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  1. #1
    jfk
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    Quest for a Bakfiets: Virtue Bikes Schoolbus and Gondoliere

    My wife is obsessed with Bakfiets style cargo bike (as she lived in the Netherlands for 10 years, its not hard to figure out why). I've always vetoed as too expensive. But, recently we ran across Virtue bikes models which are considerable more affordable.

    Bakfiets style:
    2014 Virtue Gondoliere+ | Virtue Bike

    Tricycle box bike:
    2014 Virtue Schoolbus+ | Virtue Bike

    Does anyone have any experience with Virtue bikes?
    Do you any specific recommendations about either style of bike?

    I have not ridden either bike. I have ridden the bakfiets style bikes, but not the tricycle version. I would say I am 75% sold on getting one, but its more a matter of which one. The tricycle style seems more maneuverable and can carry more weight, but it wouldn't handle as well at speed and would ride less like a normal bike.

    Some personal details might help: We live in the Phoenix area, which has a lot of straight flats with 90 deg intersections. One kid at the moment, with a second in the plans. When I take my son to daycare its usually in chariot trailer.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

  2. #2
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    $1399 for a bakfiet with electric assist seems very reasonable. I saw them at Interbike, and they looked decent. For my shop, I decided to carry the Gazelle Cabby, as it is lighter and has some pretty nice features. I would say that at that price it is worth trying.

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    Box capacity 66 pounds. I haven't paid much attention to bakfiets due to cost, but that seems awfully low. I mean, that is just a couple kindergarteners, and significantly less than the weight I have carried on my touring bike (max of about 100 pounds cargo, and about 70 over 600 miles on a tour). Am I off base?

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    Re: Quest for a Bakfiets: Virtue Bikes Schoolbus and Gondoliere

    Hmmm, the low price makes me skeptical. I've never seen a regular Bakfiets for less than $1500, let alone an e-assist version.

  5. #5
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    I haven't seen the Virtue bakfiets in person, though I wish I had known about it before I pulled the trigger on a Big Dummy. However, I do currently have a Virtue Curve 7, which is a pretty solid cruiser for the price.
    Quest for a Bakfiets: Virtue Bikes Schoolbus and Gondoliere-image.jpg

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBel View Post
    I haven't seen the Virtue bakfiets in person, though I wish I had known about it before I pulled the trigger on a Big Dummy.
    Not me. I did my research and for me, the BD was the better choice.

    I would absolutely love a Bakfiet as well. I don't know electric motors, so not sure the quality level of the ones that come on the Virtues, but if your wife is going to be just taking your kids to and from school, it should do great for that. However, my opinion is, if this is going to be a long-term"investment", bite the bullet and get the real thing. Bikes like WorkCycles or Gazelle should be much more stout, as the cargo capacity is over quadriple the max capacity of a Virtue. As kids get older/heavier, and if your wife is looking to also use it for groceries/other cargo, the Work or Gazelle would handle the loads better. Just my opinion.

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    I don't know that it would have necessarily changed my mind, but I have a local shop that stocks Virtue. It would have been an option. There weren't any bakfiets style bikes within reasonable driving distance for me to see in person. I love the BD, but I like it for cargo more than for carrying the kid because to me it feels a bit tippy with a kid on the deck.

  8. #8
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    There is definite benefit to be able to carry the cargo lower on the bike for stability, but I just got used to it. Doesn't really bother me much anymore. Full size 200lb adult is another story though! I just think the BD is more versitile, as it does great at being a cargo bike, but throw some meatier tires on it, and off-road tours aren't a problem, either. I also like the rear deck more than a basket up front for those longer cargo items. They both have their merits, but the BD just fit my needs better. I really would love to have a Bakfiet, but reality is, there is too much overlap with the BD.

  9. #9
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    IMO if you want a bakfiets, you need to spend real money (ie call up CETMA) and do it right, because if you cheap out (has anyone actually seen a Virtue 'fiets IRL?) there are a LOT of things that can end up needing to be replaced. I have a hard time imagining how they are selling them for that little, so my assumption is that every part has been carefully selected for absolute lowest-possible Wallyworld quality.

    If you're actually going to use a cargo bike, you don't want to constantly be getting stranded with broken/nonfunctional parts and a big load of groceries or your kids or whatever. If you're really that cheap, just tow a Burly or a Chariot and call it good.

    That said, it might (might, assuming it exists) be worth it just for the frame.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    I bought a Virtue 7 last year for riding around town. I saw them online and it turned out that my local bike shop stocked them. I've got to say that after a year with it there's a lot of things that bug me about it.

    The thumb shifter was kind of cheap, looking like something off of a Sears bike in the 80's, so I replaced it with something better. It uses a 1" threaded headset so you're pretty limited on changing anything out. The frame is HEAVY. The wheels look cool with the deep v style, but they are bolted on without skewers, and like the frame they are HEAVY. So heavy that I decided to swap them out with some lighter wheels. Of course when I went to take the cassette off the original wheels I discovered that it's a freewheel so I had to buy a new cassette.

    It looks cool and I always get some compliments, so it's got that going for it, but it's not that much better than something you'd get from Walmart, and $400 for a Walmart bike would be pretty steep. I've rode it on gravel and limestone paths mostly and it's held up well. Although the frame is heavy, it feels solid and the welds look good. I probably put 800 miles on it last summer. Their cargo bikes seem pretty cool, but I bet you need every bit of that electrical assist. I'd really like to try those out in person.

  11. #11
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    I think most Bakfiets are fairly heavy. I think the "real" ones use straight gauge tubing (someone correct me if I'm wrong) and other hefty, but super durable parts. Can't remember exactly, but I thought they were 40lbs, and heavier for the basket kind. I read somewhere that a guy tried to steal one of those, which he couldn't pedal away due to the integrated bike/wheel lock. After a couple hundred yards, the guy got tired and left the bike.

  12. #12
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    Mine is about 60 pounds unloaded and yes, it's built with straight gauge. The weight really adds up quick on a 'fiets so you have to gear low and be willing to suffer some or else stay on flat terrain.

    I would guess the Virtue is ~75# unloaded? The bottom line is that if you want to haul around 150# of junk, the weight of the bike becomes sort of moot and making sure it's still stiff enough/strong enough to handle the load is a bigger consideration.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  13. #13
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    Looks like these guys do some nice work.

    Metrofiets | Custom cargo bikes - Handbuilt in Portland, Oregon

    So when are you going to start building your own, Walt?

  14. #14
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    I do!

    I do build my own! Still waiting for someone local to pull the trigger and get one, but the $3k pricetag turns most folks off and they don't really ship well so I have turned down non-local requests.

    I'm actually (incompetently) working on a kid-box for it right now. Woodworking... ugh. Not so much my strong suit.

    CETMA in Portland makes very nice ones that are bit less showy/flashy and also a lot cheaper than Metrofiets. Check 'em out.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  15. #15
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    Is that $3k complete or frameset? I think I actually remember seeing your cargo bike in cyclingutah or some other local publication. The place I live at right now is not too cycle friendly, so I wouldn't feel comfortable having the wife and kids run errands on these narrow streets with no shoulder/bike lanes. If we move like we're planning to in the next couple of years (over to the other side of the mt ranges with cleaner air), I would definitely be interested. My Big Dummy is nice, but the wife would have an easier time with Bakfiets.

    Cetma's are nice, as well. Their website has a "Surly" feel compared to the more elegant Metrofiets. Both look great, though.

  16. #16
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    I don't want this to get all spammy since I'm a moderator and all, but I'll say that CETMA's pricing and mine would be pretty similar, and both are (I feel) pretty reasonable for a solid 'fiets with good quality parts you won't have to worry about when you've got a keg or a couple rowdy kids loaded up.

    I keep wanting to build one with a Copenhagen wheel, too - that would be *awesome* for hauling stuff around.

    Here's to moving out of the inversion... just a month or so left for us.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  17. #17
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    Sounds good. Good luck with the uppity folks in PC. I'll be following suit in a couple of years. I think my wife will like riding more in cleaner air and maybe the house will be close to the paved bike paths. Hope your new house is close to trail access.

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