Cargo-Bike Test, Part 1: What the hell is a Larry vs Harry Bullitt?
I recently got the chance to try out a high-end cargo-bike, the Bullitt by Danish bike tinkerers Larry vs Harry. Judging by the swiveled heads, dropped jaws, screaming kids and the barrage of questions I was accosted with everywhere I went, this style of bike is a newcomer on the streets of Auckland.
Since the birth of the safety bicycle in the late 19th century people have been working out ways to carry more stuff on them. Bags, boxes and baskets have limited capacity so the engineers got to work literally “stretching” the concept to allow for a decent amount of cargo to be carried. The results were many and varied and a lot of those designs, both two and three wheeled, are still in production today.
In 1929 the Dane, Morten Rasmussen Mortensen, came up with the Long John. Now I don’t know who “John” was but the “Long” part is pretty obvious. He incorporated a low cargo-platform between the front wheel and steering column. By keeping the load low the centre of gravity remains down there too and the bike retains it’s stability. You avoid that top-heavy/flopping-into-corners sensation you get when carrying a case of beer on the rear rack or your girlfriend on the top-tube.
The guys at Larry vs Harry have taken the Long John concept and made it funkier and faster. With an aluminium frame (most are steel) and weighing only 24kg (without accessories), it’s significantly lighter than the competition. The cargo area is no wider than a standard mountainbike handlebar, so even though the Bullitt looks enormous, it is no wider than your bike and can slice through traffic and doorways untroubled.
Here’s the founder of Larry vs Harry, Hans, explaining the development of the bike:
The Bullitt I tested was provided by Convoy Bikes in the UK. The owner David (an expat Kiwi not even working in the bike industry) was so jazzed about the possibilities of these machines he started another business to sell them. Cycle-courier firms were early adopters, they’ll often supplement their fleet of regular bikes with a Bullitt for heavy or bulky items. Other businesses utilise Bullitts for hauling their wares around town in the most efficient manner possible, and they are mobile advertisements as well with a ‘cool’ and dare I say it ‘green’ presence.
The various Bullitt models are differentiated by their paint-schemes and componentry. Only the frame, fork and steering linkages are proprietary, the remainder is comprised of standard bicycle parts. The Bluebird ’71 model I tested sports Shimano Alfine running-gear with an 8-speed internally geared hub and hydraulic disc brakes. The blue & white paint-job was simply stunning, it’s a bike that jumps out at you!
In part 2 I’ll talk about my initial impressions and what the Bullitt was like to ride.