As you could probably have guessed from the time-lapse video last week, we bought a Larry vs Harry Bullitt cargo bike. Today we will dive in to the process of purchasing a family cargo bike, and at the very bottom of the article is a quick one month review. If you are here for the photos, scroll to the end!
As an active mom, specifically a bike-loving mom, the first 3 months of my daughter’s life hit a hard reset button on my personality and personal desires in life. I walked A LOT with my daughter during those first 3 months. As long as the temperature allowed for it we would go for 2 hour walks all over east Denver. Walking is a peaceful act, but it doesn’t allow you to go very far from home or link together errands over 3+ miles during the summer heat. I loved walks with my daughter, but I greatly missed pedaling. Due to this we started thinking about how we could haul her by bike. Deciding on how to carry your most precious cargo is stressful, add in that I’m an analyst by trade and research things to death this process took about 3 months from start to finish. I talked to every possible person, including random tweets to strangers across the internet. I test rode any option I could find in Denver. I drew out plans and measured various car-seats. My wife as a pediatrician had her own list of safety requirements that were also added to the master spreadsheet that I developed. There were several times over those 3 months that I threw up my hands thinking I would take the cheapest and easiest route which was to not ride with my daughter until a year (or so). The more I searched for options, the more overwhelmed I got. Then I found Barb at Splendid Cycles who eased my mom worries. At the end of it all, we picked a Bullitt from Splendid Cycles and it has been one of the best bike decisions I have made in my adult life.
Key Reasons We Bought a Bullitt
(The main reason is right above!)
Requirements from my pediatric wife
- Ability to secure a rear facing car-seat
- Ideally this would be secured to the frame of the bike
- Sun protection
When building the bike I installed longer bolts through the double-box to the frame, made a loop out of metal plumbers tape and installed a 500lb ratchet strap that secures the car-seat to the the bike. Before we upgrade carseats I’ll document a full article on just this as it is one of the most common things I am asked by potential Bullitt owners. A few notes for now: there is additional foam under the carseat, we had to order at least a double for the width of our carseat, measure all potential carseats before ordering a box!
My daughter’s current infant seat provides shade, but we also purchased the Splendid/Blaq rain cover for our double box. I haven’t installed it yet, and will report back when I do.
Requirements of a bicycling snob (me)
- Easily see my daughter
- Efficient, yet upright, riding position
- Long-term reliability
- Easy resale
Once we determined that having our daughter in a carseat facing backwards was a requirement it narrowed down the options significantly. Add in that I wanted to be able to see her the options were narrowed all the way down to one style of bike, the front-loading cargo bike. There are only a few options, which we get into with the Hauling Kids By Bike, but the two main players in the U.S. are either the imported Larry vs Harry Bullitt, or the custom built Metrofiets.
The Bullitt over Metrofiets
I was able to ride a Bullitt locally here in Denver, but I couldn’t track down a Metrofiet in this time-zone. Doing a quick search it seemed that I could easily resale a Bullitt locally for close to what I bought it for if we didn’t end up liking the bike. Timing wise, Metrofiet were amazing to work with but the 3+ month turnaround time was going to put us almost to the window of my daughter being able to ride in a normal bicycle seat. It also made it difficult to swallow that we were going to wait 3+ months for a bike I couldn’t even test ride to understand the difference between the two. Finally, the available accessories for the Bullitt is reassuring. The company means business and seems to be THE name for serious front loaders. With all that being said, there are many perks of a Metrofiet over a Bullitt. Being handmade in the US may be the largest one.
Ultimate Deciding Factors
- I couldn’t find any warranty problems online
- The shop I was dealing with (Splendid) are experts in cargo bikes and 100% recommended the Bullitt for my needs
Bullitt Retail Price Breakdown
- Bullitt built with Alivio 3×9: $3,000
- Double wood box: $800
- Rain canopy for box: $325
- Shipping & Handling to Denver: $250
Why You Should Buy Your Cargo Bike Through Splendid
I’ve talked about why we decided on the Bullitt, and one of the largest reasons was Splendid. If you are in the market for a cargo bike of any kind please give them a call, email or visit. I’ve worked in the bike industry for over 15 years now and Splendid really sets the bar high for not only cargo bikes, but bike shops.
- Experienced. They know their cargo.
- Great communication, feedback and willingness to answer my 1000 questions.
- Did I mention great communication? I got updates along the way. They followed up if I went dark for too long, and they sent me tracking info right away with out me asking for it!
- Their system isn’t high-tech but it worked out beautifully.
- The bike was packaged beautifully. The box was even decorated to look like a house! I wish others would take note. Have a personality & do great work.
- Attention to detail. This includes the bike build to notes on the parts box.
A Month Review of the Bullitt
We have about 200 miles of daily riding on the Bullitt. Considering our average round trip is about 3 miles I am very proud of that number for a month of riding! I would like to have 500-1000 miles on a bike before giving a thorough review, BUT I will repeat myself and say this is easily the best adult bike purchase I have ever made. Helmets aren’t including in that statement. At least 50% of our car rides have been replaced by the Bullitt. We make more frequent trips to the grocery store, but buy less stuff (and have actually spent less money.) My daughter loves it. She is so happy watching the world go by and a good amount of the time falls asleep before we get home. If she is fussy around 5:30pm then we go for a bike ride and it fixes everything. My family is even toying with going down to one car as my wife commutes 2-3x per week, and I don’t drive most the week.
I’m still tweaking the fit to find the balance of upright and efficient. Out of the box I have been rather happy with the saddle and grips, which I can say I have NEVER said about a stock set of grips and seat before. There isn’t anything I would change about the specifications if I had to do it all over again. The Alivio 3×9 is a really nice group set, and the wheels and tires are bombproof. I don’t really use the small or large chainring so I may end up going to a 1×9 with a bigger front chainring.
$4,500-5k is a decent amount of money to spend on a bike. Granted, these days people are spending $5-8k on road or mountain bikes to purely pedal themselves further and faster as the bike industry paints this “concept vehicle” mentality around bikes. They must be stiffer, and lighter!! Our Bullitt with baby and baby junk is probably close to 90+ lbs, but it is pretty stiff. While it may not be the lightest, it may replace a $30k vehicle in our household, has kept me out of my car for 200 miles in the past month, and it has provided necessary sanity of pedaling back into my daily life (how much is therapy going these days anyways?!).
More than any of the above reasons to spend $4,500 on a bike I think the biggest one is being able to share the experience with my daughter. Getting her out of the car, and showing her through actions what it means to live a healthy and active lifestyle doesn’t have a price tag. How much do parents pay for their kids to be able to play sports these days? While we will be those parents I want to instill the active lifestyle of using our bodies as transportation and movement. In the same breath I do my best to keep her as safe as humanly possible, and we pick as many side streets or paved paths as we can. Hopefully this will also teach her that life is worth slowing down for, not only by making smarter decisions but by making healthier ones.
I’ve built my life around bikes, but the Bullitt is one of the first bikes that has truly shown me in my soul that it isn’t about the bike. It is about the experiences, the lessons, and that life wasn’t created to be spent inside glass and steel. Life was created to be cherished, not taken for granted, and to be experienced outside with other people. A bicycle is simply a tool tool to provide that lifestyle to people. A tool to be efficient, but not detached from the world around us.