One mom, two kids, four bags of groceries, no car

The sun came out today, so I brought a camera along as my neighbor, her kids and I got groceries on our bikes. This is not Amsterdam; this is Portland.

all aboard!

and away!

cresting hill

home

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41 thoughts on “One mom, two kids, four bags of groceries, no car”

  • John

    That’s great! I’m a bike commuter, but my wife is not as inspired to go car-free as this mom is! Thanks for showing that it can be done!

    Reply
  • Emily

    What an awesome mama you are!

    Reply
  • gemma

    you are so inspiring !

    Reply
  • Miles

    That looks great!

    Reply
  • Jase

    With any sensible alignment of the universe, I’ll be meeting someone just like you someday. You’re awesome and your kids must love you beyond.

    Reply
  • Heather

    Wow. I really want to know what exactly is going on with that bike. Interesting modifications. I have a 5 month old and can not wait to get back on the bike!

    Reply
  • Bike Guy

    Heather (and all), check out http://www.xtracycle.com/ for more info on the bike pictured here.

    Reply
  • George

    Very cool.

    The best thing is that those kids will grow up with bikes as part of their lives.

    Reply
  • Bill Manewal

    You go!

    Reply
  • jeff

    When my 1st born was too big for a rear baby seat on my MTB, I clamped fat seat onto my top tube and a wooden bar below for foot pegs. Took him to kindergarden this way. Can still feel him in front of me, even though he now attends college

    Reply
  • jeff also

    Almost missed the nice video w/ music. Gonna hop on my “truck” bike today.

    Reply
  • mandy

    I just want to say, i love this..we just use our bike trailer and trying to make sure the grocery load wont interfer with our son is a problem. I really wish i had you guys for neighbors!

    Reply
  • Ian Hopper

    I too ride almost this exact same rig (2005 Marin Novato with Xtracycle and Bobike baby seat, but SANS Stokemonkey) and my son LOVES going to daycare on it. The one question I’ve been having, and I’m hoping you can help me out here: Where can I buy a full fender system like the one she has that won’t interfere with the V-brakes? It appears from the photos that the front fender is mounted BELOW the V-brakes… who makes this, and does it work? Another question: Who makes those handlebars? I’m finding that my carpal tunnel syndrome afflicted wrists are flaring up pretty bad when I go on long rides (20 miles plus) with my stock handlebars. I was thinking of putting on higher riser bars, or going for the swept back bars, possibly from http://www.rivbike.com/webalog/handlebars_stems_tape/16122.html .

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  • patrick

    ian — i have the albatross bars and love ‘em. I think she’s running albatrosses upside down. Frankly, any kind of curved bars that offer multiple hand positions will help with CTS, in my experience. Albatrosses take a lot of weight off the hands, but they make you grip more tightly. Mustache bars are sorta in between Albas and drops. I think.

    my fenders are mounted below my v-brakes as well. I use Freddy fenders from Planet bike. I had to use some plumber’s galvanized metal “tape” (comes pre-punched with holes) to get the positioning right. You could use a metal reflector bracket to make it work too…I just didn’t have one handy.

    Reply
  • patrick

    oops- i see that the bike in question actually has the albatrosses right-side-up! i stand self-corrected.

    Reply
  • Todd

    The fenders are the Planet Bike ones that Xtracycle sells. We had to fiddle a spacer/strut dealio to make the front one clear the brakes; you can too. Those are Nitto Albatross bars, from Riv. Nobody doesn’t like them. And I’m glad you don’t need Stokemonkey; human power alone is appropriate for far more than most people suppose, and I encourage people to use the least means that work well for them. For instance, I don’t recommend that people put Stokemonkey on their only bike, with or without Xtracycle, because that would replace a lighter with a heavier vehicle, even for the many trips for which the lighter is appropriate. I want people to use X/SM instead of cars or transit, not instead of plain bikes. There aren’t many people who will refuse a little help carrying 100-200lbs many miles with significant elevation change, not unless they are doing it for sport or adventure’s sake, outside the context of their normal lives. I wouldn’t take Stokemonkey for loaded touring, but it’s a no-brainer for household supply runs, plain-clothes fast commutes, miscellaneous errands in hilly country, etc.

    Reply
  • Andrew Janjigian
    Andrew Janjigian January 27, 2006 at 6:53 am

    Andrew here, X/SM commander, East Coast Division.

    I have the front fender (SKS) on my X/SM Antbike mounted OVER my vbrake. I mounted a star-fangled nut in the bottom of my steerer tube and ran a bolt through a hole I made in the fender. I found that when I tried running it under the brake, the brake got caught on the fender when it was active. I probably could have fiddled with it to get it right, but this works fine for me, and it doesn’t look TOO odd with the big gap at the front of the wheel.

    I have some pics here: http://homepage.mac.com/andrewjanjigian/PhotoAlbum16.html

    I love the pictures and the video clip. You go!

    - AJ

    Reply
  • Mauricio Babilonia
    Mauricio Babilonia January 27, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Ian and All,

    I’ve been using the 56 cm Nitto Albatross bars from Rivendell on a couple of bikes and highly recommend them.

    Like Andrew, I’m a big fan of the Brooks saddles too.

    As far as fenders go, not much on the market seems to work properly with v-brakes and mountain bike forks–especially suspension-corrected forks. On my current Xtra, I dropped the fender as close as it would go and just let the cable rub on the top of the fender. For the one I’m building now, I’m going to machine an adapter to effectively lower the hole in the fork crown.

    After that? Disc brakes.

    Reply
  • Aaron Goss

    I am so glad to see other folks in the world doing things without cars!
    Todd, you are helping people realize a car free world is possible!

    Reply
  • Mike

    Mauricio,

    Are you using the Brooks on your winter commuter? I had a B-17 on my first high quality road bike, but did not ride that in the winter. I’m wondering how the leather will stand up to salt and slush.

    All,
    I’m also using the Albatross bars (upside down with a high riser, a setup that Todd finds humorous) and love them. They are very comfortable, and provide great control when lashed to a heavy bike.

    Reply
  • Ian Hopper

    Todd, it’s not that I don’t WANT a StokeMonkey, it’s just that I haven’t mustered the cash for one yet. I live in Marin County, and it’s pretty hilly country. I recently purchased a Marin Novato to strap an Xtracycle to, as my Santa Cruz Heckler (my main ride up ’till that point) wouldn’t accomodate an Xtracycle. Once I get over that loss of cash, I’ll definitely be investing in a StokeMonkey. I would love to be able to do some of my longer trips on my Xtracycle bike, but because of the hills, it takes longer than I can sometimes accomodate… with the stokemonkey, I think I could almost completely replace my car for the longer trips. From my house to the Golden Gate Bridge it’s nearly 30 miles, and to many of the places in SF I like to visit, it’s anywhere from 33-38 miles one way… with quite a few hills in between. 60 miles minimum with an average of 60-70 pounds of bike, gear and sometimes baby is not doable, at least not several days in a row (I’m in decent shape, but not THAT good). The beauty of the stokemonkey is that you can remove it (well, at least the battery) when you’re not going to use it. That removes… what, at least 10 pounds?

    Reply
  • Mauricio Babilonia
    Mauricio Babilonia January 30, 2006 at 1:03 am

    Hi Mike (or as I like to call you, “the Blur” 8-),
    Yes, I’m using a B17 on one of my commuters, but not without the Carradice saddle bonnet. I actually have saddle bonnets on most of my Brooks saddles. At $15 each, they’re not cheap, but they seem to do a good job of protecting the leather from the elements. Of course, I use full coverage fenders too.

    Great minds must think alike, because I’m currently working on a bike with a high-rise stem and (drumrolll…) inverted Albatross bars!

    Reply
  • Todd

    Yes, Ian, removing the battery will take the remaining extra weight down to like 19lbs. It’s a little more involved, but you can get the motor off in less than 5 minutes to get your regular bike back.

    I developed Stokemonkey mostly in SF, with many trips into Marin. One data point is that I rode from the Mission to Sky Camp at Pt. Reyes on a 10Ah pack (I sell 9 and 13Ah ones now). I didn’t go very fast – I was riding with a roadie, just keeping pace – but I didn’t suffer one bit on any of the hills. I waited for roadie friend at the tops of them all. Bill M uses his SM heavily laden in SF 40 miles a day on a large pack. And Mike “Full Throttle” L in Madison runs out his large pack in less than 25 miles of mostly flat country. It all depends how hard you use it.

    Reply
  • Mike

    Data point clarification:

    With about 100 lbs of bike, X/SM, laptop, books, lunch, clothes, etc, I am getting 15-17 miles out of a small battery at full throttle with ~800ft of climbing over that distance.

    With the same setup, I am getting 25-28 miles (@50ft/mile elevation) out of the big battery at full throttle.

    I estimate I am adding 100-250 watts, averaging 150 watts, at all times, and averaging 19mph, in city traffic.

    Reply
  • Bill Manewal

    Mo data…

    My 1300 miles’ experience on the large battery in San Francisco’s hills on a rig that has a (very) gross weight of 310 lbs. has shown I can go all out all the time all day long on stop-and-go job visits and get about 22 miles range and average 15 mph.

    Or I can baby the throttle, strictly pedal-only on all flats, and help as much as my 61 year-old-legs and lungs can on the hills and eek out 35 to 40 miles, arriving home with the pack gasping at 30V. On these days I average about 11 to 12 mph.

    My routes vary quite a bit, but always include a commute from South San Francisco into the City and back home at night and lots and lots of hills.

    I’d say, given the terrain difference between SF and Madison and given the age difference and bike/load weight difference, my experience is very comparable to Mike’s.

    So, Ian, let me know if you want to try a ride on the Sport Utility Bike That Ate Detroit. You’ll have to have an inseam of at least 32″, cuz my seat post doesn’t adjust. (That’s a whole other story).

    In my opinion, if you’re really wanting a round trip hilly range (without charging in the middle) of 70 miles, you will probably want to explore alternative battery setups, a host bike much lighter than my beast, or accept that you’ll be adding quite a lot of input without assist.

    Reply
  • 'Full Throttle' Mike
    'Full Throttle' Mike February 1, 2006 at 12:36 am

    mo data mo data mo data

    I switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. They are close to bullet-proof, low rolling resistance, but heavy tires. (I chose them because 20 miles of my ride is in the dark, and I can’t see the glass shards). I averaged 20.3 mph to work today, but did have a tailwind for some of the ride. I’m still estimating that .5 to .75mph increase in my average speed is due to the better (lower rolling resistance) tires. So, for speed freaks like me, lower RR translates to more speed, but for econo-minded folks, it means more efficient usage of power.

    Reply
  • Mark R.

    Great pics! Being car-free myself I always like to see how others get around.

    But could you please suggest to Mom about proper helmet fitting? I know helmets can’t protect in every crash situation, but she is wearing hers with far too much tilt. I see a lot of cyclists do this, but it negates any kind of forehead protection, and aids with the helmet peeling off the back of your ahead in certain impact situations. It’s even worse with small kids wearing baseball caps under their helmet, as the cap’s brim will just push the helmet back on frontal impact. The helmet needs to sit flat and level in the head!

    Mark

    Reply
  • Todd

    Thanks Mark. Mom has gotten the message from the VC and helmet crews about her inadequate attention to these and similar vital matters, with the likely result that any further photos will be sans helmet, on the sidewalk. :^)

    Reply
  • vj

    I love those pics and video. Brilliant, Todd, brilliant. And I love watching the video backwards too. Damn!

    Reply
  • Samster

    now that’s hot.

    thanks for the inspiration.

    –commuter sam

    Reply
  • Ian Hopper

    Dear lord, sweet cheese and rice, I’d forgotten to check back to the replies on this post: Thanks Bill Manewal & Mike and of course Todd for the feedback. From my house to 16th & Cabrillo (my buddies house) is 33.6 miles (assuming my cyclecomputer is correct) and took me just under 3 hours of riding time. I was doing a test ride to see how long it would take me from my house to penetrate about that deep into SF. I’m planning on working down near 19th & Alabama several days a week at a CNC Wood Working shop I’m trying to get started with a friend. (I’m planning on creating some choice mods for xtracycles BTW!) I figure it’s a bit farther than that 33.6ââ?¬Â¦ probably closer to 40. I can’t spend 6 hours commuting by bike 3 days a week, as my wife might kill me and my son would start forgetting my face (he’s just turned 2 and is a regular passenger on the my x-bike). I would be able to charge up once I got to work, so I wouldn’t have to try and do 70+ miles on a single charge. Realistically speaking, it seems like bicycle (non x/sm) combined with a ferry or bus ride might be the fastest way to get to work w/o a car… ideas?

    I still think I could use the SM for my more local trips, as I tend to arrive nearly everywhere I go, and always at home drenched in sweat (I live at the top of an 3-17 degree 0.4 mile hill with little to no shade, and the steepest part being at the end). As good as my muscle conditioning is getting, sometimes I’d rather arrive not looking so disheveled and sweaty. Also, with my shortcutting, I’m currently able to deliver my son to daycare in about the same time it takes a car: I think with the SM, I’ll be able to BEAT a car by a sizeable margin, and look a lot less like I just biked a century when I get there.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Todd, what the devil is that black plastic THING underneath the “snapdeck” (obviously not the original snapdeck either!) on the back of Xtravois? I’ve not seen that in any other photos of xtravoisââ?¬Â¦

    Reply
  • Todd

    Ian, that would be one of the too-nice battery box prototypes made last year, about which more another time: /?p=47

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  • Ian Hopper

    I may have said this elsewhere, but it would be nice to have a half box so that you could still use a PeaPod; I would buy one of those to go with my hopefully soon to be purchased Stokemonkey�

    Reply
  • Todd

    Ian, I have a half-height prototype in quarter-sawn oak laminate/ply. The prime motivation for these boxes was to accommodate common brick-like battery formats, which tend to be around 4″ on the minor side, so the short boxes don’t really fit the bill. If you’re strongly interested, I have a NiMH battery (large pack) in a special format to fit this short box. As a one-off/discontinued experiment, I’d sell it cheap, but there are some rough ends and limited support implications.

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  • Ian Hopper

    Todd, I miany pictures ght be interested. Of course, I don’t really have need for the box/battery if I have no SMââ?¬Â¦ might you have an update for me inre: shipping / supply? Do you have any photos of the short box / special format battery combo?

    Reply
  • Ian Hopper

    Sweet cheese & rice, darn trackpad made that last post of mine totally obtuse! First sentence should have read: “Todd, I might be strongly interested”. Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery might have me building my own electronics/snapdeck box in the near future, as I’m working on setting up a shop w/ a buddy in SF. The only drawback for me on the shorter height would be not being able to use the more “standard” batteries that you supply… a dilemma.

    Reply
  • Karl

    I always considered the over-the-rear-wheel child seats for bicycles to be unsafe to
    begin with. When I worked as a bicycle mechanic, I would cringe and bite my lip every
    time I was asked to install one. Whenever I worked on the sales floor, I would politely
    steer folks to bike trailers as a safer alternative to frame-mounted baby seats. For example,
    take a look at the second photo above: what is supporting the older child where she sits? I’d be
    scared to death that she’d slide right off the back of the carrier. At least Mom had the good sense
    and foresight to put helmets on the kids.

    The best setup I remember seeing was on the Scioto River Valley tour in Ohio a few years ago. Mom and
    Dad on a tandem towing one kid on a Trail-A-Bike with yet another kid in a Burley trailer. The whole setup
    had to be close to twelve feet long, but it worked for them. Still, I’d hate to see something like that
    tip oer with the kids on board.

    Reply
  • Ian Hopper

    I’ve been riding my 2 year old around now in the Peapod for nearly 6 months. If it was on a non “X” bike, it would be a lot less stable, but with the longer wheelbase, it’s the most stable rear carrier bicycle set-up I’ve ever pedaled. My kudos to the Peapod folks; the Peapod is the sturdiest, stiffest rear child seat I’ve ever come across. No wobble or flex from the seat. Granted, my son is only 30 pounds, but the higher leverage on the COG hasn’t been a problem unless the speed is under 2 mph. I’ve read others complaints of scary cornering dynamics with the Peapod, but I’ve had no issues, even when my son is moving around. The thought of dealing with a child trailer makes me downright nervous at this point, given the manuverability of the PeaPod/X combo. I do like the idea of the child seats that are between the seat and handlebars, but I feel that these are more limited in terms of the size of the children that they’ll accomodate. They’re greatest advantage is that they engage children in the action of RIDING the bike, which helps them to learn proper bicycle ettiquette (assuming you follow it) and helps them transition to riding their own bike sooner.

    To Karl: what’s supporting the little girl who’s sitting on the snapdeck? The V Racks and the snapdeck itself. I’ve loaded full size (200lb) adults on it without it collapsing, so I’m sure it’ll handle a sub 50 pound female child with no problem. As for places to hold on, as long as she’s got a good grip on the peapod, she’s unlikely to tumble off the back unless mom hits a very big pothole (which she should go AROUND anyways to save the wheels from taco-ing) or she falls asleep and let’s go. Even with SM, it’s unlikely the acceleration forces would overwhelm her grip. There is always the option of mounting a seatback to the snapdeck, though I haven’t seen anyone do this yet (please post pictures if you have!)

    Reply
  • Christine

    That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I live not far from a major trail, which could take me directly to a grocery store (supposedly in the works) about a mile from my house. Perfect. Why do all the innovative no-car people live in Portland?

    Reply
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