„Long Day, Long John!“ – Cargobikes and railway: a gamble?

The last week Patricia and I spent cycling on cargo bikes from Berlin to Copenhagen, taking a train to Rostock in between. We checked out the luxury of camping with the extra amount of luggage capacity offered by our long john bikes – a Bullit from amb cycles and a pink eHarry from PedalPower.

Camping with cargobikes turned out to be a lovely experience, as you can guess from the many fotos on the last couple of posts, text is in German. The best is: you have your cargo bike with you when you get to Copenhagen, the cargo bike mekka! With our two bikes we visited a lot of cargo bike manufacturers around the center of CPH. The sun was shining and everything was cool and chilled.

The drama begins

Sunday we cycled to the train station to start our long train ride back (its so long because you cannot take bicycles on the ICE high speed trains of Deutsche Bahn). The ride thus takes you to Kolding then to Flensburg, Hamburg and finally to Berlin. As there was no info about special bicycles like tandems or cargobikes on the danish railway website, we were unsure before our trip whether we would make it back. So we called Deutsche Bahn Hotline and they assured us that just as in german Intercity trains you only need to buy two bike tickets for an oversized long john cargo bike. Said an done- we had four bike tickets plus reservations and felt all prepared.

Already when we tried to enter the train in Copenhagen some of the personnel got quite excited, and insisted „you cannot get on the train with this bike“. We explained, that we had two reservations for each bike. We decided to get on the train as we really didn’t see any other option, and the bikes fit fine on the train. Later one of the staff members literally made us leave, also being quite impatient. We asked for an explanation and said, that we had to get to Flensburg somehow (work an so on). Obviously Deutsche Bahn had given us wrong information. However our friend-personal from the danish railway refused to tell us his name, which we wanted, so we would at least have a reference when getting upcoming expenses back from Deutsche Bahn. Therefore we gt the piece of paper on the foto, sayin „no cargo bikes in danish trains“.

We didn’t get on the next train towards Flensburg, again having several people yell around… Two hours later came another one, we approached the train personal very friendly and explained that we were stuck in Kolding if they didn’t transport us to Flensburg. And this time we were lucky, the very friendly guy did not yell, he helped us to get the bikes in, and we got to Flensburg! Again there was absolutely no space problem in the bike area of the train. It was frankly a matter of good will, not of possible or not. In Flensburg the Regional train personal was really friendly and helped us on the train to Hamburg.

  • The Reservation of four places to Kolding... no use... Foto: e-Rad Hafen

Unfotunately, in Hamburg we missed the last connection to Berlin, so we had to spend the night in Hamburg. We could at least change the ticket to be valid next day and have a reservation for the bikes (again four). However Deutsche Bahn in Hamburg did not agree to pay for the Hotel, even though earlier when we called the customer hotline they had admitted their mistake and given us a corresponding file number. It was a bit „kafka“-style when the service people in Hamburg refused to even check the said file number and argued they hadn’t been present when we bought the tickets, so didn’t know if we said the truth in the first place and thus couldn’t help us. One even said, that the danish railway would have to pay for the hotel.

So we staid in Hamburg in the Inter City Hotel, paying the Hotel ourselves. The next morning at 6.30 am we took the EuroRegio in direction of Budapest and made it to Berlin finally – in this case the Bahn personal was astonished, that we got the bikes into the train. At first sight they said – you won’t get them in! And in fact it was close, we had to lift up the back wheel a good meter to get around the curve at the door.

Why am I writing this?

Because I think, that traveling multimodal, without a private car shouldn’t be a gamble, it should be fun and easy! Of course I also think that railway companies like the danish should transport cargo bikes – reliably. If the wagons allow it size wise and you have a reservation. But at least if they don’t transport cargo bikes, they should have the information available on their website and inform partner companies‘ telephone hotlines. Not knowing and informing about your own services means treating customers badly. And there is no reason to do so, is there?

And for Deutsche Bahn – when you have given wrong information it is kind to just admit it and then take responsability e.g. by organizing the hotel room and avoid that four out of four of your employees give different and contradicting information. I know that bashing the Deutsche Bahn is lame, but this time they kind of asked for it.

More e-Rad Hafen

Europes biggest Cargo Pedelec Test starts soon – a preview

urban arrow kids
Let’s go! Urban arrow takes part in the test.

On 21st April the so far biggest Cargo Pedelec Test in Europe starts in Tanna (Thuringia). The test is carried out by ExtraEnergy. Here you find a preview and all registered test bikes at a glance (some more might still be added). Futher registrations are still possible, find info and contact options here.

zur deutschen Version des Artikels hier

Backgorund

Due to their electric assistance Cargo Pedelecs are attractive to more users than normal Cargo Bikes and also suitable for and more usecases. But how about product quality, how do different models perform in market comparison? What can buyers use as orientation?

ExtraEnergy has been testing Pedelecs and Light Electric Vehicles (LEV) since 1992. The test conditions are highly standardized and internationally recognized. In 2013/2014 there was already a special Cargo Pedelec test done in cooperation with the project „Cargo on Bikes“ by the German NGO VCD. In this second edition Arne Behrensen/Cargobike.jetzt and Wasilis von Rauch/e-Rad Hafen are involved as external experts. Up to now there are eleven test bikes and a prototype registered – that is twice as much as 2013! As mentioned above, you can still register as a manufactuerer, contact options here.

ExtraEnergy – Testing method

All tests are done under real driving conditions (RDE – blink, blink car industry ;-)). Test drivers ride the Cargo Pedelecs on a defined route, the ExtraEnergy test track. Every bike will have to do the route without payload and with 50 Kilograms (kgs.), that needs to be securly fastened on the bike. So beeing able to transport 50 kgs is a minimum requirement for the test.

ExtraEnergy measurement technology

Testfahrer mit eHarry
PedalPower eHarry and test drivers during 2013s test

All test bikes will be equipped with measurement equipment that collects data on velocity, energy use and human pedaling power. Thereby the support factor (U-Faktor) and the electric scope of the bike can be calculated. The test drivers individually assess driving charateristics. Last but not least a usability/handling-test of of the bikes and its add on features like boxes etc. complete the test.

All bikes are grouped into four product groups. Each product group is separated by certain exclusion criteria (e.g. minimum payload) and a different hierarchy of customer wishes (these are e.g. high speed, low price etc.). To what extend a product fulfills the set of customer wishes of a product group is calculated by the QFD method. The groups are: (1) Family Pedelec (focus on kids transport), (2) Business Pedelec (focus on velocity), (3) Cargo Pedelec up to 120 kgs and (4) above 120 kgs.

You can find a more detailed description of the testing procedure in this online brochure (link leads you to page 66 of ExtraEnergy test booklet pages 66-105 explain are relevant)

Press day and relase of results

All results will be published just before the EUROBIKE end of

EE Award Ceremony
Award ceremony at the Eurobike 2015

August 2016. The test report will be available in German, English and Chniese (see previous issues here). During the Eurobike there will also be the official ExtraEnergy winners and awards ceremony. The winners and a choice of outstanding products will be presented at the ExtraEnergy exibition area.

 

Radkutsche mit Siegel
2014 winner Radkutsche

During the test on April 27th there is also a press and experts‘ day in Tanna. The test bikes and the ExtraEnergy test universe will be presented to the expert public. For requests and registration please contact: test@extraenergy.org

The Bikes

(unfortunately this blog has no gallery function at the moment, so all bikes come one after another):

Velovo Armadillo
Velove Armadillo four wheeler
ISY-CarGo-800x470
Hartje i-sy with GoSwiss Drive.
PedalPower eHarry 850x500
PedalPower with Brose motor.
radkutsche RAPIDmaster_schraeg_matt-RGB-8bit_klein-3f785960-450x264
Radkutsche Rapid, S-Version with ezee motor.
16_load_II_touring_weiss
Riese und Müller Load Touring mit Bosch Performance Antrieb

 

trioBike-Cargo-E-850x500
TrioBike Cargo with BionX motor.
header_family_2015-1.4e7c06d0
Urban Arrow Family with Bosch Motor

 

urbanwheelz cargo-850x500
Urban Wheelz with Bafang motor.
E_Trike VSC Bikes-weiß-m.-Ladefläche-705x415
E-Trike von VSC Bikes mit ERZMO Antrieb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STePS_bakfiets_02-850x500
Bakfiets Cruiser Long mit Shimano Steps Antrieb

More e-Rad Hafen on Cargo Pedelecs

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