Cargo Creations - Bespoke Boxes for eCargo Bikes
The year 2019 will be remembered for many reasons, Boris becoming PM, England winning the Cricket World Cup and in the eBike world, eCargo bikes becoming big business. Brands such as Urban Arrow and Riese & Muller have been at the forefront of this, providing a range of sizes, gearing options and carrying boxes for all kinds of business. But what happens when a company needs something a little more bespoke? We spoke to Kenny from Cargo Creations to find out...
Where did your first introduction to eBikes come from?
Many years ago I ran a building company with my dad, he saw eBikes at a caravan show and wanted one, he ended up buying a load of them and set up The Electric Cycle Company in Edinburgh. I assembled and serviced the bikes - back then they were mostly Chinese bikes with poor design and heavy old lead acid batteries, nothing like the bikes now.
Is your background in carpentry? When was the eureka moment where you decided to combine your skills with eCargo bikes?
I’m actually a mechanical engineer, and did a lot of design in building services in my early career. I have always had a passion for building things, and have done a lot of woodwork projects in the last ten years. At some point I got interested in CNC routers mostly and studied Computer Aided Draughting and Design at night school with a view to getting a CNC router to build guitars and other woodwork projects. Over the last couple of years I’ve been working on starting Cargo Creations. My brother came to me last year and asked if I could design and build a bespoke cool box for a cargo bike. The first couple were built in my spare room with a gazebo in the back garden for cutting materials (I draw the line at cutting aluminium extrusion in the house). They were heavy old units at the start only similar in looks to the new product.
How long has Cargo Creations been going for?
Cargo Creations was only officially started this April, we got our workshop keys at the start of that month but our router arrived in May. The first box to be built in our new place was actually cut on a friends router in Glasgow.
What’s the biggest eCargo bike you have built a bespoke box for?
So far I have only built boxes for the Riese & Muller Packsters so the Packster 80 is the biggest one I’ve done to date. If I’m honest there are some boxes that look like someone stuck a shed on the front of a bike, that’s not my style. From an engineering viewpoint the high centre of gravity and weight distribution have an adverse effect on maneuverability and safety. In the UK most cargo bikes are used on roads we share with cars so stability and safety have to be at the forefront of any box design.
What are the main materials are you using and why?
I use a material called Palboard for the flat surfaces of the boxes, the rest is mostly good quality flight case materials such as the aluminium extrusion and zinc coated corner pieces. Flight case materials are used as they have been proven over the years so are robust and look good. The palboard is used for various reasons, firstly it lends itself well to building with CNC, you can develop a flat pattern and fold it up to make a structure that adds strength to the product. It’s also very light, and the core is made with recycled PVC. eBikes are great for reducing our environmental impact and I feel that our boxes should reflect that.
Are there any limitations to what you can do in regards to EU standards?
As far as I’m aware there aren’t any solid regulations regarding boxes for cargo bikes, at least not for the type of bikes I cater for. I would think the people building larger bikes, trikes and quads (that don’t qualify as eBikes under EU laws) will build their own boxes as this is a primary function of this type of vehicle.
Where are you based, and what is the eBike/eCargo bike uptake like?
I’m based in Falkirk in the Forth Valley region of Scotland. The area has three Active Travel Hubs, one in Falkirk, one in Stirling and interestingly one at the Forth Valley Hospital where they are trialing getting patients on eBikes to improve their base fitness before surgery. Most of these hubs have a handful of good quality eBikes for hire. Recently the area has launched Scotland’s largest eBike hire scheme run by Bewegen. It’s Scotland’s first inter-region scheme as it takes in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire and currently has 6 drop off/collection points as well as mobile points at certain times. Sadly, as yet eCargo bikes are still a rarity around these parts but if the council keep promoting active travel and improving the infrastructure the way that have been I think it could become more popular.
What is the most extravagant request you have had for a bespoke build?
I’ve had a request from a guy in Europe who has a restaurant business and wants to be able to hire bikes out basically as a mobile picnic basket. The box would have cool sections, as well as being able to turn into a table and chairs. He’s in the middle of opening a new restaurant at the moment so it’s probably not going to happen till next year. It would certainly be a fun challenge, I just need him to pick a bike before I can get ideas down. Also being ex-drinks trade I’ve had various people asking to put draught beer on a bike, this would be doable but not really worth it unless you’re doing a big event where you can sell a lot of beer quickly.
How do you envision the roll out and uptake of eCargo bikes on a business scale?
At the moment uptake is quite slow. I get lots of interest from all over the world but I have learned that eCargo bikes are slow moving. Between lead times on bikes and companies arranging finance through government schemes etc, the timescale between someone deciding to buy and actually having a bike to fit a box to can be rather lengthy. I think London is leading the way in the UK for eCargo bikes especially when it comes to last mile deliveries. This is where dealing with companies like yourselves makes a lot of sense. You have the market to provide steady business and I have the ability to tailor boxes to suit your clients. If the projects we have in the pipeline at the moment come to fruition I’ll need to take on more staff to keep things moving and allow me time to do the special one-offs or new designs.
How do you see the next five years panning out for Cargo Creations?
I want cargo creations to be in a situation where the boxes side of the business is running as its own department, producing more products for a bigger range of bikes. However, I don’t want my product to ever become mass produced. I have no doubt people will copy what I’m doing but I feel that being hands on and continually improving our designs and using new materials I’ll still be ahead of the pack when it comes to good quality and innovative products.
Do you own an eCargo bike?
I’m currently looking at a Riese & Muller Packster 60 which I’ll probably have as soon as the funds allow.
If anyone is looking for a bespoke carrying box for their eCargo bike, what is the best course of action in regards to contacting you?
As I prefer to deal with bike dealers, their first port of call if they're reading this would be to get in touch with yourselves. Or I can be contacted via email (email@example.com) or on Facebook or Instagram. Later this year I’ll have a website with products but at the moment social media is a great place to have my portfolio.