Cargo bikes – the new cool

Image above: Chris Ghaddar at Fudge’s, Chiswick High Rd

Interview with Chris Ghaddar of Fudge’s Cycles

“When we first stocked them five or six years ago people laughed at us” says Chris Ghaddar, who runs Fudge’s Cycles on Chiswick High Rd.

“Why have you got that box from IKEA on the back?” they asked. Well they are laughing no more. Cargo bikes now account for 15% Fudge’s business, as Chiswick parents are deciding to step away from their car and transport their kids and associated clutter by bike instead.

“Cargo bikes are selling to non-cyclists, people making a green decision to step away from their cars, or at least a second car”.

They buy them rather than two wheeled bikes for the stability, he explained. The most popular brand, Babboe, is a three-wheeler; they are also mostly electric. They take up almost as much road space as a small car and you can boost the degree of support from the battery (Eco-sport / Power / Turbo) to get you out of trouble.

“Chiswick is all about families” says Chris, “moving people around and all the kids round here seem to have to take golf clubs and pianos with them.”

Babboes bikes have little seats for kids which are collapsible to make more room if you are transporting stuff rather than people. Other brands of cargo bike are available as two-wheelers for the more confident cyclist. They cost between £3,000 and £5,000. The battery is removable; it just plugs into the mains.

Image above: A Babboe cargo bike on sale at Fudge’s, Chiswick High Rd

Fudge’s position themselves as sellers of bikes primarily for transport, rather than sport or leisure.

“The bike industry is so huge now you could fill the entire high road with bike shops with different specialisms” he says. You can get a top of the range sport or leisure bike from Fudge’s but their bread an butter is bikes for transport and repairs – from as little as £5 to £1,000 accounts for 50% their business.

The market in electric bikes is growing fast but “acoustic” bikes are still far far the biggest sellers. Unfamiliar with the term, I raise an enquiring eyebrow.

“You hear that everywhere now”, he laughs, “acoustic, as opposed to electric.”

If I wanted one, I’d want to ride it not play it, but no matter, daft as it may be, that is the current terminology.

“More older women are cycling now”, he tells me (I sense a sales pitch). “There is definitely a new shift to people cycling, exchanging their cars for bikes to go to the shops.”

Image above: City bikes at Fudge’s 

They do a roaring trade in what I would call ‘sit up and beg’ bikes – more correctly termed ‘city’ bikes – push bikes with a stand, a basket and mudguards that are comfortable for the 15 minute city journey to get you to the shops.

Fudge’s are part of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering 10% off all their stock to holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ruth Mayorcas raises money for The Bike Project, giving bikes to refugees

See also: Katherine Dunne takes over Transport in LB Hounslow’s new Cabinet

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