Express Wheels – Babboe city cargobike

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Name: Eva Hendriks with Harrie (5) and Femke (2) and Ben Lewis

From: Invercargill

When and why did you acquire it? We bought this cargobike earlier this year. Our family will soon grow to three children and we wanted a bike on which we could easily transport all our children. In The Netherlands, where I am from, cargobikes are a common means of transport for families with young children. We are trying to teach our children some environmental responsibility and not want them to get too used to taking a car for shorter distances around town.

What is the vehicle’s history? I got it imported from The Netherlands through an importer in Motueka

Have you altered it in any way? We have installed a capsule converter so we can take our baby in a safe way in his capsule in the cargobike as well as the other two children. The box takes up to 80kg, and once our youngest can sit on his own we will add an additional bench in the box so it can seat four children, or three children and our groceries.

We also have a rain cover so the kids can be snug on those wetter days.

What’s it like to ride? The long wheelbase takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of that, it is actually pretty easy. I find it easier to maneuver than a normal bike with two kids’ seats.

It doesn’t normally need the electric assistance, but when the bike is fully loaded with two or three children and you’re biking up a hill or against a strong wind, I am pretty happy to have the electric support available for just that little extra push

Where’s your favourite stretch of road? I love taking the kids in the cargobike on the school drop-off, pick-up or to the pool. There is enough space in the box to just chuck in all the bags and some extra jackets if needed. There’s no problems with finding a parking space which makes our school run actually faster when we do it by bike than when we do it by car.

Top speed? Not sure, depends on fitness level I suppose.

Best riding experience? We like to just bike to and through Queens Park so the kids can have a run around in the playground.

Worst riding experience? I rode down the Waihopai [River] stopbank with my kids in quite windy conditions. I didn’t realise quite how windy it was until we turned around to bike all the way back and I didn’t put the electric charge battery in the bike. Being eight months pregnant, that was quite a bit of push, but with my kids’ encouragements we got there in the end.

One thing that could improve my riding experience was if drivers would be more aware of cyclists on the road and on cycle lanes. I haven’t personally had any accidents with this, but I have seen quite a few near-misses on Queens Drive and Racecourse Road around school start and finish times, where cars are not aware of cyclists on cycle lanes behind them, so they don’t give way on their left turn.

Best music to ride to? I love that I can see the kids right in front of me while I bike. I can listen to them chatting away about everything they see around them, and my favourite music to ride to is my children singing on the top of their lungs while we cruise along.

Describe your riding style: I only use the cargobike with my children in it, and I am well aware that drivers in Invercargill are not as aware of cyclists as they are where I come from, so I ride pretty defensively. I try to stay away from the busier roads and prefer separate bike paths.

What would be your dream vehicle? This is it.

What was the first vehicle you ever bought? Living in Amsterdam before moving to New Zealand with my husband I never had to buy a car until recently. I always had cheap hand-me-down bikes over there. In The Netherlands bikes are the main means of transport in the cities and most people don’t use cars, so the cities are designed for commuting on bikes. We’re trying to keep a bit of that lifestyle here in Invercargill.

Engine: People powered

Transmission: Seven gear with electric pedal assistance

Colour: Anthracite and European Beech wood

Photo: Janette Gellatly

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