Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cargobikes: Maybe it's time for a rethink

Welding, snagit! Welding is a big holdup for me as a builder of eco-friendly things. I was a pretty decent welder as a kid, but I had access to a big shop and a very nice and expensive welder. But that was a few decades ago. In the time since then, I have occasionally relied on the kindness of friends (or strangers who wanted money) for some of my welding needs. But most of my welding needs have actually driven me to think of ways around welding. When building my electric Vespa, I wanted to weld up a swingarm to suit my needs. I eventually (ahem) adapted a small swingarm from an electric dirt bike to suit my needs. I am (ahem) pretty happy with that solution, but it is quite far off in form and function from what I wanted to build.

Cargo bikes have been popping up a lot on this blog lately. As much as I love bicycles, the standard bicycle is mostly just good for transporting one person with minimal stuff. If you want to truly replace a car or truck, you need to find a way to haul extra people or extra stuff. So cargo cycles make great sense.

But cargo cycles are expensive. For Instance, the NTS bikes start somewhere around $3500 and go up into the mid $4K range. And I do not question their worth or their value. But I sure question my ability to pull $4K out of the family budget for a bicycle, especially after I spent that kind of money a few years ago on a motorcycle that has proven to be extremely unreliable and has literally spent more miles in the back of a pickup on the way to the repair shop than it has on the street. (Sigh)

Or, you can build your own cargobike for a lot less money, but you need to be able to weld.

For me, lack of money and lack of welding skills (and a welder) have kept me away from owning or building a cargo bike.

But there may be hope for me after all. An article appeared yesterday on Treehugger.com that featured an open-source, modular, cargo bike. And it's very ugly. But that may be just skin deep. And I could (I hope) build one pretty easily without putting a big damper on the family budget and without the need for a welder. Now, where did I put that chop saw? I hope you find this thing as fascinating as I do.
Learn more here at Low-Tech Magazine

May we all find better ways to haul our stuff without destroying the atmosphere for everyone and everything else.