The Carrygo Criteria

posted 9 Dec 2011, 11:40 by Jocke Selin   [ updated 9 Dec 2011, 11:42 ]
When I started thinking about making a cargo bike, I did a lot of research. I probably read every article on cargo bikes two or three times. It quickly dawned to me that there's lots of big cargo bikes and there's lots of normal bikes, but there seems to be a distinct lack of suitable, appropriately sized cargo bikes. After a lot of thinking I came to the following criteria of how my ideal cargo bike would be configured.

The right size

In UK a bike that's too big won't work. We have narrow streets, we don't have many wide cycle lanes. Many houses don't have wide access to front or back gardens. We also have staggered gates at the end of some cycle paths to prevent us from riding straight into traffic. Finally, many houses have very limited outdoor or shed storage space.
This means that a long cargo bike, like the bakfiets/long-johns can't make it through the staggered gates, or perform tight turns. It also eliminates the cargo trikes. They're simply too wide for the staggered gates, they're too wide for the narrow back garden gate and to park them you need something more like a car parking spot than a cycle rack. Quite unfortunate.
The Carrygo solution is a bike that's not too long, or too wide, but still capable of carrying a very substantial load. The length of the Carrygo isn't much longer than a normal bike, in fact the wheelbase is not too different from a normal bike thanks to the smaller front wheel. You can ride the Carrygo wherever you can ride a normal bicycle, you can park the bike wherever you park a normal bike. Agile! And that's, to me, the right size.

The right cargo capacity

The CarryGo cargo box loaded with our shopping.
I spent a lot of time wondering what's the right size when it comes to how much stuff you want to carry. I wasn't going to pretend that the Carrygo would compete with a medium size car when it comes to what it can carry. I did want the bike to carry enough to replace many of the car journeys we think we need a car for. These trips are the trips to the super market, to the DIY shop, to town centre for shopping, etc. The criteria that I settled for was a half-week's shopping or 2-4 bags of compost or other material from the DIY or garden shop. I didn't want to stretch to a weekly shop for a few reasons. First one is that I'd like to think that more frequent shopping gives us fresher products. Then I'd also like to think that two cycle rides are better than one when it comes to excersise. The Carrygo can easily take this amount of cargo. We have completed several trips to the super market and we have filled the cargo box to the brim and used the rear luggage rack to great success.

Your bike, adapted to you; personal.

One obvious thing after reading all the information on the web was that there's a wide variety of sizes when it comes to cargo bikes. It was quite obvious that different people will have different requirements. Some have children that they need to carry, some have heavy stuff, some have odd shaped stuff, some need to attach things, etc. I decided that the best solution is to build the bike for the customer. That way, you can dictate what you want, and you can be sure you get to use your bike for what you need.
You will also be able to specify the exact components you want. The number of gears, the type of brakes, seat, handlebars, wheels, accessories, etc, etc.

It needs to be robust, convenient and practical

The front disk brake on the Carrygo cargo bicycle.
We are all lazy, and I try not to be, and many others do too. But we all know that the path of the least resistance is the one we're most likely to take. If your bike is locked up, behind doors, and it's cumbersome to get out, and it requires special this-or-thats, then the likelyhood that you're going to use it is much lower. If the bike's accessible, inviting and ready to ride, the chances are you'll enjoy it more. It also needs to handle the day-to-day tasks without getting in your way - in fact, it should make them easier. The lock, for example, shouldn't have you wrestle with a wire and spend time locking the bike. It should be easy. Every bit on the bike should be aimed at reducing the effort you have to make to use the bike. The Carrygo demo bike will come with a horseshoe lock that allows you to quickly lock the bike's rear wheel, and attach a wire or chain to the same lock. One key, two locks. And the key stays in the lock whilst you're riding. Convenient and practical
Another thing that gets in our ways is broken things, and a fact is, the less things you have, the less things can be broken. Cables on bicycles are the most common nuisance. They get stiff, they rust, they need oiling, and finally they snap. Hopefully it's not your brake cable that snaps in that critical moment. The Carrygo solution to this is to use a rear coaster brake (that's one of those built into the rear hub and it's activated by pushing the pedals backwards) and a front hydraulic disk brake. It's hydraulic because it doesn't have a cable that can snap, it's also more powerful and gives better feel. The only cable on the Carrygo is for the internal hub gears. Should it break or seize, it will not be a catastrophical failure. Please note that every Carrygo is built to your specifications, so if you want other components, that's how it should be.
The rest of the Carrygo is built with the same philosophy, strong and hardy - so it's ready to help you, not hinder you.

Why start from scratch?

When you can use a bike that already exists? It saves time and it certainly saves another bike from the scrap heap, and perhaps a smidge of the planet. I felt so strongly about using an existing bike that I wanted to make it one of the criterias for a Carrygo. It makes your bike personal. If you want, you could use a bike that you already own and love. Regardless, it's almost certain that there will not be a bike exactly like yours.
But don't think it's a junk bike just because the frame had a previous life. Every bit has been scrutinised and checked over. The only way to guarantee the highest quality is by servicing all the components or fitting new parts where required.
What's not to like; your personal recycled bike?!

The result is the Carrygo

The appropriately sized cargo bike that's personalised for you. The way you want it. Ready to serve and help you.