Cargo bike?

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rodiponer
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:59 pm
Location: California

Cargo bike?

Post by rodiponer » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:37 pm

Hi All,
Do any of you have experience with a cargo bike on the playa? I am about to try one, but worry the small front wheel will get too easily stuck in dust gators. In my experience deep soft spots are rare and easily avoided on the playa, but plentiful on city streets. Especially in our neighborhood -- Kidsville -- with the DPW ghetto across the street and on the way to E.

I use a Dutch Bakfeits style bike (a Gazelle Cabby) to take my disabled 14 year old long distances. Sort of a fast wheelchair. It works super well for us, but the front wheel is quite small and under a lot of weight (she's like 100-something pounds and I am 200-something).

At past burns I got her around with a trailer, but even with welding she outgrew it, then a walking mutant vehicle that didn't walk out of Kidsville, and then an awesome motorized couch that I borrowed from a friend (and we saw the most of the city, ever).

My plan is to electrify this bike with a high torque mid drive (a big motor that attaches to the pedal crankshaft) and hope to power through the dust gators with a lot of torque on the rear wheel. In other years I had a pancake motor on the front wheel of my bike, which pulled the trailer, and combination of the electric front wheel and pedalled rear wheel could easily power through any dust mounds. 2WD for a 2 wheel vehicle. This cargo bike is a bit different. There's a lot more weight on the wheels, the front wheel is small, and I don't know if raw torque on the rear wheel can beat anything if the whole thing has sunk in to whatever depth is the hard stuff in the city.

What do you guys think?

Matt
gazelle-cabby.jpg
Notice the long wheelbase torquing the smallish front tire.
walking-machine.jpg
Aluminipede -- I love you, but you didn't walk far.
bike_trailer.jpg
The shorties in the trailer. They're much bigger now.
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Token
Posts: 4154
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 2:55 pm
Burning Since: 2001
Location: Gold Country, CA

Re: Cargo bike?

Post by Token » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:10 am

Oh, wow, blast from the past - The Aluminiped!!!

I remember that build.

Sorry, no tangible add you your question just joy from memory lane.

Good to see you here.

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Canoe
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Re: Cargo bike?

Post by Canoe » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:48 pm

rodiponer wrote:... Do any of you have experience with a cargo bike on the playa? I am about to try one, but worry the small front wheel will get too easily stuck in dust gators. In my experience deep soft spots are rare and easily avoided on the playa, but plentiful on city streets.
... the front wheel is quite small and under a lot of weight (she's like 100-something pounds and I am 200-something).
...
There's a lot more weight on the wheels, the front wheel is small, and I don't know if raw torque on the rear wheel can beat anything if the whole thing has sunk in to whatever depth is the hard stuff in the city.
Depending the depth, size and frequency of these "ponds/wallows" in a given year, it could really limit its usability.

How wide of a tire can you get on the front?
(And the rear...)

In addition to your mid-drive for the rear wheel, if you had a pancake motor on the front, would that help it pull its way along and up in deep soft spots instead of sinking in and just being pushed through?

As an alternate franken-wheel for the front for only playa use:
  • new strong axle, add a pair of wheels to the outside of the fork to distribute the load,
  • could mean the existing front wheel comes off (left stock for your usual use)
    and a three-up replacement for playa-only use goes on, or
    a two-up replacement, one to the outside of each fork tine (there are 'cart' axle & hubs available for this),
  • as your top playa speed is 5 mph, although brakes are important to avoid injuring wandering pedestrians, perhaps the front doesn't need a brake for playa use?
    you'd need to know that the rear brake can stop the loaded bike in a safe time/distance at 5 mph and be prepared to stick to the speed limit (many don't),
  • more work, but you could build a new fork:
    • be it for a wider tire, or wider rim & tire (how wide can you get at that diameter),
    • wide enough to take a tractor/wheel-barrel wheel,
    • wide enough to take two rims welded together and taking two tires; or a single wide tire (what's available at that diameter...) with two tubes (saw this with 26" rims, claimed to work well),
    • or building a franken-fork for taking two or three wheels, but that's a lot more work.
Video games are giving kids unrealistic expectations on how many swords they can carry.
.
... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.

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rodiponer
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:59 pm
Location: California

Re: Cargo bike?

Post by rodiponer » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:35 pm

Canoe wrote:How wide of a tire can you get on the front?
The front is a 24x1.75 wheel. The fork seems like it'll fit up to a 2.75" wheel. I didn't think of trying a fatter rim and wheel in this bike. That could be easy and make a big difference. Thank you.
Canoe wrote:In addition to your mid-drive for the rear wheel, if you had a pancake motor on the front, would that help it pull its way along and up in deep soft spots instead of sinking in and just being pushed through?
My last playa bike would do that. The electric front wheel would spin quickly and climb up on top of the dust. If I kept going it wouldn't sink. But it had little weight on it compared to the cargo bike. Do the geared hub motors have a lot more torque? I had a 500 watt, 48 volt, direct drive motor. If it was over loaded it would jitter and deliver almost no torque. It could only start from a stop on a flat, hard surface. I wonder if, say, a 1000 watt geared hub motor has that much more torque from a stop, that it could help pull the bike forward even if it's trying to plow through dust.
Canoe wrote:
  • new strong axle, add a pair of wheels to the outside of the fork to distribute the load,
  • could mean the existing front wheel comes off (left stock for your usual use)
    and a three-up replacement for playa-only use goes on, or
    a two-up replacement, one to the outside of each fork tine (there are 'cart' axle & hubs available for this),
  • as your top playa speed is 5 mph, although brakes are important to avoid injuring wandering pedestrians, perhaps the front doesn't need a brake for playa use?
    you'd need to know that the rear brake can stop the loaded bike in a safe time/distance at 5 mph and be prepared to stick to the speed limit (many don't)
Those are cool ideas. Thank you, I didn't think along those lines.
Token wrote:Oh, wow, blast from the past - The Aluminiped!!!

I remember that build.

Sorry, no tangible add you your question just joy from memory lane.

Good to see you here.
Thank you for your help back then! Aluminipede was so fun to make, even if it barely worked. Who knew that wheels are such a good idea? Anyways, it's cool to see familiar folks here. Maybe this year we will make it to the eplaya meetup. I've only met two eplayan's, and randomly. :)

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Drizzt321
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Location: LaLa Land

Re: Cargo bike?

Post by Drizzt321 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:47 pm

My experience with front hub motors is generally fine. Get one of the 500-750W (1000W is OK too), run it at ~48v, and you should be fine as long as you exercise some discretion. I once ran mine off of ~110lbs of SLA + steel panniers on the back rack (twisted the whole bike on ever tiny rut, so always) and it would still pull itself fine through most of the dust piles. I think the geared hub motors actually have more torque at the low end (motor is spinning faster than the wheel) than a DD hub. From a stop I did have to get pushing on the pedals as well though in order to get going so there was enough torque for it to pull forward.

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