How do we choose the right cargobike?
There is not ONE cargobike that is particularly suitable for a commons cargobike. Each initiative must decide which cargobike is the best choice based on local factors. Inform yourselves with cargobike users in the circle of friends/friends. (Caution: Most of the time your own cargobike is seen as the perfect solution, so always keep an eye on the specified criteria. We recommend extensive test drives with different cargobikes. Good bicycle shops and bicycle rental stations offer this service. A direct comparison of different models is also often possible when measuring with a test track, but it is recommended to test with a payload. We have collected some general criteria and hints to help you make your choice.
Single-lane or multi-lane?
This question is often an emotional debate on principles. The steering and driving characteristics of single and multi-trackers differ considerably. Single-track cargobikes are narrower, more manoeuvrable and faster. Multi-track cargobikes have more loading capacity and require a more leisurely driving style (especially without load). On level roadways and in stationary conditions, there is no need to balance the load in multi-track vehicles. However, there are also differences in steering and driving characteristics between the single-trackers between Long Johns (extended wheelbase and deep loading area at the front), Short Johns (loading area above the front wheel) and Longtails (extended wheelbase and load at the rear). The multitrack models have three-wheel front loaders with different steering systems (twist-and-turn turntable steering, tilt technology, rear-wheel steering) and three- or four-wheel rear loaders, each with different steering and driving characteristics.
All cargobike types can be driven safely and comfortably (with appropriate driving style). Cargobike beginners often believe that it is easier to ride a tricycle. If they have tested both variants, they then surprisingly often prefer the two-wheeler, because it basically rides like a normal bicycle. A tricycle is harder to steer than a two-wheeler for inexperienced riders because it does not react to a shift in weight.
In addition, we have also experienced that stable rims and smaller front wheel repairs are minimized. The reason for this is that smaller wheels have less leverage, so that e. g. driving over a kerbstone doesn't necessarily result in an eight. In order to minimize flat front and rear wheels, we also recommend so-called unpalatable tyres.
Target groups and purposes
Do you want to address a very specific group of users with your Commons Cargobike, e. g. customers of hardware stores or electronics stores for particularly bulky and large purchases, or families with small children for excursions and weekly shopping or students? In this case, a different cargobike model or equipment would be suitable, or a cargobike that appeals to as many target groups as possible and permits different forms of use.
The first user study of the Commons Cargobikes of 2017 showed that Commons Cargobikes have so far been used mainly by people who are very fond of bicycles for shopping. The Bicycle Monitor 2017 also noted a greater interest in transporting purchases and bulky objects than children with the cargo bike.
One model or several models?
If you can start your free cargobike offer with more than one cargobike, you can offer different cargobikes for different target groups and purposes. This will help to demonstrate the versatility of cargobikes and their use. However, it can make sense to focus on a proven model from the outset or after initial experience with different models (reduction of complexity in operation).
With or without electric drive?
There is hardly any other type of bicycle that makes an electric drive as useful as a cargobike. At the same time, more parts installed also increase the effort for maintenance, as more parts can break down. The range of e-cargobikes (foot support up to 25 km/h) increases the readiness for use and thus the utilisation of the cargobikes. In the case of demanding roads, it is strongly recommended to provide cargobikes with electric drive. At Klara in Hamburg, this is again not necessary and is hardly in demand by the users.
However, e-cargobikes make the rental process a bit more complicated, as it is always necessary to make sure that someone charges the battery, returns the charger and, if necessary, the sometimes existing battery key. The instruction of the users is also more complex, because not all equipment is self-explanatory. In addition, the maintenance effort is more complex due to the large number of special parts and the purchase price is higher, which also increases the cost of insurance. With three-wheel cargobikes, the 25 km/h is generally too fast for inexperienced users*, which can lead to accidents during evasion or in unfavourable turns. However, it is unlikely to find a model where the maximum speed can be adjusted to e. g. 18-20 km/h - standard is 25 km/h. When buying a new e-bike, you should pay attention to the CE marking, which is mandatory for all pedelec sales in the EU.
Driving comfort and easy operation
Make sure that the cargobike is as intuitive as possible, especially with regard to the gear change and a possible electric drive. The easy adjustability of handlebar and saddle height is also important. Low middle bars make it easier for many users to get on and off the platform. The cargobike should be easy to drive so that as many people as possible can and want to use it. Many free cargobike initiatives therefore rely on comfortable cargobikes with an upright sitting position - e. g. the very successful Hannah - Dein Lastenrad für Hannover. Others also offer targeted models with a sporty seating position that appeal to a different target group and spread a different image.
Cargobikes are eye-catchers in the street, media and social networks. The cargobike should therefore fit you and your goals from the design. It is advantageous to design a large area on the cargobike with logo, name and/or website. From the perspective of good marketing, KASIMIR in Cologne in 2013 did a good job of creating a large, eye-catching bike that underlined the message "Fits a washing machine". Consider which message you want to set primarily and which type of cargobike fits best.
Local purchase and service offer
Do you have a competent cargobike shop in the city that wants to support you with special conditions for purchase and service? Or is there a suitable used cargobike available locally? These can mean real luck. Make sure that the service question for the selected cargobike is clarified and involve your maintenance/technical team in the purchase decision. If you buy the bikes from your local dealer, there should also be a special motivation and commitment to offer you good service.
A cargo bike costs a low to medium four-digit amount in the specialized trade. Quality and equipment - in particular electric drive - have their price. In some cities and federal states (Baden-Württemberg/Germany) there are rewards for buying cargobikes, from which also associations can profit. Some manufacturers* and dealers support free cargobike initiatives with special conditions - for idealistic reasons or out of marketing interest. The ADFC Bundesverband (Germany) is seeking special purchasing conditions for its subdivisions from selected cargo bike manufacturers.
Links for information about the offers:
- Overview www.nutzrad.de
Building cargobike yourself
There are numerous construction manuals (http://www.werkstatt-lastenrad.de/index.php?title=Bauanleitungen). Some initiatives reject do-it-yourself builds in principle because of the lack of manufacturer's liability.
For example, the ADFC in Germany has entered into a cooperation with various importers and manufacturers of cargobikes in order to offer initiatives with ADFC participation a selection of tried and tested models at advantageous conditions. While ordering and shipping are carried out centrally, local bicycle dealers benefit from the service and maintenance of their bicycles.