Our vehicle of choice is a ‘classic’ Bakfiets. I worked to get this to Vermont last summer, tweaked it a bit, and have been enjoying it ever since. The Bakfiets is set up for Amsterdam family transport – it is the equivalent of the stereotypical minivan for Dutch soccer moms. We’ve added a brighter LED headlight, some reflective striping, cork grips, a Brooks saddle, Ortlieb large panniers (from my touring rig), and a traditional kids tent. The bike offers a looong wheelbase for plenty of cargo hauling – this is the ‘long’ version – designed for 3 children up front (or up to 175 pounds of cargo, wife, dog, groceries, etc.). The integrated rear rack can hold another 75 pounds. A sturdy 26″ wheel in the back sports a skirt guard, roller brakes, and a wheel lock – the 20″ wheel in the front a bottle dyno (newer models have a hub dyno) roller brakes, and the connection to the steering linkage.
I removed the front bench (designed for 2 children, with straps) and mounted our extra car seat base in the front box using 2 stainless eye bolts and the base’s hold downs, with a bit of foam for shock absorption. The seat portion snaps in and out quickly, and the base comes out in a few minutes. The traditional kid tent allows us to travel in all weather – although we have not been out in the rain yet – but we have been out in wind chill below freezing. The kid tent is a great wind break – and with the solar gain it keeps my little one toasty warm. The front of the box carries child care goodies and an extra bike lock. I tote cargo about in the Ortliebs.
Middle of nowhere – I took a ride to where Mallet’s Bay meets Lake Champlain. ‘The Cut’ as it is known – breaks the old causeway for the railbed to allow boats in and out of the bay. LocalMotion runs a bike ferry here in August – allowing a shortcut to the islands – and there are local advocacy groups working to make it permanent and improve the trail. Winter storms do a number on the crushed gravel – the path was strewn with driftwood, larger rocks, and a fair share of washouts. A stiff stiff wind was howling out of the north – and the 2.6 miles from Colchester Point seemed the slowest and coldest of my life.
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As the weather has warmed we’ve been accumulating the miles on the Bak – I mounted the car seat base in the box and we have a traditional kid tent to fend off the elements. Add some of Ava’s favorite animals and we are good to go – we’ve been averaging 12 – 15 miles per trip. Our first journey was an attempt to take the fixed wheel from my Surly to the Old Spokes Home and swap out cogs – but we met with 4″ of ice on the bike path at the hill into town – and a cold windy dead end out and back. Since then we’ve made treks to the library, hardware store, eye doctor, the park, and to meet some friends in town for lunch. We also discovered Viva Espresso in the Old North End for mid day snacks (for the little one and dad!) and we are a hit at City Market when we stop for groceries. I’ll have to take some more pics of our set-up – I’m using large Ortlieb panniers on the Bak’s rear rack for storage, the car seat in the box, a traditional kid tent, and room up front and around my passenger for extra cargo space.
We are well on our way to replacing VMT (vehicle miles traveled) with BMT (bakfiets miles traveled).