I was lucky enough to live in Europe for a big chunk of my working life, and my time there taught me many things—one of which is that we North Americans are overly dependent on cars, especially for the short journeys that make up the majority of our daily transport needs.
Cargo bikes have seen a surge in popularity across North America the last couple of years, and for good reason. Many of us realize that not only are we getting more exercise running our daily errands on a bike, but we are helping the environment as well. Though cargo bikes are extremely useful, they can sometimes come across as utilitarian and somewhat boring.
Larry vs Harry, a Danish cargo bike manufacturer based in Copenhagen, has helped to shake off the fusty image of cargo bikes and bring a little cool to your daily driver. From assembly videos done by founder Hans Fogh dressed as Fat Elvis, to carbon components on tricked out builds, these guys know how to make a bike with mojo. Each of the frame colors has an evocative name (think “Lizzard King” for the green colorway). Adding images of chimpanzees and astronauts only further adds to each bikes unique look.
The Bullitt is Larry vs Harry’s update on the traditional Scandinavian Long John frame design, which places the weight of any load low and directly in front of the rider. By building the frame in aluminum, they are able to create a cargo bike that is both relatively light and durable. The frame features a plethora of attachment points so you can easily secure any type and size of load.
The Bullitt takes disc brakes, and use standard 26 inch wheels in back with a smaller 20 inch wheel controlled by a steering rod up front. These cargo bikes are surprisingly agile for such a long wheelbase.
As a bike nerd family with several group sets lying around, we originally thought of purchasing the frame through a retailer in the US and then doing the build ourselves. We have slightly unusual requirements, as we live at the top of a very steep hill, and planned to haul Lola and lots of groceries around—in short, we needed electric assist.
Looking for advice online, I soon came across the folks at Practical Cycles in Sacramento who specialize in building bikes for many different transportation needs. The team had already built up a “Milk Plus” with a BionX SL350 HT rear hub motor. The scales fell from my eyes, and I realized my work was done.
The Bullitt has performed beyond our expectations—carrying everything from Lola (with a little coaxing) to plants and bags of potting soil to two full propane tanks. With some help from Hans, and a little carpentry, we were able to create a box big enough for Lola and secure enough to hold loose loads. The box still needs a colorful paint job, however. Or lots of stickers.
The BionX motor has been a blessing, offering full control of the percentage of electric assist when heading uphill, while allowing battery charging downhill through regenerative braking. I could never pedal up the steep hills on my own power pushing the 50+ lbs cargo bike in addition to a 70+ lbs load. One thing to note, you don’t want to leave the battery charging in your garage or house unattended. I have heard many horror stories of the batteries catching fire and even houses burning down as a result.
The Bullitt frame is light and agile, but steering takes some getting used to, especially after riding your road or mountain bike. However, once you remember to look well beyond the front of the bike, and not at the front wheel, the agility and cornering ability of the cargo bike will surprise you.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a fun way to ditch the car and instead get some exercise during your daily close range trips to school or the grocery store, think about a Bullitt cargo bike. Your lungs, and the ozone layer will thank you.