When you’re on the market for a cargo bike, you may start to think about whether you would prefer a speciality made bike, or a retrofitted one. Speciality made bicycles are custom-made to your individual needs before you buy it, whereas a retrofitted option is intended to be fairly basic when you first get it, with the idea being that you add components and accessories in order to tweak the riding experience as you go. There are a few key distinctions between the two, which we’ll be clarifying here today. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of what might work for you, before you consider a couple of the options on the market.
A speciality made cargo bike system can be loosely defined as one that comes with all kinds of “bells and whistles” tailored to exactly what you’re looking for. In order to do so, you need a little bit of experience with cargo bikes, or to be talking to an expert who will ask you the right kinds of questions to improve your riding experience. Speciality made cargo bikes are meant to be all inclusive, giving you exactly what you need alongside some tweaks to tailor to your body, build and the way you use the bike. A speciality made cargo bike is essentially a brand new purchase, so you won’t have to make any adjustments after getting out on the road for the first time.
Retrofitted cargo bike systems differ slightly from speciality made ones, in that they open you up to a world of exploration after you’ve bought the cargo bike. In an ideal situation, you would be buying a cargo bike that ticks all the basic boxes, but doesn’t come with a host of modifications you would typically see on a speciality made bike. The idea is that the bike is a “work in progress”, and something that can be improved as you go along. This can offer a nice bonding experience between two members of the family looking to work on a project together. It can also however be a lot of work if you’ve never done something similar, or don’t have lots of experience with bicycle parts and maintenance.
Answering the question of which one looks better will be slightly subjective, because it largely depends on the preferences of the customer. Speciality made cargo bikes are meant to tick all the boxes for the user, especially as careful attention is being paid to the design features and the individual taste of the buyer. That said, it is important not to try and add too many accessories onto the bike, as it may lose its professional polish. Retrofitted cargo bikes are supposed to look more basic when they are first bought, as the intention is to add elements as the user rides more, and figures out exactly what they need. When you’re buying a standard model like the Taga 2.0, it’s always going to look good. Other brands may need a bit more polish in order to get to the same standard.
When it comes to buying any cargo bike, safety should be one of the top considerations. This is especially true when deciding between a speciality made or retrofitted option. The former is great for this, as a team of experts will work on your vision while still keeping safety in mind. They will also be able to tell you if any of your modifications might hinder the safety of the cargo bikes (and any reputable supplier will draw the line here). Retrofitted cargo bikes are more “fix as you go”, and without keeping a close eye on how various modifications can affect each other, you may land into some hot water later. The more experience you have, the more likely this won’t be the case. Even if you decide to go the retrofitted route, make sure you have someone who can vet your modifications as a backup, to ensure that you’re not compromising your safety out on the road (no matter how brilliant the modifications might look).
Looks and safety out of the way, it’s important to also consider which one is going to cost you more than the other. Although difficult to generalize, as there are so many different models and options on the market, a speciality cargo bike might be a more expensive investment upfront, but a retrofitted one may end up chewing into your budget over a longer time. A speciality made cargo bike comes with everything you’re looking for, so you make a single payment for something that will do what you need it to do. By opting for an option where you have to put the work in to get it there over time, you may end up falling into the so-called spare parts trap. Many people with retrofitted cargo bikes also mix and match parts from various manufacturers, which could end up becoming a very expensive exercise.
Whether you’re after a speciality made solution, or retrofitting sounds like the best bet, it helps to have a team of experts on hand to make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Taga Bikes not only offers a wide range of specialty made cargo bikes. We also manufacture disability bikes, in order to give everyone an equal opportunity to get out onto the open road. Our latest cargo bikes are perfect for new retrofitting projects too, and with a team of experts at the helm, we can make it a seamless process that won’t have you losing any sleep at night. At the end of the day, the goal is to have a cargo bike that can meet your needs, as well as those of your family. Now that you know more about the options available, it’s time to get exploring.