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Douze and Kiffy- a pair of French cargo bikes

Utility / Cargo Bike 8 12453

I have been traveling for work the past couple weeks, so I am a bit behind on the blog (as usual). Recently though, reader Pierre Fabre shared a couple of interesting French cargo bike designs with me, so I want to take a minute to share them with you.

The 4/ A modular cargo bike by Douze Cycles is an interesting design by Thomas Coulbeaut, a French designer who has been working for the past three years in Hamamatsu, Japan at Yamaha musical instruments. According to Pierre:


douze-cargo-bike2 “Thomas developed the concept and prototype all by himself and begun marketing it through his own company (Douze Cycles), The frame is so far manufactured in Belgium and the bike sold with or without an electric Sunrace motor. From now on it will be produced and distributed by Gitane and benefit from the wide distribution network of Cycleurope. But the most innovative development with this cargo bike comes under the name Alter +, a research and development program for powering it with an fuel cell using compact replaceable lightweight cartridges containing metal powder that supplies all the elements to fuel the hydrogen engine Pragma Industries is developing and already testing on running prototypes. No electrical power source is needed. Aside from this fuel cell motorization, I think the assets of this cargo bike are its simplicity, sturdiness, and versatility: the fact that it can receive several types of engines, and that the loading area frame is detachable and interchangeable.”

Correction: The bike was originally produced in Belgium, but production of the latest version was moved to Taiwan (for quality reasons). Parts come from Belgium and France, where the bikes are still assembled. See the comment from Thomas below for more clarification.

In addition to the photos shown here, take a look at the Douze product page and image gallery to see a variety of the cargo section lengths and options. Definitely interesting…and  I am looking forward to hearing more about the fuel cell powered option as that develops.

kiffy-cargo-bike-colorsThe Kiffy leaning tricycle, by Norbert Peytour and French design firm Agence 360, is another innovative cargo design. The 28 pound trike folds to a 2’ by 2’ size, so limited storage space isn’t a problem like it often is with cargo bikes in urban apartments.  In addition to folding, the design separates into two halves, so the cargo section can be used as a shopping cart. See the Kiffy website and Agency 360’s Kiffy page for additional images and more info.

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  1. Impossibly Stupid October 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

    While I have always like the style of cargo bike the Douze design follows, they have never seemed to be popular enough in the US to bring the price down to reasonable levels. If people have $3k to spend to haul cargo around, there are many other options to choose from.

    And all the fuel cell marketing talk is just a joke. The costs associated with it will make even an overpriced battery electric bike look absolutely thrifty by comparison. And when they say silly things like “No electrical power source is needed”, I lose all respect for the company.

    The Kiffy, though, just looks awesome. Reminds me of the Kaylad-e featured here at the beginning of the year. As I said then, if you put something that looks like a chair on a bike, make it strong enough to hold a person! The video/site they have would be *greatly* improved if they could show that seat being used by someone (even a child) smiling. I also love that the bike can be taken apart in a very thoughtful/useful manner. Great design work.

  2. Thomas Coulbeaut October 30, 2014 at 2:12 am -  Reply

    I am very glad to see this article about our DOUZE Cycles company on this page that I follow snce years !
    Thank you to James Thomas and Pierre Fabre for this.
    I would like to add some precisons and to answer to the previous comment.
    About origin of our products, we used to produce the complete bike in Belgium for the Version 1. For the V2 models, we decided to produce it in Taiwan for quality and simplicity reason. One parts of the components are still from Belgium and France where the bike assembly and customisation is done.
    We hold all the project by ourself for production and have no link with Gitane and Cycleurope on this topic.
    With Cycleurope and Pragma Industry, we collaborate on a research project called Alter +, an electric cargobike fitted with a fuel cell in replacement of the battery.
    The technology developped for this special battery could make possible to produce it for a very acceptable price – in the same range than LiOn battery – So I believe it’s not (at all?) a marketing joke and absolutely not comparable with the fuel cell technolgies developed for automotive industry. We consider this project as an exploration research on a promising and interesting technology that present many interests for the futur…

  3. James Thomas November 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm -  Reply

    Thomas, sorry that I took so long to approve your comment. I have been very busy since I got back to the U.S., and I just now noticed it. Anyway, it is great to hear that you have been following the blog for a while. Thanks for clarifying about the production…I will correct that in the post.

    Impossibly Stupid, you mentioned that you lost respect for the company for saying “No electrical power source is needed”. Just keep in mind that was a quote from Pierre, not from Thomas (or anyone directly involved with Douze). Something may have been lost in the translation, but I think the fact that they are looking at possible future technology is commendable.

    • Impossibly Stupid November 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm -  Reply

      Fair enough; bad wording/translation on the report rather than from the company itself. Still, anyone who is familiar with the *current* status of the hydrogen economy knows that it would take a major breakthrough in fuel cells to replace rechargeable batteries at a comparable cost. So while it’s perfectly fine to mention it in the story, it’s in the same unrealistic realm as most “concept” bikes, and I felt the need to add a little incredulity.

  4. pierre November 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi, I’m glad that Thomas Coulbeault himself corrected and updated the info published above by James from what I was able to gather at the Paris bike show last year.
    In my latest email to James I did actually mention that the frame of Douze cargo bikes is now produced in Taiwan. Concerning the “no electrical power source is needed” : this is what I was told at the Paris bike show by someone on the Gitane booth where the bike was on display, not by Thomas himself. I have to admit that I know nothing much about fuel cells except that hydrogen is used in the process. Possibly that person didn’t know much more than me either.
    Electricity is indeed needed to produce hydrogen for the fuel cell which in return will produce electricity for the engine of the cargo bike, so it is definitely incorrect to say that no electrical power is needed.
    Sorry that Thomas Coulbeault and Douze Cycles seriousness may have been scratched by Impossibly Stupid because of me.
    Thomas is a truly dedicated and outstanding designer, as well as entrepreneur with Douze; he deserves only praise and recognition for the way he has been developing this innovative modular cargo bikes range.

  5. pierre April 3, 2015 at 3:58 am -  Reply

    I have not been able to test ride the Kiffy myself but a user told me it doesn’t provide the functionality that it’s high price tag (over 2000 euro) would allow us to expect. The Kiffy looks great, it’s steering and leaning work perfectly fine, but being wider, this three-wheeler won’t go through dense traffic as easily as a regular slimmer bike would. Also it is not so compact when folded and the folding process is not as simple as expected.
    A Brompton fitted with its touring bag in the front actually offers a much better versatility and foldability with a good enough loading capacity.

  6. robert July 7, 2015 at 3:55 am -  Reply

    Hello, I really liked the design of the Kiffy, I don’t have one…. yet need one… and yes a cargo trike overpriced is always a bad news for us all and for the environment, yet there are other companies selling their cargo trikes at about 7 to 9 thousand dollars each…

    Note that in Mexico, you could buy a brand new cargo bicycle for about 300 euro… so yes a designer and or company selling a cargo bicycle for over 1 thousand euro should be put in jail.

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