Intro - How to Design and Build a Bamboo Cargo Bike (Box Bike - Bakfiets).

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The bakfiets is an incredible machine.  I was turned onto these bikes by Josh Muir of Francis Cycles.  It is the ultimate for every day errands, grocery store trips, and hauling children around.  It fits in the bike lane, it is nimble and quick, and is a pleasure to pedal.  I am loving it and seriously think a car free society will rely on these puppies in addition to normal bicycles.

After trying a trailer, backpack, and rear seat, I think the bakfiets is the best way to transport children. Although there are some concerns...(see step 6 for some ideas on the safer ways of placing children in the box).

This instructable is all about how to design and build a bakfiets style cargo bike.  The design tips apply to any bakfiets style cargo bike and there is no need to build it out of bamboo.  I like the ride quality and uniqueness of bamboo.  However, if I do it all over again I might use steel... Building a bakfiets is like building three normal bikes.  The amount of epoxy and sanding seemed to add up.  I think my next bike may be fillet brazed steel.

Here is the breakdown:

Cost: $600 (including components - mostly used)
Time Frame: 4 months

Useful links:
Larry vs. Harry Bullit
the dimensions of the bullit
Francis Cycles
Tom's Cargo Bikes
My Instructable
Bamboo Bike Blog

Sources for materials:
Epoxy: West Marine (I used West Systems but I think I should have tried this: - half the price of West System 105)
Bamboo: local bamboo nursery
Drop Outs and Tube: Nova Cycle Supply :

The art of building bamboo bikes has really come a long way.  I have realized that my technique from 2008 is probably not worth emulating.  I strongly recommend that you look at the Bamboo Bike Blog and other instructables for the next level of building with bamboo. I particularly like this instructable by kentdvm:

So let's get started!
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ayasbek (author) 2 years ago
I weighed the bike - 59 lbs. That includes the box.
carkat ayasbek1 year ago
that's great! mine (same desig, but made of steel: ) is approx. 10 lbs heavier and i bet it's not as strong as yours.
carkat2 years ago
wow, congrats to this great project. somehow i don't dare to do all this epoxy-work and build my bikes from steel (see ). i guess the bike is much lighter than steel ones, which would make it definitely worth to learn to do it that way. anyway, thanks a lot for sharing!
ToolboxGuy2 years ago
Fun design!

I keep thinking of this as a wheelbarrow powered by a bike, not a bike with shopping cart sized basket on the front. Somewhat different purposes there, after all, it doesn't have mountain bike tires on it....

I would have still gone with a pair of front wheels (which still control direction) as it would have been much better for stability all around. The turning radius should be very similar, with only a slight change in overall width. As they say, YMMV. A high-speed cargo bike seems a bit like a oxymoron.

I would also suggest to make at least one side panel easily removable or open like a door. Then you don't have to lift items (like rocks, firewood, grocery bags., etc.) back "out" of the basket, just take off the panel and dump it out. Much easier to sweep out the basket later too.
krstn12 years ago
You could also instead of just adding the reflective tape, add some small LED lighting on the bike. I have been I have been looking at small batteries from old Standby power supplies for computer and the battery in that is a great size to add to a bike like this. Also you could put a small solar panel on the bike to keep it charged while you are not needing the power.
ayasbek (author)  krstn12 years ago
Yes, Yes ans Yes! The top of the box is perfect for a solar panel. I thought about a solar panel lid so that when the bike is parked outside the cover keeps whatever is in the box safe and charges up the battery.
Ortzinator2 years ago
I don't see the advantage over a trailer. However, I see numerous disadvantages.
Well for one if your hauling kids you don't have to look over your shoulder to see what they are doing or know what they are pointing at when they say look at that. Plus it would be a whole lot more interactive. As for cargo I imagine it would be a matter of preference. I think in the end a cargo bike is shorter than a bike/trailer combo. Besides backing up would be a whole lot easier.
adoannie62 years ago
Awesome job.
billbillt2 years ago
I have long advocated for bambo for an engineering material..I once built myself a bambo leg brace that was almost weightless and performed flawlessly...This is where all things need to head..grow your own building materials!!...
eBookLover2 years ago
Not the best Design but a realy cool idea.

Thanks for the instruction