Sunday, April 16, 2017

Parent Fail! Our 2yr old fractures her arm during test of family cargo bike.

fracture x-ray
Our 2yr old daughter got a minor fracture when our longtail electric-assist family cargo bike tipped over while stopped. The fracture happened in a "good" place, the docs said, not near any growth plates. And kids at this age heal very fast, apparently. 3 weeks total forecast now, but 6 weeks when were first in. Ends up she didn't even need a cast, just wrapped her arm stiff fiberglass and ace bandages above the elbow, refreshed once a week.
Intuitive frown? She was happy while riding though. This is the setup during accidental tip over. 
This is a hard post for me to write, and for me to get right. I don't consider this anyone's fail but ours. The bike and seats performed as advertised. I think it's important to help others hear the story and be able to make their own judgements.

The bike wasn't moving when it fell over.

My wife was testing the bike on a quiet street with our 2-year old in a Yepp Maxi seat and our 5 year old holding a t-bar handle. It started to tip and my wife couldn't stop it. Ourdaugther's arm happened to get between the seat side and pavement.

She's fine. She has since jumped back on the bike, but we're taking her for a ride until she's three. We live in a bumpy hilly town with few bike paths.
Our Radwagon setup. 

Bike Setup

Here's the setup we were using. The bike is a used Radwagon. I love it - still. The seat is a Yepp. Great seat and setup. Very easy to use. Solid. But, you can sense from this photo that it's top heavy, and back heavy for a small rider like my wife.

Test Rides

My wife's first test was great.
With one kid on back, low, near our back. This felt very stable.

Still a good test here with seat and one kid
Moments before the fall, which happeneed at a stop sign in our quiet neighborhood.

In the hospital
Quickly back to fun and mud with a plastic bag over wrapped cast
Re-wrap at two weeks. 
Re-wrap at two weeks.
Wet fiberglass fabric stiffens as it dries.  
Sticker. Total heal time about three weeks, not the six they said originally. Good expectation management though. 

Mistake and Successes

  • Mistakes as we see it: Here's where the parent fail comes in: not following our little whisper inside voices (instincts). The setup was heavy, rear-heavy and top-heavy for my wife's stature and weight. I'll take most of the heat here. My first full-time summer job was as a bike mechanic. I felt uneasy about high strap-in seats on bikes with full-height back wheels. I was attracted to bucket-type family cargo bikes, and cargo bikes with small rear wheels from the start (See some here on My wife was, too, but I also had the lots of bike experience to back up my instincts. We had a sense the weight was a bit high-feeling and in the rear, and it was heavy for my wife. And we had "monkey bars" or a "caboose" coming in the mail (they act as rails around kids midsections and break side falls). But we didn't wait...they  might have kept our daughter's arm from fracturing because the seat edge might not have hit the road at all. No wonder bucket bikes are so popular. They are low, slow, and safer. And no wonder more cargo bikes are using smaller wheels that keep kids low to the ground if kids are in actual strap-in seats. Also, we should have waited for monkey bars on the back. The main take away: low center of gravity is needed and heavy bikes need strong riders.
  • Success as we see it: We tested on quiet flat streets, starting with one person, a parent and child and only then two children. This means our fail happened while the bike wasn't moving and no cars were around.
  • I love the Radwagon for myself. It's short and stocky. Big tires. Good breaks. Great price new and used. It isn't as slick as the twice as expensive Xtracycles or Yubas, but how could it be? It is shorter which I like. I love taking my son on the Radwagon. He thinks it's the funnest thing ever. I feel solid on the Radwagon with him on side streets, side walks, and our new monkey bars. 
  • My wife and I are loving electric assist bikes family cargo bikes. We'll keep riding them alone and with our kids in certain situations.  We have two now. A used Radwagon, and a used Raleigh Detour. My wife and love going on rides together around town because the electric assist "flattens" our hilly bumpy town and makes the rides more relaxing and fun.
  • I didn't research downsides when shopping for family cargo bikes. The electric-assist family cargo bike movement is so exciting, cool, sustainable, green, logical, and freeing that I found I didn't also look into the down sides. I didn't want to. The fantasy of the family cargo bike is real I think, but there's an element that I sense is similar to RV campers and boats. Only the zealous few really use them as much as they thought they would, for as many years as they thought they would. The reality of weather, terrain, traffic, growing kids, maintenance and laziness conspire to reduce the use a bit. 
  • I see the evolution of family electric assist bikes seems to be to bring down the center  of gravity and stabilize the bikes more using 20" wheels where the kids site, buckets, tricycle setups, etc. I think we're really heading to more and more bike lanes and basically small electric cars, some of which could be peddle-able. 
  • In a small way, I think electric bikes (and cars in a big way) are changing the world. More people will become active for longer in their lives. Sone distances are literally smaller. A hilly mile to a school on bike path now feels like 1/4 mile used to. I belive this will increase real estate values for houses close to schools and services that are also along good safe bike routes.
  • With two kids, we're going to get a new bike set-up that has them low and in monkey bars or a bucket. We'll make sure to ride on side streets, slowly and on sidewalks when near busy streets. As always, we'll wear reflective gear and have flags, etc. 

Our Next Bike?

Brattleboro presents a challenge due to hills and bumpy side walks. So, sadly, the tricycle bucket bikes used in places that have bike lanes and flat terrain might not work so well here. 

But maybe a Babboe City Cargo Bike if we can get a loan. 

We've just heard that a Madsen bucket cargo bike has arrived in town. We're testing it out and seeing how we can get a mid-drive electric assist on it without breaking the bank. Here's some info in mid-drive electric assist for the Madsen. Forum post on Electric and Forum post on Endless

There's the Virtual Gondolier Plus (EBR review).

Race car free practice day at Monadnock Speedway, NH, USA

What a fun free family event! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

RC ADVENTURES - UNiMOG on PATROL (Tamiya CC-01 4x4 Radio Controlled Truck)

Why!? Why did my son make me find this crazy subgroup on YouTube that makes AMAZING videos of Radio Controlled cars and trucks?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Used Radwagon Cold Ride to School in Hilly Vermont

Canoe strapped him in for a temporary kid seat on a cold ride home from school during a rare day off. Got this bike handle coming: Bicycle Armrest Handrail, YIFAN Bike Child Safety Cycling Rear Saddle Handlebar - Black: Link:

Might go for the monkey bars and mount if my wife likes this bike enough to use it. It's heavy for her. But she tried it today.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Testing: Family Cargo Bike. Used Radwagon. Electric assist, regen breaking, 1000+ miles

Me on the Radwagon at night, before monkey bars. 
Monkey bar caboose with extra t-grip handle
I got a used Radwagon family cargo bike! Testing it and documenting it here.

I see the e-assist cargo/family movement as strong, but also the reality is a bit like RVs and Boats. They will probably be used less then one thinks by most people due to weather, maintenance, and laziness. But so far, my e-bike rides to town and with my kids are amazing!

Test though! On quiet streets. These bikes can be heavy. On a recent test of a Radwagon/Yepp Seat config, my daughter actually fractured her arm (not a bad fracture). Total parent fail, and the bike wasn't even moving! So testing is crucial. More on that soon in another post.

Here's a great summary of cargo bike reviews here from Electric Bike Review here.

I think this frame will last a long time and eventually I'd add a mid-drive system to have better hill climbing using the 21 speeds. Something like the Befrag 8-Fun BBS02 Mid-Drive, which should be cheap by the time I need it!

We tried a Yepp Maxi Easy Fit seat, it was very well made and easy to use. But setup didn't work of my wife. Too back-heavy. 

Yepp seat on back was found to be well made, and very easy to use, but the Radwagon was too back and top heavy with two kids for my wife. 

This setup worked well for me, but needed monkey bars for safety. 

Radwagon rear child handlebars, monkey bars, handles. 

 This one works for my 5 year old to hold on to so far. $12.00. Bicycle Armrest Handrail, YIFAN Bike Child Safety Cycling Rear Saddle Handlebar - Black
by Yifan.

I'm wondering bout other seats like Bell Incs. Bell Classic Cocoon Bicycle Child Carrier Link:
I wonder if the base is wide enough to fit over the rear rack?

I think Thule bought Yepp. But they did have this too: Thule RideAlong Child Bike Seat by Thule Link:

Riding the Radwagon 3-20-17

After huge work weekend for our first graduate school residency on the main Marlboro College campus I got some time to ride the Radwagon to town. It was a dream to ride on the flat surfaces and small hills to down. On the way back I went up a big hill, over 15% incline at times and that's when the motor and weight of the bike could be felt. Keeping the motor at under 500W draw as advised, on pedal assist #2, still required a little hard pedaling on the worst of the hill. With two kids, would have been hard on this hill. But at Pedal Assist #5, it would be easier and since the hill was short, that would be ok.

Got a Used Radwagon tonight
Used Radwagon in my 2009 Subaru Forester. Hatch closed, with child seat too.

So excited. I found someone in town who is upgrading to a RadCity and had a Radwagon with just over 1000 miles on it. The battery is going go probably soon. The seller gave us a wonderful deal and it fit in my Subaru Forester tonight!.

 I'll be going over the Radwagon Best Practices. And the owners manual.  

The seller emailed me the below, they were really nice. We wont' be driving at night. 

"Enjoy the bike and be safe.  Seriously think about high power lights, streets are dangerous d/t distracted drivers. Good quality lights are not cheaper but more less expensive than an ER visit. Protect yourself. Enclosed are some links you might find helpful.
Another good link.  I bought the Radwagon purposely for the regenerative braking.  I like the regen feel and appreciate saving on brake pads. and are great ebike resources.   Enjoy the ride!"  

Someday...Radwagon can take a MidDrive motor. 

1000W mid drive on the Radwagon...nice: Endless Sphere Forums conversion post.

This is definitely a movement

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Family Cargo Bike Electric Assist Research for Family of 4 in hilly New England Town

I got a Used Radwagon

I Got a used Radwagon. It has just over 1000 miles. It was a very, very good deal. The seller was clearly giving me and the family a break on the cost and happy to be helping people "go electric." They are upgrading to a RadCity. I think this will end up being my bike, but we'll see how things go this summer. Definitely a good way to test the fantasy from reality.

But My Wife is Still Looking for Hers

Research on Family Cargo Bikes

My wife and I live within a few miles of schools and shopping, but there are big hills in Brattleboro, VT. We have limited shed space. We want to keep it sanely priced for our modest income at about $2000 or less. Our kids are 2 and 5. 

Our Current Favorite Family Bikes Around $2,000.00

  • Bike Friday Haul-A-Day is leading the charge. We need to test it though.
  • Yuba Mundo 7-speed with disc breaks and mid drive Bafang 750w is second.
  • A used Radwagon is being tested too. We're worried about it's e-assist on steeep hills with three people.
  • Virtue Cycles, Gondoliere Plus 
  • Tage 2.0 bucket Trike. The front bucket is hot design wise, perhaps designers are seeing natural evolution that happended in bike-friendly countries for decades.  People are social. They want to talk to, and share experiences with, each other as they ride.


  • Too expensive, but we love the Yuba Elmundo V5, ERAD. $4k.
  • Xtracycle 24D Edgerunner, with e-assist. $just under 3k?, and Madsen Bucket Bike with a beefy e-assist
  • Love this design. This is the dealer in Burlington for the front cargo out of Netherlands that's been used for decades. I think their design is amazing. Low, front, but a bike not a trike. but $4000 with good electric.

Local Vermont Pro Bike Group

Vermont Bike Solutions is helping us. They are awesome for asking for info! Dave, the founder, is in our town and he's relentlessly positive about bikes: | Email:

My Notes

Yuba Mundo, 7 Speed (Est Total Cost $?)
  • $1000.00:
  • $ ??? Electric Assist:
  • Installation? Motor, breaks. We can do rack.
  • Shipping
  • Extras: $ Monkey bars for little kids. $ Child seat for toddler. $ Disc brakes. $ paniers/basket
  • Pros
  • Cons
Bike Friday (Est Total Cost $?)
Taga 2.0: New kid on block. Hills with two kids?
  • $2000 bike:
  • Installation?
  • Baby seat needed? $0
  • Shipping
  • Extras
  • Pros
  • Cons
Madsen Bucket Bike (Est Total Cost $?)
RadWagon (Est Total Cost $1,800.00) (800) 939-0310

Friday, March 3, 2017

Green Space Peace Place: It's easy to forget there's a international science team peacefully cooperating above our heads to help all earthlings.

What's off grid...WAY off grid, solar powered, makes 3.6 gallons of drinking water a day from urine it's such a good recycler, and is a beacon of peaceful international cooperation?

And just last week, a Dragon who loves electric cars arrived there bringing supplies you paid for?

Here's a Few Clues

This is a video of it passing between us and the moon. 

Here's the View

The International Space Station

Easy to forget about huh? Amazing things are happening all the time up there.

Last Week a Dragon Arrived There With Supplies

Note: NASA video is usually boring because they aren't trying to make any money, but they have to put all media in the public domain on a small taxpayer media production budget.

This spaceship is revolutionary and more sustainable because it does vertical landings. 

How Big Is It?

Hard to tell how big that is though isn't it? NASA is famous for showing photos that are hard to contextualize or know if the photos are exactly real, or colorized, or composites or animations.

This is a real photo taken from the Space Shuttle in 2010.  It's bigger now.

About as big as a football field. 

 Here's the configuration as of 2016

Where is it?

It's only 240 miles away, but it's straight up through a brutal gravity tug. It's also hard to board since it's going 24,000 miles an hour and the bus only leaves a few times a year and the ticket costs millions.

You can track it here and often see it at dawn and dusk with the naked eye. Spot the Station.

You can see where it's over at anytime here at this live camera and map feed. Live, current view it has

What's It Like Inside?

Links for the International Space Station