DIY cargo bike – A recycling adventure


Inspired by the abundance of cargo bikes across Europe, Simon Waugh built one at home from salvaged materials.

A while back I was lucky enough to enjoy a trip to Europe, where I was struck by the widespread use of bikes for everyday use. In Amsterdam I was particularly impressed by the ubiquitous cargo bike, to be seen at every turn ferrying children to and from primary school, bringing home the groceries or delivering goods for small businesses.

Often the next step after looking at a bike is trying it out, but unfortunately the opportunity never presented itself and I returned home wondering what it would be like to use one of these amazing machines for real.

I started looking at them on the internet and discovered that I could purchase an imported Bakfiets cargo bike quite easily, but the prices were enough to make my eyes water.

Birth of a shed project
Somehow the idea of owning a cargo bike just wouldn’t go away and six months later I hit on an answer—I’d build my own! Perhaps I have too much spare time, but all of those shed projects have to start somewhere.

What about raw materials? During an early morning walk around the local streets I noticed that the piles of junk waiting for the next council kerbside collection included several bikes, in various states of repair. Some were complete wrecks, while others were in reasonable condition and even too good for what I had in mind. I returned home with a couple of likely candidates: a venerable Malvern Star ‘racer’ and a ‘supermarket’ mountain bike, complete with sprung fork.

A conventional cargo bike has a smaller front wheel, typically about 20 inches (51 centimetres). This is for practical purposes, allowing the front fork to fit in front of the cargo box and making it easier to arrange a steering linkage. However, among my collection of ‘it’ll be useful some day’ bits and pieces, I had a front wheel complete with a 200 watt motor, which seemed like a worthwhile addition to the project. I couldn’t see any way of building the motor into a smaller wheel, so I decided that my cargo bike would have a full size front wheel.

Read the full article in ReNew 119.