Grouch no more!
I've been taking my Nashbar frame touring bike, Oscar, out for rides more often on my kid-free days and have been having problems with his finicky behavior. Only about 4 of his gears worked and shifting would take planning and foresight. The handlebars were too wide for my shoulders and the grips made my pinky go numb for days after a ride. Still, I love that bike. It's been around longer than my kids. It was time to put a little love, and money, into his well-being.
Off we rode to Edible Pedal! The Caddyrack towed Oscar easily. I picked out new bars, tape, a kickstand and left him in the hands of the mechanics.
The HaulaDay and I swung by the shop today to pick him back up. After a quick test ride, I was thrilled! Oscar 2.0 is ready for some awesome adventures!
HaulaDay so far
It's been about four months since we received our Bike Friday HaulaDay and we love it! While there have been a few adjustments along the way, I will say that this my favorite cargo bike. The HaulaDay is easy to ride, can carry a ton, and is still lightweight and transportable--everything on our cargo bike checklist. The fact that each HaD is made to order gives people the opportunity to build it up exactly as they need to suit their lifestyle and terrain. Our bike is one of the beta models and the frame has already been updated from this. Bike Friday has taken all the feedback from the initial users and continues to modify their first cargo bike as needed. This post is in regards to our experience with Bike Friday and our HaulaDay fun.
The HaulaDay was shipped in one box (the Hooptie took up a second box). The frame breaks down into three pieces. This isn't technically a folding bike, but if you're mechanically inclined, you could probably take it apart for more compact transport.
I, personally, am not so inclined. I tried to put it together myself and failed. Good thing I have an awesome local bike shop and Bike Friday dealer, John Boyer at Edible Pedal, who could help out.
The OSATA (One Size Adjusts To All) feature is awesome! The frame can be squeezed down to someone 4' tall and extended to fit those over 6'. This could be your child's first cargo bike!
Compared to other cargo bikes
The midtail cargo bike market is small--Yuba's Boda Boda, Kinn's midtail, the HaulaDay, and Cycle Truck's Beavertail are the main ones I know of (Kona's MinUte has been discontinued **See Dorie's comment below**). The Boda Boda and Kinn midtails have a pretty short deck making it difficult (not impossible) to carry two passengers. Both the HaulaDay and Beavertail are built on 20" wheels, allowing for a short wheelbase but an almost-standard length deck. We chose the Xtracycle deck for our HaulaDay, giving us plenty of room for those squirmy boys.
Compared to the Yuba Mundo and other longtails, the HaulaDay is about half the weight. The 20" wheels are quick to get rolling and self-balancing, which is a big bonus in city traffic with lots of starts and stops. The deck on the HaulaDay is lower which brings down your center of gravity making a more stable load for a longtail design cargo bike (same reasoning behind Xtracycle's Edgerunner). The 20" wheels can make the bike a bit more squirrely to ride than the tank-like Mundo, however, with the addition of our front basket, I find the HaD to be more stable now. We did, in fact, sell the Mundo because the HaulaDay was able to work better for us.
Long John/bakfiets-style bikes like the Bullitt or Workscycle have a learning curve associated with the linkage steering. Some people are fine with it, some are not. When I loan out a cargo bike, it's always going to be the HaD, unless they already have bakfiets experience. Anyone can ride the HaD without much adjustment. Again, the HaD is much lighter and has a much shorter wheelbase, making it easier to maneuver and find parking.
HaDs are custom built so you can choose which components best suit your riding needs.
...is super, duper fun.
I use a standard 3-bike rack from Sarus to carry the HaD. It takes some creative thinking and lots of tie-downs but it works. I usually take off anything that is removable except the seat and flip the bike upside-down because it doesn't have a standard top-tube. The bike's center of gravity is farther back than you might imagine, making it stick a little farther out on the handlebar side. I've gotten better at this with practice. I can actually load the bike up onto the rack on my own but it's nicer to have help.
By public transportation
Most cargo bikes aren't allowed on Amtrak unless you can strip it down to 50 lbs or less and cram it into their bike box. Amtrak's roll-on service isn't much better because it still has to fit in a narrow space, hanging from its front wheel. The HaD can fit on both without much adjustment.
We haven't tried taking the bike by bus, yet, but it's doable. I really like that I can pick up this bike on my own, not an easy feat with the Mundo or the Bullitt. If you squish the OSATA option down to one of the first two buttons and turn the front wheel 180 degrees, you have a standard bike wheelbase. Great!
Bikey parents know about naptime. Poor child usually has their giant head flopped over in some awkward angle and you keep wondering if they can still breathe. At this point in our lives, Little Brother is the only kid who falls asleep on the bike still (in fact it's the only way he naps anymore). Luckily, he's big enough to not need a child seat but I was worried the first few times we went out on longer rides. Turns out, he figured out his own convenient way to sleep on-the-go.
Tuck the front wheel into the side bags and secure the front wheel letting the rest of the bike trail behind.
We can fit plenty of gear for camping trips and still have room for passengers. The front basket is a wonderful addition to help balance the weight. So far, I haven't had an opportunity to run out of space on the HaulaDay. Rumor has it that someone loaded up the HaD with about 800lbs and still didn't manage to break it. There's a reason these bikes keep winning all the Disaster Relief Trials--they're lightweight but heavy haulers, a perfect combination!
Here are some of the accessories we chose:
Big Foot Running Boards help stabilize the loads in our bags and give a nice solid foundation for the boys' feetsies. One downside for us is that one side rattles and we need to shim it up. The running boards pop out easily for transport or to lighten the load. We also chose fenders because we're dirty.
Frame mounted basket. It's amazing and, for us, essential. It helps stabilize and balance out heavy loads, gives quick access to storage, and makes the bike easier to handle. Basket comes off and the diamond plate deck becomes a platform for any other type of storage you want--yellow kitty litter tub, maybe?
Kickstands. We had some trouble with this part. The first kickstand (above) didn't work at all--makes a cargo bike nearly useless to the family biking crowd. The bike tipped over all the time, broke part of the shifter and scratched up the frame a bit. It also made the kids terrified to get on the bike because it was so unstable getting on and off. Our friend John Lucas of Cycle Trucks helped stabilize it with the cable and then we were back in business! We found out later that the split collar got in the way of our highest gear which wasn't an issue as I'd rather be able to get the kids on the bike than use my top gear. Eventually, the split collar broke. Luckily, it broke the same day the newer, more stable kickstand arrived. You can see below that I couldn't figure out how it worked but then I got it. Now, it's pretty darn good.
We added these beautiful Carsick Design Mondo Slings. Bike Friday makes a set of their own but I like the durable fabric and color of the Carsick ones. Both bags provide needed footsie protection from the wheel and tons of carrying capacity. The straps can be buckled across the deck for weirdly shaped loads. Less beautiful are our $5 Ikea chair cushions that I literally stole off of our dining room chairs, folded them in half, and strapped them down with a giant zip tie. Not waterproof at all, but they get the job done. We will probably have to find a better solution during winter or just wear rain pants.
Locking up your HaD can be tricky. There's no downtube to make an easy locking point for most racks. I have a long chain lock that is flexible enough to get through the back tubes of the frame. If I'm going to be stopped somewhere for long, I'll bring a second lock or cable to get my front wheel. Make sure you always invest in a good lock and check that you're locking to something secure. The HaD is fairly short and light making it easier to get close to racks/poles for parking. This is the only cargo bike that I've been able to fit at Trader Joe's terrible bike rack.
Rain suits, plastic bags, and fenders work for us. There are some nifty sun/rain shades out there and the Hooptie is a great foundation for creating them. We'll see how this winter goes.
Besides the initial kickstand problems, the hardest thing about getting our HaulaDay was the wait. We waited a couple extra months to finally get our bike because of some delays--the fact that this was a beta model and because Alan broke his thumb. The earliest bikes were only being built by Alan, the CEO, and an engineer. The HaulaDay is a brand new design and took time to develop. Once there were more on the road, they could figure out other issues that needed to be solved (the kickstand, for example). Now, they have a larger team working on the bikes and are able to get them out quicker and more efficiently.
There are also a couple of accessories that I'd love to see in production sooner, especially the Piccolo mount. A few of the accessories have only just gotten to us recently. Custom bikes take time and Bike Friday is a little shop trying to do it all. It can be difficult to be patient. I still heartily recommend the HaulaDay and Bike Friday but be forewarned that you won't get instant gratification after you place your order. Still, it's worth the wait!
What these guys lack in speed, they make up for in incredible customer service! Any questions that I've had or feedback to be given, they've been there to listen and help. The stem for my Whoopie-Deux was lost in the mail a couple days ago and before it could get back to them, there was another already shipped out and being delivered tomorrow. I think I've been in touch with just about every Bike Friday team member at this point and they're all so nice and helpful. I love giving my money to people who make a very high quality product (in the USA!) and are passionate about what they do.
There is so much exciting news going on at Bike Friday in regards to the HaulaDay, it's hard to keep up with it all. I know they have great plans to get as many of these bikes out on the roads to help others out of their cars.
If you've made it this far, congratulations! Now you know just how much we love our Bike Friday! Ask me anything about it and if you're nearby, come for a test ride. If you've got one, tell us about what you think.
While I'm bouncing between crazy busyness and quiet reflection, my parents are off galivanting around North America by train on a Grand Tour Indeed. I hope to be as adventurous as they are when I grow up.
Until then, I'll enjoy my mini vacations--from our commuting journies to weekend overnights which will eventually build up to longer expiditions in the future.
Today, we added an extra kiddo to our Crazy Train and explored our way to the playground and to get a pizza. Maybe not as exciting as my parents' day, but still quite fun!
Bike Camping Gibson Ranch, part 2
Last week was exhausting. I ended up driving to work more days (have I mentioned that I have a car sitting out front for the next month while my parents are away?). The 38 mile days were getting to me and the boys were both up frequently through the nights as they were both still feeling the effects of their colds. The incident with the van driver really threw me off, too. One of my readers sent me a message with some info based on the email address on the van, along with all the great online support from other bike riders, which gave me the confidence to report the guy to the police. They took my report seriously and sent an officer to my house to document the "assault." I wish I had had more information about the guy or the van but I reported what I could. Thanks, awesome community!
Since my boys couldn't go on the Gibson Ranch Kidical Mass Overnight last weekend, I had told them that I'd take them when they could. Another of our friends couldn't make it with his son, either, so they joined us. They'd never been bike camping before.
Our friends took the HaulaDay, which is a fantastic cargo bike for newbies because it fits everyone with its OSATA adjustments, light weight, and easy maneuverability (however, my friend did manage to drop with kids on the back on his first attempt but they were on the grass so it didn't count. Everyone drops a kid now and again).
I took two of the kids' bikes along with much of the other gear because the Bullitt is way too easy to overpack. Now that I have the Cycle Truck Caddyrack, my cargo capacity has doubled! It's so easy to tow bikes.
Big Brother was forced to ride on his own because I ran out of room for him on the bike and because I thought he could. The route is mostly bike trail, except for the first four miles and last 2 miles.
Once we were on the bike trail, our friend's son got on his bike, too. This was his longest ride and he did really well! There are quite a few intersections along the Northern Bike Trail (which is probably why it's not too popular with the roadies). Both boys on solo bikes did a great job on listening to my directions and making good judgements while they were riding.
It took us about 4 hours to get to Gibson Ranch. We were told to set up in the grass around the cabins. It was nice and grassy but a little close to the cabins and their occupants for my liking.
The boys had a fantastic time riding around the site and the playground. After dinner we ran around in the dark until the boys passed out. I was exhausted about 4 hours before they finally were.
In the morning, we packed up fairly quickly, as quickly as one can with children present (we finally left around 9:45am). One of those children decided he was hungry every 30 seconds and we ran out of food.
None of the boys wanted to ride on their own and since I hadn't really planned on carrying Big Brother, I had to do some quick (relative to me) thinking to arrange everything between the two cargo bikes--three bikes, three boys, everyone's camping gear, and all the toys.
It was a long, hot 17 miles back home but we managed to get there at about a 7mph pace--just about half our arrival time! It is great to know there is such a convenient bike overnight, especially for having the kiddos ride much of it on their own. The last .5 to Gibson Ranch is on a busy stretch of road without much shoulder. There are many "Share The Road" signs but it is still unnerving, especially for less-experienced riders. Our friend's kid was back to sitting on the HaulaDay deck by that time on our arrival while Big Brother, who has more road riding experience, rode on the street with us in traffic. On the way home, he was too tired to navigate and maneuver that same stretch of road back to the trail so I was glad he had chosen to hitch a ride.
Another successful camping trip! During this busy time, I'm so glad to have been able to escape for a few days and get in some rejuvenating adventure.
I'm looking forward to our next bike trip!
It takes a lot to shake me when I'm riding my bike. We get honked at on occasion and buzzed every once and awhile but this experience was terrifying. I was glad that my kids weren't with me.
As I started riding through the intersection, I noticed the van behind me was too close. The next section of road has a stripe of paint in the door zone and because oncoming traffic was heavy and the van was wide, I didn't give up my spot in the lane to be squeezed out. Sure enough, the driver of the van lays on his horn and starts screaming. That's when his engines revved and I had to swerve out of the way to avoid him running me down within inches of my bike. Right after he passed me so dangerously, he attempted to right hook me and slammed on his brakes across my path, still screaming at me.
I followed him around the corner to try to get a photo of his license plate but he pulled over and got out of his van, yelling that if I "want rights, I need to get in the bike lane!"
I was shaking so badly when I got away from him and unfortunately, I didn't get any other photos of his license plate or van. His plate was an old style blue with yellow numbers and the van had an email address: SBCracing@aol.com although the third letter might have been something different.
It makes me so angry to think that someone is horrible enough to believe running me over is an appropriate reaction for me slowing them down 10-20 seconds.
I don't have any info on this violent and dangerous man to report him nor do I know where/how to go about having it taken seriously.
I am positive that my rights to not be murdered by a psychopath in a van are valid whether or not I happen to be in the bike lane at the time.
It didn't help that on my way home, I had two other drivers pull out and turn right in front of me. They were both older women who didn't bother to notice me in their path. I know that overall, biking is not a very dangerous activity but today definitely felt overwhelming. I am glad to be home.
This is us. We're fun.