We just bought a box bike (from the Dutch "bakfiets") from Urkai. It's quite a bike. It's large, long, heavy. But it rides smooth and easy even when the box is loaded with a kid and everything for an outing.
It's been pretty fun. We immediately took the bike to an nearby town for ice cream (we have priorities). It was over an hour each way along a gentle rail trail. Our toddler loved it. On the way back it was getting dark so the built-in lights came in quite handy. And we could flip up the bench so our kid could sleep in the bottom on a pad.
We've wanted a Dutch-style box bike for a while. We've already got other Dutch bikes and appreciate the low-maintenance and comfort. The Bakfiets.nl cargo bike with electric-assist that we got is really well-built. The bike came in two boxes; one really long narrow box that held the frame and wheels, and the other held the box. Urkai is based in Burlington, Ontario, but ships anywhere in Canada.
Full disclosure: I approached Urkai about getting a discount if I wrote up my experiences, and owner Andrew agreed.
Here's the bike all put together. Everything but the canopy, which I'll talk about in a separate post. This bike is like a stretch limo and front loader put together. Yet somehow nimble; likely because of the low centre of gravity on the front.
On a rainy day I put on the canopy. With the canopy it feels like a moving tent, in a good way. I would like to just hang out in there with the kid while we're stopped for a snack. She got to sit there in comfort, with everything at hand.
We put a thermarest on the floor so her feet could be higher and she'd have something to sit on. Sitting on the floor makes the bench into a nifty table.
We've recently moved out of Toronto to a small town in Simcoe County that has its share of hills. Which might explain why many of the two wheeled vehicles I've seen are e-bikes. But we've only seen one other bakfiets-style cargo bike thus far.
The majority of the hills the bakfiets can handle well. We barely brake a sweat if we put the e-assist on. Yet there is one really steep section on a nice, wooded trail between the two towns that pushes us and the bike to the limit. On our first attempt we had to get off and push the bike up part way.
We finally met our match with it's insane 20% grade. (I went back to measure). Most people are unlikely to encounter such hills.
I've since gone back a few times and I can make it up now with the right combination of shifting down all the way and pushing hard on the pedals and pulling hard on the handlebars. We're exploring the possibility of using a bigger chainring on the back to help with the hills. Though it means we lose a bit on the flats. Not much of a loss since we seldom need to go that fast
All about the bike
There are lots of nice touches with the bike that make it a pleasure; such as the wheel lock, the magnetically closing harness for the kids, the enclosed chain, the internal roller brakes, and the smooth shifting of the gears. You may find that some of them are a challenge for some bike shops to fix, especially those who specialize in mountain bikes or road bikes. It could help, then, to learn a few things about your bike so you can fix the basics. And keep Urkai in speed dial.