Smooth baby, reeeeeeal smoooooth…
By: Imogen Church
Published: September 22, 2016 (Updated: September 22, 2016)
Hello beautiful 8Freight bicycle! You belong to us now and we will care for you but also work you like a donkey of yore!
I cadged a lift from me Da, out to Mike Burrows laboratory of cycling magic (Burrows Engineering on the Rackheath Industrial estate) where I chatted for a bit with the man himself before giving the 8Freight a test run. I’m not going to lie to you, I've been a bit nervous about picking it up. Firstly, will I fall straight off it into a pile of broken spectacles, tangled hair and protruded bottom? Secondly, will I get lost on the way back from Rackheath on a road I have never travelled, wibbling and wobbling inelegantly on this bizarre invention? Luckily neither. The thing that first caught me short when I jockeyed up on the saddle and pushed away was how ridiculously smooth and stable it feels! I mean, remarkably stable to ride and as smooth as my lovely Pashley Tube Rider (both are Sturmey-Archer and Schwalbe tyres, although the 8Freight has much smaller wheels and boasts the Schwalbe Big Apple tyres). On the six mile ride home I didn’t once feel wobbly or unsure. I also managed to get some speed up on those long country roads, my reflective gold cycle helmet* warning all badgers of the impending majesty of my wheels (badgers... a running theme?). With my rucksack in the cargo bay I was free as a bird… a bird on a bicycle… with size 9 feet. Despite living in Norwich, our house also happens to require a few steep hills to get to (eat hillock, floods!) and the ride up them (without my son as yet, of course) was lighter than expected. In fact, the whole bike weighs roughly the same as the Pashley, so that was a nice surprise. The thing that really does take some getting used to is the turning circle. Whereas before I was essentially articulated (bike + trailer) I am now the same length but one whole entity, so you need to be careful when new to it, to leave enough room for the turn. I have a feeling that a turn in the road may be one of three points… but I will keep you posted. The seat is a Velo Plush and can be adjusted to a great height, tall enough for myself (5’11”) and Stephen (6’3”) but I have a feeling we may opt for a handlebar extension because we both prefer a sitting up style of ride. We’ll see how the first week pans out.
Next job for the 8Freight… picking up my son from school. When he saw the bike, he lost his MIND!!!! He was so excited he squealed and jumped up and down (instant Parent Points right there). I helped him into the cargo bay (where I had installed a cushion for comfort, as well as some toys, my bag and bike lock), put his helmet on (there are no belts for him but he has absolutely no hope of getting out so the helmet is just extra security), upped the double kickstand and away we went. He then took great pleasure, all the way home, in laughing maniacally like a tiny asylum escapee. When we went over road bumps he made a sound of joy I can’t even really describe. at one point he lunged himself from one side to the other to look at something and I could feel the weight shift (asked him very kindly not to do that and very kindly he didn’t) but other than that I wasn’t aware of any movement from him and the bike still felt really secure. Pot holes are even less noticeable than on my single speed road bike or the Pashley, which I think is the Big Apple tyres and smaller wheels. On the hills home I really noticed the lighter weight in comparison with bike + trailer + child and the inclines were easier (although, you know, it is still an impressive work out! Sweating is super hot in my opinion.) Normally on Thursdays my son cycles himself in on his balance bike with me along side but today he was so excited he asked to sit in the 8Freight instead. He adores his balance bike so there can be no doubt he likes the cargo lifestyle! Having done a couple of rides now it is definite that we will need handlebar extenders as I am feeling pressure in my shoulders, so have purchased and will apply this weekend and in the next blog I can let you know how the giants of the world fare…
So far, I am really impressed. Lightweight, smooth, stable, frankly awesome to look at, the 8Freight is making me very happy. There is no doubt that the initial outlay for an 8Freight is expensive but what you are paying for is genius design that pays off ten fold in the practical usage. Also, if (like us) you can the car (which must be costing you at least £200/£300 a month when you factor everything in: taxes, MOTs, insurance, petrol, purchase price) then the cost of a cargo bike is a drop in the ocean. Even with the odd car hire here and there for events in the middle of nowhere we will still get nowhere near the cost of maintaining one car, let alone two.
Mike Burrows and the 8Freight team… loving your work!
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* Gold cycle helmet available from Cycle Chic