Bakfietsen have landed

Clever Cycles isn’t quite open for business yet, but we’re sure busy anyway. Dean and I are assembling these things in a top-secret bunker here in Portland. If you bug us real nice maybe you can get dibs.

61 thoughts on “Bakfietsen have landed”

  • Val

    Oooooo….pretty – loads of work, I know, but I am so jealous of you guys right now, I could just…well, coming down to help isn’t really an option, but if it was, I would. Have fun!

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  • louis

    So, if a person wanted to get one of these from pdx down to the bay area, how would he do it?

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  • Kevin

    Why, ride it of course!

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  • Todd

    shipping to most of california runs about $500. maybe if enough people in a certain area order it will pay to deliver several at a time. having ridden solo camping from pdx to sf myself, i ... can't quite recommend this bike as is for said journey. i do fantasize about stoking it with big load of batteries and doing credit-card extended touring, though.

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  • Jeff

    Oh, those are awesome. Time to start saving my pennies.

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  • louis

    While $500 is a lot, when I add up the plane fare + uhaul rental + gas + time (not even considering the co2 costs of my plane trip) involved in coming to get it myself, it's not such a bad deal. It's worth considering someday. I look forward to reading the parts spec on the Clever Cycles site whenever you have time to put it up.

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  • arif

    do you have pricing on these available somewhere?

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  • Todd Boulanger

    Todd and Dean,

    Good luck with your new business - very exciting for Portland. And thanks for supporting the BTA by donating a bakfiets to the Alice B Toeclips live auction (10 March). http://www.bta4bikes.org/alice/

    When do you think you all will be open to the public? I want to bring my bakfiets down for a post purchase check up.

    Cheers,

    Todd Boulanger
    Vancouver USA

    Reply
  • Bruce Alan Wilson
    Bruce Alan Wilson January 30, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Congradulations! I wish we could get these things here in Charleston; I'm really nervous about ordering such things at a distance. Not about the honesty of the vendors, but things like adjustments and service.

    Best of luck to you!

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  • Todd

    Bruce, if you're not on the West Coast, you should contact The Dutch Bicycle Company (http://www.dutchbikes.us/) in Florida about getting one of these. They are the importer of these bikes. While these bikes are built with quite a different design philosophy than prevails here, they're not so exotic that they can't be serviced by otherwise competent bike shops. It's got a Shimano Nexus-8 drivetrain, and pretty much everything about the bike is designed for super low maintenance.

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  • Todd

    I want to clear up a couple things.

    1. Stokemonkey is not available for these bikes. Yet. We're working on it, but no promises.

    2. Fiets (feets) is the Dutch word for bike. Not "fiet". There is therefore no such thing as a bakfiet. The plural is bakfietsen, like one ox, two oxen. Say BAK-feets, with the A as in Bach. What's funny/confusing here is that in Dutch they use the generic English term "Cargobike" to brand this specific bakfiets design, while in English we're using the generic Dutch term Bakfiets to brand this specific cargo bike design, by Maarten van Andel.

    I've heard differing etymologies for "bak." Some associate it with bakers, as cargo bikes were used to deliver baked goods. Others say "bak" refers to the cargo box itself, asserting that it's the equivalent of the English "tun", a large vessel used in brewing (e.g., mash tun, lauter tun). Brewer's bike? Some are calling these Box Bikes, which is actually the brand name of a certain Dutch cargo _trike_. One Dutch source says that without further qualification, _bakfiets_ usually refers to a cargo trike.

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  • Mauricio Babilonia

    In Dutch, Bak literally means "box" or "bin." Although a Bakhuis would be a bakery (bakken, to bake; combined with Huis, house—bakehouse) a baker's wagon is a Bakkerswagen. Although I have no problem believing that Bakfietsen were used to deliver baked goods, I suspect that a baker's bike would be a Bakkersfiets. Maybe I'll have to ask the Dutch linguistics professor that lives around the corner...

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  • Ben

    I'm from Belgium, and speak dutch :)
    "Bak" is indeed referring to the box... ;)

    "Bak" could be translated as "crate" or "box"

    So "bakfiets" means "Bike with a box" ;)

    Reply
  • vj

    Hey, a brewer's bike sounds good to me!

    Todd, are you also getting city bikes? I want one, 7 or 8 speeds. I'm good for it, and I'd much rather get it from you than from BC. Thanks.

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  • Todd

    vj, we have a small selection of city bikes, 3 models to be exact, that we thought of as demo/testers in case people wanted to special order. if demand turns out to be strong, we'll stock them.

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  • vj

    When do you guys unveil your unstoppable plan/retail location? And what's the time range on special orders?

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  • Todd

    All the unveiling I can do at this instant is to say "spring." I'm guessing on a special order timeframe; probably we would have special orders piggy-back on our regular ones, which will vary in frequency with our stock levels and of course the speed of our suppliers. How does a couple few months sound?

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  • vj

    I will be patient... though it's not my strong suit :)

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  • Val

    I just want to know how you can tell which direction you are going on one of those things - after all, their "bak" is in the front!

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  • Dean Mullin

    The picture also shows that the cargo rain tent also doubles as a bird crap shield.

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  • Scott Mizée

    You guys are soooo sneaky.... :)

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  • Scott Mizée

    I hope to be riding on at the Worst Day of the Year Ride...

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  • Aaron Goss

    Can I ride in the bak?

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  • Val

    The center stand is awesome, too - looks like a good "bak"-up plan!

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  • Todd Boulanger

    The bakfiets Scott will be riding at the Worst Day of the Year Ride is not really made to a riding adult and an adult as cargo for long distances or steep slopes with a fullsized American adult as cargo.

    I have riden with 2 preteens which was more difficult than 1 lighter woman.

    It depends on the combined weight of both the operator and the cargo. (Dean or Todd might have a better idea of the max load rating.)

    Then there is the bench seat...it would not hold an adult's weight. A milk crate or blanket as seat would be best.

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  • Scott Mizée

    Yeah, Sorry Aaron..... No adult passengers for me!

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  • Todd

    For clarity, the bikes we're talking about are rated to carry just shy of 180lbs in front, and just under 70 on the back. A rating and what you might get away with are different, of course. The kid benches are designed for kids, but I've been both a passenger and a driver for adult passengers sitting on them, with minimal signs of stress. Now, hauling adult passengers uphill with a ~30" low gear is not for the weak.

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  • AllanF

    hauling adult passengers uphill with a ~30” low gear is not for the weak.

    No, it's not. It's for a Monkey! :-)

    Yeah, couldn't resist...

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  • AllanF

    Along those lines, can't wait to see a Bakfeit stick-bike and corresponding red dot added to the convey at the bottom of the blog pages. ;-)

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  • Herb

    I understand that the bakfiets is a great bike. My local bike shop in Toronto - Urbane - is importing them. But why spend all the money on importing the bikes when you get very similar long john cargobikes from Eugene, Oregon? A local Toronto group, Community Bicycle Network, owns a Human Powered Machine cargobike from the Center for Appropriate Transportation: http://www.catoregon.org/hpm/index.htm.

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  • Scott Mizée

    Great Question, Herb. I am not an expert on this subject, but I have ridden both bikes and, therefore, know more than some.

    Although the two bikes are similar on the surface, there are a number of differences between the two.

    1. They handle differently. The geometry of these two frames make them handle very differently on the road. Each has its advantages and unique purpose.

    2. The Bakfietsen have 'step through frames.' You will notice in the link you provided above that the CAT bikes (at least the ones that I've seen and ridden) do not. Therefore, the Bakfiets is a much easier bike for a woman with a dress or a person with a short inseam to ride.

    3. The Bakfietsen also have a fully enclosed chain and internal hub shifters. These features make it very easy for a person to ride in street clothes without all the cycling garb.

    4. The Bakfietsen are made to live and work outdoors all the time. I'm not sure I know enough about the CAT bikes to say they aren't, but I know the Bakfiets is very comfortable being left outdoors and will survive many years without repairs.

    5. The Bakfiets comes with coices of 'bak' size. In the long box version I can transport three of my children safely restrained in 3-point harnesses on the two stowable bench seats.

    6. There are thousands of Bakfietsen on the streets of Europe and thuse, many parts and accessories available to customize your machine. i.e. child seat for rear rack, etc...

    7. The kick-stand on the Bakfiets converts it into a virtual jungle gym that my kids can easily climb in and out of.

    8. One other fact, although I hear this has been somewhat mitigated, is that the CAT bikes are not produced on a large production line and therefore, can take a very long time to get. My friend was able to get a Bakfiets from Europe faster than he could get a CAT Long Haul from our friends just down the road in Eugene. (I hope that this issue has been rectified, although we are in a bit of an apples to oranges comparison here; Bakfietsen are produced as part of a large, for profit organization. My understanding is that the Center for Appropriate Transportation is a SMALL NON-PROFIT organization. The two are going to have different strengths and priorities.)

    My apologies for the long-windedness. Please feel free to correct me if I got any of my facts wrong.

    If you'd like to e-mail me directly, feel free to do so at

    scott.mizee@npgreenway.org

    http://www.npgreenway.org

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  • Allan F

    Scott is 100% correct.
    I"ve ridden both a moderate amount (a friend of mine is a messenger and has owned a CAT for over 5 years). I now own a Bakfeits. To sum it up in one pithy sentence, the CAT bike is like an electrician's cargo van while the Bakfeits is like a Honda mini-van. Two completely different target uses.
    To reiterate a little bit on what Scott has said, handling (and riding position) is a big difference. The step-through frame, chain-case, and skirt guard are big differences. The take-it-home, ready-to-go, hand-it-off-to-the-wife-n-kids experience is completely different.
    Last but not least is the availability. Yes, there are rumors CAT's are now more available, but I am skeptical. I sure haven't seen any new ones on the roads of Portland. Just the same old messengers, riding the same set of 3 or 4 they've always had. So to answer the original question, "why spend all the money on importing the bikes when you get very similar long john cargobikes from Eugene, Oregon?" Because all my money WILL get me a Bakfeits. Good luck with that on a CAT.
    I will say, if you do want a cargo-van instead of a mini-van, consider the long-tails from Surly or Frazer or "front-tail" from Bilenky.

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  • Mark

    We love the idea of these - they look much safer for the kids with the walls there to provide some fall protection than an Xtrabike.

    Also, I am incredibly curious whether they float!! :)

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  • PDX Bakfiets Owner #2
    PDX Bakfiets Owner #2 March 12, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Mark...as for floating - your will need to plug up the bed's rain drain holes and add two sets of outriggers with floats.

    But I think this might void the warrently on the SRAM hubs. ;-0

    Are U thinking of being a bicycling Noah?

    -Todd

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  • Scott Mizée

    I love it! Bicycling Noah! Get those frame builders and boat builders together! We've got to have one here in Portland! I haven't searched the net yet, but surely this isn't the first time a person has came up with this idea.

    Anybody found any evidence out there on the 'net?

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  • Allan F

    The older or more well-read among us may recall this guy from the 80's, http://microship.com/ He's still kickin' it 20 years later; now with boats.

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  • PDX Bakfiets Owner #2
    PDX Bakfiets Owner #2 March 13, 2007 at 5:29 am

    Check out the new edition of Oregon Cycling today - page 15.

    There is a photo and short description of Jan's work to 'bakfietize' his long john cargo bike in Eugenene.
    This could become a nice option for riders who want a bakfeits but ride in an area which needs a wider gear range or does not like internal hubs.

    There is not yet a photo of this new bike on the CAT HPV web site yet.

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  • Allan F

    To be clear I wish CAT well. If they are changing the way they do business to market to a wider audience, that is great. If all my comments are obsolete circa 2006, I'll be glad to recant.

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  • Scott Mizée

    I agree with yo Allan. Why don't we write CAT a note and give them an opportunity to speak with this forum.

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  • Scott Mizée

    no not 'yo' Allan...

    I agree with YOU Allan. Maybe I should give the folks at CAT a call...

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  • Allan F

    For my part I don't know what I'd say to CAT. I don't have anything against CAT. They do what they do. I might get frustrated by it *if* I wanted to be a customer but ultimately I choose not to. I don't hold anything against them. It is not like they are false advertising or anything. They are running their business as they see fit and I'm not going to think I have any basis to tell them otherwise.
    Now since this has come up, I probably need to explain my problem is with the greener-than-thou types that disparage the Clever Cycles guys (and implicitly their customers) for importing a bike instead of sourcing locally. Then they point to CAT to show a local source is available. Well it's a bogus comparison and bogus argument. You've already explained how CAT's design is not the same as the Dutch design. Further, the availability of the CAT is not comparable to the Dutch offering, and it is not something a retailer can open a business and rely upon.
    Yeah, I get a little cranky when folks use bogus arguments to hold themselves above others. I didn't mean for my crankiness to reflect any negativity toward CAT itself. They certainly aren't out there second-guessing anyone's business plan or purchasing decision. That's why I tried to clarify things by writing "I wish CAT well."
    Hope that helps.

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  • Scott Mizée

    Actually, your post makes a lot of sense to me. I COMPLETELY agree with you. And this is the first time I've heard the "greener-than-thou" phrase. I'm going to have to use that one. :)

    Yeah, I've got too many other irons in the fire right now to call CAT, but I was curious--maybe someone else wants to call them. I'm just curious if they have a response to all this chatter...

    Regardless... They are entitled to run their business however they please and I wish them well.

    Happy Trails!

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  • Bruce Alan Wilson
    Bruce Alan Wilson June 13, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    How do the Bakfiesten get to the US from the Netherlands? On sailboats? If they came on standard cargo ships, oil was burned to get them to North America.

    How did they get from the port to your shop? By oxcart? If you tell me that they did, I will believe you, although it would surprise me greatly. The more likely answer is by semitrailer truck. They get about six mph.

    I can't stand what the Shrub has done to this country, but his ranch in Crawford has solar collectors, composting toilets, and solar panels. Gore's Tennessee mountain retreat has none of those things and is an energy hog.

    Teddy Roosevelt founded the National Parks; Richard Nixon founded the EPA. Democrats have no monopoly on caring about the environment.

    I would refer you to John 8:3-11 and Mat. 7:3-5.

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  • Todd

    Bruce, you're famous: http://planetarygears.blogspot.com/2007/06/refuting-straw-man.html
    I've asked you before to cut the level of repetition in your comments, out of respect for readers here. You now appear to be debating imaginary commentators on absurd tangents, not engaging any of the many patient rebuttals made to you on similar comments in the past. So, I'm going to moderate your comments in the future for relevancy and non-redundancy. Happy helmeted riding and helmet-optional, practically unavoidable motoring among your far-flung destinations in the arduous grades and inclement weather of the Mountain State, Bruce!

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  • Todd B - Bakfiets & CAT user
    Todd B - Bakfiets & CAT user June 14, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Hey Bruce - I assume you sold your car a long time ago and are now walking or riding a bike for your local trips? Do you have a US made bike or bakfiets? I am just curious...

    =================
    Anyway, back to the real discussion:

    The key issue at hand is to have this type of bike in use by as many households in the US as possible...vs. the current situation of only being able to walk downtown and either buy a SUV ('with your job as credit') or struggle with an inadequate bike trailer to haul loads. The limited marketing and local supply chain restrictions is what is holding back the initial growth and adoption of this type of HPV.

    In my final report to the US Government (US EPA) I pointed out that local production of HPVs is only one part of the puzzle (getting cleaner air through adoption of ZEVs - zero emission vehicles), as the other pieces were local retail/ maintenance and short procurement time table (move these vehicles from craft production levels to commodity availability). That in order for this effort to be successful nationwide these products need to be well built while affordable (yes), locally available for test rides and public awareness (much less so), local maintenance (nope), etc.

    In my experience with both bikes...I became aware of CAT back in NYC in the early 1990s (TA newsletter) and wanted one for many years after not owning a car. I then contacted CAT 4 years ago to source a US made HPV for our city's use after including it in a transportation grant...they did not contact us back for 2 years after repeated silence to my messages. During this lull, I became more aware of the growing use of bakfiets in the NL through my travels. This started to influence my design desires - a vehicle that could haul both static and human loads.

    Once contact was reestablished (I had to drive down to Eugene and see what was up) they were not able to modify their HPV bike at that time to be a bakfiets (likely due to a low level of interest vs. fulfilling existing orders), so I still went ahead and had them make a fabric covered version of their existing delivery bike for non human cargo transport).

    This order with some trial and error modification went on for almost another year...I got tied of waiting (CAT had damaged my frame in production and was making a new one but had not contacted me about this delay)...as my grant's deadline was nearing, I contacted Workcycles in the NL to source their bike.

    Henry was able to source and ship a bike in 1 month. I went to cancel my order with CAT...but did not since they were almost done (and I worried how this would affect them). I now had two bikes...I bought the bakfiets for my personal use and am very satisfied. The CAT bike is in the city's fleet.

    I went onto CATs site today and they have a photo of a fine 'bakCAT' with a metal and wood bed. http://www.catoregon.org/images/LongHaulWooden-Lg.jpg

    From my experience with both bikes the CAT design looks very robust, but with a few design issues that may affect the use by small children:
    1) the CAT's wheel stand is great for parking and rolling a parked bike with a static load into tight spaces but it may be a problem when parking and letting kids get in and out of the bed/ playing on the bike (it will roll) without direct supervision (Scott can comment on this);
    2) the smooth external sides of the bed do not seem to allow small kids to climb up or out of the bed without jumping. (The next version of the bed could easily be changed to allow for this.);
    3) the CAT bed looks to be smaller than the long version of the bakfiets. (I recommend the long version for most US riders, due to the small overall cost increase and more flexibility for cargo/ kids.); and
    4) the bakfiet’s step through frame is much more parent friendly when hauling kids in traffic, as one can step off without having to raise a leg over the rear carrier (if a child is sitting back there or more cargo is carried).

    Overall – CATs ‘bakCAT’ is going to be a great bike for many US parents who live in areas with hills…due to the disk brakes and wider gear range (triple front chainring) and more conventional set up.

    I will look forward to test riding the 'bakCAT' the next time I am in Eugene.

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  • Bill Manewal

    Todd,

    Re: Bruce

    Mark 9:18

    http://tinyurl.com/2tdbm5

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist... It's been 40 years since I got to feel righteous by throwing scripture around!)

    - Bill, 36 miles today on a Stokemonkeyed Rohloffed Xtracycled Surly, on an absolutely lovely day in San Francisco with warm sun and gentle cool sea breezes, surrounded by SUV's idling in traffic jams. Except for the ICE exhaust, it just doesn't get better than this!

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  • [...] a plan:  unless Jim starts selling them, in two years I’m going to fly out to PDX, buy a bakfiets from Clever Cycles, and ride it home.  I might do that anyway even if Jim does start selling [...]

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  • Michael E.

    A version built with the US market in mind is the Zigo Leader. Please visit www.myzigo.com for info. Dealers welcome.

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  • Todd (admin)

    Michael, perhaps our replies to your inquiries about us carrying the Zigo Leader are getting lost. We are interested in testing a production-spec sample before further discussion. You are familiar with criticism of the superficially similar Triobike. We need some hands-on reassurance that the Leader handles better than this, and that it can readily be outfitted with transportation features like racks, mudguards, lighting, that the pod can be made reasonably water and windproof, etc.

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  • Bruce Alan Wilson
    Bruce Alan Wilson November 24, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Looking at the website, the disadvantage that the Zigo has over the Triobike is that the former has those tiny little wheels that make it look less like a real bike than like a toy. The Triobike lookes as though it might accept racks, bags, fenders, and other accesories just like a 'normal' bike, while the Zigo looks as though it will accept only Zigo accessories. Not good.

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  • Rian

    How much do the short and long bakfietsen weigh respectively?

    I live in a second floor apartment and have to park my bike on the balcony. So I am curious whether I can manage to carry them (no payload) on my shoulder up one flight.

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  • Todd (admin)

    Rian, the long is just shy of 100lbs. The short, I don't know, but still quite heavy. Even if you were OK lugging 100 pounds in, say, a suitcase, a bakfiets is a very awkward package for somebody to manage up or down stairs: not recommended. They are designed to live outside, parked like any other vehicle.

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  • Scott Mizée

    Rian,
    What Todd says is true. There is no way I would try lugging a bakfiets up stairs. The survive very well outside like a car does. My suggestion would be to buy some good locks and let it sit outside. The bakfiets that I ride has sat outside an apartment in Vancouver, Washington for much of its 3-4 year lifetime in the U.S. and is doing just fine. I wish you the best with your decision.

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  • Todd B - Bakfiets & CAT user
    Todd B - Bakfiets & CAT user May 12, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Yes - what Scott and Todd F says is very true.

    The Bakfiets is well designed to park outside.

    The downsides: It will get more dirty and it should have the bed tarp. The second child's seat on the long bed helps the cover to shed water. You may want to cover a child's seat or your leather saddle.

    A few minor maintenace issues will occur: minor rust on one or two of the stainless nuts, ice can form in the brake lines, tire sidewalls may have more UV damage if not black rubber, etc.

    It is important to chain it down to a fixed opbject - pole, etc. Remember that it can be lifted by 2 men or small parts removed...just like any bike.

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  • patrick

    I'm curious about these Zigo things. DId they ever get the official Clevercycles once-over? The small wheels don't concern me, but I think it's rather odd that the bicycle portion appears to have left hand drive (at least in the photos on the web site).

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  • Todd (admin)

    Nope, we haven't yet got our hands on a Zigo. I'm sure the photos are flipped by some art director without consideration for the Coriolis effect.

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  • Scott Mizée

    according to their website: http://www.myzigo.com/
    no dealers yet in Oregon or Washington. Closest dealers in Boise and Davis. I'd be curious to ride one as well. Seems to fit into the mission of Clever Cycles too.
    -Scott

    P.S. Do you have many Bike Fridays left in Stock? Was thinking of heading over there at lunch to check out the inventory...

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  • Todd (admin)

    They're not shipping before August, it seems. Yes we still have Fridays, Scott.

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  • Bruce A. Wilson
    Bruce A. Wilson May 14, 2008 at 3:23 am

    "Todd B - Bakfiets & CAT user Says:

    June 14th, 2007 at 11:20 am
    Hey Bruce – I assume you sold your car a long time ago and are now walking or riding a bike for your local trips? Do you have a US made bike or bakfiets? I am just curious…"

    I have a Fuji Montero converted to an Xtracycle, a Trek Mountaineer 820, and a Montegue Paratrooper folder. The Fuji is on its last legs, and I am saving up to get a Big Dummy (I toyed with the idea of a Kona Ute or Yuba Mundo, but I hope to add a Stokemonkey when they become available, and neither of those are Stokemonkey-compatable.) Some parts of town are inaccessible to me because of the hills, but I very seldom have to go there, and when I do I can usually bum a ride. (I have some good friends who live at the very top of the Edgewood ridge, by the water tower. CARS struggle up that road, let alone bikes.)

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  • Candace

    Please keep on topic. Questions regarding Clever Cycles sales- or service-related items are best addressed to info@clevercycles.com. Thanks!

    this thread is a year old but I have Zigo and love it so I thought I would respond.. I've done as long as a 15 mile ride on it. Easy to steer and I can pat my son on the head. The turning radius is wide, but you can turn it tighter when you stop, stand and spin. It's easier to ride then Bakfiets i rode was.I'm really happy with it ! Clever cycle should carry them.. how ever I heard they now may have a dealer in portland soon!

    thanks
    Candy

    Reply
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