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Phil’s Longtail

Phil came to me for a cargo bike. He wanted to be able to carry his two young children, ferry stuff too and from his allotment, and go touring with his family. He was riding a version of the 20″ wheeled Robin Mather print cargo bike, which he loved. But the small wheel size wasn’t so great for longer journeys or rougher tracks, so Phil wanted something adaptable that would fit both the children while rolling better.

We settled on 26″ wheels, as a balance between keeping a low centre of gravity while rolling well, and a modest long tail design. While keeping the chainstays to 650mm, I could still fit a huge rack platform.

The top tube is set low to make mounting and dismounting easier, and runs all the way from head tube to rear “fork crown” yoke. I used my twin plate fork crowns to essentially build fork subassemblies to help build the bike my jig definitely couldn’t accommodate! They help keep the rear end super stiff, which is so important when loaded up.

The built in rear rack has two positions for child seats. When only the younger child is being carried, the child seat can move forward, centralising the weight, or be moved back for the second child to hold the stoker bar. There are hand turned knurled foot pegs that quickly unscrew when not being used. The top of the rack is CNC machined Richlite, which is an amazing material made of paper: it’s strong, waterproof and beautifully matte.

The mudguards are super solid, bolting directly to the racks to keep Phil and his kids dry. The lights are integrated of course, with the cable running internally in the frame and racks. The disk brakes and low 1x gearing keeps things simple, and through axles keep everything locked in and stiff. The Carrier front rack set means Phil can carry up to six panniers on the bike, and the porteur top platform has M5 bosses so a basket can be bolted straight on.

As anyone who’s used a cargo bike knows, stability while loading up is so important. I made a steering lock to keep the front end from flopping around while the bike is up on the twin legged kickstand. A stainless pin unscrews from it’s home on a boss on the stem, and threads into a boss in the headtube, locking into a reinforced slot in the fork steerer. It’ll really help when loaded down with groceries or camping gear and trying to get wriggling children in or out of their seats!

Finally, I made sure that both rider and stoker had their own bell. It’s the little things, right?

This bike was a ton of work, but I’m super stoked with how it turned out. It gets right to the heart of what I look for in a bike: utilitarian but fun, thoughtful but simple. It’s a bike for living, not for show, and I can’t wait for Phil and his kids to roll up to my workshop for a cuppa in the future, and seeing all the scuffs and scrapes of a bike well loved.