Electric-assist Urban Arrow cargo bike wants to be your second car
Bakfiets, the distinctive Dutch cargo bikes with the cargo bed located in front of the rider, are becoming increasingly popular outside of The Netherlands. Practical as they are for hauling things like groceries, however, they’re heavy. Their beds also tend to be rather hard and unyielding – not ideal for carting your kids around. The Dutch designers of the Urban Arrow took these things into consideration when creating their machine. It has a padded, rain-protected cargo box to keep the little ones comfy and dry, an electric motor to compensate for its 45-kg (99-lb) weight, and a few other clever features.
The Urban Arrow is intended to be “a replacement for the second car,” and it won an innovation award when it was first unveiled at the 2010 Eurobike trade show.
Its cargo box is made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) high-density foam – firm enough to maintain structural integrity, yet with enough give not to bang the kids around too much on the road. That box can be removed, to transform the bike into a flatbed carrier, or it can be replaced with a lockable-lidded hard-sided cargo box.
For riders who don’t have much to carry, the entire front end of the bike can even be swapped for a much shorter front section, transforming the Urban Arrow into a regular-length bike with a modest cargo rack located over the front wheel. A two-wheeled front end, which would turn it into a tricycle, is also on the way.
The stock EPP box incorporates features such as cup holders, a cargo net for securing groceries, and a removable rain cover with a clear plastic windscreen. That cover can be stored within the frame tubes that cradle the box, when not in use. An optional rain cover for the rider is in the works.
Pedaling assistance is provided by a 250-watt motor attached to the crankset, which it helps turn when activated. That motor is powered by a 36-volt, 10Ah lithium-ion battery, which gives the bike a tested range of about 50 km (31 miles) with no cargo, or about 40 km (25 miles) with two kids and groceries – needless to say, any user’s actual range will depend on how much they use the motor.
The bike has a top pedal-assisted speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph), and a cargo capacity of 110 kg (242.5 lbs). Some of its other features include a Daum electronic control panel, a NuVinci N360 continuously-variable hub transmission, and SKS mudguards. Its aluminum frame is available in black, silver or white.
The Urban Arrow sells for €2,950 (US$3,691), although a €1,950 ($2,440) non-electric version is available for people without as much cash to spare, or who like to sweat. It can be seen in action in the video below.
Source: Urban Arrow
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With a loaded cargo-hold the range is 25 miles. The battery capacity is 360Whrs. So the projected energy usage is 14.4WattHours per mile. That's pretty low. At, say, 10 mph the assist power will only be 144Watts so I suspect there'll still be some sweating going on!
Still, it's a good concept - helmets would seem sensible though.
Helmets aren't as necessary in The Netherlands because cycles in urban areas are usually segregated from motor vehicles, or where they do share space, cars are expected (and do) maintain slow speeds- the Dutch have fantastic facilities for cyclists, and far more people ride bikes than they do in the UK, for instance.
Mind you, it certainly helps that The Netherlands is extremely flat!
Love this bike concept- seems ideal for short distances, and the range is far more than ample for the kind of local journeys it is intended for.
It is not ideal but still fair to write something just based on a press release, but if you are going to be writing serious things like "hard, "unyielding" and "not ideal for carting your kids around" you should ask for proof from the source of the press release or better yet ask some Dutch kids about it.
Tens of thousands of Dutch kids are carried safely and comfortably in wooden Bakfiets on a daily basis, and has been mentioned almost none wear helmets because the conditions in the Netherlands are also safe and comfortable to cycle in.