Child Bike Trailers - Freedom for the Holidays
2016 12 14
It’s that time of year! Music you get tired of hearing in every mall. Rushing to meals all over town (or the country). And, of course, big smiles when presents are presented and opened.
Now, you surely think that we think that a bike trailer is the best possible gift for the cyclist (or soon-to-be-cyclist) in your family. And you’d be right! But let’s say that you want to present someone with an awesome child bike trailer for Christmas? What should you be looking for?
It goes without saying that you are transporting your (or someone else’s) most precious cargo. You need to be certain that the child bike trailer is as safe as possible. Is the frame strong? Does it have study harnesses to secure the child or children? Does it prevent tiny fingers from finding their way into the spokes of the wheels? All of these should be primary considerations when selecting a child bike trailer.
No matter which way you slice it, bike trailers are definitely a somewhat large piece of gear. So how inconvenient will it really be when you are transporting it or setting it up? Some bike trailers look awesome on paper but take an instruction manual to get them apart and into your car. Do your research and choose something you’re not going to hate in two weeks because it take 10 minutes to get on the road.
Wike Softie with a stroller wheel
Some thing just aren’t meant to be multipurpose. The bike trailer is not one of them. You’ll likely be in a lot of different situations if you’re going to haul kids around in a child bike trailer. You’re athletic so you might be a runner. You probably live in town so you’ll need a stroller. You might live in a rainy area so you’ll need a good cover. Check out the accessories for your child bike trailer and make sure you’ve got what you need to turn your bike trailer into a go-anywhere, do-anything part of your bike experience. After all, who needs three things with wheels to haul one kid around when you can get away with just one?
Wike Softie with a stroller wheel
Space, space, and more space (for them)
Any parent will tell you that kids usually come with a bunch of stuff. Even the greenest, most anti-consumerist among us will likely have a stack of books made from recycled toilet paper and a pile of wooden toys made from reclaimed wood. And while you may enjoy riding for an hour to the grocery store and back (and we most definitely thank you and love you for it), junior may get tired of sitting still for so long. But if he’s got lots of pockets to stash his books and toys (and food, of course) then things will go that much smoother. But do us a favour and maybe skip the DVD player or tablet at least once in awhile?
Space, space, and more space (for you)
Sure you’re a minimalist but who doesn’t need an extra pair of clothes if your dearest gets a little queasy behind you? Make sure you’ve got some storage space in the trailer for diapers, clothes, and, of course, food.
You’re on your own with the elements are the engine of the train but your little one shouldn’t have to suffer like you may have to. Is the seat comfy? Can the trailer be sealed up when the weather gets nasty? Can it open up with the sun is shining? It doesn’t sound like much now but comfort will make a world of difference to your little one.
Roll up windows
There you have it. Give a child bike trailer for Christmas. But be sure to do your research first.
Cargo Bike or Cargo Bike Trailer?
2016 11 11
We’ve taken a good look at cargo bicycles in the last few posts and I think it’s clear that we think they are pretty great! A cargo bike is versatile, practical, affordable, economical, fun and a whole bunch of other great things.
But, even knowing all that, we understand that a cargo bike isn’t for everyone. Maybe you lack the storage space for a larger bike. Maybe, as reasonably priced as cargo bikes are, it’s still a big chunk of money to hand out all at once. Or maybe you just don’t do a whole lot of cargo hauling. After all, I’ve seen many people purchase a pickup truck because they need to take an occasional large load here or there. As practical as that might sound, the reality is, if you don’t use all that cargo space regularly, you’re better of buying a car and and installing a trailer hitch and buying a trailer for the rare occasion when you need to haul things around. You’ll not only save on the initial cost of the truck but all the extra gas money you’d spend driving an empty truck around town.
The same applies to cargo bikes. They are certainly great but if you’re not going to be using the extra hauling capacity on a regular basis, it might not make a whole lot of sense.
But you DO need to haul things once in awhile. Maybe you commute to work five days a week and do groceries on Saturday. I think it’s unrealistic to expect you to use a heavier and less manoeuvrable cargo bike for 80% of your bike outings that would be much more pleasant on a regular bike.
Enter, the bike cargo trailer! Whether you’re a weekend landscaper, a shopper, or someone that just needs to get a bunch of stuff from point A to point B once in awhile, there’s a bike cargo trailer for you.
For the shopper
Wouldn’t it be great if we could eat out for every meal every single day? Well, maybe not so great for many people who like to cook but I’d bet there are lots of people who would gladly not cook at all. The reality is that unless we are obscenely wealthy we all need to get groceries at least occasionally. Even if we don’t eat at home we still need those sundries like shampoo and deodorant. And for that grand occasion of going to the grocery store, the shopping bike cargo trailer fits the bill. Unlike say, chile bike trailers, the shopping bike cargo trailer is usually designed to hold a lot of irregularly shaped items. Many will come with some for of protection for your groceries in case it rains or snows. The very best will double as a grocery cart but I know that at least a few places do not allow anything other than their own stock grocery carts in their stores.
For the landscaper
Two words here: big, strong. It’s very possible that you could use a cargo bike for the sizes of the loads you would likely carry if you are using your bike cargo trailer for landscaping. But there are certain advantages the trailer has over the bike. For example, you may use your bike to visit clients and zipping up on your bike might be easier. A landscape bike cargo trailer can also be detached and moved to hard to reach locations. Other advantages can include a drop gate and high canopy. I don’t image you’d want a large canopy blocking your view on a cargo bike!
For the heavy duty hauler
Lumber? No problem. Furniture? Also no problem. Gold bars? You might want to move quickly through town but again, no problem.
If you routinely handle large loads, a heavy duty flatbed bike cargo trailer may be the way to go. These types of bike cargo trailers are usually built of much sturdier materials and wheels. The open concept means you can stack things much higher than in a traditional, closed bike trailer. Hauling garbage cans to the dump it a snap!
So if a cargo bike is not the perfect vehicle for you, consider a bike cargo trailer. You can keep the bike you love and extend bike usage into so many other parts of your life!
Top 3 Reasons Cargo Bikes are Going to be Huge
2016 10 07
While cargo bikes are common enough sights in Europe (especially in the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) they aren’t something you see every day in North America. That’s certainly changing and we see a serious increase in cargo bike usage in the future. There are three reasons why and all are related to a single thing: urbanization.
It may seem that more and more people are cramming into cities but it’s a trend that has been going on for more than 100 years. In the United States, by the 1920s, more than 50% of the population was living in cities. The country as a whole now stands at 80% urbanization.
While I’m not an expert in urban development, I’d hazard to guess that increased urbanization in North America does not automatically translate into more cycling. A bicycle-friendly city requires a certain level of density and the appropriate infrastructure to enable cycling. I’d hazard to guess that the urban sprawl and lack of bike lanes that characterizes most North American cities are simply not bike-friendly.
So what part of urbanization can help increase cycling and, of course, the use of cargo bikes? Urban density.
I’ll be looking at a strictly local phenomenon to illustrate this. As many of you know, Wike is a Canadian company based in beautiful Guelph, Ontario. We’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from the largest city in the country, Toronto.
I should probably note that Canada has space. Lots and lots of space. The situation is similar in the United States. Lots of space translates to urban sprawl. Urban sprawl translates to longer distances to travel for jobs and pretty much everything else.
The Ontario government has been working for a decade to increase density in urban areas. Not just in Toronto but in other city centres around the province. The Golden Horseshoe is one of the main urban areas in the country and contains a large number of cities, including Guelph. In fact, 26% of the entire country’s population live in the Golden Horseshoe.
The Ontario government recently unveiled the “Shaping Land Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe” (http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=14910 ) which is a document that lays out some guidelines for growing communities. Feel free to read the entire report. It’s interesting stuff for those part of this geographic area.
But what does this have to do with more cargo bikes? There are a couple of things in this report that have a direct bearing on it. Specifically:
- “Increase the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60 per cent of all new residential development occurring annually in the existing built-up area.”
- “Increase the designated greenfield area density target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 80 residents and jobs per hectare.”
Essentially, the government is planning for more intensification. More people on less land. The anti-urban sprawl if you will.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. More intensification, more people, more bikes, more cargo bikes.
So let’s see where all this intensification will lead.
Cargo Delivery Bikes
If you’ve got a load to deliver in, say, Mississauga, Houston, or Atlanta, it’s a pretty good bet that a truck is your only option. It’s safe to say that you’re your customers are scattered over many many kilometres. But urban density packs those customers into a smaller space, making delivering by bike much less of a problem. And while a bike trailer might do the trick, a cargo bike is really where it’s at if you’re delivering groceries or larger and more bulky items.
Cargo Family Bikes
Intensification and cargo delivery bikes are good from the perspective of “I am closer to customers”. Cargo Family Bikes take a broader perspective: “I am closer to everything”. If things like schools, jobs, day care, and grocery stores are no longer in far-flung destinations, the need for a car diminishes greatly. A solid cargo bike can take care of your everyday needs without a problem. And it’ll be good for your health too!
Driving Cargo Bike Costs Down
We’ve already made the case that cargo bikes are not as expensive as you may think but we can also admit that plunking $1000 or more on a cargo bike may seem a bit daunting. But since we believe cargo bikes will become more common, the increase in the number of cargo bikes sold will bring the costs of cargo bikes down.
Again, the Ontario government has made it a priority to increase density in the most populous region of the country so intensification leading to a golden age of cargo bikes might be a local phenomenon. But I suspect that our little corner of the world is not the only place seriously studying intensification.
And it’s not all chocolate and roses. More rural areas consider the intensification targets too high: Density increases could change face of Centre Wellington
Do You Know Your Awesome Cargo Bike Type?
2016 09 10
The word cargo bike immediately brings to mind, well, cargo and bike. Cargo in this case being a load of something or other. But cargo bikes are extraordinarily versatile vehicles that can be used in any number of ways. Think a cargo bike won’t fit your lifestyle? Take a look at our cargo bike types and think again!
You’re a responsible urban citizen. You know that cars take up an inordinate amount of road and parking space and cause a significant amount of pollution. You also love the health benefits of cycling to work. Perhaps most of all, cycling to work can often be just as fast, if not faster, than driving a car in our gridlocked cities.
But a cargo biker you are not. Or are you? Think carefully about your route. Do you pass the grocery store? Do you pass the day care? Or some other place that you might visit regularly with your car? Because let’s face it, cycling to work and then driving halfway back there to get groceries seems a little…inefficient.
If you can double up on some errands on your commute, you might be a cargo bike commuter!
The Wike Box Bike
The Family Hauler
You’re living the dream! A nice house, semi, apartment, or condo in the downtown of a city with a rich arts and culture scene. And kids! Two lovely cherubs bursting with energy and always ready to explore what’s around the corner. The only issue? That car! Sitting there 95% of the time doing nothing. Costing money that could be better spent on paying down your mortgage, museum passes for the family, or even day care.
But give up the car? I mean, it’s such a handy thing to have. To tote the kids to grandma’s house. To get the groceries. To haul the kids to said day care.
Enter the cargo bike. Significantly cheaper to buy and no insurance or gas bills. And maintenance and repairs are a fraction of a fraction of the minivan you were convinced you needed.
And I’ll throw in one extra little “bonus” on top of all that: no need to haul other people’s kids around. Now that’s a little self serving but you know that a big minivan means you’re in the perfect position to pick up your kid and all your kid’s friends as well. Only have a cargo bike and a Smart car in the garage? Well, maybe Don down the road can take those six friends to the amusement park outside town.
Selfish? Well, just a little bit. But hey, you’re saving the environment and making the air easier to breathe for everyone! Fair trade?
You’re vehicle is your workhorse. You’re hauling materials and goods here and there. You may have a little car because you do local deliveries. You may even be looking for a unique business idea that lends itself to a cargo bike. Some to consider:
A delivery service for those with limited mobility - Bring books, food, or even friends to their place.
A landscaping service - Those looking to landscape their yards are already pre-disposed to the greener side of life. Take it all the way.
Food bike - Food trucks are all the rage so why not create a food bike? Get particularly inventive and use your pedals to power a blender of coffee grinder.
And those are just a few ideas. Use your imagination and see which service could lend itself to an entrepreneurial spirit with a cargo bike.
The Mobility Impaired
The freedom and joy that come from bike riding are pretty much unmatched. Whether as a rider or passenger, there’s just something downright enjoyable about being on a bike. Because box bikes have three wheels they are naturally more stable than two-wheeled versions. The added stability can be very helpful for those with some mobility issues. For those with more severe mobility issues, cargo bikes can be used as passenger bikes as well. Either way, mobility is increased.
And there you have it! Four cargo bike types. Can you think of any other ones?
Cargo Bikes - A Lifestyle Choice
2016 08 17
A lot of people think cargo bikes are something for businesses rather than families. This is particularly true if you look at cost alone. In many cases, a cargo bike is going to cost considerably more than a bike and bike trailer combination.
But how you approach cargo bikes depends a lot on your perspective. If you approach it from the perspective that a cargo bike is a “nice to have” that may not be strictly necessary then it may be true a cargo bike is a luxury. In this case, you likely already have a car (or two) and possibly a bike trailer (or two). A cargo bike would be in addition to what you already have and may not make a great deal of sense.
But there is a serious shift from rural to urban that’s occurring on a global scale. With higher urban density there is a renewed expectation for good cycling infrastructure. Of course, your mileage with regards to cycling infrastructure may vary. There are many pro-active cities out there (see the list at Copenhagenize) and there are many (OK, many many) that aren’t. But progress is being made.
If you’re living in a city with everything you need within cycling distance, what you’re really looking at is not an addition to your stable of bikes and bike trailers but a replacement for your car.
From that perspective, the cost of a cargo bike becomes much less of an issue. You don’t need me to tell you that a car is a serious drain on finances. We all know that it’s the second most expensive purchase we make in our lives. And, of course, it doesn’t stop with the initial purchase price. Gas, insurance, repairs, parking, etc. all add up to a substantial amount. According to Nerd Wallet the average cost of owning an average vehicle is a whopping USD$8698 a year. Now we can get down to some serious comparison shopping!
But can a cargo bike really replace a car? This, of course, depends on where you live. If you’re within riding distance of most of the things you need then why not? A cargo bike can carry your kids to whatever activities they are participating in, get you to the grocery store and back out with enough food to feed an army, and carry any bulky (or not so bulky) supplies you need for your home.
Now, it may not be realistic to get rid of your car(s) completely but if your commute/family activities can be done by bike and/or public transit then there should be no issue in renting a car when you need to visit grandma who lives in another town.
Maybe you’re part of a two-car household? Consider getting rid of one of your cars in favour of a cargo bike. There’s already a clear trend to fewer two-car households. You can help accelerate it!
So if the cost of a cargo bike is deterring you, make sure you’re looking at the cost from the right perspective. Is it a nice to have? Or a possible replacement for one of your cars?
How to Choose the Best Cargo Bike for You
2016 07 19
You’ve done your research. You want to do it all. Carry kids. Carry cargo. Get rid of your car. It’s clear that a cargo bike is a good choice for your lifestyle.
Now what, though? There are lots of cargo bikes out there. Lots of different makes and models. Lots of different styles. What cargo bike will fit your bill?
As with anything, you’ll want to start with your preferences and where you live. Are there lots of wide open spaces? Is there good bike infrastructure? Is space a little tight in your area? How comfortable are you riding a bike? How comfortable will you be riding a larger bike that handles quite a bit differently from your regular bike?
I’ll be up front and say that any cargo bike can work in pretty much any environment. Just like cars and bikes, the type of cargo bike you buy doesn’t limit where you can take it. I saw a fellow the other day tooling around downtown Guelph on a fat tire bike. This may not seem strange but fat tire bikes are designed for snow, sand, and serious off roading. They are beasts to use on pavement with a massive amount of friction from their balloon-like tires. But this fellow was using it all the same. Maybe he liked it. Maybe he didn’t have the cash to buy a second bike better suited to the urban environment. Maybe he only took it on pavement rarely. Whatever the reason, he made it work.
So, knowing that you can’t really go too wrong when you buy a cargo bike, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the bakfietsen/box bike and the Long John. These are two of of the main cargo bikes you’ll see on the road.
Bakfietsen or Box Bike
The Wike Bakfietsen / Box Bike style Wike Super Trike
Two wheels up front, one in the back, and cargo up front. I would personally guess that this type of cargo bike is the most popular out there. But is it right for you?
The Bakfietsen / Box Bike is an extraordinarily stable piece of equipment. The two wheels up front make it virtually impossible to tip over. Of course, you could tip it if you were motivated enough but generally speaking, you’ll be hard pressed to get one of these on their side. The two front wheels also make it a very good choice for snowy climates. I have no problem riding my bike in the snow, sleet, or rain but I have also tipped over on a mild corner in slippery conditions. I have a recumbent bike with two wheels up front and one in the back just like a Bakfietsen / Box Bike and I can tell you that I am much more confident it in slippery conditions. Two wheels up front definitely make things much more stable in snowy climes.
Of course, the Bakfietsen / Box Bike keeps the load nicely centred between the wheels making it that much more stable.
Downsides? Well, the Bakfietsen / Box Bike definitely takes up more space. The box might be similar or even identical dimensions to a Long John box but the front wheels obviously need some space. Bakfietsens / Box Bikes are also a little more complex to build and will weigh more because of this. With a regular bike, your handlebars are directly connected to your front fork. Turn the handle bar, turn the fork, turn the bike. Bakfietsen / Box Bikes have to turn two wheels at once when you turn your handlebars so they are not quite as straightforward from the mechanical side. They operate similar to a car, really.
Bakfietsen / Box Bike pros: Great stability, great in less than ideal cycling conditions.
Bakfietsen / Box Bike cons: Heavier and more complex than a Long John. Need extra space to both use and store.
The Wike Long John style Big Box Bike
The Long John has a very long wheelbase with the cargo perched between the rider and the front wheel. Initially, these look precarious and difficult to ride but rest assured, they are stable and any rider with a decent amount of cycling experience will quickly master the Long John. Knowing that, is the Long John your dream cargo bike?
With the single wheel up front, the Long John is very manoeuvrable. Yes, it will definitely have a much wider turning radius than your regular bike but it will turn quickly and easily. The cargo is nicely centred on the frame so balance is good. Be sure to even out your load to help with balance, though.
On top of manoeuvrability, the Long John is narrower than the Bakfietsen / Box Bike. If you’ve got limited cycling infrastructure, narrow bike lanes, or tight spaces on your route, the Long John may suit you better as they often aren’t much wider than a regular bicycle with panniers (what some call saddle bags).
Downsides to the Long John are their length and the fact that you are rolling on two wheels instead of three. And I’ll always say that the Long John is easy to learn how to ride and has similar handling characteristics to a regular bike. But if I lived in an area where I was delivering cargo on snowy weather, I might think twice about a Long John over a Bakfietsen / Box Bike.
Long John pros: Highly manoeuvrable (relatively speaking), smaller footprint
Long John cons: Still need some practice to ride properly, pretty much as stable as your regular bike but not as stable as a Bakfietsen / Box Bike.
So there you have it! Two of the most popular cargo bike styles out there. If you’re looking to buy a cargo bike, either one of these should fit your bill.
Top 4 Reasons Why You’ll Love a Cargo Bike
2016 07 04
Cargo Bikes. You’ve probably seen them zipping around town. Big cargo bin on the front (and, occasionally, on the back). Sometimes two wheels two wheels up front, sometimes not. Whatever they are, it’s clear that you can haul a lot of stuff with them.
If we’re being honest, they can look a little ungainly. I mean, all that weight on the front? And how on earth can you manoeuvre it?
Fear not, good friends! The cargo bike has been around for a long time. Until now, it’s been something of a niche product but with the world becoming more and more urban these fantastic cargo and people movers are poised to become a much larger part of the city landscape.
But you’ve already got a bike! It does everything you need. And we agree. A cargo bike is fantastic but not for everyone. But here at Wike, we’re pretty sure that there are a lot of people that could use a box bike but it isn’t on their radar. So here are four reasons you’ll love a box bike.
It can replace your car
Let’s face it: this is the promise every bike manufacturer and green advocate has made about bicycles since the automobile displaced bicycles as a perfect mode of transportation at the turn of the century. But the reality is, a bike it primarily designed for transporting one person in a spectacularly efficient way. You can most definitely extend the usefulness of you bike with a bike trailer and other accessories but at its heart, the bike is one-person machine. And a one-person machine with no real room for passengers or cargo is not doing to replace a car. Don’t get us wrong. It absolutely CAN replace a car or at least one of your cars but there are times (sometimes many times) when you need the cargo and passenger room. No modern urbanite is going to deny this.
Enter the cargo bike. Load it up with kids or (of course) cargo. Or both! Lock it up just like you would your regular bike and don’t worry about someone taking off with the box. Many cargo bikes are large enough to handle even furniture if that’s what you need to get to other side of town. With massive amount of cargo space, a cargo bike truly can replace your car.
While you certainly can get a purpose-built cargo bike, most can double as something else. Kid carrier and cargo carrier are a common way of maximizing a cargo bike. And, in some cases, you can order specialized boxes for your needs at any given time. Kids grown up? Swap out the kid-specific hauler and swap in the cargo box.
They’re more stable than you think
I know that most people are a little nervous about riding a bike filled with cargo. But while it might seem unwieldy and difficult, cargo bikes operate in much the same manner as your regular bike. The weight is properly centred on the bike which makes it easy to manoeuvre. Now, we’re not saying it will be a cakewalk but, just like a regular bike, a little practice goes a long way. Depending on your cargo bike, you may need to get used to a longer wheelbase and how the bike handles. Take a few practice rides where you’ve got plenty of room and no cargo. Once you’re confident, load it up and practice some more! In no time you’ll be on your way. And keep in mind that it’s best to keep as much weight as close to the ground as possible. The more weight at the bottom, the easier your cargo bike will be to manoeuvre.
Other vehicles respect you more
As an avid cyclist, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been brushed up against by passing cars. Of course, this is more of North American phenomenon because I had no issues at all in the Netherlands with their separated bike lanes and other future thinking bike projects. But in North America, you’re pretty much fighting for space for at least part of your journey.
But with a box bike, cars will most likely give you a wide berth. Whether they’re afraid they’ll scratch their paint job or believe you have less control, they want to give you space.
So there you have it! Cargo bikes are more than just a novelty. Give them some consideration if you’re looking for a way to replace your car. Sometimes a regular bike just won’t do!
Choosing a Cargo Bike Trailer
2016 06 27
In part 2 of our ongoing series on what makes a good bike trailer we’re going to look at cargo trailers.
A cargo trailer can mean any number of things but for the purposes of this article it means a bike trailer that doesn’t carry people, pets, or boats. A cargo trailer can be used for lots of different purposes and it’s the sheer usefulness of these bike trailers that make them hard to classify. Because of this, picking a good one is even harder.
Knowing that there are so many different types of cargo bike trailers, what can you do to get the best one for you? A lot of it comes down to your specific needs. So assess what you actually need before you start looking. Some questions you can ask:
What am I hauling?
While any box on wheels can probably do the trick, you likely don’t want a massive trailer if all you’re doing it getting a few bags of groceries. Be realistic here. If you’re going to be mostly hauling small cargo then get a smaller trailer and borrow a bigger one for bigger jobs. Properly assessing your cargo needs will also help you narrow down the features you need. If you’re using the trailer primarily for groceries, a cover makes a good deal of sense so your groceries don’t get rained on. You may also want something that quickly converts from bike trailer to grocery cart to avoid leaving your trailer outside and make things a little easier.
Of course, if you’re primarily hauling heavy thing like paint and wood, a grocery getter is not for you. Look for something with a wide base and lots of room. A cover may or may not be a necessity for big loads like this.
Where am I hauling?
While a big trailer might appeal it may not be practical for your environment. Narrow streets and lot of turns might make you think twice about a wide and long trailer. It will turn out to be a balance between functionality and practicality when it comes to larger trailers.
What’s my personal carrying capacity?
Not everyone has legs of steel. Can you realistically pull your trailer under a full load? While you may be able to get a large pile of lumber in your trailer, it won’t mean much if you can’t actually move it anywhere. Of course, “full load” is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. A full load of gold bars (if you’re starting a bicycle Brinks) will be much harder to manage than a full load of, say, bread. Loads of over 125 lbs are very difficult to tow up steep hills.
No matter what trailer works for you, keep in mind that quality matters. A good, strong set of wheels, a strong frame, and quality materials will make your cargo bike trailer a joy to use rather than something that will be falling apart in short order. And also give some consideration to replacement parts. Unlike child bike trailers, it’s likely that you’ll be using it for the long haul (ahem) so replacement parts will be important. The limit of carrying capacity depends on many things that are not a function of the rating of the trailer. The ability to start and stop the trailer with your bicycle is a primary concern. Because trailers do not have brakes it is important that the momentum of the trailer will not cause your bicycle to jack-knife when you brake. If you are standing on your peddles and brake quickly, most of your weight is transferred to the front wheel of your bicycle. This leaves little friction between the rear wheel and the road which, if you are towing a heavy load, will cause a jack-knife… especially if you are in a turn.
What Makes a Good Bike Trailer?
2016 06 07
Well, this is a really general question. Right off the bat most people will assume that you’re talking about bike trailers for kids and what makes a good bike trailer for children doesn’t necessarily make for a good bicycle trailer for say, hauling your canoe.
We’re going to break this into a series so that you can get the best possible advice for your particular situation. But before we do that, we’ll lay out basics for what makes a good bike trailer.
We can go on all day about features and design but what it really comes down to in a good bike trailer is quality. Your bicycle trailer will no doubt be roughed up a considerable amount over its lifetime. Potholes, rain, gravel, being tipped over, swapping accessories, it all adds up to a lot of wear and tear. A quality built trailer should give you a decade of trouble-free operation.
If budget is your main concern, consider the after market before you consider a cheap new trailer. Some types of bicycle trailers are only used a few years before they are outgrown so a good used on should be fairly easy to come by and will last longer than a cheap new one.
And trust us: you’d rather not have a component fail at the worst possible time over a few dozens of dollars.
No matter what your hauling, stability is king. Whether it’s kids, your kayak, or a load of paving stones, you want a trailer that tracks straight and true and won’t make your job as the engine of the train harder. As a general rule, good sized alloy wheels with stainless steel spokes and a decent track width (the distance between the wheels) will make your trailer more stable overall. A low center of gravity placed just slightly ahead of the trailer wheels will reduce the possibility of roll-over.
The biggest safety risk when using a child bike trailer is that it will become disconnected from your bicycle… travel into vehicular traffic… and encounter a car or truck. The strength, durability, and simplicity of the entire connection link between the trailer and the bike is paramount. Other considerations are roll cage frame design and seat belt strength.
Not everyone needs accessories for their trailer. But maybe you want to take the kids for a ride and a jog. Or you want a cargo bike trailer you can take into the grocery store without any fuss. Size up your needs and pick a trailer that can grow to meet them. There are definitely trailers on the market that can meet every need right out of the box but no two people or families are alike.
So you’ve got a fantastic trailer at a good price. But there’s something missing from the box. What now? Well, call the dealer! Or maybe not. The manufacturer? The designer? With luck, you’ve bought from a company with a good track record of supporting its customers but there are many times where you may be stuck in a loop on the phone or, worse, can’t reach anybody at all.
The same applies to parts. Can you get parts easily? Will the manufacturer continue to support the product after it’s been discontinued? While it’s true that some trailers have a fairly short lifespan, others, like cargo bike trailers, can go for years and even decades. And even if you don’t think you’ll be hanging onto that child trailer for long, knowing that there’s good support behind it can mean peace of mind for you and be a selling point for the person who buys it from you.
So there are the basics. Look for these things when you’re in the market for a new bike trailer and you’ll be off to a very good start.
St. James High School Visits the New Wike Bike Trailer and Box Bike Factory
2016 05 27
At Wike, we’re proud to be manufacturing bike trailers and box bikes right here in North America. And we love to share our expertise and passion for the walk and bike lifestyle with anyone interested.
When St. James high school approached us for a tour of the factory for their high school class we were more than happy to comply! The class first rode around Guelph to learn more about urban geography and the importance of urban transportation in all its forms. Their tour took them right to the front door of our new factory were we happily showed off our new digs. The students seemed quite keen to learn about bicycle trailer and box bike manufacturing and they got a good look at what it takes to make these products. From aluminum and steel fabrication to cutting and sewing fabrics, they got a unique view of manufacturing in Ontario. They even got a peek at the “secret” Wike lab where we dream up, design, and prototype our latest bike innovations like the folding box bike. And, of course, we were proud to show them our new folding box bike, the salamander. After all that, a few inquired about summer jobs at the factory!
Of course, a bike trailer factory tour and bike ride were hardly the only thing on the agenda. The students headed to downtown Guelph to take part in a mock council were they were given access to the actual Guelph Council Chambers. They elected a mayor and had an actual debate regarding a motion to build a pedestrian/cycling bridge underpass that would integrate with the existing cycling network. We’re looking forward to at least a few of these polite, informed, and caring young citizens moving into municipal politics in the future.
At Wike, we’re always proud to share our expertise with the next generation. If you’d like to integrate a bike trailer and box bike factory tour into your school curriculum, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
2016 05 20
After 17 years at our location on Regal Rd., Wike bicycle trailers is moving to a brand new (to us!) location.
The bike trailer business doesn’t stand still and neither do we. Our new location gives us significantly more space that’s much better organized. Our sewers have their very own room and much easier access to the top-quality materials they use to make your beautiful bike trailer. Our manufacturing floor is much larger and now we can drop our material directly where they need to be rather than hauling them through the warehouse.
And what would a new headquarters be without some new office space. Bob and Anna, as head bike trailer and box bike advocates, get their own offices.
In our new space there’s even a dedicated spot to take pictures for our promotional material. No more setting up stuff at the house or cordoning off part of the factory for photo shoots!
And the new space has, well, space! Beyond the factory floor there’s a massive parking lot which gives our delivery drivers plenty of room to manoeuvre. And for visitors and customers to park, of course.
And visit you can! We’re close to downtown Guelph and can sell you a child bicycle trailer, boat bike trailer, cargo bike trailer, pet trailer, box bike, or even our fancy new salamander folding box bike right from the factory showroom. Keep an eye out on our display window facing the street. We’ll be mounting one of our brand new New folding box bikes there for the world to see.
So come visit us at 150 Stevenson St. South in gorgeous Guelph, Ontario and see local bike trailer and box bike manufacturing up close and personal.
Guelph Magnolia Bike Ride
2016 05 18
When spring arrives you know that cyclists are just champing at the bit to get out for a great ride to enjoy the weather and get ready for a new season of cycling. One regular spring event in Guelph is the Magnificent Magnolia ride and Wike was proud to take part this year.
More than 50 participants (and a bicycle trailer or two thrown into the mix) wended their way through Guelph checking out the Magnolia trees along the way. The route took them through Guelph’s quiet residential streets and the occasional thoroughfare.
It wasn’t all bike riding and kid bike trailer towing, though. Former Guelph councillor Lise Burcher joined in the fun and gave a talk at her home which featured, of course, the beautiful magnolia trees on her property. From there, the hungry horde headed to the stately home of Wike owners Bob and Anna. Cucumber cream cheese sandwiches on pink and green bread (magnolia colours, of course) along with tea and treats were enjoyed by all.
And no ride would be complete withou prizes! Best Dressed (congratulations Ruth Tabata), Most Outlandish (congratulations Richelle Forsey), and best spring pants (congratulations Victoria Coates).
Wike bicycle trailers was happy to participate in this fantastic local event. We hope to see you all at the ride next year.
We are moving!
2016 04 22
During the week of April 25 to April 29 we are moving the factory to a new location. After 17 years at our present location we are relocating from an industrial park in the north of the city of Guelph to a classic industrial building in the center of town. We will continue to ship during the move but phone response may be a little slower than usual.
Thick Bikes in Pittsburgh
2016 02 15
Thick Bikes in Pittsburgh has pledged to the first Salamander Cycle Stroller on Kickstarter
Amphibian Series product launch
2016 01 25
After 5 years in development Wike is launching the Amphibian Series this spring on Kickstarter
This is the world’s first convertible bicycle/stroller. Now you can bring your bicycle everywhere that a stroller can go.
Wike featured on the CTV News
2015 09 21
â€‹Frank Lynn from CTV News, Kitchener stops by the factory.
Will bicycle trailers evolve into the cars of the future?
2015 05 25
Wike featured in Pedal Magazine
2015 03 13
â€‹The Wike Company is featured in this month’s issue of Pedal Magazine
Change Your World
2014 12 31
Walk and Bike â€‹Company featured in local newspaper
Guelph councillorâ€™s business goal for 2015: â€˜I want to change the worldâ€™ Bob Bell
Troy Bridgeman, Special to the Mercury
Bob Bell owner of Wike - The Walk & Bike Company of Guelph has some modest plans for 2015. He wants to change the world.
GUELPHâ€”When asked if he has a New Year’s resolution for 2015 local entrepreneur, inventor and City Councillor Bob Bell wasted no time putting the pedal to the metal.“I want to change the world,” said Bell. “And it is working.”
Since 1993, Bell has been making bicycle trailers and a variety of related products through his Guelph-based business Wike. “The business is doing very well,” he said. “We’re growing. We’re making money. Our export markets are expanding and we are on the cusp of launching a new product.” Bell said Wike is leading the active transportation revolution by creating products that make people healthier, wealthier and safer while reducing their impact on the environment. “One of the keys of our business is that we are the leading edge in the industry and we have to constantly develop new products,” said Bell. He is confident their latest design will maintain their market edge in North America, Europe and other parts of the world. “We want to be the company that brings a convertible bicycle to the marketplace,” he said. “It is still top secret but we are getting real close. We have it all drawn up.” Making things is a passion of Bell’s and he holds several patents on his inventions.
He was born in Galt the youngest of three brothers and moved to Guelph when he was one year old. He studied at Queen’s University, in Kingston, where he earned a degree in nuclear engineering. “After graduating I worked for a big transnational engineering company in South America for five years,” said Bell. “I worked in Tierra Del Fuego which is way down at the tip. We were looking for oil offshore in the world’s worst seas off Cape Horn.”
A lot of Bell’s interest in eco-friendly transportation came from his experience working in the energy sector. “I didn’t feel comfortable with a career in nuclear engineering because there is so much potential for error,” he said. “I was making a ton of money but I got the same thought when I was in the oil industry. There is something wrong here. This isn’t right.” He returned to Guelph in 1993 and took a job with the WC Wood Company. During his spare time he built the first Wike bicycle trailers in his basement. “The initial product was just for cargo and then after a couple years I started making them to carry children,” he said. “In 1997, I moved out of the basement and into a house with a garage where I produced the fast-folding aerodynamic model.”
That same year he got together with his wife and Wike’s vice-president of sales, Anna Shaftoe. “Anna doesn’t drive and has never had a license out of choice,” said Bell. “So, she is also the product tester.” Wike was one of the first bicycle companies to market their products online. “We were selling online from the house and couldn’t keep up,” Bell said. “So, we moved out of the garage and into our shop on Regal Road in 1998.” Bell worked as a consultant for WC Wood and then Stack a Shelf in Waterloo until 2001 when he started full-time with Wike. The product line has since grown to include bicycles and trailers for children, cargo, boats and even golf clubs. “A big portion of our business is providing products for children with special needs,” said Bell. “People asked for a wheelchair they can pull behind their bicycles. The product iterated very quickly and now it is a very popular.”
Bell was first elected to Guelph city council in 2006 and was re-elected to his seat in Ward 1 twice. He is an outspoken advocate for progressive environmental and infrastructure policies and is the chair of the Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Committee. “Some people view that as a conflict of interest and question whether or not I can advocate for cycling infrastructure because I am in the cycling business.,” said Bell “But, the vast majority of our products are exported out of the country and over 80 per cent of our sales are done in US dollars.” He is not averse to mixing a little business with politics. “Right after the election my wife and I left for Copenhagen and Amsterdam.” said Bell. “Denmark is the world leader in urban transportation with Amsterdam being a close second.” They visited Aalborg University in Copenhagen to consult with infrastructure and urban transport experts about the types of products Wike should be manufacturing to meet a market where 50 per cent of the population uses bicycles for transportation. “They’re just as interested in what I am trying to do here in products as I am on how they are doing over there in infrastructure,” he said. Bell sees Copenhagen as a model for future infrastructure planning in Guelph.
“These are the products that are going to change the world,” said Bell. “This is the way you need to build your city infrastructure to enable the change. I can’t change the cycling infrastructure in Chicago or New York City but I could sure as hell try to change it here.”
2014 10 17
Effective January 5, 2015 we will be increasing prices on all products by between 4% and 8%. We have not increased prices in 3 years
Examples of new pricing:
Large Special Needs price change from $750.00 to $820.00
Extra Large Special Needs price change from $850.00 to $920.00
Wike XP price change from $250.00 to $275.00
Wike Cargo HD from $230.00 to $250.00
Wike Buddy from $275.00 to $300.00
Wike Offers delivery to your door of Box Bikes and Cargo Trikes
2014 06 25
â€‹Beginning on July 1, 2014, Wike will offer a new shipping option to limited locations. A Wike Box Bike or Cargo Trike can be delivered assembled to your door. This means that you can purchase your Wike “ready to ride” right online.
Within a 150 mile radius of our factory in Guelph, we can deliver your new cargo bike or cargo trike assembled to your door. At no additional charge!
Wike Featured in the “Financial Post”
2014 03 15
â€‹Wike is featured in the Financial Post on March 1, 2014. Article explains how a North American manufacture can compete globally with a market dominated by Asian manufacturers
Bob Bell, founder of Guelph, Ont.-based Wike, makers of versatile bicycle trailers, is excited about growth opportunities outside Canada.
Wike already has a foothold in Europe, in the U.K., Finland, Sweden, Germany and Denmark and is now establishing its own service and distribution centre in Lithuania. The centre will allow Wike to customize its niche products for European consumers while facilitating global distribution.
As a small company with less than 10 employees, Mr. Bell attributes its ability to grow globally with a decision he made 12 years ago to rethink the traditional supply chain model. â€œWe didnâ€™t want to send manufacturing offshore, as so many companies have â€” the bicycle industry almost exclusively manufactures offshore. In contrast, our entire supply chain is Canadian, with the exception of wheels, which come from Taiwan,â€ he said.
â€œThat forced us into a different business model: We manufacture and sell direct cutting out the need for distributors and retailers. Our customers come to our website and place their order. We partnered with global logistics provider UPS to ship our products across North America. Seven years ago, when we began selling into Europe, we evolved that relationship and had our products shipped to a UPS warehouse in Coventry, England.â€ Since then, Wike has enjoyed 25% to 30% year-over-year growth for the past three years.
The success of Wikeâ€™s supply chain strategy is reflected in a recent survey of Canadian businesses commissioned by UPS Canada and conducted by Leger Marketing. Findings show 84% of business leaders agreed that a well-managed supply chain is a key competitive advantage in todayâ€™s global economy and 80% of businesses with a supply chain/shipping strategy met or exceeded their growth targets last year. The survey also found that businesses with a supply chain strategy were 12% more likely to meet or exceed their growth targets compared to those that did not have one. That said, only 50% of respondents had a supply chain strategy in place and 30% reported supply chain was not a priority because their businesses were too small.
This is a missed opportunity, particularly as the new Canadian trade agreement with Europe means there has never been a better time for Canadian businesses to look beyond North America, Jim Ramsay, vice-president of Global Freight Forwarding, UPS Canada, said.
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â€œThis requires small- to mid-sized businesses to think about integrating supply chain into their business model more than they have in the past. Supply chain is not just the domain of the major retailers or multinationals around the world, it applies to smaller businesses, too.â€
Toronto-based manufacturer GelaSkins, which makes technology accessories such as smartphone and tablet covers, among other items, agrees. â€œNot unlike many SMBs, we learn as we go and our supply chain strategy has evolved in much the same way,â€ said Cale Fair, manager of business development at GelaSkins.
â€œWe have been able to use our supply chain to help us understand where the opportunities are and take advantage of every channel we have to enter new markets. Our supply chain is a big part of our business model and it has helped us achieve double-digit growth year over year.â€
Jim Ramsay, vice-president of Global Freight Forwarding, UPS Canada, offers a few key steps to help businesses get started:
â€¢ Find out what your customers expect when they place an order. Is it all about cost effectiveness or is it about customizing and fast transit? How much inventory will you need to maintain to address both of those requirements? Do your technology, site and customer service tools line up with those expectations?
â€¢ Where are your customers? Are they clustered together or spread out? You need to think about this early on and build your supply chain accordingly.
â€¢ Tap into the expertise from organizations such as Canadian Manufacturerâ€™s Exporters and Export Development Canada.
â€¢ Establish scalable partnerships with your suppliers so you can leverage their depth and breadth of capabilities and networks rather than building your own. This means choosing partners that have the ability to flex on your behalf more quickly than you can on your own. For example, choose a logistics provider that has a trade management services group that helps with understanding the rules and regulations for importing into different geographies.
Wike Bicycle Trailers Featured in the Globe and Mail
2014 02 28
â€‹We are proud to have been recognized in the Globe and Mail feature on small businesses. The article has an excellent run down of what makes our business special and some financial experts offered advice on what we can do to grow our business to serve our customers better and reach new Wike enthusiasts!
Wike opens new Distribution Facility in Europe
2014 01 15
â€‹The Wike Company opens a distribution warehouse in Europe to service the growing demand for Wike Trailers worldwide. To create a more efficient distribution network, most products will be warehoused in Europe for easy delivery to customers. European products have been modified or changed to conform with “EC Standards”. A new company “Solvendis” will handle European operations for Wike.
Cargo Bike Showplace opens in Guelph.
2013 12 26
â€‹The Wike Company will open a “Cargo Bike Showroom” and “Assembly Facility” at 79 Regal Road in Guelph.
Cargo Trikes, Cargo Bikes, and Stroller Bikes will be assembled and displayed ready for test rides beginning in early 2014.
Wike appears on Dragon’s Den October 23, 2013
2013 09 30
The â€‹Wike Company makes a pitch to potential investors on CBC’s popular Dragon’s Den program. Bob Bell, the founder and owner of North America’s largest manufacturer of bicycle trailers looks to expand to Europe. Watch on Canadian Broadcasting Company at 8.00 pm EST or View here
2013 09 27
â€‹What does it require to take your family from Hamilton Canada to Mexico and beyond? Strength, perseverance, resilienceâ€¦and the right tool for the job! The Wike Premium Double was one of the tools the pedal-powered family relied on to get them over 13 000 km!
On May 11, 2011, the Pedal Powered Family started out from Hamilton, Ontario. The intrepid adventurers included Reuben and Heidi and their two young children, Eden (age 4 when they left) and Harper (almost 2 when they left). The family had an ambitious goal: Bike along the southern border of Canada, down the west coast to Panama City, and return up the east coast. Simple! While we could go on, the Pedal Powered Family kept everyone up to date. But they couldn’t have done it without their trusty Wike!
Since the Wike was an integral part of their journey, we’ve put a few highlights here:
What’s up in Active Transportation
2013 03 11
Creating a more human streetscape in our urban fabric is a ongoing challenge for every community. At Wike our goal is to deliver the mechanical devices that people need to travel easily on foot or by bike. Our newest concept, the Stroller Bike is the horizon of a new frontier for us. The existing products in this field are tricycles that convert to strollers and there are many namely Taga, Zigo, and Trio. Look forward to more advancements from Wike in the field of active transportation.