A bike’s got two wheels. Period. Ever since removing your training wheels this has been true. Years later however, this might change when you focus on cargo bikes. And this year, a really good reason to consider a third wheel comes from Kopenhagen.
|Visiting Münster: the Butchers and Bicycles Mk1|
Two years ago I explained why I liked two-wheelers better in the article “Das dritte Rad”. It starts rightaway with a list of three-wheeler drawbacks in the first column. But you should not have to crash your bike on icy roads before you take a look at the advantages of tricycles.
We got a Bellabike last autumn because we have to rely on our bikes 365 days a year - and not every winter will be such a total failure like the last one. We went for the Bella because of its unbeatable manoeuvrability and the large transport box.
You don’t fall over on a trike.
Unlike the regular cargo trike (and the Reliant Robin), the Mk1 (i.e. Mark One) leans into every corner due to subtle tilt technology.
|Unidentified test driver at the Bakfietstreffen in Nijmegen|
It is meant to feel just like a regular bike. The creators have put three years of work into this, especially focusing on the steering. A regular ackerman steering already requires the inner and outer wheel to go by different angles, now when it comes to tilting, this gets even more sophisticated.
And does it feel like a two-wheeler? It does feel like a two-wheeler!
Let’s say, it does most of the times. In some moments you can still tell you’re not on a two-wheeler, for example when you corner so slowly that you would have to put one foot on the ground, while on the Butchers the tilting reaches its maximum angle and you end up surprised that you don’t fall over even though your foot is up.
As a matter of principle it’s never a good idea to close your eyes while riding a bike. I did it once while I was in the back of a tandem, and it felt weird. Nevertheless I took the chance to close my eyes on a closed-off track in a park and asked my remaining senses for the number of wheels they thought my bike had. “Two”, they said.
In Nijmegen I followed Morten and Jakob for a while with a GoPro mounted on our Bellabike. Without knowing, they shot this little demo video.
So we know: the key task has been overcome. We have got a cargo trike that rides with the comfort of a two-wheeler cargo bike. What about the rest? Impressive.
|Just cornering, better hold on tight!|
The base model of the bike weighs 32 kilograms only. That is really light for a trike, the two-wheelers from bakfiets.nl or Gazelle weigh more than this, even though they are one wheel short.
There are two versions of the Mk1, one to take care of children, one to take care of cargo, the latter is called “Pro”. Both are also available with electric assist.
|Storage space just like a small car: the Mk1 at our car sharing pool.|
The “Pro” has around 220 liters of storage space in its box which has a lockable solid lid. This is just about as much space as you get in the trunk of small cars like the Ford Ka or VW Up!. In addition to this the makers offer to adapt the storage space to your needs, for exaple dividing it into separate compartments or to have it cushioned for delicate goods.
The kids carriage comes with a number of smart details you might soon miss on your own (cargo) bike: there’s a cup holder in front of the handle bar, a lockable glovebox (that also holds the battery on the e-bike), a door for your kids to step in, an anti-slip covering and drain pipes on the floor, a roof to keep the floor from getting wet in the first place with a 10 years waterproof and colorproof warranty, an upholstered bench with three-point seat belts for two kids, even an IsoFix mount to use any given compatible car seat.
|To park, just put your foot on the bar.|
The springs can be exchanged to match your needs.
Especially clever: the stand. Like bikes with an overhang in the front the Mk1 might tip over if you have too much weight in the front. To avoid this, there is a two-legged stand in the front. But you can stay in the drivers position to unfold this: just put your foot down on a bar right under the box and pull the bike backwards into a steady position.
All bikes are fitted with the seamless NuVinci hubgear - simply the best choice on a pedelec and also great without electric assist.
On top of this (watch out, personal taste) the bike just looks gorgeous.
|The author thinks: gorgeous design.|
The e-bike is equipped with a MPF motor that is closed off exactly at 25km/h - which is nothing more but the law, but being used to the more laissez-faire Daum motor of the Urban Arrow I was not used to this. Up to this maximum speed the motor is very powerful. This can also be upgraded with a Gates Carbon Drive.
The guys from Butchers and Bicycles had taken the opportunity to stop in Münster on their way back from the Bakfietstreffen in Nijmegen to Copenhagen, and so my wife, Michael from 123rad and I had a lot of time to try the bikes.
And the result? I’m dreaming of yet another cargo bike. Even though it has room for two kids only and we have three. Even though we have two great cargo bikes already.
We all liked the bike - you can sense all the hours of work that have been put into all the details and it is just so much fun to ride. I really hope the bike and I will meet again sometime. Oh, and its creators too. Good company, it was a pleasure to have you here. Until next time!