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Cargo bikes take on many forms, ranging from the traditional Long John to custom built four-wheel frames using pedal assist motors.

While these bikes have been around for more than a century, recent designs and technological innovations have made cargo bikes more efficient and accessible for the modern city. Here are the most common styles.

The Long John Cargo Bike

The Long John bicycle was developed in Denmark. The bike has a very long wheel base and traditionally has a small front wheel. The cargo area is low to ground which is useful in keeping heavy loads stable. There is a “linkage system” connecting the steering from the handlebars to the front wheel. Capacity is usually about 220 pounds (100 kg).

Long John bicycle with box

Riding a Long John bicycle

The Bakfiets

The traditional Dutch Bakfiets is the most common form of cargo bike in the Netherlands. Also known as the box bike, they consist of a large usually wooden box with either one wheel or two wheels in the front or side respectively. They were commonly used by tradespeople to make deliveries and today they are often used as a modern day family bike.

Woman Riding a loaded Bakfiets

Portrait of a Bakfiets

The Urban Arrow

Urban Arrows use a sophisticated Long John construction for limitless possibilities to carry a volume ranging from 260 liters to a whopping 2500 liters. They offer a range of models which include a 400Wh or 500Wh battery for the family bike to using advanced dual hydraulic disc brake technology in the three-wheeled Tender bike. The Urban Arrow aims to be the leader in urban mobility.

Urban Arrow cargo bike for commercial use

Mom riding with four kids in Urban Arrow

The Utility Bike

These bikes are built with a traditional wheelbase and stronger frames. A rack is all that’s needed to classify it as a utility bike. Though if you want to carry heavier loads with less hassle, consider attaching a sturdy rack to the head tube.

The utility bicycle

The utility bicycle

The Cycle Truck Cargo Bike

A cycle truck is a type of freight bicycle with a longer front rack affixed to the frame situated above a small front wheel, typically 20 inches and 26 inches in the rear. The length of the bike is comparable to a standard road but with an upright riding position.

Woman riding a cycle truck

Cycle Truck utility bike

Long Tails

Longtails have a long wheelbase towards the back which allows for a longer deck. They tend to handle more like regular bikes than cargo bikes with linkage steering. There are also a lot of accessories available to Longtail designs.

Modern Long tail design bicycle

The Tricycle

Tricycles generally have an elongated frame with two wheels in the back on either side of the seat and cargo box. These bikes offer supreme stability but at the cost of being less nimble.

Inca three wheel bicycle

Johnson Mobile Vending Solutions

The Family Bike

Not to be dismissed is the common family bike because it will carry your most precious cargo. The definition of a family bike is a little more ambiguous, though the Bakfiets would fall under this category. In Denmark, people sitting inside a box in the front is the quintessential family bike (as seen in the two photos below from Copenhagen). However in the Netherlands, a family bike can be anything with just a rack or child seat.

Cargo Bike Copenhagen

Cargo Bike Copenhagen

The Bicycle Trailer

If you don’t have a dedicated cargo bike, consider using a bicycle trailer. They come in a range of styles with various storage capacity. There are versions for toddlers and many have added versatility and can be neatly packed up for storage or transport.

Riding a bike with a trailer

Bicycle with trailer

Cargo Bike for Commercial Use

Cities are the perfect playground for businesses that deliver services or goods. Cycloon is one such company that employs serious bike couriers and is well equipped to engage traffic, logistics and environmental issues.

Delivery by Cycloon bicycle

Delivery by Cycloon bicycle

Car owners are facing increasing taxes, emissions fine and congestion. Cargo bikes as an eco-friendly, safe solution for families and commercial use. They are an indispensable form of transport and will continue to be a staple within the changing modern city while offering a better quality of life for all.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Great read! You Cargo Cyclists are going to find out that automobiles are a SCAM and that HUMAN POWER can carry heavy loads and move at highway speeds. We pedal powered a converted 27,500 pound dump truck in 2012 and had it moving at 40 MPH. We’ve done better since then, and coming out with Cargo Cycles that can carry 45,000 GVW.

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