03
Nov 2009
by mark

My Rans Hammer Truck electric cargo bike

My cargo bike is a Rans Hammer Truck with sling bag and runners.  This is a “crankforward” design, which means that the pedals are about 10 inches in front of the seat rather than almost directly below.  This has some interesting benefits:

  1. The seat can be bigger and more comfortable, because it doesn’t have to be cut away to accommodate the motion of your thighs.
  2. Your sitting position is more upright and natural.  You aren’t supporting your weight on your hands, and your fingers don’t get numb.
  3. You can crank pretty hard on the pedals by pulling back on the handlebar.  You can climb a steep hill without standing on your pedals.
  4. You ride an inch or two lower than a normal bike, which allows you to put your foot flat on the ground when you stop.  That helps avoid tipping the bike when you’re carrying a heavy load.

 

The motor

The main downside to the crankforward design is that the bike feels a little wobbly when you’re travelling less than 3 m.p.h.  I’ve fixed that by adding a BionX PL-350 electric motor.  Now I can climb a steep hill with a heavy load at 4 or 5 m.p.h. — no wobbles!  The battery and motor are hidden under bags.  Since the motor is completely silent even under the heaviest loads, it’s not obvious to onlookers how much assistance I’m getting.  :-)

Accessories

To heighten visibility during our gloomy Seattle days, I’ve added CatEye headlights and tail lights and Down Low Glow light sticks to increase visibility from the sides.

The final result is pretty expensive for a bike (around $5K), but cheap for a second car.  I use it for errands, carting our kids up and down the hill to our local school, grocery shopping, going to the YMCA… well, you get the point.  It’s a lot more fun than driving our mini-van around the neighborhood, but our bike lanes are nothing to brag about, so you have to be cautious as well.  I never ride without the lights on.

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