I had the opportunity to test out a Nihola this morning – and I wanted to jot down my thoughts while they are still fresh.
Comfort: low top tube makes for easy mounting, comfortable saddle
Stability: this bike has got the long john beat hands down for stability – with three wheels it has to, right?
Visibility: with the rain hood attached I couldn’t see the kids as well as I can see them in the long john, however, I could see them well enough. The kids got a real kick out of the window in the cargo bay – they leaned right down so they could watch the pavement whizzing by.
Maneuverability: this is where the Nihola loses points. I didn’t like the huge turning radius – I can see it being problematic trying to fit in between street light poles and bollards and other tight squeezes.
Cargo: I’m not sure which bike could carry more… In the Nihola, the cargo goes up front. Though you could probably stack quite a bit in front of the kids, I would worry about grabby fingers and kicky feet. I carry 80-90% of my stuff behind and underneath the kids. However, I rely on bungee cords to keep my loads in the cargo bay, while the deep sides on the Nihola make that unnecessary.
Overall, a nice, stable, comfortable ride.
BUT… and it’s a big one: the woman who owns the bike has been riding it with a broken shifter for three months now – parts are hard to get and the retailer hasn’t been overly helpful. It’s stuck in high gear, which makes it really difficult to start up, impossible to take hills, and just frustrating in general.
I’ve got to say, I prefer the long john. Not just because I’m used to it now, but because it’s more maneuverable. It handles more like a regular bike. However, there was a pretty long period of adjustment for me – I had to learn how to ride the long john. You might compare it to learning to drive stick – I knew the basics, but there’s just more to it. Jumping on the Nihola was just, well, easier. I can see the attraction.
There’s some food for thought for any one out there looking at cargo bikes.
I’d love to test out a bakfiet next, I wonder how it compares…