To kick off our new blog series “Cargo Bike Life” Outspoken founder and Director, Rob King, reflects on life with a Cargo Bike – both for Business and Family life. From humble beginnings to setting up his own bike shop in Cambridge.
Well, the first question is really – why cargo bikes? I started Outspoken Delivery in 2005 after hearing about a cargo bike courier company in York. Although I wasn’t a keen cyclist, I just used a bike to get around, I loved the idea of making cities nicer places to live by using cargo bikes to move goods rather than polluting diesel vans.
We started off with two, 8 Freight Cargo bikes brought from Mike Burrows. Even before I got the boxes made for the bikes I used to put my new girlfriend (now wife) on the back in a high vis helmet when I picked her up from the station. We later adapted it for our baby daughter strapping a baby car seat onto it to take her touring around Norfolk. But, it wasn’t really designed for this and there was no safe, easy way to carry two children on it at the time. I’d been sceptical about child seats on the back having seen a few near misses with sleeping children’s heads and bollards in Cambridge. When we moved out to a village we brought a cargo bike and it meant that my wife could take my daughter to kindergarten 6 miles away, do the shopping 4 miles away and commute to work 5 miles away without having to get in the car. She loved the exercise, the freedom, the time outdoors and the time talking with the children in the front. The rain cover meant that even on the coldest winter days the children were warm and they loved seeing what was going on, but equally they could sleep safely.
When my son was 3 years old we also got a triplet. This was faster, lighter, and meant the children got some exercise too. At 3 he was too young to go very far on his own bike but he’d happily cycle for 20 miles over a day out on the triplet. Even for just the mile to school it meant we could do it in less than ten minutes, when on their own bikes it took a lot longer as one would want to stop. However, we kept the box bike until my daughter was 8 and my son 6 using it when it was cold and wet, we were late, needed to do shopping, or my son needed an afternoon nap, we even took them to festivals in it and they’d happily snuggle up and sleep in it.
The difference cycling made to our quality of life made me want to offer those opportunities to others. Outspoken Cycles started offering electric cargo bikes for hire. My wife was initially highly sceptical believing that if she could carry a week’s shop, and two big kids purely with leg power there was no need for electric assist in Cambridge. It was only when she had a nasty chest infection and was struggling to get over the A14 hill that she relented and tried one. To her surprise she loved it, the pedal assist wasn’t scary, she felt fully in control and it took the hard slog out of windy journeys. Through the delivery business I’d already realised that electric assist bikes made cycling possible for people and situations where the idea of cycling would not previously of been considered.
Between the delivery company and the hire company we’d tested and regularly used and serviced a wide variety of cargo bikes for a wide variety of uses. At the same time through our cycle training and cycle events businesses, we’d become experts in kids bikes and had been buying and using children’s light weight Frog bikes for several years. When we moved to our bigger premises in Cowley Road we finally had the space to be able to open a shop and share this expertise with the public.
As well as having our awesome mechanics, we were lucky enough to be able to recruit local bike legend Rob Turner to run the shop. Our experience and his 30 years of running a bike shop mean we’re able to offer you friendly expert advice about the best bike for you. The Bike Depot has space for you to try out our wide range of bikes. Please come and visit, we’d love to help you find a bike to help your family enjoy cycling more often.