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:
- The seat can be bigger and more comfortable, because it doesn’t have to be cut away to accommodate the motion of your thighs.
- Your sitting position is more upright and natural. You aren’t supporting your weight on your hands, and your fingers don’t get numb.
- 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.
- 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 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. 🙂
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.