Cargo Bikes Are the New SUVs

Though the focus of many articles about cargo bikes seems to be the Pacific Northwest, builders say their customers are distributed nationwide. Ross, asked if most of his business is on the West Coast, said, "Not at all. Certainly a lot is, but we have more customers on the East Coast and in the Southwest." He's even started shipping bikes to customers in Europe.

Cargo bikes the new minivan for cycling families

Are big manufacturers taking note of cargo bikes' increasing popularity? Kagay, Ross and McKisson say yes, pointing for example to Trek's entry into the business with a rear-cargo model.

It's not just individuals who are playing around with these bikes. Businesses are, too, are putting them to use: Hopworks, a Portland, Ore., brewery, describes itself as the city's first "eco-brewpub," owing in part to its use of a cargo bike as a mobile bar. The Metrofiets-built bike accommodates, forward of the rider, two full-sized metal beer kegs, and, on top of them, a wooden tabletop equipped with taps.

Trailhead Coffee Roasters of Portland asked Metrofiets to build a bike able to accommodate a generous quantity of roast coffee, an espresso machine, and a serving platform.

What's ahead? "Electric assist is going to be huge for everyone in the industry," predicts Ross, partly to accommodate the waning vigor of Baby Boomers. But Boomers aside, he said, "adding power assist completely changes what you can do with these bikes."

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