The vast world of cargo bikes can be overwhelming, especially with a variety of terms like front loader, bakfiets, longtail, and more permeating the marketplace. When shopping for your next family ride, it will help a lot to go take some time and learn about the various cargo bikes out there. In this post, we’ll go through a number of definitions, answer ten key questions, and some more frequently asked ones.
Once we’ve distinguished long-tail bikes from front loaders, we’ll then take those insights deeper to show shoppers how they can find what’s ideal for themselves and their families. By then, the readers who’ve stuck with us will have all of the information they need to make an informed decision that will improve their commuting experiences, physical health, and eco-friendliness. Focusing in on the long-tail versus the front loader, here are some thoughts and questions to answer before buying a cargo bike.
What Is A Cargo Bike?
According to revered outdoor recreation co-op REI, “Cargo bikes are sturdy bikes built to carry heavy loads and often two or more people. The bikes vary in sizes and shapes, may have two or three wheels, and commonly have a longer wheelbase than a standard bicycle, with space for hauling cargo in the front or back.” This definition accurately captures the breadth of the cargo bike world.
Ferla Family Cargo Bikes are of the front load variety, for example, with three wheels a piece. Due to the structure, these are considered both family bikes and family trikes. Ideal for parents transporting children, products like this draw a lot of customers who are curious about the differences between front load and the popular long-tail cargo bikes available elsewhere.
In this post, we’ll break down what separates the two models and why people prefer each.
Bakfiets Vs Longtail
The main two cargo bike models we’ll examine in this post will be the long-tail and the front loader. As one can gather from the names, the former features a cargo attachment behind the cyclist, and the latter features one in front. It’s a pull system versus a push system. While one might find it difficult to say which is more popular, as these designs vary by name, specificity, and popularity around the world.
To figure out which is more suitable for one’s self, it’s important to know what the key differences between these cargo bikes are.
Long-Tail Cargo Bikes
We’ll source another apt definition here, this time from Bike Shop Girl, “Take a normal bike (68”) and extend the rear by 12-16” and you have a longtail cargo bike. Most of these can fit three children, some only two. Your main storage is your bags, which may be under your kids legs, or a front basket/rack.” To add a bit, the back rack of a long-tail cargo bike can fit a variety of attachments, meaning one, or two less kids can mean more room for baskets and bags.
The tandem design when riding with children is popular around the world, and relatively safe. It is worth noting that when an adult rides with a little one on the back of a long-tail cargo bike, they can’t see their child and the road safely. Those who prefer the speed and agility of a two-wheel cycle might prefer a long-tail cargo bike, but those advantages also come with extra risk for parents riding with infants and small children. Parents with older children need something larger than a long-tail for comfortable rides and commutes.
Bakfiets Cargo Bikes, or Front Loaders
Now let’s look at the front load design, which is featured across our line of enviable Ferla Family Cargo Bikes. Modeled after the ever-popular Dutch bicycles known as bakfiets, our front loader cargo bikes feature a spacious wooden box in between the two front wheels of a cargo tricycle. It’s a noticeably different look, feel, and experience in comparison to the long-tail cargo bikes.
There are many advantages to a front loader design versus a long-tail design, the first and most obvious is that the former features far more cargo space. The built in front bucket is a spacious compartment that can fit up to four people at a time. The tricycle design creates a wide base, making family cycling adventures safer, more manageable, and more inclusive. The front loader aesthetic also adds to the experience of riding with kids, as they’re always within easy view of the parent riding.
Looking At A Front Loader Next To A Long-Tail
|Average Long-Tail Cargo Bike||Front-Load Cargo Bike|
|Average Human Capacity||One adult rider, plus up to two small children||One adult rider, plus up to four people|
|Average Weight Capacity||350 lb||350 lb|
Now that we’ve had an introduction to the models, let’s try and explore some topics that might help you figure out which is best for you.
10 Questions To Ask When Buying A Front Loader Or Longtail
Each individual consumer, cyclist, commuter, parent, and individual is different. What one needs, another doesn’t. We get that, and to help our readers figure out if they’re in need of a bakfiets-style front loader cargo bike, or a long-tail cargo bike — we’re breaking down the answers to ten questions worth asking when buying a cargo bike.
Read our article The Unexpected Cycling Benefits That Resulted From 2020 about benefits of cycling.
What Cargo Do You Plan To Transport?
As mentioned above, long-tail cargo bikes can fit up to three children, or whichever packs or baskets could be attached on the same back-end space. Ferla Family Cargo Bikes can fit up to four people in the front wooden box, carved out of a high-quality bamboo composite. For carrying cargo instead of people, we recommend limiting the load to a generous 350 lbs per ride.
So, if your cargo is more than a couple small children and some groceries, the more appealing choice is obvious.
Will You Carry Children?
So, four kids’ worth of cargo space is definitely better than two or three — right? Some people might say, but I only have one or two children. If you plan to carry children, both styles of cargo bike are available for your use and convenience. Long-tail attachments might serve speedy adventures better.
Front loaders keep your kids in spacious, safe seating compartments within your view. If you have just one or two children, the spacious cargo bucket will include extra space for pets, groceries, friends, and more.
What Types Of Weather Do You Plan To Ride Through?
Depending on the tires and build — either a long-tail or a front load cargo bike can operate effectively in inclimate weather. It’s without doubt, however, that the front load option is both safer, more sturdy, and more reliable.
The tricycle build and thick-tread performance tires included with models like the Ferla Family Cargo Bike are built to perform in rain and snow with thick tread tires and enviable accessories like the Fully Enclosed Sun & Rain Canopy. Long-tails are two-wheeled and therefore more top heavy, making it important for a rider to be extra careful on icy, wet streets.
How Active Do You Want Your Steering?
The active frame technology implemented in the bakfiets design makes it easy for cyclists of all experience levels to maneuver. When transporting precious little ones, bags of groceries, or anything else — the security of the wide-built, easy-to-steer models can be quite attractive. The steering on a two-wheel long-tail cargo bike is going to be more volatile, and so it’s important for riders to feel experienced and confident before taking their children to high speeds.
And don't forget about safety! More details in our article 10 Tips For Safely Riding A Cargo Bike.
What’s Your Budget?
Like any purchase, budget is likely to play a pivotal role. Long-tail cargo bikes run the gamut from affordable to overpriced. Equipped with more capabilities, more cargo space and carrying potential — a premium front loader falls right in the middle.
The signature Ferla Family Cargo Bike costs start at $3,299 for the premium cargo tricycle outfitted with a bamboo composite wood box frame, high-performance hydraulic brakes, active frame steering, and a world of luxuries. For the Ferla Family Cargo Bike - Royce Edition, riders can spend an extra $300 to treat their passengers to elegant drop-back doors to make stepping in and out of the bucket easier.
If these price points fall in your budget, then consider how much more you can do with a front loader than a long-tail when shopping for your family cargo bike. For those who are budgeting smaller, take a longer look at our products, consider how much you can ride a Ferla, and how far each dollar spent will go. Don’t limit yourself to taking the family cargo for rides to the park, consider using it to replace your family car altogether.
How Long Do You Want To Ride Your Cargo Bike?
Taking care of your health with regular exposure to fresh air and consistent exercise is a long-term project. Forward-thinkers changing their habits to better the environment is also a long-term project. Families should enjoy traveling in a healthy and emissions-free way long after their children outgrow the child seat attachments made for long-tail cargo bikes.
For anyone who is looking to use a cargo bike past their childrens’ smallest years, and who sees its potential to replace harmful staples like the gas-guzzling family car — a front load cargo bike is available at an unbeatable choice.
Are You Interested In Something Customizable?
There are a lot of customizations possible with a long-tail cargo bike. For small families, adventurous souls, and particular riders — the long-tail cargo bike is a decent option.
The front loader is an equally customizable take on the family cargo bike. The many cargo bike accessories available here showcase a world of opportunity. Shield your little ones from the elements in style with the Fully Enclosed Sun & Rain Canopy. Take a picnic on the go with one of the elegant Ferla Cargo Bike Tables. Keep the premier makeup of your front loader cargo bike with one of our satin dust covers.
Is Your Family Adventurous?
An adventurous soul might gravitate towards a long-tail cargo bike at first glance. The two-wheel build, lighter-weight nature might evoke visions of speed and physical challenge. Are those visions as appealing when you put a toddler on the back? How about two? Or three? Families larger need to start considering another adventure here.
No matter the size of the family, however, a front loader cargo bike offers a more manageable and equally exciting platform for getting out and exploring. Parents can pedal and work up a sweat, and they can cruise with electric pedal assist technologies if they so choose. Children can feel the wind in their face. Plus, there’s plenty of room for tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and so much more.
Adventure with your children! There are at least 10 benefits of it - 10 Benefits of Biking with Kids.
Have You Ever Considered Going Electric?
The electric options of bikes like the Ferla Family Cargo Bike each feature a premium Samsung 15AH battery and pedal assist technologies that can offer up to 45 miles per charge — best in class battery range. The boost in addition to cargo space makes this model the most comparable in terms of usability and convenience to the family car.
All Things Considered: What’s Best For Your Family?
After combing through these essential thinking points, it’s up to each individual consumer to decide what’s better for themselves and their families. For those who prefer comfort, reliability, and inclusivity — we recommend front loaders.
FAQs On Long-Tail vs Front Load Cargo Bikes
Does A Front Loader Stand The Test Of Time As Children Grow?
The front bucket attachments on the Ferla Family Cargo Bikes can carry adults as well as children. This makes it an attractive option for families both young and old. The only passengers who can really ride a longtail with comfort are small toddlers.
Can A Ferla Family Bike Really Replace A Car?
With its spacious load capacity, easy steering, and electric capabilities — the Ferla Family Cargo Bike has inspired many families to ditch their family cars without complaint. It’s perfectly suitable for everyday commutes, and the style adds to physical health while reducing carbon imprint.
How Do I Find The Perfect Cargo Bike To Carry Kids?
Give this article a read. Also, have a look at the Ferla Family Bikes Blog, and follow us on social media. For all of the aesthetic reasons, pragmatic purposes, and usability advantages described throughout all of our storytelling platforms — we believe the perfect cargo bike to carry kids is right here.