Finding a suitable vehicle to transport parcels from one end of the city to the other is difficult. Finding one that is ecological and efficient is even more difficult. In this blog we will talk you through our experiences in the past and the many pitfalls we encountered.
Needless to say, our cargo bikes and eco vehicles are an important part of Bubble Post’s history and played a crucial role in its brand recognition. When we started 4 years ago, we set out to transform the world of transportation. We searched for an ecological and innovative way of doing transportation and decided to start with something revolutionary in Belgium: a cargo bike. We soon realised of course that buying a cargo bike is nothing like buying a regular bike. As a young and small starting company we had the luxury of testing a lot of bicycles and make various changes to existing models.
“We needed to create the perfect vehicle that met our every need.”
When we started Bubble Post we realised there were no innovative vehicles or bikes available that could handle cargo deliveries. Compare this with the birth of the car industry and its history of R&D. It’s the same with the cargo bicycle market. Every year huge improvements are made and new ideas hit the market. That’s why it's important to think one step ahead and always look for innovations within your industry.
The bike shop
So, we soon realised we couldn’t just walk into a bike shop and buy a cargo bike. We had to improve existing models to fit our needs. After doing some research online we contacted some suppliers and basically asked them to design a whole new product. It created a win-win for us and the suppliers. They help us design a suitable vehicle prototype which we help field-test to become a marketable product.
Facing the cobblestones
When designing our cargo bikes we took a lot of parameters into account. A cargo bike with regular bike components would do just fine in the urbanised United States cities, for example, but not in Europe. A lot of old European cities have cobblestones, high curbs and tramways. In an old European city a 150 kilo cargo bike with regular components would never last a day without falling apart.
Brussels is a good example, that’s why we use it as our ultimate testing ground. The capital’s city centre has a perfect mixture of complex hurdles our vehicles needed to overcome: cobble stones, small streets and most importantly, lots and lots of traffic. Other than durability we looked for bikes that featured maneuverability and versatility. Our cargo bikes should be able to outsmart traffic and access the smallest and roughest streets.
Eventually we tested around seven different bikes. Today we use different types of bikes and don’t all use them for the same purpose or in the same city. We use Urban Arrows in Brussels with smaller parcels and you can spot our cooled Tortugas in Amsterdam where the roads are mostly flat and smooth. Some bicycles work perfectly in cities with a less variable topography whereas they would not fit cities with lot of hills like Brussels or Ghent. So we looked into models that could handle both.
We soon realised that bikes might not be the best or surely not the only tool for all our ecological deliveries. We had to look beyond the classic bike and came upon the Stint- idea.
Stint is an electrical vehicle originally designed to carry children. We actually came up with the idea when we ran into Edwin Renzen’s booth, the Dutch owner, at a fair. We were immediately intrigued and saw a great opportunity for a new innovative Bubble vehicle. When discussing our ideas with Edwin he really understood our specific needs, which made designing the Bubble Stint so much easier. For example, we wanted the Stint to be able to carry 400 kilograms, have a battery that would last 75 kilometers and and have cooling capability. We’ve been using them a couple of months now and we’re still very proud and very happy with the result!
“The Stint: a roman chariot ready to rescue urban areas from pollution.”
Most people see our Stints as a Segway from the future and it has really gained a lot of attention the past few weeks. We often joke around and talk about our Stint as if it’s a roman chariot ready to rescue urban areas from pollution!
We’re always looking for new ways to optimise our vehicles and we always look for new innovative ways of transportation that are durable and ecological. We’re actually in the process of creating another entirely new vehicle. Next time you visit one of our cities, you might come across it sooner than you think, keep your eyes open!