Urban Arrow- an electric assist bakfiets design

Commuter, Electric bike, Tradeshows & Events, Utility 18 232

You may remember the Cannondale Dutchess concept bike, which was designed by Wytze van Mansum a few years ago. That bike was a student project, but after his graduation Wytze was contacted by two entrepreneurs, Gerald van Weel and Jorrit Kreek, and asked to design an updated bakfiets. Wytze points out that what really interested him about the project was the aim… “ to replace the 2nd car”.

After 9 months of design work and testing, they presented a pre-production prototype of the electric assist ‘Urban Arrow’ and were nominated for a Eurobike award. If you are at Eurobike this week, you will see Wytze’s prototype (pictured here) on display at the entrance to the show. He points out that the prototype is just that, so some of the parts are not up to the final production standard. “The production box will come from a single mold, providing a smooth surface. The box seen in this pre-production model is milled from different plates of the material. The chaincase will eventually be fully closed and a hub dynamo will power the lights. And of course it still needs some decals.”

Wytze described the bike’s features to me in detail, so I want to pass along much of that description in his own words (with minor edits from me):

-Assisted: With the electric assist you can get around a busy town faster than by car, taking with you up to 180kg of cargo and without sweating (Not everybody has the legs of a pro cyclist, after all). We chose a mid engine; powering the cranks. This way the power is on the correct wheel (rear) and the bike has a closed chain case with maintenance free reliable hub gear. An additional advantage is that the motor also profits from the gears, like in a car. Put it in first gear and you can ride up any hill effortlessly. I am very pleased with our engine choice; this thing is simply a silent beast.

- Lightened: It has a stiff aluminum frame with a lightweight EPP cargo box. EPP is a recyclable, but durable foam. A bit like what the inside of your helmet is made of, except that this stuff won’t break on impact. 60mm (2.5″) of high dense foam adds some extra safety.

- Practical: Gerald and Jorrit both ride their young children around by bike in Amsterdam, as do all of their friends. So we had an extensive list of things we’d wanted to add to the practicality of the bakfiets. Things like:

-         A rain cover that is always present on the bike (in the future it will cover the parent also). Designed by Renske Solkesz

-         Easy access in and out for the children

-         Cup holders and a grocery net

-         A fixed bolted seatpost (to prevent saddle theft) that still can be easily adjusted in height

-         A removable box, transforming it to a flat-bed cargo bike.

-         Comfortable (and more puncture proof) balloon tires

Design: For the design, I have tried to get more unity throughout the whole bike, and like the Dutchess, most of the forms originate simply from logic. The frame encapsulates the motor and chain, creating a unique frame design. The curved tubes around the top of the box are for protection of the box and of children fingers hanging over the rim of the box. They also provide storage room for the rain cover poles and a lock or pump. Because the box is made in a mold we were able to incorporate some fun functionalities like the cup holders.”

The prototype looks great, and I am looking forward to seeing this bike in production. The website for the Urban Arrow is not up yet, but it will be later this week (update 9/5: The website is now active at www.urbanarrow.com). Check back for more information about the bike…and look for it at Eurobike if you are in Friedrichshafen.


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18 Comments

  1. Patrick McMahon August 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm -  Reply

    I’m curious about how the electric power pieces fit with US regulations on e-Bikes and how it rides when not using the assist.

  2. Nick August 31, 2010 at 3:41 pm -  Reply

    I doubt it will have any problems with US regulations – all it has to do is top out at under 20mph on motor power alone, and have a less than 1000w motor, and it is legal in every state… Except New York, however, where ANY form of electric bike is illegal. Curious.

    Anyway, I doubt anyone is going to be wanting to go faster than 20mph in a bakfiets regardless… those things are sketchy to drive even at LOW speeds…

  3. Gagandeep.S.Pejatta September 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm -  Reply

    Yeah its a cool design for urban use or long hual country i guess,but will the head lights be bright enough an is less wire guna save power threw wire travel body frame.So I give it an 8 out of 10 but then again they already know what they gota do to make it a more useful, as they must of got more ideas since.

  4. Richard Masoner September 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm -  Reply

    I can’t get over how nice this particular cargo bike looks. It’s a “box” bike, but doesn’t look at all boxy.

    Following on w/ Nick’s response: Europe, the UK, Ontario and freedom loving Texas all put weight limitations on electric bikes. This bike might conceivably go over the UK’s 40 kg limit.

  5. nicolas September 2, 2010 at 4:41 am -  Reply

    Very curious to hear what Henry Cutler of Workcycles will say about this in his Eurobike debrief post (I’ll go prod him about it over on his blog). He sells some of the best bakfiets around, and this is pretty close to his (and the bakfiets.nl’s) design, though “modern”. I remembe him saying he hadn’t found a satisfactory solution for electric assist on a bakfiets yet, wonder if this is it.
    The integrated lights look kinda gadget-y (and nonstandard, which is usually a bad thing in my book). It looks kinda Vanmoof-y. The always-there canopy is cool, but where does it fold? And I’m not sure how durable the around-the-headlights fix in the front is.
    I gotta hear more about that foam thing, too. Not 100% into it.

    I do like it from the pictures, it looks like a good example of gradual improvement through design, leveraging on the tried-and-true excellence of Maarten Van Andel’s design.

  6. Wytze September 2, 2010 at 4:45 am -  Reply

    Thanks for the replies, please keep commenting this can only help us!

    @patrick: its 250 nominal watts (and a higher peak watts) so it is complying with the European laws. The UK laws are a bit odd though, hope it will change. For Europe it will be limited at 25km/h, unlimited it will do up to 35km/h

    @pejatta this are battery lights for the prototype, the production model will have better hub dynamo powered lights

    @richard: this proto ways excactly 40kg incl motor and battery, so hopefully we can just stay under that limit

  7. Richard Masoner September 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for the followup, Wytze. I really the idea of using EPP for the box shell.

  8. radler63 September 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm -  Reply

    Please support our survey about battery electric cargo bikes and give us your preferences at:
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/cargobikes
    It serves to validate our hypotheses and helps improving RTD and cycling advocacy.
    only a few minutes needed, giving you also insight about the options you have,
    thanks

  9. Robert September 3, 2010 at 5:43 am -  Reply

    If you like the Urban arrow, you might as well check this one:
    The new 2 wheel Babboe cargo bike: http://www.babboe.com
    Great design, great value for money. Does anyone know if there will be an Electric version of it?

  10. Wytze September 4, 2010 at 3:41 am -  Reply

    @ nicolas: I am also very curious to his reaction. I just hope he understands the concept and will be able to look through the pre production details and that he does allow a competitor to his market; he does have kind of a double function as a reviewer.
    As said the lights will change for the production model.
    The 2 wheel cargobike existed long before Maarten van Andel. In bicycle design everything has already been done around 1900. Form follows function, so obviously functional products will have similarities.

  11. henry September 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm -  Reply

    Wytze, we might have said hello but didn’t have a chance to talk in Friedrichshafen. It’s funny that my reaction to the Urban Arrow is already anticipated. Perhaps that’s because I’m one of the few people knowledgeable about load carrying bikes willing to review products or at least provide an honest, educated opinion. On the other hand it might just be because a LOT of people enjoyed my well deserved thrashing of the Triobike several years ago: http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2007/10/04/triobike-internet-reviews/ In any case reviewing products is tricky business when everybody knows that you’re a competitor / colleague /collaborator.

    Concerning the Urban Arrow I’ll reserve judgement until it’s a real product and we’ve ridden and used it. The example shown at Eurobike was clearly a prototype, albeit a quite slick one. Certainly it all looks promising and feasible though ambitious. There’s nothing to just point and laugh at. It’s clearly got some sharp people behind it. In a nutshell: Looking forward to trying it.

    Concerning Robert’s advertisement for the new 2-wheel Babboe above: It seems very difficult to know about the “Great design, great value for money” considering that the bike doesn’t even exist yet. But if its three-wheeled brother is any indication we’ll soon be repairing these and consoling many disappointed Babboe customers.

  12. eventagentur berlin September 10, 2010 at 7:22 am -  Reply

    Really nice bikes. The one with the rain protection would be perfect for me. I cold rainy germany we need more bikes like this!

  13. Don October 15, 2010 at 11:55 am -  Reply

    If you’d like to learn more about this bike – target price and availability; further details on the motor, battery, transmission, and brakes; videos showing riders carrying kids and pedaling uphill with and without assistance – check out my extended review at http://mycargobike.net/2010/10/13/third-generation-electric-cargo-bike

    I compare the Urban Arrow to electric-assisted cargo bikes from other companies, and note that this bike is probably the best choice for carrying kids in relative safety and comfort. It’s an exciting development in the cargo biking market for a number of reasons.

  14. samantha January 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm -  Reply

    totally want one this is a must have

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