Refreshing the stall bike

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 135.

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In Newsletter 131 I introduced a project to revamp the Camcycle stall bike. The goals were to tackle mechanical issues that made riding the bike difficult and to apply the Camcycle branding to it, so that it is recognisable and represents the Campaign well when spotted out on the road or at events.

It became clear early on that a replacement was desirable. An easier-to-ride cycle could be chosen that would make transportation of the stall an option for a wider range of volunteers. An eye-catching bike-as-stall design could generate interest and encourage more people to approach the stall. A recognisable, well-presented cycle would be a positive representation of Camcycle while out on the road.

Over the summer a group of volunteers has been assessing options for the replacement cycle.

Our first visit was to Outspoken to try out a couple of cargo cycles. One of these was another Camcycle success: the cargo bike headed for shared use by Mill Road traders.

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Next, a Winther cargo trike was tested at Power to the Pedal. Intended for taking children on the school run, its seating area is sturdy enough to take an adult: a claim that we couldn’t leave untested!

Finally, a visit to the School Run Centre to try the cargo trike offerings from Bakfiets and Nihola.

On evaluating our volunteers’ experiences of these cycles it was evident that a tricycle would most closely match the project’s goals. The three wheels provide a stable base for operating as a stall and give our volunteers the most confidence for moving a heavy load. A preference – pending funding to cover the increased cost – for an electric-assisted model was also clear, as it would best enable a wide range of volunteers and a greater geographic reach.

Following a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons for each of the tested cycles, we have selected a Bakfiets trike to take forward for the stall build. We have been making grant applications to secure its purchase; though these have so far been unsuccessful we’ll continue into 2018. It is our hope to have the bike ready for launch by the summer event season.

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We have also identified a craftsperson for the stall conversion. Steve Puleston is a Cambridge-based carpenter and handyman who operates by cycle, either with a bike and trailer or a cargo trike depending on the needs of the job. With easy access to properties with limited parking and predictable progress through congested traffic. Steve well knows the benefit of operating by cycle. Indeed, it is an unquestionable benefit for working at houseboats moored along the Cam that a motorised tradesperson simply could not access. As a cycle-based business he is enthusiastic about working on the stall bike project, and has the experience for it too; a previous commission was for a cargo trike retail stall for Miss Molly’s Cakes. You can see more of Steve’s work via the BeSpoke Cambridge Facebook page.

Once the box is built (see example above) we will need to add Camcycle branding to it so that it is recognisable while being ridden to and from events. If you can offer time to help paint or have signwriting skills please get in touch.

We plan to sell our current stall bike: (right) a yellow, steel-framed butcher’s bike with large wicker basket over the front wheel. It is equipped with a five-speed hub gear, rear hub brake, integrated wheel lock and dynamo-powered lights. Please contact us if you would be interested in making an offer.

Tom McKeown