January 31, 2006

Bakfiets: Dutch Family Bike For The Fellas

bakfiets.jpgThis one goes in the 'cars' category because, as DT reader and Dutch gearshark Jan points out, the Bakfiets has really made a name for itself in Holland as a car replacement. According to Jan, it can take up to two years to get a street parking permit in Amsterdam. Most three-wheeled cargo bikes were being driven by old people, and besides, they didn't fit through a normal door, so a guy named Maarten van Andel came up with a two-wheeler, and voila; Dutch car dealers have been losing sleep ever since.

The Bakfiets comes in long and shortbed versions, accommodates infant carriers [or "Maxi-Cosies" as they're called over there], comes with a rain/wind canopy, and has both an easy-steering low center of gravity and a very stable kickstand setup.

Anyway, not only do the Bakfiets folks have the balls to say "Now you can get rid of your car!" in their ads, they also have the balls to say the rig's for the whole family, including dads. It made me wonder what "bak" meant in Dutch; turns out it's a "shallow vat or tub used chiefly by brewers." Now what could be more manly [or Man Show-y, at least] than that? When I'm in Holland, I expect to see Dutch Pi Kapps pedalling Bakfiets full of ice and Amstel all over town.

[life-imitates-daddytypes correction: why carry beer in a Bakfiets, when you can use a bierfiets instead? thanks, karl. -ed.]

Bakfiets Cargo Bikes are EUR1395-1445 [bakfiets.nl via dt reader jan]


This beats the pants off the motherbike. I wouldn't be nervous at all about a wreck or steering on this one - looks a lot easier to handle. Although with this design, you'd have to deal with all sorts of, "Mom/DAD! Joey's touching me again. He's on my side of the beer vat!" yelps from the brood in the front.

Ride this thing in your US neighborhood without helmets on your family and see how long it takes for someone to call Child and Family Services on you...

How does that thing steer?

[mind power? Theres gotta be a cable/wheel mechanism running through the frame to the front wheel, because it and the handlebars look like they turn normally, even though they're not visibly connected. -ed.]

This has to be just about the coolest thing ever! If we can get one to So. Dakota I'll be in some sort of Dutch version of heaven. As for the preponderance of helmet-less Netherlanders...is it just that they're much more confident in their bicycle handling skills OR that they don't have to live in mortal fear of being flattened by SUV's/mega-trucks/buses or folks who have never seen a bike on the road before?

[they have their own bike lanes everywhere, for one thing; the whole place is flat as a pancake, too. Did you see the pix on the site of people hauling bales of hay in their beer vat bicycle? -ed.]

Bac means that in English, too.


My friend Todd, co-owner of Clever Cycles in Portland, Oregon is importing and selling them!

As for helmets, sure, make the kids wear them but really these are really safe vehicles. Needing a helmet is akin to needing a helmet in a car. Point is, cars are dangerous, bikes are not. Thank God most helmet laws only apply to kids.

Now if we can just get folks to stop yakking on the phone while driving.....

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