Our cargo bicycle is called the Babboe Big which is designed & developed by a company called Babboe based in The Netherlands. These are the specifications as supplied on the babboecargobike.com web site (19 Dec 2016). Be sure to double-check the specifications with Babboe or your bicycle shop as these could change over time:
Cargo bike model
Babboe Big-E Cargo Bike
No. of wheels
7 Speed Derailleur
Number of children
Standard for 2-4 toddlers
Length 217 cm – width 88 cm – height 110 cm
Length 90 cm – width 58 cm – height 53 cm
26 * 2.125 inch rear wheel and 20 * 2.125 inch front wheels
Up to 100 kg
Shimano roller brakes rear, drum brakes front
Abus ring lock
Spokes / Rims
Extra sturdy spokes
LED lights front (two headlights) and one rear light
Size 50 | Extra sturdy frame provided with shockproof powder coating, the inside is provided with an extra coat
Colour of the Box
Material of the Box
European (Latvian) Birch concrete plywood. The panels are composed of 9 layers of birch veneer of which one in every two layers is glued and finished with phenolic resin. The edges are treated with a crosscut wood sealant, giving the sheets a better protection.
40-60 km, Real range depends on the amount the battery is charged, the battery maintenance, tire pressure, the quality of the road/ terrain and the effort of the rider.
Charge the Battery
Charge from completely empty to full in 4 hours
4 three-point seat belts, Fitted with anti-tip system, Handlebar in height adjustable, including free Rain cover and Bell, Saddle load of 100kg, Steering dampers, Step up for Children, Two folding benches (for 4 children)
One thing I have really enjoyed so far with using the cargo bike in the past few days is that I can now look at & talk to my kids while riding the bicycle. It is not that we do not talk while I am driving the car, but obviously when driving the kids are naturally behind the driver & front passenger. I am sure many parents will have been asked “I want to show you something, look at me!” & of course when you are driving, the best you can do is give a cursory glance in the mirror. A similar challenge exists when I have cycled with my daughter on the back of my own bicycle – I can barely hear what she says as there is so much traffic noise around us & I need to turn around quickly to see what she is saying & I feel bad sometimes because I cannot engage as much say when we are walking alongside each other.
I can now engage with the kids while cycling
With the Babboe Big cargo bike we bought, all the kids are in front of me. Apart from the aspect of being able to see them & potentially break up the odd argument or two with relative ease (if that is possible!), I am actually able to talk to the kids while cycling. So much so, they are engaging in conversations that we do not have in the car. We have no distractions such as a radio or CD playing music. It is just myself & the kids chatting or I get to listen in on their conversations. Right now they are enjoying the novelty of being transported around on a cargo bike so I hear them chatting, laughing & enjoying the view. Even with the rain tent cover used, Babboe have a little open window slot on the rear so I can hear them talk & vice versa.
Copenhagen is a world leading city when it comes to encouraging cycling as an everyday transportation mode. Copenhageners want to cycle & the city of Copenhagen wants it’s citizens to cycle more.
How are cargo bikes used in Copenhagen?
Whether its to transport kids, enjoy a day out with the family or run a business, cargo bikes are being used in Copenhagen for all sorts of reasons. Below is a short video showing some uses of cargo bikes:
Just like in ambitious cycling friendly cities such as Copenhagen, the cargo bicycle can help Ireland in many ways including:
Lower School related traffic congestion: Transporting children to/from places such as school. A cargo bike has the capacity to carry as many children as an average car, except take up a fraction of the space
Lower overall congestion: As with any form of cycling, by having more families use a cargo bike as transport mode over choosing a car, then it means less traffic on our roads.
Reduced road maintenance: A cargo bike is the fraction of the size & weight of a typical family car. By taking more cars off the road, it reduces the wear & tear on our road infrastructure which in turn reduces the amount of money required to maintain our infrastructure.
Zero emissions: A cargo bike does not pollute our environment. It would help Ireland cut its increasing transport related emissions which we are legally bound to cut as part of an EU agreement but are failing to do.
Healthier lifestyle: Cycling is proven by many national & international reports to help improve an individual’s health which in turn has a massive impact on our public health budgets. A cyclist pushing around heavier cargo, is doing even more exercise!
The catch 22 is as always in Ireland is trying to put in place long term thinking & investment in our infrastructure. Our existing road infrastructure is not well maintained for road users including cyclists. Many of our local authority or national government policy makers need to give proper consideration to cycling as a short & long term solution to Ireland’s growing traffic congestion & cargo bikes have a significant part to play. Some safe space would be a good start.
Today we took our new cargo bike out for its first test run to Dun Laoghaire. We are based in Deansgrange so the journey is not too taxing nor too long.
Destination: Dun Laoghaire
Trip Distance: 14km round trip
Trip Time: 55 minutes
Average Speed: 15km/h
Number of Passengers: 3 children + cyclist
Dun Laoghaire is a nice seaside town on the south side of Dublin city. There is typically a market there on Sundays with various stalls selling goods & food. There is also a nice playground which we take the kids to on a regular basis & plenty of green space for them to run around if they want. We went there today for a quick visit, more to test the bicycle out than anything else but we also enjoyed a little picnic. We cycled down to the park & simply wheeled the bicycles to a park bench for a sit down.
There is a short shared cycle/walk path running alongside the train line. We decided to have a look at where it goes. To be honest it is more useful for the locals to get around, there was not much to see, but at least we know now thanks to having the bicycles with us!
The impact of road quality or rather bad road quality is one learning of the day. I had the opportunity to test the Babboe bike out a few weeks ago as a ‘test drive’. During that time I gained a feeling for how the bike handles but today I could test it on a longer journey. Irish roads & where they exist cycle lanes, in my opinion verge from average to absolutely appalling in terms of design & maintenance. On that basis you need to be mindful of surface quality. While the bicycle is quite stable especially with the two wheels at the front, it can become unstable in terms of control if you hit a pothole or surface defect of that nature.
Another item to consider is planning your journey. Unfortunately there aren’t that many cycle lanes or space for bicycles to cycling alongside cars in/out or in the environs of Dun Laoghaire. With this bicycle as it is wider than my hybrid bicycle, it is not always possible to cycle alongside cars. With that in mind, I planned my journey in as much as I could where there are roads with some cycle lane coverage & as wide/straight as possible to allow motorists to pass by where possible.
Bicycle feature test: Electric Battery
I also got to test the electric battery on the bicycle. This is the first e-bike I have ever tried & I am impressed. It is not to move the bicycle for you, rather help you along your way up hills etc. It has a few different level settings which I tried. I am glad we went for this model, as the kids get bigger & heavier combined with me getting a bit older, the battery assistance will come in use, especially since Deansgrange is at the bottom of some steep hills!
The day went well & the kids had a great time being transported around!
Today is when it all starts. We picked up our new Babboe Big cargo bicycle from the Dutch Bicycle Shop in Goatstown, Dublin.
About the Babboe Big cargo bicycle
You can find details on the Babboe Big bicycle at Babboe’s web site & the Dutch Bicycle Shop. The Babboe Big is a brand from the Netherlands which specialises in manifacturing cargo bikes. We opted for the larger 3 wheel electric version as we have 3 young kids so we wanted to make sure they had a bit of space. Just a quick overview of our model is as follows:
Can carry 4 passengers + cyclist
Cargo box contains two benches to seat two children each side facing each other
Has 3 wheels, two at the front for stability
Has an electric battery to assist with cycling e.g. up hills
Load capacity is up to 100kg
Cargo box area is made of birch wood
Comes with two front LED lights & a rear light
We added some cushions to make it more comfortable for the kids to sit on the benches. We also purchased what Babboe calls a rain tent but we think it is great for shielding against the elements especially during winter. I installed the rain tent cover myself which just took a few minutes to do once the box was opened.
Now that we have the bike, it is time to put it too some use!