We thought we would post this conversation, for those looking at different cargo bike options. We sell both options but read on to see which we recommend the most for child transportation…
We love all different types of bikes, but when we are strictly talking about child transport… We have a parents perspective. Bakfiets or long tail, which is safest? Long tails are plenty safe in common use and in most situations, but when something goes wrong there is little margin for error. Balancing the weight and movements of two children on the rear carrier takes a lot of confidence. As your children age the weight differential between the rider and the kids becomes smaller, the level of difficulty is magnified (more weight means more leverage). One should keep in mind the original design for long tails was for cargo. Children on a long tail was an afterthought, similarly to bicycle trailers (we’ll leave that for a separate blog post). Compare that with the Bakfiets which was designed specifically for safe child transport.
Here are some points to consider when comparing a bakfiets cargo bike to a long tail:
- Safety – In the bakfiets your children are protected by the box (the main reason why it is on the bike). Heaven forbid if you do ever fall, the box takes the brunt and your children are still safe inside, protected by a solid structure. On a long tail unfortunately your children absorb nearly all of the forces, which happen to be greater because of the higher centre of gravity.
- Balance – Because of the lower center of gravity (center of gravity of the children in the box are much lower than you are. This is why we find, women, especially more petite women find it easier and safer to use the bakfiets.
- All weather protection – wether you are riding through the rain or snow in the middle of the winter, your children can be fully protected, dry and warm underneath the canopy. On a longtail your leave your children fully exposed to all the elements, this dramatically reduces the amount of pleasurable rides with your children.
- Starting early – The only way to cycle with a child younger than 1!!! Children under 1, can be safely carried in their car seat (no helmet required because of car seat) with our Maxi-Cosi Adapter in the bottom of the box. As a bonus, your baby is facing you the whole time so you know exactly what is going on.
- Up to 5 children on a bakfiets.nl cargo bike long! Two children on the bench with safety belts, optional second bench for a third child and on top of that you can add a rear child seat (Qibbel, BoBike) directly to the child ready rear carrier for your forth child. Adding a child saddle on the steering tube (3+ years) allows the possibility of 5 children. Long tails simply do not have that capacity or low centre of gravity to support that.
- SUV of Bicycles – Nothing compares to the cargo capacity of the bakfiets, with 180 lb capacity in the box fitting kids and week long sized grocery runs easily. On top of that you can have a rear carrier that can carry a further 110 lbs of cargo.
- Communication & Safety – Quite literally put your children before you! You can see what your children see and do, while in motion. So go ahead and talk about the day / journey or whatever comes up. If the situation turns bad, you can see that immediately and deal with it (usually you this is avoided because you can see and anticipate). Long tails and trailers only allow safe inspection when stopped.
- Universal frame with low step through frame (a life saver especially if you ride in the winter) allows the most sharing for families (5 feet to 6’6”).
- With hilly terrain on any bike hauling up two kids and their stuff will take some effort but its been done many times before and by very petite women! That said, if you put electric assist on our cargo bikes you can flatten those hills, and extend your range. It is a hard cargo bike to beat!
- Price points are a little higher for the bakfiets.nl because of all the features (check out our youtube channel for lots of information and the quality of the builds (made in Europe) but the Milano starts at under $54 per month. Other evidence to consider is the high resale value of the Bakfiets.nl bikes. 75% of purchase price is not uncommon, if you can find one! Most families keep them for cargo purposes as the children grow up and then they can ride it to get your groceries or start a business.
- So what’s the downside of the bakfiets? Well, the extra capacity and utility does add a little weight and they are larger to store (they can be stored outdoors) but the downsides are limited especially if you consider adding one of our Electric assist packages and you get the true SUV bicycles that can serve you and your family for years to come and do almost everything a car can do!
As you can tell we are very passionate about child transportation and we speak from personal experience and from customers who switched to bakfiets cargo bike for the balance/safety reasons.