Our neighbors stopped by the other day to test ride one of our Xtracycles. They took it for a little spin with their daughter on the back. We love (and even enourage) impromptu Xtracycle test rides. We can’t wait until someone we know takes the plunge. Come on – you know who you are – just go for it!
Anyway – our conversation turned to bakfietsen and whether or not they would work in our neighborhood. I’m not convinced. I haven’t actually ridden one (I guess I should really do that before giving my opinion about them…) but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be ideal for our hilly neighborhood. Just hauling kids on the Xtracycle up the many hills: to school, the grocery store and the library is enough for me. I don’t know if I could haul the extra weight of a bakfiets. Also – would the braking be good enough for my riding style? – I love to bomb down hills and hit the disk brakes at the very last minute. Our four year old likes it too “Don’t use your brakes unless you really have to, mom” When we visited Portland last summer, Todd at Clever Cycles cautioned that the braking on the bakfiets is meant for slow and steady riding not fast and furious. I’m sure I could adjust. If I had a bakfiets, I don’t think I’d have a Trader Joe’s panic again.
While he was here, our neighbor also threw out the idea of a shared neighborhood bakfiets – families could go in on one and use it collectively. That’s actually a really good idea. Kinda like a neighborhood truck share – where a few families buy a beater truck and share it for dump runs and yearly compost hauling etc. I could think of a bunch of uses for one: grocery store runs, library runs, hauling kids to school, bikepools etc. (Of course I can, I’m already on board with using bikes instead of cars.) A neighborhood bakfiets would be a good way to get others hooked. Although, I do have a feeling everyone would love it so much and find enough uses for it, they wouldn’t want to share anymore. I guess when that happened, they would just have to buy one of their own!
I’m lusting after so many bikes these days – we’re going to have to build a bigger garage to hold all of them. I guess that’s better than lusting after cars.
I’d caution against a neighborhood bike of such a high value. It seems like a recipe for disaster.
Who stores it? How available are they when someone wants to use it? What happens when there is damage? Will the next user be happy to fix a slow flat that wasn’t known to the last user? What happens when someone gets a flat or other mechanical issue and has no idea how to fix it? And just leaves it broken? What happens when someone doesn’t return it when they said they would? How do you plan to keep track of who actually has it? What if it gets stolen and needs to be replaced? What if the neighborhood turns over and participants either want in on the share or want some of their investment back out?
Besides all that, you’ve already stated they are not made for hilly areas. Perhaps this would be an advantage because nobody but the hardcore people like you would use it, but you’ve already got two Xtracycles. If you were talking a $50 weed-eater, then maybe.
Don’t get me wrong, I too would like a Bak, but I live in a hilly area and with owning an X, I couldn’t justify one even to myself (and I’m easy.)
Lets do it! Any Bak’s in town we can test ride? How about the Bike Expo or upcoming Swap? I’ll work on the Pro-Deal, sponsorships, etc. I’ll stop by this week & we can start hashing out the details. In the meantime, you’d be happy to know little Betsy’s daily commute to school has been completely car-free…and so much fun!
Smudgmo – All valid questions. Bottom line is I think you would only want to share a bak (or anything else for that matter) with neighbors you know and trust. And I think you’d want to set up a contract spelling out all of the concerns you listed. Not something to be entered into lightly – but doable with the right people.
David – like I said, not sure if one will work in our hood. I would like to test one though – maybe we should head down to Dutch Bike Co in Ballard (by Fred Meyer) in the spring and check them out. Glad you’re doing the car free school drop off!