Check this out: Alex in Santa Cruz California has launched his Box Bike Collective Kickstarter. Through Kickstarter, you can buy his well-designed electric assist cargo bike for under $4000. A non-electric assist version can be had for only $2900.
As implied by the name, the Box Bike Collective cargo bike was collectively designed by a group of people who ride bikes for transportation every day throughout Santa Cruz County. I tried an early prototype of this bike nearly a year ago and was impressed that it handles almost like a “normal” bike, which is not true of every front-loading bike. The design influence of Josh Muir is very evident, especially in the steering linkage. Josh is the quietly brilliant mind behind Frances Cycles of Santa Cruz; he’s known for creating truck bikes with which you can bomb down coastal forest singletrack fully loaded, among other things.
San Jose’s professional bike courier Cain Ramirez of Cowgirl Bike Courier put thousands of miles over the course of a month on another prototype and was similarly impressed with this bike’s handling. “It’s a very forgiving bike,” Cain tells me. “Some cargo bikes are well known for being super twitchy without a load on the front; this is not the case for the Box Bike. I highly recommend it to those who are cargo bike curious.”
Don’t let the low price fool you. The bike can handle 350 lbs weight (cargo and rider weight combined). Alex and his team selected a good balance between cost and quality in the selection of components and materials. It’s a friendly looking bike, in my opinion, with a Santa Cruz vibe that speaks more to practicality than bespoke trendiness. For those who want higher quality, Box Bike Collective also offers the “Deluxe” version with belt drive, internally geared hub, integrated lights and horn wired directly to a higher capacity battery, and custom color. The “standard” and “deluxe” come with board racks, kid seat, and canvas sides. Hydraulic brakes and beefy metal fenders come with every bike.
You can view more about the this project on its Kickstarter page. You’ll see my name on some of the photos and I know many of the involved but I receive no benefit if this project succeeds.
You mention the steering linkage. It appears to be dual push-rods, each with multiple linkages. That looks heavy, and requires bearings and linkages. I’ve always thouhght that the best sterring linkage for a long-wheelbase bike was the pair of aircraft cables on the vintage Infinity LWB USS recumbent. I don’t iunderstand why others haven’t copied it. Mine is still working perfectly, with the original cables (rember, people trust their lives to these cables for aircraft controls!), after ~30 years. Very light, with no play (balanced tension from the oppsoing pull cables, tensioned with small turnbuckles) and no complicated or potentially sticky push-rod bearings.