This weekend, the Bullitt arrived. We immediately took it out for an 11 mile ride with the kids. Here’s what I’ve learned.
- After two months without riding a Bullitt I was nervous about my ability to pick it up again. I got the trick of steering it back in about 20 feet.
- Even with the BionX, San Francisco hills are much steeper than Portland hills. Going up to Bernal Heights I did use the highest level of assist, and I would have been delighted if it went “to 11.”
- Thank goodness we got the lightest cargo bike.
- To my surprise, my kids decided to ride together in the box. It’s not all that roomy in there for two older kids, but they were happy. At one point my daughter even stretched out for a nap, although she did not actually nap.
- The preferred entertainment for two kids in a Bullitt is singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall.” On a five mile ride, that song can stretch into negative numbers. Adding a sound system to this bike has been upgraded from “nice to have” to “critical need.”
- An unexpected disadvantage of a low box is that the kids assume that they can reach out and pick up anything on the street that interests them while we are moving. We had to have a conversation about that.
- It is impossible to overestimate how much attention a Bullitt will get on the streets of San Francisco. Lots of drivers pulled up right next to us to ask questions. “I love your bike!” said one.
- Other bike riders will assume that a Bullitt belongs to a man, and ask my husband questions about it. In response, he will stare at them.
- This bike can go anywhere in this city with two kids and whatever else we pick up along the way.
On the way back home, on the Panhandle, we spotted: another Bullitt! That was unexpected. It was a milk-white Bullitt (unassisted) with a kid box like mine, but the rider was carrying a big black dog. Given that there are no Bullitt dealers in San Francisco, we were both nonplussed. “Nice bike!” I said. “Yay, BULLITT!” he said. Based on his accent, I think he was Danish. The other riders on the path looked dumbfounded.
On Saturday night before the Bullitt arrived, we had to do a longer-distance errand at night with both kids, and given the distance and the fact that it was dark and our lack-of-a-two-kid-cargo-bike situation, we rented a Nissan Leaf from City Carshare for a little while. We were stuck in traffic for most of the trip. We couldn’t find parking. The kids got fussy. Matt and I were both struck by the fact that we used to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY. We were relieved to return that car. “Okay, that sucked,” said Matt.
In light of this experience, I hesitate to call the Bullitt a car replacement, although that is arguably the closest equivalent. But the Bullitt is better. Within city limits, it is faster than a car, because it doesn’t get stuck in traffic. With rare exceptions, it can carry more than a car. It can park by the front door of any destination. Our kids enjoy the ride. It turns out we weren’t looking for a car replacement. What we wanted all along was a totally awesome cargo bike.