What’s the difference between Bullitt from Copenhagen, Metrofiets Cargo Bikes from Portland, and other popular front-loader cargo bikes?
A Bullitt at Splendid Cycles on average sells for $3400 to $4500 depending on the cargo and kid carrying arrangement. A Metrofiets Cargo Bike on the other hand costs $4500 to $6000. The disparity in price is significant, largely because the Metrofiets is made in Portland and each one is a rolling work of artisanship and somewhat original. Where the Bullitt is a fine bicycle, with fabulous 21st century designing and engineering (a Danish trademark) and production in one of the finest factories in the world in Taiwan, they are still a production bike. Through economies of scale, the price drops significantly with the Bullitt when compared to a Metrofiets.
Among production cargo bikes, the Bullitt leads the pack. Only the Bullitt combines 21st century engineering, advanced aluminum tube shaping, the best Shimano components, and the lightest cargo bike into a package that is an amazing value. Most of the other front loading cargo bikes from Denmark, Holland, and England seem a bit more old-school, clunky and heavy, and have inferior components and braking systems. They are also primarily made for flat terrain. As you know, our needs here are different. Most west coast cities are flat enough to ride cargo bikes, but a little too hilly to pedal around 100+ pound bikes with older less efficient drive trains, and brakes. The Bullitt is the first bike to come along that really is the complete package. It's versatile in how you can set it up (kids, cargo, traditional wood box or advanced kids carrier). It's the lightest bike on the market (stock bike without accessories installed weighs 52 lbs and on average with accessories installed weighs 60 to 65 lbs) It comes stock with hydraulic disc brakes on all models (that means the bikes can lock up the brakes with 2 fingers at 30 mph) and the best Shimano drive trains. So from an all out value, it is really hard to beat the Bullitt, they work really well, and will give decades of lasting performance and reliability.
The Metrofiets cargo bikes on the other hand, have no comparison. I am not aware of any other frame shop focusing on heavy duty front loading cargo bikes and building with the quality and uniqueness that the guys at Metrofiets achieve. Part of it is the diversity and bike building culture here in Portland. With more frame builders per capita than any other city in the world, peer pressure and collaboration combine to raise the quality of everyone’s work. I think another reason Metrofiets cargo bikes are so unique is the owners, Phil and Jamie. They desire to make the best bikes in the world that will last 50 years or more and turn heads everywhere the bikes go. I know of no one who walks into my little studio who is not immediately impressed and dazzled by a Metrofiets when compared to the very impressive Bullitt. Moreover, Phil and Jamie took almost 3 years to prototype their first bikes before they actually sold one to a customer. The bikes are well made, reliable, and without peer in my opinion. As for the ride, the rear 26" wheel/ front 24" wheel arrangement (most combine a rear 26" with a front 20") give the bikes an incredibly good ride. A Metrofiets cargo bike, however, is slightly heavier due to its slightly larger size and the fact that cro-moly steel is slightly heavier than aluminum.
One advantage I can see with the Metrofiets is their larger size, which will make for a more comfortable bike for 2 small children and a couple of bags of groceries. The Bullitt tries to keep things a little more compact so it is lighter and easier to ride. The Metrofiets at 65 to 75 lbs are a still a far cry lighter than the heavier 100+ lb front loaders coming out of Europe. As for components, again I only build them up with the best Shimano components that make the bikes easy to ride and will perform well for years. Because these bikes are custom, I can also build to order if you have specific tastes or needs. As for stock, I have 3 Metrofiets arriving into stock by the end of the July 2010. Not all are spoken for...and only two have paint schemes designated. The other will remain unpainted until I find a customer for it. The benefit of this is we can turn around an order in 2-3 weeks...instead of the normal 2-4 months for one of their full custom bikes.