Cargo!

October 27, 2010

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There are many things I love about bicycles: They go just the right speed for seeing everything along the way while still getting places quickly; they let you combine the necessary (getting places) with the joyous (being outdoors, getting exercise, &c.); they are a much safer way to get home from a night of drinking than in a car. Another thing I like about bicycles is that they are good for carrying stuff: groceries and children are the things I most often carry, usually with a series of racks and trailers.

Racks and trailers are good, but since my goal is to eliminate automobile use as much as possible, I sometimes feel like I need something more heavy-duty, and so for a while I have coveted a cargo bicycle. The problem with cargo bicycles is that they are costly – frequently in excess of $1,000. Now, I’m not saying that’s too expensive – they are a specialty item that replaces a far more costly thing (a car), and people gotta eat, I know. (And if you want a long-tail cargo bike or other bike stuff in the greater Hartford area, check out my boy Chris at http://www.dailyriderbike.com.) But I don’t have the money to buy specialty items, especially ones that cost more than my truck (which I admittedly got for a steal, but still), so for a number of months I was pining for a cargo bike and trying to figure out some way to get one (I was contacting manufacturers and offering to translate their websites to Spanish in exchange for a bike, but all I managed to negotiate was a 20% discount). Then, like magic, some guy in the colorfully named Moosup, Connecticut, advertised an SUD Front Load Super Delivery Trike from Worksman (scroll down to the third model on this page) on craigslist for a mere $150 (it’s $1,099 new). Sensing that this was both fate and a good deal, and not wanting to give the seller a chance to realize that he would get better responses if advertised on Eastern Connecticut craigslist instead of Hartford craigslist (because Moosup is just shy of the RI border, see?), I rushed right out there and bought the thing.

Sadly, as enthused as I was, I had no choice but to let in languish for a while. The cargo box was all rusted and busted, and the whole bike needed some serious rust removal and lubrication. And then there are my pesky children, who insist on being fed nearly every day, and the household duties, and the job, and the appendectomy, and before you know it, months go by and I haven’t had the chance to get the trike rocking and rolling.

BUT FINALLY I have done it! I scrapped the rusty, heavy, metal cargo box (described by my friend Chris as featuring “P.O.R. Technology” – that’s Paint Over Rust) and replaced it with a shopping cart, which I had to set on sections of 4″x4″ decking post to get it to the right height. I cleaned and oiled everything. I took sandpaper and steel wool to the rims to liberate them from trenchant, years-old rust. I drilled out the seized seatpost bolt and replaced it with a quick-release. And now, BEHOLD:

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It is awesome! It goes pretty slowly and feels like it wants to tip over if you turn too sharply, but look at this: I can carry two children together easily, and they are in front of me so we can converse while traveling, and if I wanted I could take trash to the dump or get compost from the recycling center! Soon I will take my darling wife on a date in this thing, and then the whole world will be perfect. Hooray! Cargo bike!

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4 Responses to “Cargo!”

  1. Alice said

    That photo of the boys is just priceless.

  2. Chris said

    If you took the wood blocks out and lowered the cart, it would be totally aerodynamic.

    The shopping cart works, man! Well done, and thanks for the shout.

  3. sujal said

    My favorite part is the headlight allll the way up front. 🙂

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