Just bought ourselves a Madsen cargo bike!

Discussion in 'General' started by WriConsult, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    By towing both our son's beloved Chariot Sidecarrier trailer and a BOB Yak Plus cargo trailer, we've been able to make several family grocery runs by bike this year. But we've recently become aware that he may outgrow the Sidecarrier in the next year or so. The Burley Piccolo trailercycle we recently snagged at a yard sale can't handle the weight of a loaded cargo trailer behind it, so we've been looking at various cargo bike arrangements. The basic options are:
    • Various trailer arrangements.
    • "Longtail" cargo bikes, which have an extended on rear end with a long rack usually topped by flat deck for passenger seating. Examples include xtracycle, the Surly Big Dummy, the Kona Ute and the Yuba Mundo.
    • "Box" or "bucket" cargo bikes. These are very popular in Dutch and Danish cities (and increasingly so here in Portland), and usually have a large wooden box in front of the rider for kids and cargo. And usually cost about $3000. Examples are the Bakfiets, Metrofiets, Christiania Bike and Joe-Bike. A new design is the Madsen bucket bike, which puts the box behind the rider and allows more "normal" steering geometry.


    When the Madsen came out last year, I thought it looked like the smartest cargo bike design yet, and the $1300 price made it a lot more attractive than some of the other options. But we still thought we'd wait until the little guy outgrew the Sidecarrier before making a final decision.

    That all changed this weekend when we saw that our local Bike Gallery chain had put them on sale for $850.

    SOLD! We love it! We took it out yesterday for Sunday Parkways in our neighborhood (along with a neighbor family who took their son in their Bakfiets), and then stopped at the grocery store, adding 4 big grocery bags and a watermelon to the load. The Madsen handled it all easily.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  2. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    That's a really efficient functional looking bike. I like the idea of it only having 2 wheels. It may be tough to balance if you fill the container with WATER!:D
  3. JusBringIt

    JusBringIt Be Inspired

    wow! very nice. Isn't it tough to balance as it is with two kinds shuffling in the back?
  4. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    It's solid enough for a 600 pound (non-moving) load without getting wobbly. Once you're above a couple mph it's not really a problem. It comes with seatbelts and the kids are belted in, which helps. We had a 90 pounds of active boys - one 4 year old and one 5 year old - in back for several miles of Parkways yesterday. There were a couple times they got pretty rambunctious and I asked them to calm down, but it wasn't to the point of being difficult to control the bike.

    Of course (mostly for the sake of amusing the other folks around us), I did take the opportunity to publicly yell "stop it you two, or I will pull this bike over THIS INSTANT."
  5. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Unfortunately you can't fill the container more than about halfway with water, because there's a hole cut in the middle of the bucket to attach it to the frame. Of course you could cover the hole and fill it up, but as you said it would be extremely difficult to balance. What's amazing is that if you did fill the 40 gallon bucket you'd still be within the stated weight limit of the bike!

    We did get a couple of comments about how we could bathe our child on the way to the store (one onlooker said "Oh look! A bathtub!). At least one person suggested adding a nice sound system, and several suggested using it to deliver various refreshing iced beverages.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  6. Bike123

    Bike123 Well-Known Member

    I would guess that like a tandem, optimal handling is with 100 to 150 lbs in the rear, and it feels a bit strange with no load? I see it is an 8 speed -- what is the range of gear ratios? Tire size? Spoke count?

  7. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    Hmmm a pizza delivery bike. ;) - Dale
  8. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Not sure about gear ratios, but I've been surprised to find myself struggling less on hills than expected so it wouldn't surprise me if the cassette is 11-34. I'll have to actually count the chainring teeth and inspect the cassette, since I can't find any documentation on it. The chainring is integrated into the right crank arm, so if we do swap out for a smaller right we'll need a new right crank (no big deal since it's square taper).

    Personally I'd prefer an internally geared hub, but a cassette setup is understandable given the price. Maybe at some point I'll upgrade to an 8 speed Nexus hub, especially if we end up using the bike a lot during the rainy season (Nov-Mar).

    Tire size is 26" front, 20" rear. Both are about 1.75" I believe. Haven't counted the spokes, but they look like 36h F&R. We'll see how the rear one holds up, and replace it with a more BMX-like count (and stay with a derailer setup) if doesn't last.

    By the way, the brakes aren't as bad as on a Bakfiets but they're not too impressive, even with no load in back. I was hoping the front "ProMax" disc brake just needed the usual break-in, but after a few dozen miles it's still weaker than i'd like. Might have to upgrade it to an Avid BB7. Also may re-cable the the rear V brake and upgrade to a Deore if it's still weak.

    Yes Dale, it would be an excellent pizza delivery bike. You could probably stack 4-6 16" pizza boxes in the bucket, or for larger boxes you could get the "rack" model of the bike without the bucket.
  9. MinivanOn2wheels

    MinivanOn2wheels New Member

    Hmmm... is it too late to join in on this discussion? :)

    I stumbled across this post and had to double-check and make sure it wasn't ME who was the original poster! I got the same bike last summer or early Fall (can't remember now) and we've gotten SO much out of it! I too live in Portland. Just today in fact - on the way to Grant Park - the kids were moving and shaking in the back more than usual as they were starting to fight over a toy and next thing I knew, I too was saying (loud enough for a woman on the street to hear), "Don't make me pull over this bike!!" ;)

    I have 3 boys (two are twins who are almost 4, and the other just turned 8) and a year ago I was trying to figure out what to do about the fact that they were over the weight limit for our Burley trailer but weren't ready to ride on their own, nor were able to do longer trips around town on tag-alongs. I realized i needed a cargo bike of some sort but I didn't love all the options out there. I started googling and stumbled across the Madsen bike and it seemed perfect since I didn't like the idea of carrying a lot of weight in front of me.

    We've gone EVERYWHERE in that bike! We live in close-in N.E. Pdx and cross the river to go to the farmer's market at PSU and ride around the esplanade and visit parks w/ water fountains to play in and go on the Sunday Parkways rides and to the store and the library and to pick up pizza and bike-in movies and Pedalpalooza events and on and on the list goes! I love seeing the surprise on people's faces when I go past w/ a couple of boyz in the back (sometimes all 3)...they often do a double-take and say something or make a funny "WTH?" sound. We get happy honks and bell-ringing from other bikers and I know they appreciate the bike for environmental reasons as well as the positive message it gives the kids, you know? That part makes me very proud. So far we've dressed it up like crazy at Halloween and Xmas and this 4th of July we'll probably do some fun stuff too (sparklers in the back, anyone?).

    While we usually call it the bucket bike, I now also refer to it as the minivan bike cause the only thing it doesn't have is a DVD player in the back (hmmm... ). I added a rear-view mirror which is really handy, a cup-holder in the front, plus one of those nifty big removable wicker baskets for the front, and of course a bell. I had the bike shop do a little bit of drilling and added a tall orange flag in the back along w/ a pipe sort of looking thing on which we keep a rear flashing light. I found a couple of cute tiny speakers I bought years and years ago to go w/ my Discman (!) and I put those w/ my ipod in the basket to hear music while we ride. :woot: I also upgraded the tires to some heavy-duty Shwalbes and also upgraded the breaks and got a softer, wider seat. Also chose to upgrade cause we got ours half-price ($600) at a bike shop in Eugene cause it was their floor model - so we didn't know how many people had ridden it.

    Another funny thing I wanted to share is that my husband was riding it a month or so ago and ran into a friend of ours who had gone for a long walk and wished she'd driven...so my husband gave her a ride home in the bucket! What a good sport she is! We love thinking up fun ideas like of course carrying a keg or filling w/ ice and beers or the silly hot tub idea I'm sure you've read about, etc. Much fun can be had.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post...but I love the bike and could't resist sharing my own experience w/ it! And it takes a lickin' (big time) and keeps on tickin'! Now if ONLY they'd put that rain shield on the market as they keep hinting they will!!! We Portlanders need that badly!
  10. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Welcome to CleanMPG! No! You are NOT too late! Thanks for your insight on the bike.
  11. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Glad to hear from another Madsen owner. It really is one of the best cargo bike setups out there, even without taking the price into consideration. Still a great deal at the regular price. I can honestly say I would prefer it to the Bakfiets type designs even if we hadn't been able to get the Madsen for 1/3 the price.

    Those sound like nice upgrades that you've done. We have installed two blinky taillights on the back. They're just below the horizontal line where the bucket narrows, so a thief can't use the quick release to remove them. Other than that, a better saddle, and a bell and bottle holder, we haven't done any upgrades. I do still plan on upgrading the weak brakes, and I also like your idea of putting in a flag like we have on our trailers.

    Now that my son's grown into his Burley trailerbike (tagalong), he prefers that for longer rides. We haven't used our Madsen anywhere near as extensively as you have, but we still like it for grocery-getting, and for last-minute races to the bus stop in the morning when we don't want to fuss with getting the trailerbike attached.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  12. BioGuy

    BioGuy Guru

    that bike is crazy! I am a gardner, I wonder how much dirt I could fit in that thing?? Looks like a real human powered cargo trailer. It also kind of reminds me of a bicycle built for two in a way. Great bike!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2010
  13. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I have a 4cf (standard size) wheelbarrow, and I think it could hold at least one wheelbarrow load of dirt if not two.
  14. roxanne113

    roxanne113 New Member

    Have you mounted the portable DVD player yet? Hello fellow Portlander! We did the Burley thing until I got my ds on his own 2 wheels - He started at 5. Anyway, we just became full-time bikers by selling our second car a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I found these super-handy rubber-coated metal baskets for grocery shopping and I love them. [​IMG]

    Not as big as the bucket, but I can get quite a few groceries hauled home.

    The Madsen doesn't work for us since we live in an upstairs apartment and I couldn't fathom trying to get that things upstairs.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2011
  15. aca2983

    aca2983 Well-Known Member

    I lived in Denmark for a short while and am familiar with all sorts of cargo bikes such as this.

    If you think bikes in Denmark can handle lots of cargo, you should see their baby carriages. I swear some of them are bigger than some cars. I saw them loaded with cases of beer, groceries, and all kinds of other stuff, with a little baby stuffed in there also, asleep and snug as a bug in a rug as they say.
  16. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Please post a picture with all the kids loaded up, I would love to see that :)

Share This Page