To urban sustainability types, the idea of bicycles replacing cars for most city trips is a lofty goal just out of reach. Now one bike manufacturer thinks they’ve got a solution—and it’s just gone on sale at local bike shop Calhoun Cycle.
If you just have to transport yourself to and from work or the bar, bicycles are great—fast, easy to park, relatively cheap. For anything more complex than that, whether it’s grocery shopping, transporting tiny family members to school, or carrying friends who lack bicycles, the current technology isn’t really there.
“We think there needs to be an ecosystem of options” for cyclists, said Kaytea Petro, spokesperson for Yuba Bicycles. “We’re trying to carve out a place for people who are practical slackers. The people who don’t have time to be political but who still want to get around on a bicycle.”
With Yuba’s new Boda Boda bicycle, Petro thinks her company has come up with something that could function more like the “scooter of bicycles.” It’s designed to carry around 200 pounds of human or cargo on its rear racks, yet it’s only a few inches bigger than an average bicycle. Most utility bicycles—the ones you normally see being driven around loaded up with children or produce like two-wheeled minivans—can handle between 200 and 400 pounds of cargo, and they’re usually much longer and heavier than your average bike.
“We got feedback from the bike shops we sell to—people don’t need all that bike if they don’t have multiple wiggly kids to carry around,” Petro said.
At 35 pounds, the Boda Boda, she sad, could cover all the basics of a cargo- and people-carrying bicycle but was still light enough to carry up stairs to an upper-floor apartment.
Where the Boda Boda could fall flat, though, is in cost. It comes in at a little under $1,000 at Calhoun Cycle. This means it’s is cheaper than other small cargo bikes like the locally-designed Civias, but not by much, even with its extra carrying capacity, bells, and whistles. That's cheaper than a car, but is it cheap enough to supplant a family's second car or a single person's only car?
Petro said the Boda Boda is aimed squarely at the aging “urban fashionista.” Yuba, she said, wasn't expecting the Boda Boda to convert scads of drivers into riders—that would have to wait for safer streets with better bicycle infrastructure—but could enable many to maintaining a bicycle-heavy lifestyle even after they need more than a fixed-gear bicycle to get around.