The use of the cargo bike as personal means of transport essentially started in Europe in the 1980’s, with Denmark and Holland leading the way. Eventually, when cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam became more bike-friendly, the bakfiets or “box bikes” became more popular among younger families who used them to carry everything from groceries to kids. By the 90’s, bicycle manufacturers in Europe began designing models where the load would be centered more evenly between the front wheel and the rider.
It wasn’t until the late 90’s that there was much of any interest for these bike in the US, until a Stanford engineer by the name of Ross Evans created an American version of the cargo bike called the XtraCycle. This model featured a cargo area on an elongated rear end. At the time it wasn’t much of a hit among cyclists, selling only five units in the first year. However, these days he can barely keep up with the demand.
Utility bikes come in all shapes, sizes and designs with many available features. Despite a somewhat unwieldy-looking appearance, they are surprisingly easy to pedal and navigate, although definitely not the fastest bikes around. Here’s a list of some top-notch utility bikes in different styles and prices to give you an idea of what’s available.
$3,995 USD (Frameset $2,495+ USD)
Available at metrofiets.com and frames at some US bike stores
Made in Portland, OR, Metrofiets hand-manufactures European style “box bikes” but with an American bent. A roomy cargo area holds up to 400 lbs. Several options for customization are available for the frameset, which is comprised of chromoly steel. This model is equipped with both front and rear disc brakes, swept-back handlebars and a Shimano Alfine internal eight-speed hub.
$2,850 USD ($3,150 with box, $1,850 frame only)
Available at cetmacargo.com
Also a European style bike, the CETMA Margo comes with swept-back style FSA Metropolis handlebars, a chromoly-steel-frame, disc brakes and a Brooks B17 leather saddle. Weighing in at 40 lbs., it sports a SRAM nine-speed derailleur, 300 lb. load capacity and a Paul Component stem cap light mount. A marine-grade plywood box is also available for carrying kids or loose items. Made in Eugene, OR.
Larry Vs Harry Bullitt Clockwork
Price $4,200 USD
Available at larryvsharry.com
US and Canadian bike stores.
Bikes can also be bought online.
The Bullitt Clockwork comes equipped with a Shimano Alfine eight-speed internal hub, hydraulic disc brakes and impact-strengthened plastic mudguards. The handlebars height is adjustable while also non-removable. Its hardened aluminum frame keeps the weight of the bike at 53 pounds (24 kilograms). The load capacity is 400 pounds (180 kilograms), including the rider. A plethora of interesting box designs that are compatible can be found online this summer including a free blueprint to build your own box.
Babboe City Cargo Bike
Dealer locations available at babboecargobike.com
Made in Holland, this Bakfiet-style bicycle comes equipped with a durable galvanized steel frame, an enclosed chain-guard, long-lasting internal hub brakes and a premium German-made beech wood bucket complete with seating for two children and plenty of space for groceries or other items. This sharp looking bike is easy to navigate and has a load capacity of up to 220 lbs. A rain tent and cover are also available separately for purchase.
A list of dealers is available at civiacycles.com
This nice looking truck-style utility bike has a stell frame and a modular frame-mounted rack on the front that can hold up to 50 lbs. The combination of a 26″ wheel in the rear with a smaller 20″ wheel in the front helps keep the load weight low and provides stability. It’s also equipped with swept-back handlebars for a comfortable upright riding position, a nine-speed Shimano drivetrain and an optional fender set can be added on as well.
Christiania Box Light
Find dealers at christianiabikes.com
Christiania bikes have been manufactured, finished and assembled by hand in Denmark since 1976, and this is their most popular model. This heavy-duty weatherproof front-loading cargo tricycle sports three 24″ Scwalbe Big Apple tires, two front brakes, a seven-speed Shimano Nexus internal hub and coaster brake, a rear wheel lock and it even includes a rain canopy. The cargo box is very roomy, perfect for kids (seating up to four) and a maximum load of 220 lbs.
This popular utility bike has seen three previous upgrades, and the latest one managed to shed an additional 10 lbs. off of it’s total weight (48 lbs.). The 21-speed Mundo Yuba has a longtail-style frame which includes side loader supports, 26″ wheels, V-brakes, fenders and kickstand. Maximum load capacity is 440 lbs. Additional add-ons that are available include a bread basket front rack, stand-alone double kickstand, a softspot cushion and peanut-shell child seat. This bike can also be converted to fully electric by installing the eZee Kit available for an extra $1,350.
$899.00 USD/ CAD
More information available at konaworld.com
This sporty utility bicycle has a shorter style frame and comes equipped with a variety of accessories, including an Acacia wood cargo deck, two Kona UTE side bags, both rear and front mechanical disc brakes, a Kona bell, Shimano eight-speed drivetrain, fenders and swept-back handlebars. Having a maximum load capacity of 300 lbs., the MinUte is also compatible with the Yepp and XtraCycle Peapod child seats.
XtraCycle EdgeRunner Electric
Get more details at xtracycle.com
This stylish and functional longtail electric cargo bike features an eZee hub motor and a 24-speed Shimano drivetrain. It comes with a KickBack stand-alone kickstand, FreeLoader bags, a throttle, and standard lights. With a front 26″ wheel and a rear 20″ wheel it has a maximum load capacity of 400 lbs. The frame is compatible with XtraCycle components and accessories, including those for specific cargo needs, transporting children and the Hooptie (pictured above).
More information at trekbikes.com
This electric cargo bicycle (part of the Gary Fisher line) comes equipped with a longtail frame and a 350 watt rear hub motor. It includes lights, eight-speed freewheel (13-32), fenders, a front disc brake and rear V-brake, highly durable rims, folding aluminum racks, a cargo bag and 38/28 trigger shifters. Maximum load capacity is 250 lbs.