Saturday, September 01, 2007

Our Christiania trike


Here's our Christiania unladen. See more photos here.

Whenever we venture out in the Christiania trike, we get lots of stares and curious questioners. Here are answers to some of the questions we get most often.

Can I have a closer look?

Sure! Here's a bunch of photos. I'm happy to arrange to meet in Boston with anyone interested.

Did you make it yourself?

I'm afraid not. It was built by hand in Denmark by a small company called Christiania, after the commune settlement in Copenhagen where the company was founded (and based for a long time - but they've now moved, and the settlement is under threat from the government). See the Christiania Bikes website for more information (and some photos of us!) or this page for all the specs.

Is it safe?

I feel very safe riding it, and I have no reservations about riding with my two small daughters. The construction of the trike is very, very solid. The box is thick plywood, and the rest of the bike is steel, with very good quality components throughout. It has a coaster brake on the rear wheel and discs on the front wheels. There's a lap belt for older kids (like my 3 1/2 year old), and a three-point harness for younger kids (like my 14-month old) - these mechanisms probably aren't compliant with US safety standards, but I don't have any problem with them.

How much can you carry?

The other day, I popped into The Bike Stop on the bike path in Arlington and created a bit of sensation - and one one of the staff asked me to take his sister and her friend for a ride. Why not? When they emerged from the shop, it turned out that they were 7 and 9, and a little chubby... but we still had a nice ride and the bike handled perfectly well. The maximum weight recommended by Christiania is 100kg, or about 220lbs. I've carried all sorts of stuff, including children, dogs, groceries, rubbish, and a big portable PA system.

Is it hard to ride?

Not at all - once you get the hang of it. I would recommend some practice before taking on passengers. It can be tricky going round corners at speed, just because you have to lean into the corner to avoid flipping over (I've never flipped, but I've come close!)

What else can you do with a Christiania trike?

They aren't only good for schlepping kids around town, though they are great for that. Since they're all built to the customer's specifications, they can do lots of things, including carrying up to six kids, I think.

In London (and elsewhere), they're used in their purest form as courier and delivery bikes. The big box and 100kg capacity is definitely a couple steps above what your average courier on a fixed-gear bike can do!

This would also be the ideal vehicle (even in Boston with the harsh winters) as an alternative to a car. For journeys of six or seven miles, it's perfectly comfortable with any sort of load; I loved doing all the shopping in London with ours. And aside from the practical appeal, it makes a great statement!

Where can I get one?

If you're in Denmark, you'll have no problem, since you already see them everywhere. We bought ours in London, from the wonderful shop Velorution. They're very helpful, and they have all sorts of Euro utility bikes and elements of bike culture. If you're in the US, you're pretty much out of luck right now. Christiania does not export to the US, so the only way to get one over here is to buy in Europe and bring back as we did.

Having said that, I am considering importing Christiania trikes. If you might be interested in buying one, please post a comment.

17 comments:

gogomom said...

I'm interested in purchasing one!

Andrew said...

I still don't know how this will work, but I'd like to be able to help you with this. Please email me at andrew@puntino.com and we'll see what we can figure out. (After you email, you'll be directed to an anti-spam verification page - please just click to verify your address.) Look forward to hearing from you directly!

Anonymous said...

http://newamsterdamproject.com/

Go check it out, they'll love you!

margot said...

I've been to Copenhagen and LOVED the cycle culture. I'd totally buy that to cruise Brooklyn with . . . it would definitely catch people's attention here!

aaronsamcamluke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Aaronsamcamluke: Thanks for the comment! The hills are definitely a big challenge. I tend to lean over and grip the sides of the box, bracing my forearms on the rising steering bar. That gives me a better riding position, and it also helps me take pressure off the steering bar. Mostly, though, I make sure my girls are shouting encouragement!

aaronsamcamluke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Fontina said...

Dear Andrew:

I want one of these...I need one of these...I must have one of these...

Alas, I'm afraid I cannot afford one of these, especially after shipping costs to California.

Would you be so kind as to describe how the steering mechanism works...in detail? And the size of wheel and approx. gauge of, um....the spokes? Not that I'd actually try to make my own trike or anything so rediculous.

Meanwhile, in case I strike gold while gardening in my backyard...could you tell me what the cost of one of those trikes, shipped to San Jose or San Francisco, might, in fact, be?

If said gold strike were to occur, how long might delivery be expected to take?

Anonymous said...

I just tried out a Christiania trike at the Dutch Bicycle Store in Somerville, MA. www.dutchbikes.us/ I love it. Just can't afford it right now.

They import them directly from Denmark.

Andrew said...

I just checked with the shop, and they actually import a different cargo trike. I'm going to try to get a closer look one of these days... but still no official Christianias on these shores.

helene said...

I was very thrilled to find this blog!! I moved to Los Angeles from Denmark very recently and the last couple of months I have spend with putting up my own company Boxcyclebikes. I import the bikes straight from Christiania bikes - because as also mentioned - they are not interested in exporting directly to US.

If you are interested in more info please don´t hesitate to contact me at

helene@boxcyclebikes.com
or call me (310) 773-8751.

Regards,
Helene

Anonymous said...

I would love to buy one. We live in Old Greenwich, CT and this little town has 2 bikes that I have seen. There are many expats here. Please let me know if you become a distibutor. My two kids would love it.

Christine cik111@yahoo.com

commuter cycling technology said...

I am looking for leaning cargo bike. Some one should invent one if not done already.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Please e-mail me at florist@bloomingmondays.com. I am dying to use a Christiania trike in my deliveries in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Please tell me you can get me one!

Jade Sullivan

Steve said...

Hi, for those of you in the USA, worth a look at http://www.haleytrikes.com

I'm in Australia and building my own http://tardus.net/boxTrike.html

Steve

andreacasalotti said...

For UK customers, please visit:

ChristianiaBikesUK.com

Anonymous said...

The bike is great.

For those interested there is a great cargo trike builder here in USA in PHILLY, PA.


They do custom builds also.