Monday, September 19, 2011

More Cargo Bike News



The "Pick Up Artist" prototype
working its mojo

Last week we finally announced the imminent release of the Tradesman cargo frameset, but we hinted there would be more cargo news to come.

The last couple of months we have testing a new design that was developed with Tange Design (the tubing maker, but they also design frames now). It would be classified as a “front loader” design if we followed the terms collected by Velo-City.org. It’s got a steering linkage reminiscent of the Baakfeits cargo bikes, but shorter. The steering linkage enables the bike to have stable handling characteristics under load. We discovered a person who rides bikes casually can ride the bike carrying a 150lb load safely without struggling to maintain control.

We brought the bike to UC Berkeley during Caltopia last month and it got a lot of attention. Somehow, college girls seem to flock towards the dorky-looking bike instead of the incredibly handsome guy riding it. I have nick-named this project bike the "Pick Up Artist" for now. Engineering students approached us asking what CAD program we used. Fellow riders rode up and complimented how cool the bike is.
Of course testing the bike with college girls (and boys) sitting on the front isn’t really what we consider adequate testing. We also bolted on a Wald 139 on the rear rack and it enabled us to utilize the back of the bike for hauling more stuff. The basket made wonders for grocery shopping. We can now carry a 24-pack of Corona and get essential food stuff like palettes of Top Ramen. We put about 150 lbs on the front, but a good rider could probably manage 200 lbs.

Final notes: The wheelbase of this is 1350 about 225mm longer than the Tradesman, so its turning radius is a little wide, but it also adds to its stability.  It has a 20” front wheel and a 26” rear wheel. To facilitate fitting in a smaller shipping box, the steering column folds down and the platform is modular. Platform was pretty basic and could use user-friendly attachment points. Sample was built with Avid BB-7 brakes and adequate performing Acera parts and included a rear rack. Estimated retail price for that basic build would be somewhere around $1500.

We think Pick Up Artist is a fun bike to have, but we HAVE NOT made up our minds whether to add a second cargo bike to the line-up. To repeat this is NOT in our 2012 line-up. So we’d love to hear your opinions on this design, price, and cargo bikes in general.

UPDATE: The Pick Up Artist will be available in early 2013. 
So what do you think utility bike fans?

38 comments:

larry said...

I think that both designs are great! Having used some long tail systems (including current ride), I love to see the front loading systems being put out there. I like the Tradesman's design better for day to day usage, but the Pick-Up would work for those of us who might need to carry more stuff. More designs = better for us all. I'll take a Pick-Up Artist.

ZEXXES said...

I'll tell you what....very soon,I'll be back in Maryland to live. I'm in Florida now and things are a bit spread out and generally speaking is not the friendliest cycling state albeit its still better than the worst. But Maryland is blessed to be on the border of one of The friendliest cities Washington D.C. And as I will likely be riding in and all about D.C. I will occasion the need to go shopping. I would like to not have to drag a bunch of bags on the bus as I currently don't have a car. This product would be the ticket indeed. Though I have one suggestion. This is a Utility bike; one that most people won't need. Mechanically its still just a bike and I can't see most people buying a $1500 utility bike that they really don't need. Its kool! Yeah! But I can pick up a Flintstone for $700, which is right about where this product needs to be.... maybe $800... maybe. You need to find a way to dumb this thing down so you can justify your costs to get the price down. Then I'll buy one. Most certainly. But for now...I'm dragging bags on the bus.

Anonymous said...

I was excited to see you getting into the truck bike market with the Tradesman, but was also hoping your second announcement would be cargo bike with linkage steering. You've hit a wheelbase that I haven't found from any other frame makers. I'd like a typical Bakfiets, with the load at a low center of gravity but I don't think I could wheel a long wheelbase cargo bike through the halls to my office. The "Pick up Artist" however would carry my cargo and the wheelbase would allow me to maneuver it through the hall so I could park it indoors.

The $1500 price point for a basic build is actually a great deal. One would be hard pressed to find another front load cargo bike frame let alone complete build for that price.

Is it capable or running an internal hub? Any chance of a split seat stay for running a Gates belt drive? Fingers are crossed that you decide to add this to your 2012 lineup.

elbowspeak said...

I would buy one!

Jammy Straub said...

If you were going to only have one cargo bike, I'd think that should be the pickup artist.

It's simply a better design for doing what a cargo bike should do, carry cargo, than the tradesman.

Don said...

I associate those more elongated bakefiets-style cargo bikes with flatter terrains. In my hilly neck of the woods, I would not consider the Pick-Up, but I totally would consider the Tradesman, because the Tradesman seems like it would be more fun to ride without a load. In it's current configuration it kind of screams, "Hey! The Halsted isn't the only game in town!" so a little differentiation may be in order. I do prefer your solution to Civia's, and I like the idea of a curved top tube. Would it curve down the seat stays like a cruiser? That would be pretty boss. Regardless of what you end up with, I appreciate the efforts and asking for comments. It mayke me more inclined to consider Soma for the next ride.

Anonymous said...

We don't have a lot of space for the typical Dutch cargo bike but we do have room for a bike like this. We also don't need to transport children around so this type of bike could be very useful for our family.

Ground Round Jim said...

It's a cool design. I like the short linkages and added weight capacity over bakers' bikes but feel while the added theoretical stability is appreciated, the ability to secure a 150 lb. payload is the limiter.
Long items would present a serious navigational hazard, but something like a toilet might work.
Build one and I'll start a bidet delivery/installation service.

Jim G said...

That's a smart design. Looks like you've done your research!

oxyala trio said...

My 4 year old kid and I love riding together. Currently he's outgrowing the iBert. We like to talk to each other while riding, so having him on a seat in back or in a trailer is a no-go. This looks like it could be a great solution to my problem. So far other options have been customs for tons of money, or just the wrong solution. This is a winner and I want one!

Golden Browns said...

I currently own a Civia Halsted and TOTALLY LOVE IT, but see this as an improvement on the design. The Civia has some slightly strange handling characteristics under load because much of the load hangs out in front of the axis of the front wheel. This looks like it would be much steadier. I thought I would only ride the Halsted to the store and to pickup kids from school, but instead the Civia is so much fun to ride it has become my daily driver (so to speak) and my other bikes gather dust. Come on SOMA, do it!

kkr said...

I like this bike alot, and consider the load capacity an improvement over the Tradesman. I discovered that once I started using racks and baskets to haul stuff on my bike, I almost immediately started pushing the limits of said rack and baskets, so it's not difficult to envision hauling something/someone that's 150lbs.

Regarding price, I think $1500 is pretty reasonable- one of my friends commutes daily on the Soma mixte, and I will agree your frames are super well made. However, to my knowledge there is not a cargo bike that exists in the <$1000 price bracket and you may discover a strong market for a bike like this with a lower price tag.

Jeff said...

I love them both. If there is a way to build it up so both my 5'1" wife and my 5'10" self could share it, that would seal the deal for me.

Anonymous said...

I like this bike a lot but I'm not sure it offers much extra value for its price premium over other cycle trucks. Would you say the stability is notably better than the Civia Halsted?

The 150 lb load limit is intriguing, but how could I truly secure a 150 lb load that wasn't a person? (If I'm genuinely interested in transporting people, why wouldn't I buy a bakfiets?)

150 pounds is 18 gallons of water/milk, to put this in Costco terms. You would neeed a big, bomber [heavy] basket to corral the load.

Does going above 50 lbs really buy you much? A jumbo load of groceries--a couple gallons of milk, a case of beer, 2 2L bottles of soda, a watermelon, etc.--is only going to weigh around 50 pounds. Maaaaybe 75.

A Civia Halsted can haul 50 pounds and retails for $1125.

BikeBike said...

Good one Soma! Nice to see another company addressing the "small-ish" cargo bike segment.

I think you need to make the Pickup Artist available - it seems to be a nice blend of cargo capacity, shortish wheelbase, and affordable price.

One thing another poster mentioned was sizing - if you could design the bike so people about 1' apart in height could ride the same bike you would have a true family bike.

My current daily driver is a Civia Halsted but would buy that Pickup Artist frameset in a heartbeat!

Go forth young men!

Mark said...

Nice! I like this one better than the Tradesman. I'd pre-order a Pick Up Artist frameset right now if they were going into production. We already have three well known cycletruck options in America but there is supa' limited access to this particular style of bicycle, which is an in-betweener compared to the Bakfiets and cycletruck. It looks like this was modeled after the Dutch ID Filibus. I tried to purchase one of those earlier this year but that turned out to be too much of a challenge. We need the Pick Up Artist....Please. Oh, the Tradesman looks good too! I'm not trying to knock it. I prefer the Tradesman to the Civia Halsted so thanks for that one!

ajones said...

I would pick one of these up the first day you had it available.

Anonymous said...

I really like the look of the Pickup artist and agree with others that if I was going to add a cargo bike to my stable (currently pulling a trailer for bulky/heavy items), it would be the pickup artist. Even without a trailer the front and rear racks on my bikes can carry 50lbs+ each, although the weight isn't carried as low without panniers.
I like the idea of a cargo bike but it should be as different as possible from other solutions in order to differentiate itself. A 150lbs limit, now we're talking!

Pink Robe said...

My wife doesn't like riding her bike to the bar, but I bet she wouldn't mind getting picked up. I'd take a frame + front disc wheel. I have enough stuff lying around to build one up. I'd definitely go hydraulic instead of BB7 tho'...

Anonymous said...

Any chance you guys will be at Biketoberfest Marin http://www.biketoberfestmarin.com/ this weekend to show the Pick up Artist or Tradesman? Would love to see them in person.

recur said...

That's a far superior design compared to the Tradesman, especially if it comes in a similar price point. It looks large enough to actually carry some real cargo, but small enough to be feasible in the reality of an urban environment.
I bet I could get that up my 2 flights of stairs in my apartment, and there's no chance the Xtracycle or Surly Big Dummy would make fit.

TessV said...

I really like both designs, the Tradesman and the Pick-Up Artist. I work at a bike shop that specializes in cargo and utility bikes, and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to have the Pick-Up Artist as an available bike. I think we could sell the heck out of either or both bikes.

Anonymous said...

I expect to have purchased a cargo bicycle before Pick-Up Artist would be available, but one option I am strongly considering is a frontloader design. Among the frontloader designs of which I am aware, the Pick-Up Artist is the shortest. I find the Pick-Up Artist's greater load capacity in a relatively compact size appealing. It appears that the Pick-up Artist might be short enough to function as a person's daily commuter without feeling too different from a more average city bicycle in terms of its presence and nimbleness.

I would hope the frame would support a full "Dutch" practicality build: roller brakes, internal gear hub, dynamo hub, full fenders, and a full coverage chain case. You might consider licensing WorkCycles' "Adaptive Seat Tube", see their Fr8 bicycle, to help fit a large range of people sizes; myself, I am just under 5' 5".

meade said...

Did I miss something...you tried this bike out in a college town and didn't see how many kegs it could carry...now that's the way to get some real interest...and its a great design to boot...

Anonymous said...

for Berkeley, it's more like how many signs you can carry to the protest rally.

CargoBikes said...

Great Job! Both are cool designs - generally speaking the 'Pick Up Artist' is known as a 'filibus' style cargo bike. Bilenky makes a similar looking one. Why not produce both!

Christopher said...

Well crap, now I want TWO new bikes.
I have been wishing for a cycle-truck like bike for a long time, but the Pick-Up artist would get my nod if the frameset was comparable to the Tradesman. I would add brake studs so I could build it up with what I have and upgrade later. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Anonymous said...

internal hub, 2 kids, easy fit for different riders, i'd buy one for 1500 today. even a frame only for like 7-800?

Anonymous said...

if you're only going to make one of the two cargo frames, my vote is for the P/U artist. but either sytle is much nicer than xtracyle or big dummy type cargo bikes.

love the disc brakes, would be great to also have split seatstay and horizontal rear dropouts for belt drive and IGH as someone else has already mentioned here.

Black Beard said...

This is amazing. As father, avid commuter and service manager of a local bike shop, I would definitely buy the Pick-Up Artist in half a second. My wife and I have been looking for a bakfiets-style bike that wasn't super long or super expensive. I think we may have found it.

Peter Meilstrup said...

I love the concept. One suggestion though -- if instead of having parallel tubes, you angled the remote steertube to be vertical or even slightly forward, you would have the reach increasing with bar height, so that the bike would be better able to fit riders of different sizes. The steering linkage allows you to do that, and that change would also move the bottom of the steertube back for more cargo area.

larry said...

I actually got a Tradesman - and it is great! But if the Pick-Up would come around...

Anonymous said...

Please make the PU Artist. And then please make it as a frameset that I can buy via mailorder in Oz!
ta,
Savvas.

James Fisher said...

I would buy one tomorrow morning even just a frame -set. I ride a Big Dummy most of the time but need something a bit smaller at work.
It looks a bit odd but having tested a Halsted I like the front configuration. The Halsted is a bit odd handling when the front end is loaded as would the Tradesman, I believe.
Is there any chance this will be out second half 2012? I need to make a move fairly soon. Would feel fairly comfortable about slapping down 1500 sight unseen.

scott davidson said...

I had a chance to combine my two loves in life recently and had a two weeks' holiday in wonderful France, to which I had been before, and had loved so much. I took a little Renault rental car and headed off from Paris, to the Palace of Versailles, to Chartres then southward to sunny Provence, via the Auvergne region, with the Songs of the Auvergne playing repeated on the CD player.
Magnifique, comme toujours. I saw many art galleries and followed the footsteps of artists, like poor Vincent Van Gogh.
Back home all too soon, I ordered a canvas print from wahooart.com, choosing this painting by Cézanne, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8EWNWL, to remember my trip by.

Anonymous said...

Awesome bike, looks really pratical and would love to have one. Have been using a custom made trailer for ages and just been waiting for the right cargo bike to make itself known to me. If this becomes available for $1500 I'm in. Hope to see it go into production!!

Ἀντισθένης said...

I put the Pick-Up Artist on my blog!

What would I like to see? What I said there: "You could actually manoeuvre this thing around a city and into a van or truck. I could totally make a kid box out of marine plywood or black HDPE, put the kids back to back and their feet could go down front and back of the wheel, out of the way of turning. Put a boom of the front a few years later and have a hi-lo tandem. Hope Soma figures this out so I don't have to do my own building..."

Drivetrain needs to go 20"-80" (if you are using more than 80 gear inches, good luck stopping!), which is just a bit more than a 1x9, or Shimano Alfine 8, but easy to manage with a 2x9.

Road Cycling Experts said...

What makes cargo bikes a trend for a few cyclists is the fact that they are easy to handle and work with any weather condition.