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Posts Tagged ‘cargo’

Cyclorama Welcomes SN Designs

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 by CGIT

We’re delighted to welcome Cyclorama’s latest exhibitor to the pages of our guide to specialist, interesting, innovative and groovy bikes.

SN Design are a two bloke team who have expended a lot of effort designing, developing and pedaling their Rattlebone Sidehack, a sidecar outfit which bolts to the side of a regular BMX bike, converting it to a two man trike and multiplying the fun factor.

Rattlebone sidehacks are individually made in Bristol and have been extensively tested at local BMX tracks by local riders. It crossed my mind that this concept throws up lots of potential for pedal powered activities away from the track too.


I met up with Steve and Nick recently to pose a few questions – it seems they’re way ahead of me in thinking about the potential for their bolt-on platform.

Me: Do you use the bike’s original gear ratio or do you recommend lowering it for use with a sidecar?

Nick: Bike gear ratio is a matter of preference along with crank stroke and seat height etc….. Most people have no trouble using their standard ratios for sidehack racing. The deciding factor is what kind of passenger you have. If you have someone who just sits there (as you might with jousting) or are carrying cargo, then a lower ratio might be beneficial, but if you have someone who scoots and pushes to help, then standard ratios will be fine. If you wanted a recommendation then 39T 17T seems to be a popular choice (for racing purposes) when combined with a 20″ wheel.

Me: Can hub and/or derailleur gears be used with your sidecars?

Steve: Yes and yes. You can fit hub or derailleur gears. The sidehack is on the left, so having a derailleur on the right is no problem. Hub gears are also a possibility. For BMX racing which is essentially a sprint event this is not needed, but again going back to carrying cargo or passive passengers then it would help. The original hack I made to take my son to school had five speeds on a derailleur. The only downside is that both these solutions usually involve using a wheel with 36 spokes rather than the stronger 48 spoke type, which is what we normally recommend for the side loadings involved with sidecars.

sn design rattlebone frontal

Me: Can you make larger versions for non-BMX bikes?

Nick: Yes. We are currently part way through developing a mountain bike version. The main difference is that the mountain bike frame geometries are much more varied than BMX, especially if you include suspension versions. The frames are also generally weaker because the are larger and lighter, so the design has to be careful not to damage the frame at the attachment points. Our current prototype is out on test at the moment, but it is interesting to note that we stayed with a 20″ BMX wheel for the sidecar despite the bike having 26″ wheels, because the BMX wheels are much stronger. You might imagine that this looks odd but actually it looks OK.

Me: Could you make one which would accept a wheelchair…..? With a ramp?

Steve: Yes I’m sure we could, we could certainly look into it. One-off customer builds are our favourite thing because they require the most inventiveness and the testing of a new product is the most fun. The design would probably have to be wider than our current offering and the ramp would need to be carefully designed so that it was not too steep when folded out, but not to big when folded up. Safety is a more important consideration too when you are not making racing hacks. There is a big difference between a young athletic teenager riding on the sidehack verses a young child or a less able bodied person. You would not, for example, want it to roll away down a hill while you are loading it up!

Me: Thanks, guys, welcome to Cyclorama!

Nick: Where are the donuts?

SN Design’s Rattlebone Sidehack  in Cyclorama

Cyclorama Welcomes Velo.nom

Monday, October 17th, 2011 by CGIT

We are delighted to welcome our latest exhibitor Velo.nom, the manufacturer of a range of excellent ‘long-tail’ cargo bikes from Germany. Simple, inexpensive, tough and good looking. Slightly less capacity than a full blown bakfiets but a whole lot less money – we’re going to see a lot more bikes like this in the coming years. They even do an electric version!

Read all about them here.

Prana Transporter

Cyclorama welcomes…

Monday, April 4th, 2011 by CGIT

Nijland Products

We are delighted to welcome the latest addition to Nijland Products company specialises in the development and production of cycles for special needs, cycles for sport, fun and recreation and delivery-tricycles. The whole product range consists of various product lines and numerous model options.

Nijland Products supplies cycles for the elderly, tricycles, tandems, recumbent-tricycles for children and different models of the original Huisman delivery-tricycle. products are available from stock although custom made is also an option. Furthermore, Nijland Products has a separate facility specialising in the design and development of solutions for individual customer requirements. One such example is the special modification of the Pommy to provide electric assistance for children with special needs.

Nijland Products currently employs thirteen people, eleven of whom are directly involved in production. The manufacturing of frames, as well as the assembly of complete products, takes place at our factory plant in Heeten, the Netherlands.

The Nijland Products customer-base, both at home and abroad, is expanding to include well-known companies and district councils. Their products are found in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.

Nijland Products in Cyclorama

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Do You Remember Bike Shops?

Monday, January 10th, 2011 by CGIT

The siting of your local cycle shops and their geographic relation to each other follows the same principles which govern the relative locations of ants nests in the Amazonian jungle. Bear with me. If you look at a map of ant nests they follow a loose hexagonal grid. Each nest sits in the middle of an area which shares it’s borders with several other territories. To survive each nest must defend its territory to protect its food source. A loss of area to an aggressive neighbour represents a loss of valuable resources and threatens the very survival of the nest.

Cycle shops are sited to optimise their exposure to cyclists. If sited too close together they risk competing directly for the same resources (customers), so they space themselves out. But they can’t be too far apart – if they locate themselves too far from centres of population they risk having no customers at all. It’s a fine balancing act – they want to be close to lots of people but not too close to each other. Very specialist (recumbents, cargo bikes etc) shops can survive further out because their wares are so rare that those wanting them are prepared to travel. This works if they can retain control of their niche but if the things they sell suddenly become mainstream and sold in every other bike shop they can find themselves out on a limb.


Cycling has seen a massive spike in popularity over the last few years. This is great news for anyone who loves cycling. What’s interesting about the latest figures is that this rise in cycling has been matched by a corresponding rise in the success of web based retailers. A lot of new ‘food’ has appeared on our forest floor but it hasn’t really benefited the ants.

I love bike shops. I’ll never miss the opportunity to visit a new bike shop in a new town. I love the smell of them and spotting the things which make each shop unique – how the layout and the choice of stock define each shop’s character.

Without exception good bike shops are staffed by actual cyclists, people who believe passionately in cycling. Whether it’s BMXing or track racing or just pedaling to the shops – they work in bike shops all their lives for less than the national average wages because they are bike geeks. They work in bike shops because they want to share their enthusiasm, to make a difference. To get bums on seats. They don’t do it for the money but perhaps they dreamed all along that one day – when cycling eventually hit the mainstream – that they would start earning a decent wage. Well cycling has finally hit the mainstream but not very much has changed for most independent cycle shop employees.

As fast as we are attracting new people to cycling we are losing them to internet based retailers and corporate chains. I know it’s a-dog-eat-dog-survival-of-the-fittest deal out there in the retail business jungle. But what has happened is that the success and growth in the cycle sector has been noticed by some big players and they want some of the action. The long term result of this is likely to be that, starved of resources, our local bike shops will simply go under. One by one. We could simply shrug our shoulders and say ‘c’est la vie, that’s business’.

But there’s a problem. When they disappear they probably wont come back. If they are replaced on the high street they’ll be replaced with high volume faceless chains with poorly trained staff. Your traditional independent cycle shop simply cannot compete on price with the www.retailers  but they are an invaluable addition to our high streets. They employ local people. They usually have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they have a mechanic who knows what she’s doing.

People cannot be blamed for being attracted to the best deal but they should be aware that their choices can have repercussions: if you want your local bike shop to go out of business just keep buying your bikes and equipment on-line.

Cyclorama believes in bike shops, we urge you to support your local bike shop before it disappears.

Read about cycle shops in Cyclorama’s Bike Culture section