Huggacast 72: Cargo Power

195 pounds of Clip-n-Seals en route to Canada. Delivered by cargo bike to the mail dispatch. Made possible by Big Dummy, Xtracycle, and Stokemonkey.

The Rolling Jackass center stand stabilizes the bike for loading and unloading and parking. Look closely when I depart and you can see it flip up – dig the auto, snap-into-place action. The Clip-n-Seal boxes stack nicely. For a more awkward load, tie-down straps are better. I used them with Val’s help to move a futon recently.

Note that carrying this heavy of a load requires skill – watch the bike shimmy and the load bounce when I descend. While the Big Dummy has addressed most of our concerns about stability in the rear end, the front end is still whippy* underload. That’s a limitation of the headset, tube size, and length of the bike. If you were to put Bettie in a photog studio under lights and cameras, I bet you’d see the whole front end twist like a twizzle stick.

The next evolution in longtail cargo bikes is to stabilize the front end for better control and to resist twisting. I’d like to see gussets and reinforcing tubes and/or eventually a unibody frame like a motorcycle for longtails. Maybe cargo needs to go carbon (don’t laugh, it’s to get massive OS tube shapes) or take a tip from the Dutch bikes, and for heavier loads move the longtail to the front … Interestingly, in all my recent travels abroad, I didn’t see any longtails anywhere. A reader reported his lone longtail in Holland. Mark is writing a post about longfronts (or longheads) now. Granted that’s market forces and longtails originated with Xtracycle in SoCal, but its worth nothing that the Europeans and Asians are pushing cargo in the front with box bikes and trikes.

Another area for improvement or new thinking is safety and rider protection. Check the mass of tubes on the front end of Val’s Dreadnought. That’s saved him many times. Bettie threw me hard earlier this year and while rubbing my banged up knee, I thought, “this bike needs crash bars and possibly skid plates!”

When the eventual longtail cargo crash happens, a bike that weighs that much, should offer features to keep it more upright, protect the cyclist, and itself. Maybe that’s the aftermarket or the manufacturers themselves thinking with a rider-centric view.

*A bike feels whippy, when the front and rear end move opposite of each other, like a whip snapping around. It’s the opposite of stiffness or steadiness.