We tried it: Butchers & Bicycles MK1-E

I am one of the worst people on earth to offer an objective opinion about a tricycle. We have tried them before and the experience was off-putting. My conclusion then was that trikes are great when stopped and terribly unstable in motion, which is just the opposite of bicycles, and also diametrically opposed to my transportation needs. There are lots of reasons that a tricycle could work for other people: for example, the Exploratorium has an XL Bakfiets that it wheels along the Embarcadero and sets up with little science exhibits for people walking by. This is a perfect use for a trike.

My family is not a museum, however, and I have had a chip on my shoulder about trikes since August of 2012. But a while back I started hearing about a different kind of trike, a tilting trike, which seemed to resolve one of my biggest issues with tricycles, namely that they are a bear to turn. The first Butchers & Bicycles promo trailer I saw did something I had previously thought was impossible: it made a tricycle look kind of badass. What’s more, there was an assisted version, which held the promise of allowing a tricycle to move at speeds approaching those of a bicycle and to go up hills, which were some of my other major issues with tricycles.

I was ready to get over years of tricycle-skepticism, so the weekend before we went to Europe, we rented an MK1-E from Vie Bikes, which as I’ve mentioned before is rolling out their family bike rental program in San Francisco, and presumably eventually the world, and which is amazing because it means that you don’t have to travel to another city (as we did) to try a bunch of different family bikes. And as is fitting for San Francisco terrain their rental bikes are all assisted, because second-hilliest-city-in-the-world-and-yes-it-gets-windy-here-too-blah-blah-blah. My take: the MK1-E would never have been right for us and it’s got some kinks to work out, but it could definitely be a good fit for other families. My six-word review?

MK1-E: first trike I’d ride twice.

And here it is, the MK1-E.

And here it is, the MK1-E.

Some terminology: there are at least two kinds of tricycles. Some have two wheels in the front, and these are called tadpole trikes. Some have two wheels in the back, and these are called delta trikes. The MK1-E is a tadpole trike, which allows you to carry the kids in front.

What I liked about the MK1-E

  • The tilt-steering is amazing. Whee! Sure, it looks cool in the videos. Nonetheless I tried to assume nothing, because I have been fooled before. And anyway this is a Danish trike and Kierkegaard tells us to trust our own senses. However if you trust mine, I can attest that turning this trike is just as fun as it looks, and super-snappy as well. It makes tight turns, the kind of turns that seem unimaginable when looking at it. Because it’s quite short, I would even go so far as to call it nimble (for a cargo bike/trike).
    Here I am figuring out the tilt steering with an empty box.

    Here I am figuring out the tilt steering with an empty box.

    Warning: this kind of agility does not come intuitively to the inexperienced rider. The usual rules for test-riding cargo bikes apply: do not be fooled by the fact that trikes are stable when stopped (years of test-riding cargo bikes and yet I was fooled). It takes some practice to get the hang of riding a tilting trike and I would suggest practicing with the box empty. I went around the block a couple of times and was then ready to haul some real weight. No problem. My squealing cargo enjoyed the tilting turns too.

  • The box is swank. Like a Bakfiets, the MK1-E allows the kids to sit straight upright with their legs at a 90 degree angle. Trikes are all height and width, unlike trailers or longtails. What’s more this trike, like a lot of the European kid-haulers, puts a lot of effort into their comfort. The bench seat is padded (and has a locked compartment inside) and there are three-point belts. The weather cover is unbelievably well-designed. It is tall enough that my 9-year-old didn’t bump his head and has waterproof zippers that allow you to
    My two older kids fit easily in the box, which is kind of amazing, really.

    My two older kids fit easily in the box, which is kind of amazing, really.

    open the front and the back for ventilation. The front door to the box is more like the door of the cabin we rented at Camp Mather than anything I had seen on a bike/trike before. Part of the reason I tried to ride with the kids in it at first is that they saw that box, dove in, and didn’t want to get out. And although my kids are a bit old for the target market at ages 6 and 9, they both fit just fine in there. There is a little box behind their heads as well, where the battery is stored (more about this later) and which has extra room for a small bag. If you took two kids shopping they’d end up with bags piled around them for sure, but you could probably add a shopping cart’s worth of stuff on top of those two kids that way.

  • The kids sit in front. I’ve waxed on about this many times before, so I’ll keep it brief: having kids in front is awesome, it’s easier to talk with them, it’s easier to break up fights if more than one kid is in there, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on, etc.
  • The MK1-E has a front stand. The trikes we’ve ridden in the past didn’t have parking technology. You stopped pedaling and (ideally) it stopped moving, the end. This raises some issues. First, good luck stopping on a hill, or even a mild slope. Second, with a tadpole trike, when the kids climb into the front of the box, it can tip forward and go into a nose stand. This kind of thing is disconcerting at best and dangerous at worst, and back in 2012 led to an “I’m not getting back in there” protest from my son. Apparently someone at Butchers & Bicycles had the same bad experience that we did, because there is a pedal that allows you deploy a super-stable 2-legged stand right at the front of the box. When the kids climb aboard the trike will not tip. To raise the stand, push the trike forward and up it goes.
  • The parts on this trike are really nice, suggesting that the manufacturers assumed that you might be riding in conditions that are not ideal (e.g. a flat, separated path with no cars, no other riders, no pedestrians, and no traffic signals—in other words, the kind of conditions shown in all cargo bike ads and never experienced by their actual riders). Yes, Virginia, there is a tricycle with hydraulic disc brakes, and it is called the MK1-E. The rest of the parts are in the same class. Butchers & Bicycles did not stint.
  • This trike is assisted, and the assist is a mid-drive, which tend to be powerful. It’s a fully-contained system and built into the trike. It comes on smoothly and is powerful enough to move this
    Here's the Bosch assist, looking very subtle.

    Here’s the Bosch assist, looking very subtle.

    trike, which is not light by any stretch of the imagination, up some meaningful hills. It is also almost completely silent, which I did not expect. The controller is intuitive, and placed next to the left grip where it’s easy to adjust. Using this assist with a fully-loaded trike on the flats or a mild incline is like flying; in the park, whizzing along, I felt like Batman. This is not an experience I associate with a lot of cargo bikes, our beloved Bullitt excepted. There’s something about going fast with a load in front that evokes it.

  • This trike is clearly built for commuting. It has the NuVinci n360 drivetrain, which I’m not sure I’ve discussed before, but which I’ve also tried on an Edgerunner. Basically it’s an internal hub with an infinite number of gears, which you adjust by turning the gear grip so that your little avatar bicycle in the view window on the handlebars appears to be riding on the flats or riding up a hill, to reflect the actual terrain around you. And then the gears do the thing without you having to worry about petty details like which number makes sense for this hill, because there are no numbers. It’s an internal hub, so you can shift while stopped. The chain is enclosed, and the MK1-E has daytime running lights, fenders, a bell and a rear rack: all the usual suspects.
  • Everything is adjustable. I started out with the seat down low, as I always do on test-rides, but this is not really necessary with a trike, so I popped it up; you can do this without tools because it has a little flip lever for just this purpose. However unlike a quick release, the seat post is not removable, so having this feature doesn’t increase the odds that someone will steal your saddle. The handlebars are also adjustable using a lever, just like on the Bullitt; a couple of blocks into my ride I was feeling a little cramped and then realized, hey, I can just raise the handlebars, so I did. I don’t know the official word on what size rider can handle this trike, but I suspect it’s a very wide range indeed. With the upright posture you have on a trike, the reach is not going to overwhelm the short, and the seat and handlebars can go way up for the tall.
  • The trike is very short, with respect to length. Next to the Bullitt, viewed from the side, it looked tiny. And yet it is still a real cargo… bike-like thing with wheels that I’m trying really hard to
    It was hard to get these two lined up evenly, but the MK1-E is shorter both front and back.

    It was hard to get these two lined up evenly, but the MK1-E is shorter both front and back.

    avoid calling a bike because it’s a trike. This is handy on turns and also could be useful in certain parking situations, where length is an issue. There are several questionably-placed bike racks in San Francisco that spring to mind.

  • No worries about stopping and dumping the kids. It won’t tip over if you don’t get a foot down, because it’s a trike, and trikes are stable when stopped. This is very hard to get used to if you are even an occasional bike rider. At red lights I kept trying to stabilize the MK1-E, which eventually I pictured kind of rolling its eyes at me.
  • As usual, a decent front-loader will set you back several grand: the MK1-E lists at $6200, while the unassisted version is a somewhat more palatable $4300. Seats, seat belts and rain hoods are extra.

What I didn’t like about the MK1-E

  • Tricycles are wide, like as wide as houses, and the MK1-E is no exception. This is the obvious tradeoff, of course, for being short and giving the kids lots of headroom (curse you, Euclidean geometry). The MK1-E owned the bike lane and sometimes even more. I wasn’t particularly worried about getting doored, because that front box would most
    Side by side, however, the Bullitt appears much smaller than the MK1-E.

    Side by side, however, the Bullitt is much narrower than the MK1-E.

    likely take out the distracted driver’s door and not even rattle the kids inside, but it did mean that there were times in traffic when I couldn’t pass like I normally do. When I rode it on and off the sidewalk to park, or in front of our house, I realized pretty quickly that my usual “go up through the curb cut” method was not working, because the trike is so wide that only one wheel could fit in the curb cut and the other one either slammed down or had to be wrenched up. The MK1-E made me a driveway-spotter, because I needed that kind of width. It was a little nerve-wracking getting it through the bollard-protected entrance path to Golden Gate Park the first time I tried. We chose a narrow bike for its maneuverability in San Francisco; this trike is far from that. If you’re used to riding with a trailer, the MK1-E would probably be an improvement, because the width is in front so you can see whether the load you’re trying to thread will fit, but if you’re used to a bike, it is definitely an adjustment. What’s more, there are lots of situations where a wide tricycle will be very difficult to park. Poorly placed bike racks are often too close to each other, or to nearby bollards or street lights, and that front box takes up a lot of room.

  • The battery does not fit tightly inside its compartment. What that meant was that when I went over a serious bump, it disconnected and the assist turned off. The first time it happened I thought I had overheated the assist going up the hill, and trying to go up the hill behind the Conservatory of Flowers on a big heavy trike unassisted is pretty much the opposite of fun. For the record I was bringing it like a boss up that hill while unassisted, albeit a slow and deliberate boss. However it is not really
    The not-entirely-secure battery. Maybe I should have put a purse on top of it to hold it down.

    The not-entirely-secure battery. Maybe I should have put a purse on top of it to hold it down.

    supposed to be possible to overheat a mid-drive assist (so far I have not been able to manage it, anyway). The guy from Vie realized what had happened when we swung back to grovel about breaking the trike in less than 20 minutes. He reconnected the battery and showed me how to do it as well. So okay, but then I went over the streetcar tracks, and it disconnected again, and then hit an asphalt crack, and it disconnected, and criminy. So I started thinking, “Maybe I could get a mini-bungee, and find a way to strap it down, I wonder if there are attachments…” And then I thought, “Wait a minute: shouldn’t a battery that stays put when you ride over a bump really be a given on an assisted trike?” Our BionX battery locks into place, and now I know it’s not just to keep it from being stolen. I’m sure that any of the shops carrying the MK1-E, which seem to be excellent, can kludge a fix for this issue, but this is actually the kind of screw-up that made me wonder a little about the build. Going over uneven pavement is a fact of life, so much so that it even happens sometimes in the cycling paradise that is Copenhagen. Maybe I am overly paranoid.

  • The assist [note: see comments below as this motor has since been upgraded]  is what I have begun to think of as “European-style” and that is my new shorthand for an assist that it is not necessarily ideal for the hard-riding conditions endemic to hilly cities on the west coast of the United States. It comes up gradually, and there is no boost button, so you can’t get a fast start at an intersection. It won’t give up on a hill, but when fully loaded on a steep hill you will be working really hard, and going really slowly. For the purposes of comparison, Matt and I hit some of the serious hills around our neighborhood (some of these go up to a 25% grade, although we stayed in the 12%-18% range), figuring that our bike and trike could take it, which for the record, they both could. I was carrying our daughter on the MK1-E and Matt was carrying our son (who is heavier) on the Bullitt, which we recently upgraded to the BionX D assist. And he skunked me every single time. We’d start out together and I would be working harder and harder as he peeled away, he’d reach the top at about the point that I got 2/3s of the way up. Then he’d wait for me, not even breathing hard, and I would be panting and ask to take a little break before we went up the next hill. For a while he thought it was funny, but eventually it became clear that the boys were getting bored of waiting around for me (“Are we done yet?”) To be fair: I am the weaker rider of the two of us. And also to be fair: the assist will not quit and strand you in the middle of the hill, which the old BionX would do sometimes when pushed to its limits (we have not yet reached the limits of the BionX D). But good grief, it was hard. It is no Stokemonkey.
  • While the assist won’t give up, I found that on the steepest hill we rode, the trike’s steering got away from me. The good news is that it’s very hard to dump a trike, so I didn’t. It was still unnerving. I wanted to see what
    Check out that cover; super-sleek.

    Check out that cover; super-sleek.

    the assist could do, so we headed up the hill to the kids’ old preschool, which is perched on the edge of Mt. Sutro and easily the steepest hill we’ve ever ridden on a daily basis. And as mentioned, it kept pumping out the power as I struggled up, but about halfway up the weight of my daughter got away from me, at which point the MK1-E did what I think of as “the trike thing” and dove for the curb. We drifted over and I walked it back down (no problem thanks to the hydraulic disc brakes). So… I’m not sure what to make of this. I suspect that I would get better with the handling over time; this was, after all, my first ride on this trike and it had been three years since I rode any other trike. Perhaps more relevantly, that’s a real nightmare of a hill, way outside the range of most people’s daily rides. So while I didn’t like it when it happened, it’s not ever going to be an issue for people living in places like Portland, or even the less outrageous neighborhoods of Seattle and San Francisco. However, that’s what will happen on the MK1-E at the limits of your strength and/or riding ability on a steep hill. Now I know. [Note: see the comments below, the MPF assist on this test bike has since been upgraded to the Bosch, which is both more powerful and noisier according to commenters.]

  • It weighs a ton. To the extent that I have any intuition on these things, it felt like it was on the heavier end of the family carrying bike/trike set. Some of that is because of all the lovely features that have been piled on (tradeoffs!) Some of it is probably the nature of the tricycle riding experience (seated upright, pushing a third wheel, etc.) I would love to try the Bosch mid-drive on a lighter bike to see how it handles the same hills, and get a fix on how much of the effort I needed to put out was simply a function of how much weight it was pushing.
  • Here I have to make my usual complaint that cargo bike (and trike) manufacturers seem to focus on either the front end and ignore the back or vice versa. The MK1-E has a rear rack that can hold panniers and I believe a Yepp seat, so it’s actually doing pretty well on that score, but because we have so much experience now with the more versatile racks on midtails and longtails, I would love to see a front-loading bike or trike that came standard with things like a towing rack. This is a minor quibble, but I keep mentioning it in the hope that one day the universe will respond

Things I am clueless about

  • We did not have occasion to test the battery power. I have no idea what kind of range this trike has while assisted.
  • This is a relatively new company and bicycle, so there’s not much to say yet about people’s experiences with it. Having excellent parts is a good sign with respect to potential longevity of the trike, however.

 

Matt made me stop to get this picture; I was totally booking here.

Matt made me stop to get this picture; I was totally booking here.

For reasons of width alone, we would never have seriously considered the MK1-E for ourselves. We are narrow-bike people all the way, because we live in San Francisco. However (assuming that the battery were firmly attached) I can imagine lots of places and situations that this trike would be a great choice. I was particularly impressed that it could fit two older kids so easily. And outside of the extreme situations I put it in, it is a lot of fun to ride. I’ve ridden a lot of family bikes now, and there are some I feel no great desire to ride again. But this trike? I would totally ride it again, as long as it wasn’t anywhere too steep.

 

29 Comments

Filed under Copenhagen, electric assist, family biking, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle

29 responses to “We tried it: Butchers & Bicycles MK1-E

  1. kathyouell

    Brilliant, as usual. I am every so slightly tempted to try a bike with an extra wheel.

  2. Hi Dorie,

    Wonderfully thorough review — as usual. Just a few notes:

    The assist on the bike you tried was actually an MPF Drive. The bike will feature a Bosch system going forward, but we still have the MPF version, which we understand is very similar to the Bosch experience.

    Since your test ride, we’ve figured out a system for ensuring the battery stays put. That was a super annoying problem, but we’re happy to say that people should no longer experience that jarring sudden loss of power.

    And finally, we are working on some options for people who want to be able to spin more freely on the big hills. Same power level, but easier spin. We agree that the MK1 is best for moderate hills, but the modification will make it more comfortable for folks who want/need to get up the bigger ones.

    Love the creature in the canopy shot!

    Best,
    Kit Hodge
    Co-Founder, Vie Bikes

  3. Alex

    Very good test, but one thing – this bike is the old version with an engine from mpf. The diffence to Bosch is that the Bosch is louder aud has more power.

  4. Alec Fleschner

    Thanks for the review! I’m currently in the market for a cargo bike, but I need one that will handle 3-4 kids. Which ones would you look at with this in mind?

    • Probably a custom Metrofiets or a Bullitt with an XXL box. Also you can fit three kids on the back of most longtails if they are good-natured. Or you could get a quadruple tandem!

  5. Hi Dorie,

    First of all, thank you for taking your time to write such a thorough review. To us, it has been interesting to learn how it acts in hilly SF, and we are glad to read that you (in general) seemed to like the Mk1-E.

    Just a few things I feel I need to comment – as Kit Hodge from VIE Bikes also did, I see.

    The motor on the test trike you rented, was in fact from MPF. In general, it is a really good motor, but for the steep hills of SF and other hilly cities of the world, we have realised we need a different motor. This is one of the reasons why we, as of April 1st this year, have changed to the Bosch Performance eBike system – I am sure you will like the uphill torque of this system, if you give it a try in the future. And we’d love to see how another race with the BionX would go 🙂

    The battery inside the glove compartment actually has a lock function on the side – it seem to me the battery was not locked while you were riding, since it could jump out of the base.

    The rear rack interface is universal, so almost any rack for a 26″ rear wheel will fit right on it. We are happy to mount the racks that our customers require.

    Thanks again for your review. Hope you have a great summer with lots of cargo bike fun with your family.

    All the best from

    Jakob
    Team Butchers & Bicycles, Copenhagen

  6. Mike

    Hi-

    I’ve followed your blog for a few months now as we are considering a cargo bike as a commute option for my family. First thank you so much for sharing your experiences. We also live in SF and actually found out about Vie bikes through your blog. We have tested the Bullitt and MK1-E for about a week each. We currently live in Eureka Valley commute to SOMA. Although we found the Bullitt more powerful, we have decided to go with the MK1-E. I just felt like the MK1 was designed with kids in mind first. The Bullitt is a cargo bike that was designed to carry anything and that could also be children. I am glad to see that your children still fit. My biggest concern about the MK1 was how long will it be viable for our family. Its great that your 9/6 year old still fit. Our kids are 3 and 5. So it seems that it will still have good use of it for a few more years.

    Hope to see you around.

    thanks

  7. David Robarts

    Cycletrucks in West Sacramento usually pays attention to both front and rear cargo capacity on their designs. Their “Caddyrack” rear rack basically makes an ordinary hardtail bike into a midtail cargo bike. I believe Elle of TinyHelmentsBigBikes.com has a Caddyrack filling out rear cargo capacity of her Bullitt.
    http://www.cycletrucks.com/

  8. Hello Dorie, lovely blog which I stumbled upon while researching for my business idea: I want to offer guided tours to families in Copenhagen with cargo bikes. What do you think about the idea? Maybe you or one of your followers in here is interested to help me test a few off-tourist-track routes? I would guide for free right now and I will assist you finding a cargo bike to rent. They cost about 50 $/day, but maybe I also could get one or the other bike for free at bicycleinnovationlab.dk . See you!

  9. Oliver

    Great review, and thanks for sharing it! Lots of information that I was curious about. I found it with a Google search for “butchers and bicycles review”, it was on the top.

    We live in Brussels, and look forward to transport our first kid on a bike, with hopefully more children to follow up. I’m hesitating between the Butchers and Bicycles MK1-E and the Urban Arrow Family Electro.

    1. Do you know how it is possible to fit a Maxicosi (safety child seat) to the MK1-E?

    2. May I suggest you put an “Update: ___” to the beginning of the article, saying that the motor and the battery has been changed in new models?

    After reading your article, I excluded the MK1-E from my list, but after reading the comments, it’s back on my list. However, I didn’t read the comments first, only when I came back to read the review again. And even for the second read, I have read the comments only accidentally.

    3. In general, what was your experience, is this more a car lane or bike lane whicle?
    I think SF and Brussels have many in common, with some steep hills and “narrow traffic”. We have many one way streets open for cycling, but I don’t think the MK1-E would fit, and many cycling paths where pots limit the maximum width at the entrance, which would force the MK1-E to take the car lane.

    Do you see a chance to test again the MK1-E with the new motor and battery? Would be very interested to see your experiences. Unfortunately, there is not possibility to rent it in Brussels yet, however there is promise from the shop “Au Guidon Vert”.

    If someone else reading the comments can reply that is also welcome!

    Thanks!
    Oliver

    • Mike

      Hey Oliver

      I don’t know if you had a chance of heart based on my comments. I wanted to try to answer some of your outstanding questions based on our experience. So we had ordered the mk1-e through vie bikes sometime in May/June and are still waiting for the bike to be delivered in SF. We were told initially around the Aug/Sept timeframe and so the delivery is still “on time.” Kit from vie bikes actually offered to lend us their bike from their fleet in the meantime but as of right now we have originally planned on having the bike in September so it was more of a favor. Which we did appreciate from kit and vie bikes. If September comes along and we still don’t have a bike then we might reconsider the favor. Any case specific to your questions, we treat the bike more as a car replacement than a bike transport. We like the fact that it is bigger than the typical cargo bike carrier(including the bullit). If someone opened the door to their car while we where riding down a street, we felt that the kids would be ok in the scenario when In the mk1. We still haven’t personally tried the new Bosch but are trusting the info we have received from this blog and others that it is at least as powerful as the existing e-assist. I’m not quite sure what you mean by pots, but in SF the bike comfortably fit any bike lane that we used. Certain streets that we used the bike where a bike lane was not available, we were comfortable enough to ride the bike in the middle of the lane. It seemed a lot safer than being in this indeterminate state of riding on the side of the road. These streets where side streets though, not major thoroughfares. I will let someone else comment on the baby carrier since we didn’t try that.

  10. Adria

    We received our MK1E in August and absolutely love it! I use it to transport three kids ages 5, 3 and 1. Plus a dog running alongside 🙂 The one year old rides in a Yepp seat on the back. I find the Bosch to have more than enough power for me and the battery range is great, depending on where we’ve been going and how much assist I’ve used I’ll go several days before charging the battery…plus it only takes three hours from dead to full charge. Its comfortable and so much fun to ride!

    • Hi Adria,
      What type of places do you ride the trike?
      How is the width for you?
      We live in a “narrow” spaced, busy city, the Bromptons and similar small bikes are the best to get around so far. I’m worried how often we have to go with the car traffic. Here from 07-09h, and from 17-19h, it’s a crazy traffic jam all over the city. Because then, we will be stuck in traffic the same way, as with the car.

      • Adria

        Hi Oliver,

        I’m afraid I’m probably not the right person to answer your question as we live in a less busy town where width isn’t a problem. However, it’s also not a terribly bike-friendly city and I have on occasion taken it on the sidewalk without any problems, provided I’m the only one using the sidewalk 🙂 While it’s not narrow, it may not be a wide as you think. I hope you may be able to try one out, its really is an amazing bike! Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

      • Hi Adria, thanks for the response!

        We have tried it for a weekend and had a mixed experience in regards to traffic.

        So I didn’t had the chance to try it during the rush hours during the weekdays, when it would be used to bring children to school and back, only during the weekend, when roads are relatively empty.
        Here in this city we have many roads where the bike lane goes opposite direction of the “one way” car traffic – here simply it stopped the car traffic and we had to roll backwards to the nearest crossroads to let them go.
        Another tricky situation were where the lanes are shared between the cars and the bikes – cars can carefully overtake a normal bike, but we with the trike held up the traffic behind us. This was not a problem per se, but feel uncomfortable to roll from traffic light to traffic light with a long que behind us.
        The third difficulty was on bike lanes, when we hold up the traffic, fast bikers couldn’t overtake us, or we couldn’t over take children and old people rolling slowly. It’s not a difficulty of the Butchers itself, but in general of any wide tricycle. In all these cases actually we had to roll with the car traffic.
        Also in the past weeks I was checking parking possibilities, and too often for cargo bikes there was no space, only option was to take up a car’s parking slot (and of course pay).

        Somehow, with “one lane” cargo bikes, which are wider than the handlebar, this constraint was not present. However it had all the usual problems of cargo bikes, like difficult to start and stop, and turning, especially in rain feels very risky if the first wheel slips even a little bit.

        I think I have to decide if I can live with the compromise of a wide tricycle in this “narrow, busy city” or not, or if I would be willing to invest for the uses when we would use, which is less when we would live in the countryside – where the B&B and other trikes would be perfect.

  11. Thanks for the great review. I’m getting one of these bikes and am wondering how tall your 9 year old son is? I also have a 9 year old and I’m hoping he’ll fit under the cover without bumping his head as well! Am I right to assume the seat belt was too small for your son though? Thanks!

    • Oh and I’d love to know your thoughts on whether to get the child pack or not. The child pack is the cushion for the seat and the seat belts. I don’t think the seat belt will fit my 9 year old so I was not going to bother getting the child pack. I’m not getting the electric version so we won’t be going very fast either.

      • Honestly I have no idea. The version we tried had it so I don’t have a sense of how uncomfortable it might be without it. I probably wouldn’t ask my kids to ride without a cushion given that roads here are bumpy, but I might try to make my own version.

    • He is about 4’8″ now, although he was a bit shorter when I wrote that. Yes, the seat belt was too short, however his head clearance was fine; the cover is really high.

  12. Amy

    Thanks Dorie for this incredibly thorough review, and to commenters as well. This is so incredibly useful to those of us that live in places 1) where local shops have very, very few cargo bikes in stock, 2) that have only a handful of families around our city that use them (they are like unicorns here), and 3) where finding any support at all on family cycling matters (particularly utilitarian cycling, not rec) has proved almost impossible. After doing quite a bit of internet reading, we are probably going to spend the extra to go with the MK1. We used to live in SF and Oakland, and I think it’s awesome that families like yours are not daunted by traveling with kids on those huge hills. Thank you again!!

  13. Amy

    Thanks Dorie for this extremely thorough review, and to commenters as well. This is so incredibly useful to those of us that live in places 1) where local shops have very, very few cargo bikes in stock, 2) that have only a handful of families around our city that use them (they are like unicorns here), and 3) where finding any support on family cycling matters (particularly utilitarian cycling, not rec) has proved nearly impossible. After doing quite a bit of internet reading for months, we are probably going to go with the MK1! We used to live in SF and Oakland, and I think it’s awesome that families like yours are not daunted by traveling with kids on those huge hills. Thank you again!

  14. Chloe

    Just wanted to thank you for your thorough reviews of trikes. I feel like they often get missed in the world of cargo bikes and I think there is a large population of baby boomers and others who cannot ride two wheeled bicycle for health reasons (like my husband). We have a 1 year old and are considering this bike, though it is pricy given how easily bikes are stolen hear in the bay area (and where do we store such a big bike?!, we need a garage before we buy it!). Before our daughter we were considering the Kiffy http://www.kiffy.fr/index.php?lang=en_US which has similar tilt-steering and trying to add a bike seat to it (haven’t looked into the details). We were also looking into the taga stroller/bike as well as a more affordable option. Have you tried or know anyone who has tried either of these bikes?

  15. Thanks for the lovely review, Dorie. I also live in SF. I am seriously considering getting the MK1-e but if only these questions that I have are satisfied. 1. Can it fit an adult (my wife) and a toddler comfortably? 2. It says on the Butcher’s website that a infant car seat can be attached. Can it attached to any infant car seat?

    • I suspect the answer to #1 depends very much on the size of the adult, so… maybe? With respect to #2, officially I have no idea. (Have you contacted Vie Bikes? They would know.) Unofficially speaking, there aren’t really rules about putting car seats in trikes, so you could install tie-downs to the bench to clip in pretty much any seat assuming you felt comfortable with that.

      • Hi Chris, We tried with an adult, and one adult can sit in the MK1-E, the toddler can still have a place. But it’s tight. And I don’t think an adult want to sit in the MK1-E. If you google, you can find pictures with people in it.
        As for car seats, the MK1 has a regular ISOFIX mount (removeable) on both sides, so any car seat with an isofix mount can be attached. Otherwise, for other systems, it’s up to you to do some DIY to attach the seats base system. Car seats that uses the safety belt, need to be tied down cleverly, you might make it work with some thinking. However, I would just go for an ISOFIX car seat.

    • Mike

      We have an mk1e and I’ve fit my wife and 2 kids in there (4 and 6 yrs).

  16. You didn’t weigh it ?
    WHAT DOES IT WEIGH.

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