Wobble, Wobble, Wobble, GO!

By | April 20, 2010

I sincerely hope I did not scare anyone out of cargo bike ownership with my previous post, and my comment on the wobbliness of start-ups. The fact is, it ain’t that bad.

The wobble is entirely a function of how much weight you’re hauling, and no matter where we go, the four of us add up to HEAVY. This was especially true yesterday as I hit the library and Costco in one trip. First, dropped of 15+ kgs of books, took out only 3 kgs. Then off to Costco, where I was rendered temporarily insane by the super-bright fluorescent lighting and bought a 4.5kg bag of grapefruit as well as the milk, cream, eggs and biscotti (soooo hungry from the ride, couldn’t help myself). Anyway, my point is, by the time I was headed home, I was fully loaded. Every little space where I could stow stuff was FULL. And I made it back just fine.

I’ve learned a few tricks that help me get started.

  • Start downhill. I know, obvious right? What if there are no hills? Make your own. If I’m anywhere near an intersection, a good place to start from is the curb. I walk the bike onto the sidewalk and use the nicely graded pedestrian ‘ramp’ to give me the forward momentum I need to get going.
  • Scoot it. With my right foot on the pedal at its lowest position, I lean into the handle bars and scoot. Two or three pushes gets me moving, at which point I have to quickly jump on and start pedaling to maintain the momentum.
  • Don’t start uphill. Okay, I know that doesn’t really count, but that is why I wobble. The place where I usually get on my bike after a grocery trip is on an ever-so-slight upwards grade. I haven’t found a good place to launch myself yet, as there’s so much traffic at that corner, so until I find another route, I’m fighting gravity. And gravity always wins.

With that said, a long john is really just a normal bike, stretched out. I have no trouble getting going when there’s no cargo. And I should also say that I’m getting better with the starts every time I use the bike. Really. It’s taking a bit of time, but really all it comes down to is practice.

And if I could say one thing to anyone looking for a cargo bike, or designing a cargo bike:


If I could, I’d cut out that top tube in an instant. If I could mount the bike without acrobatics, I probably wouldn’t have any problems with my start up. On the positive side, I’m a lot more flexible now. In a couple of months, I may even be able to do the splits. :)

Look ma! No wobble!

At Speed from Claire Fletcher on Vimeo.

1 Comment

duncan on April 20, 2010 at 7:02 am.

You’re absolutely right, it’s all about practice and learning the little “tricks” that help. And it certainly sounds like it’s a pretty fast learning curve. Glad to hear you’re getting a lot of use of this great bicycle and it’s not even summer yet.

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