06 November 2008

Bikes We Like - Haley Trikes

Haley Trikes

The joy of cargo bikes is blossoming in North America by all accounts. I wrote a piece about Danish cargo bike culture, and the many brands available, in a post for the Los Angeles Times a while back. You'll often see cargo bikes here or over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

One of our readers, Dave, sent me a link to a cargo trike company out of Philadelphia called Haley Trikes and it is wonderful to see some home-grown trikes in production in North America. I did warn Dave that if I found a page on the website featuring strange 'how to dress for riding your cargo bike' suggestions, I would promptly hunt him down and ding my bell angrily in his general direction.

Fortunately, the Haley Trikes site has all the right moves. In no-nonsense terms it highlights the practicality of cargo trikes in the urban environment and does so with ease and boyish enthusiasm. Quite refreshing, after all we've been discussing lately here on the blog.

If you showed a photo of the Haley Trike to anyone in Northern Europe they'd just shrug and say, "that's a Christiania Bike" - a Danish brand that has become synonomous with this style of cargo trike. So there are no design milestones passed with the Haley, but it doesn't really matter. The trikes look cool and practical, especially with the host of colours and customizability available.

Here's a groovy little video of the Haley Trike in action on the streets.

The website shows many different ways of using the trike and all the things you can transport with it. I suppose it's important to spell it out for their target group. Although it's funny to think that only a few generations ago these kinds of bikes were muscling about the streets of Philadelphia and other cities, so it's not exactly THAT 'new-fangled'.

I love these tidbits of text that I found round and about on the website:

"Riding on icy streets is great fun on a Haley when it would be impossible on a bicycle." [Shockhorror! Did they use the word FUN... about a BICYCLE!? :-)]

"No special tools are required to do any work on a Haley Tricycle." [Ah... ease of use... dont' scare people off with techbabble.]

"A three speed wheel makes acceleration and climbing big hills easier, and standing on pedals rare, but doesn't necessarily make for a faster ride." [I should get Haley to sponsor a Slow Bicycle Movement ride!]

"The smiles and comments from everyone else won't stop, though, and until cargo trikes once again become common in the US, you'll have to get used to living in a real-life TV commercial. It's fun most of the time, but sometimes you just want to move a table saw across town, and not have a conversation about it." [So many of you have told me about how people stop and stare when you ride in a suit or in heels... must be the same kind of experience on a cargo bike.]

The cargo trike seems to be a splendid addition to streets in North America and the UK. It's stabile and secure, cars give it a wider berth - maybe the novelty factor is in play here, but that's fine - and it is a traffic-beater.

The trike is a staple here in Copenhagen and Denmark. If you want two-wheeled cargo goodness and fancy a bit of speed, there is always the groovy Larry vs. Harry. For classy two-wheeled elegance, there's the Velorbis Long John. But the cargo trike is the workhorse of the streets and there must be a good reason that it is the preferred style of cargo bike for so many.

One thing I find curious about the Haley Trikes is that they don't show any children being transported. I know, I know, it's not as widespread an idea in America, but still, I'm wondering why they don't even present it as a option.

Anybody seen a Haley up close?


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen one in person, but I've been a fan of theirs for a while. What you missed on their website is the link to the Green Hummer Project ( http://www.greenhummerproject.org/ ), which is listed under Special Projects. The Green Hummer is no more, but the Ride Log makes amusing reading, and it was quite an educational saga for all concerned. Val

JT said...

Great vehicles.

If I saw something like that riding around my city (Alicante, Spain), I'd fall off my bike in astonishment ;)

It's not that they're unknown here... it's that they don't exist at all!

Keep on biking!

Adrienne Johnson said...

They probably do not put children in it because it would be expensive to do the safety testing required to make it legal for use as a child transport.

Zakkaliciousness said...

the Madsen cargo bike i posted about a few days ago has a film about transporting kids.

and the european brands in the states highlight this kid angle, too. so just wondering why Haley doesn't.

jenn levo said...

yes!!! I've seen one up close!
I used to work with Stephen, the builder, back in school in Savannah. He was always tweaking his design and carrying loads of things around town with ease. They ride quite smoothly and are easy to operate. While some might complain that the wood box is too "boxy", it keeps cost down, it's strong and durable and you can customize it however you wish. As far as the kid aspect goes, I think it may be a safety issue. As in, you can go ahead and put whatever precious cargo in there you want, but it lacks any type of secure fasting system other than a lockable lid (and I don't think you want to secure your kids that way. Maybe sometimes yes... but ideally, no.) As well, if one advertises it carrying kids and you roll the trike or something, and the kids get hurt, it could put the builder at risk of law suits. We do live in America, it happens a lot.

The Jolly Crank said...

Well, I am in the process of ordering a customized one specifically to put my kid in it (the whole stroller actually). There's no reason one has to have a Haley with a lid after all.
I agree that we in the U.S. live in a litigious culture that goes to court too readily. Maybe that fear of being sued is a reason a company feels it can't promote a good idea. But it seems strange to me that bicycle seats for kids are readily promoted here (as they should be) whereas an inherently stable transport option like a trike might be considered unsafe.

Adrienne Johnson said...

I bet the European companies that are sending them have done the required legal stuff to advertise them as child transport, especially as those companies are established solidly with funds for that kind of thing. I used to make custom baby carriers until it got to a point that I would have to start making it all legal and prove they were safe and fire retardant.....I let it go at that point because it was just too much work.

Zakkaliciousness said...

Here in Denmark you get a cargo bike in order to transport the kids - all the other stuff you can do is a bonus.

The Madsen just show kids sitting in the box and hopping happily out.

0tt0 said...

I like the classic, unostentatious design of the Haley trike. Nice one. Looks nicer than the "space ship" designs you find on some modern trikes. However, on a workbike I´d always prefer drum brakes over rim brakes.

frederik said...

i think its actually just a little bit more elegant than the Christiania trike(trike, a new word for me). They look very light.

The Jolly Crank said...

Just a hypothesis here about the development of the cargo trike used as child transportation:
I remember when bicycle trailers first became common for specific bicycle users. They were for cargo and used by long distance tourists and bicycle campers (both of which I used to do). A little while later we start seeing in North America well made trailers specifically designed for child transport. Now, it's as Zakkaliciousness says about cargo trikes in Denmark, cargo trailers here are mainly purchased by the public to haul kids, everything else is a bonus. Well, if the cargo trike in Northern Europe had a similar development (primarily cargo to primarily children) maybe the cargo trike for children disappeared because the cargo-antecedent disappeared.

The Jolly Crank said...

correction: I meant maybe the cargo trike for children never had chance to develop here because the cargo antecedent disappeared.

The Jolly Crank said...

I think Jenn and Adrienne were correct about the liability issues. Stephen (the trike builder) told me that Haleys were not designed for transporting children and that he could do no customizations for seats or passengers. Fine. If I do any after-purchase modifications on my own Haley, its my responsibility (which it should be in the first place). Gosh our "See-you-in-court" culture sucks sometimes.

Andy B from Jersey said...

I love Philly!! It is a wonderful city to ride a bike. Almost better in many ways than Portland because Philly's narrow streets, alleys and short blocks are naturally advantageous to cycling even without any special bike facilities (which there are plenty).

Unfortunately I've never seen a Haley Trike in action. I'm surprised I've never seen one considering my favorite Philly shop has a Bakfiets Cargobike (2 wheeler) in the shop to make deliveries.

Mark in Santa Barbara said...

I'm surprised we don't see more cargo trailers around. Compared to the price of a purpose-built workbike, trailers are cheap and versatile.

I like the dedicated workbike concept - in fact, I absolutely lust for a Velorbis Longjohn - but practically speaking, trailers have a lot going for them.

Veena Senra said...

Thank you for your lively post about the reemergence of cargo bikes in the United States. I would love to see Haley Tricycles in my city of Los Angeles, but there are several issues to address before this can actualize. First, Los Angeles streets are not suitable for such a large bicycle. Car culture dominates Los Angeles and motorists become furious with agile cyclists, their fury at slow tricycles is unimaginable. Furthermore, Copenhagen has the 6th highest standard of living in the world. This is a dramatic difference from area where I live in South Los Angeles. Indeed, people here are so poor that muggings and bike theft are normalized daily occurrences. Los Angeles lacks the safety and security vital for widespread bike usage. For these reasons, implementing a bike culture here is destined to fail unless Los Angeles also addresses problems of socioeconomic inequity. Poverty has no easy solution, so conceiving of a widespread bike culture in Los Angeles anytime soon proves difficult. In response to your question about why American tricycles do not provide the option of child transportation, it is likely because Haley Tricycles (as am I) is unsure of the legal liabilities. Further difficulty ensues because in the United States these sorts of laws tend to vary from state to state. However, if Haley Tricycles is legally allowed to manufacture such a bike, they surely would. After all, they do offer custom bicycles. Ultimately, reforming bicycle culture in Los Angeles and the United States at large will require more than one man making amazing tricycles out of his garage, but it is a start for now. In the meantime, I would like to pose some questions about the nature of cycling in Copenhagen: How did Copenhagen become so bike friendly? Is it because the city is old and its dense population for centuries was therefore more conducive to bike culture? Or because the city chose to enact cycle-friendly transit policies even as cars became more popular? Were cars ever more popular in Copenhagen than they are currently?

Here's the link to my blog post: http://veenasenra.blogspot.com/2008/11/bikes-in-los-angeles.html

Sarah said...

I've seen a Haley Trike up close. The flower shop next to my office has one that they use for flower deliveries. I've only ever seen it parked out front, but it's always in a different spot, so I know it's getting a lot of use. Photo here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150410813220150&set=a.10150410813215150.627597.10150119210915150&type=1&theater