag’s worth. Combined would be ridiculous.

    The Batavus cost me £120 used and the trailer nearly double. Go figure.

    (To the room) I can’t quite can see the attraction/reasoning of spending £thousands on a bike to fetch groceries unless if injured/disabled/live on top of hill. In fact I tick two nearly three of those boxes, yet still pedal a 3spd bike 9 miles each way to Aldi. Would enjoy an e-assist on tbat account, but would prefer to be uninjured and acoustic until age and wear force hand.

    And why only go once a week if it’s only a couple of miles away? Just buy food more often/as you need it, get more exercise? I tend to ride at night to supermarkets to get away from the indoorsness of home and the busyness of dayshoppers. As if that wasn’t bonus enough, at end of day you also can halve (or less) the grocery bill by buying end of day/shelf life deals, and the winch home earns a deep sleep after than tin of beer.

    Premier Icon stripeysocks
    Free Member

    Have got an elderly Giant Lafree Twist which I got ??15 years ago and it’s got 2 huge panniers plus a box bungee’d on top, I take it down to the market once a week and it just about fits a week’s fruit and veg for 2 adults.
    The e-assist is great for this – I can and have pedalled it fully laden without, but it’s a faff, particularly getting going.

    Someone round our way has got an e-trike which is almost a teeny van, like https://www.cyclesmaximus.com/cargotrike.htm – if I was getting rid of the car altogether I might go for something like that – once you’ve bought it the costs are going to be pretty low.

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    And why only go once a week if it’s only a couple of miles away?

    alternatively it’s 12 miles each way so once a week is more than enough for the main shop.

    Great ideals if you live within a couple miles of a shop mind.

    But to refer to a bike as acoustic…..get in the sea.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    alternatively it’s 12 miles each way so once a week is more than enough for the main shop.

    I’ll only do the 9 mile grocery shop once in a week/while on an analogue bicycling machine of the acoustic type, mainly because I live atop a big foff hill and have arthritic joints and an ab injury. In a few years earlier life I wouldn’t have thought twice, and already commuted 11 miles each way daily. But most shops/runs are now within two or three miles of me so prefer to go often just to get out/get deals.

    Need three carrots and a spud for tomorrow’ stew? Seeya, be back in half an hour. May bring a beer home to cook with 👍🏼

    This regular local trips fun has all gone a bit rubbish since the Covids. Eggs/honesty boxes excepted. But I’ll still grocery shop late, if less often. I find the last fifteen minutes before closing is much less busy both people/shoppers and road-traffic wise.

    For me, an unforeseen *best thing* about a (very) good utility bike like this Batavus is the readiness of it. No light charging. No searching for bags, locks, etc. No special clothes. Even the lock key is already in the bike, it ‘parks’ in the rear lock. Just grab coat, card and doorkey and hop on. In fact, no hopping required, just stepthru and off. Stepthru is a massive imorovement over diamond frame for setting off loaded, or making quick pavement stops, dismounts etc. It all ‘just works’ in a way that I would never have guessed after a lifetime of roadies, hybrids, tourers and mtbs. Even the Kona Ute was basically an MTB with a bit on the back. The Dutch really have done their work on cargo/utility.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    I spent a lot of time a couple of years ago seriously considering this. To remember why it didn’t go anywhere all I need to do is look out the window today – its pouring and horrible gusty winds.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    ^ one reason why most car journeys are < 5 miles from home.

    Yet I’ve rarely if ever returned from a short bike ride feeling worse than if I’d driven. Usually feel 10x better than had I not ridden. Even look forward to pogies-weather as it’s rare I get to use them! Weird, maybe.

    The only time I later regret making local trips by bike is either accident/ice or more commonly near-misses from cars. The latter is more a case of regretting not taking a different route. Just bought a poncho for mad downpours. In the last twenty years I don’t remember arriving home soaked too many times, but when have I’m normally laughing. The tough bit is heading out into a downpour. I’ll probably give that a miss until it stops/tomorrow. But the thought of looking out of the window one day at the weather and thinking ‘I’ll never use my legs/travel under my steam again’ is terrifying to me! I think having spent a good few years in a wheelchair sent me a bit mad and since have been keen to keep moving/enjoy being able to get out. ymmv. That, and 100% reliance on cars/car culture is shitting has shitted up our world and made us soft. Different discussion maybe. I get guilty af
    driving for chips to keep them warm as on the bike I re-injure sprinting uphill. Wish we had a chippy within walking distance. Or I could give chips a miss/peel and chip some spuds… 🤣

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    The thing with living without a car for me is tht sometimes you need to be creative with how you do things and sometimes you end up with a big cost that you notice rather than the continual paying for a car. for example the £50 taxi fare – now most people would balk at that but not even notice putting that much fuel in a car

    Although I have an appointment up town this afternoon and its being foul outside – but then its not a journey you could easily drive anyway!

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Full Member

    Those Bakfiets look lovely!

    The question I have, though, whether something like an old child’s trailer that child has grown out of might not be a practical option? I used to have one exactly like this, and often regret having sold it, as I think it would have been perfect for grocery shopping and other errands.

    Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    They said it would never work, that it was cheap Chinese junk, that it would be dead in a matter of hours.

    It’s not. It’s lived outside my front door, unlocked (it’s completely invisible to scrotes), for over 2 years now with almost zero maintenance. The tyres have just about worn down to the “carcass” (they’re solid foam), the chains been re-tensioned a couple of times, the front basket broke (I may have overloaded the “5kg max”) and then been fixed with some m6 bolts and some 1″ steel box section. The rear rack was added to make it even more of a load-lugger. Even the dynamo light still works and the wheels are still straight!

    I’ve not parked in the town center since getting it, and only used the car for the supermarket trip if I’ve also needed diesel.

    £90!

    (As predicted the rear solar light is useless, I keep meaning to wire one upto the dynamo rather than have to remember to attach a AAA/USB one)

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    ^^ £80!

    Added props. V similar setup to my Batavus (cost me £110 iirc). 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

    My egg bike cost £80 tho!

    Share your gno-gnar/gno-car bikes!

    Use it all the time for all shopping now, while the Batavus is being rebuilt (stored outdoors for 8 years, now it ‘needs work’ mainly because I’m a fussy person who gets angsty around rust)

    Just found these and i think they look great.

    Looks fun, reminds me of the old monkeybike mopeds? A bit short for my liking maybe. Also prefer something less nickable and more pedalable.

    I looked at a RadWagon Cargo V4 as an option recently, someone commented on this thread

    Again, overkill for me. I just realised I now do all of my shopping in comfort on a 1989 touring bike. ymmv.

    Premier Icon Olly
    Free Member

    I’ve often thought about getting a proper cargo bike, but they are more expensive than a half decent 2nd hand car…

    Not after ongoing costs of tax, insurance, fuel, service, mot and the problems you might inherit with a 3k car?

    Im a big fan of cargo bikes. i think everyone in suburbia should have one.

    I had an Urban arrow for a few years, which was a fantastic land yacht of a thing. My OH refused to ride it though and it was due some costly service issues that i couldnt handle (Nuvinci hub, and the bearings in the motor were on the way out, but as an early model i couldn’t update the motor due to motor mount compatibility), so much as i enjoyed it, it got swapped for a Yuba long tail, which my OH loves and has been using as a daily driver for a few years now.

    Took the Yuba to the bottle bank over the weekend, but it took longer to securely strap the bin of bottles onto the side securely than it took to get to the bottle bank.
    Got two kids now, so looking at getting a Bullitt frame and building it up myself.

    When no 2 came along we swapped our transporter for a full fat transit, which is a bit of a minibus to be lugging to the shops or running down to the beach.
    Im thinking that a Bullit would take two kids, their bike, and/or stuff for the beach.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    ^ Olly ever looked at a Gazelle Cabby? Might be worth a look they were well recommended by Really Useful Bikes when I bought the ute. Nexus is easy and inexpensive. And (according to my faultless experience with the Batavus) pretty much maintenance-free

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    Not after ongoing costs of tax, insurance, fuel, service, mot and the problems you might inherit with a 3k car?

    My point was more that for a utilitarian bike (rather than the lastest Dura Ace equipped dream bike), they cost a hell of a lot and if you want a basic ebike version then they’re the best part of £5-6k.

    Still loads of them around in Cambridge, very much the thing to have if you have two young kids and live in town.

    Premier Icon himupstairs
    Full Member

    We’ve got a Cabby. Got it because the box can fold so it’s much easier to store, and at that time it was miles cheaper than anything else.

    It’s really well put together and I’ve just added a bafang mid drive kit. Not as posh as Urban Arrow or Bullitt etc, but it just works.

    Premier Icon lunge
    Full Member

    I bought a Kona MinUte off the back of a PSA on here 5 ot 6 years ago and it’s been an absolute game changer. It’s not the same as what the OP is looking at but it’s also not a “proper” cargo bike. it’s basically an elongated MTB with big panniers on it.

    I use it to pop into the local town, I can fit a weeks worth of shopping in it (occasionally I take a backpack too if I’ve got a lot to get), I’ve carried all kind of things that shouldn’t fit on it, and it just works perfectly for what I want. If/when it dies I’ll buy another in a heartbeat (actually, I’d get a full size Ute).

    Having it has meant that me and Mrs Lunge now quite happily survive with one car as I use the MinUte for anything local.

    Seriously, get one, they’re wonderful.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    This thread has inspired me to look at de-rusting/restoring and then maybe converting (via a Swytch conversion or similar front-wheel hub-motor) the old batavus/battlehorse. Still the comfiest, swoopiest bike (utility or otherwise) I ever rode.

    Thar she blows:

    Annoyingly I have a Bafang motor and setup that came installed on Mrs P’s long gone trike, but it’s over the legal limit 😬

    *edit – as ever, (and not to pee on chips, but as a contrast) ymmv – ie everything Lunge says about the Ute I found to be almost completely the opposite. Found mine the worst-designed thing for carrying cargo, ie. noodly back end, high-loading, wobbly, no stepthru, twitchy at front/rear-heavy. As soon as I rode a Dutch utility bike I realised more what I disliked so much about the Ute. I spent a packet on the ute too! Around a grand. It was ok unloaded, like a mid-range vanilla mid2k mountain bike, ie a Kina Lanai.

    The Batavus Personal (used) that ai replaced it with cost a ton and yet had everything included with it as stock incl dynamo lighting. As similarly priced bikes new – the Ute seems even more expensive, yet poorly-designed for purpose IMO. I’m convinced it was a rushed project marketed at mountain bikers not utility/urban bikers

    More hereon this thread

    Premier Icon himupstairs
    Full Member

    My point was more that for a utilitarian bike (rather than the lastest Dura Ace equipped dream bike), they cost a hell of a lot and if you want a basic ebike version then they’re the best part of £5-6k.

    But if it gets used everyday (with effectively zero running or maintenance costs), is extremely convenient and reliable, and replaces a car for at least some journeys, what’s not to like?

    Being utilitarian doesn’t equal cheap parts. Quality components that put up with being left outside, used all the time, not always looked after, but still just work, cost money.

    It’s a tool, and like good tools, they can cost a bit, work well, and last.

    A potentially significant chunk of cash, yes, but in Scotland at least, you can get interest free loans courtesy of the govt for e-cargo bikes for example. It just needs a society that is willing to get over the cultural dependency on cars. But that’s for a different thread.

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    We’ve got a Cabby. Got it because the box can fold so it’s much easier to store, and at that time it was miles cheaper than anything else.

    It’s really well put together and I’ve just added a bafang mid drive kit. Not as posh as Urban Arrow or Bullitt etc, but it just works.

    mine’s also a cabby – completely with the tent (which isn’t super sturdy) and the adapters to plug a maxi cosy seat into it. Our youngest had his first ride at 4 days old..

    I don’t really have any complaints. it was cheap (£1500 new), fairly sturdy, the dynamo lights (mildly upgraded) are surprisingly good, the kickstand and integrated lock are perfect.. It could I suppose do with wider range gears and a better front brake for when its loaded up – the stopping distance from a fair lick would be shorter if I just dragged my feet – but I haven’t serviced the rollerbrakes in a while 😀

    Premier Icon willard
    Full Member

    @footflaps

    Still loads of them around in Cambridge, very much the thing to have if you have two young kids and live in town.

    Very much this here as well. LBS made a point of advertising to people that they knew have a second car and leave it parked on the street or in a garage all the time. Yes, the bikes they sell are expensive, but they _will_ take two kids and shopping and they are a damn sight easier to park in town. And you don’t pay for parking.

    They even had one that Tony was directly aiming at the Porsche Cayenne set. I mean, nice going Tony, ballsy move.

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