Beautiful Bicycles: Kangaroo Family Bike

Allow me to introduce you to the Kangaroo, the most sophisticated cargo bike I’ve met. The Kangaroo is a Danish bike, designed specifically – and wonderfully – to carry children. Although I was initially skeptical of a bike made of such modern materials and with such a narrow purpose, after my test ride the Kangaroo now ranks near the top of my bike list.

the Kangaroo

The frame is aluminum 6061, the cargo area is impact-resistent and UV-stabalized polyethylene, and the cover is nylon. Good old-fashioned wood and steel is more appealing to me initially, but these materials go together to create a unique and utilitarian set-up that would not be possible without them. The cover, when fully set up, is wind, water and snow proof, although there is an additional tarp for heavy downpours and outside storage.  The convertible cover is impressively simple to operate, going from fully-enclosed to open-air in about ten seconds.

ready for action

There is only one frame size, but everything is adjustable to allow more than one member of a family to hop on and drive. In addition to the seat, the handlebar system is highly adjustable, able to go up, down, forward, backward and all around. The position of the bars in these photos is a little further from me than I would have them set up for long-term use. There are also several hand positions for comfort, kinda like cargo bike drop bars. The steering responsiveness is also fully adjustable, so the driver can set it how she or he feels most comfortable.

riding

The amazing part of this bike is the cargo area, designed to hold kids with many different set-ups.  The seats look super comfortable and a harness holds the kiddies in.  Here is the main set-up with two seats facing the front.

two seats

The seats are held on with these rails and quick-release levers.  Adjusting the seats take a little more time than adjusting the cover, but no more than a couple of minutes.  The seats can slide back and forth to adjust for necessary leg room or cargo.

seat rails

The seats can be turned around so one or both face the back.

facing backward

One seat can be removed to carry only one child in the center and keep a good balance of weight.

one seat

And the seats can lay totally flat for some nap time.

seat laying down

When turning, the front moves separately from the back and the back leans to the side slightly. The turning radius is amazing for a big trike like this.  I was going around and around in tight circles and weaving in and out of parked cars.  The bike always felt completely stable.  My least-favorite part of riding the De Fietsfabriek trike was feeling a bit topsy turvy over every grade change and pothole, even if it was mostly in my head.  With this bike I deliberately went over a lot of uneven pavement (there’s plenty to choose from in Chicago) and never had that feeling.

turning

tight turning radius

The front has hydraulic disc brakes for serious stopping power, although I cannot say how they feel stopping from high speeds, carrying a heavy load or while going downhill.

hydraulic disc brakes

The rear has a coaster brake, which by itself was suitable for my stopping purposes during the test ride. There is a seven speed internal hub – more than enough for Chicago. Again, I cannot say how this bike would feel up hill. I imagine it would be a hard slog, as it would with any cargo bike.

coaster brake, chain guard, 7-speed internal hub

Need even more carrying capacity? There’s a sturdy rack on the back. For keeping your clothes clean, there are fenders and a chain guard. LED lights in the front and rear are built-in. I prefer dynamo lights that automatically work without batteries when I pedal, but at least LED batteries last a long time.

rack, fenders, LED lights

There is a short-term parking brake on the handlebars. For long-term parking, the front kickstand is sturdy. The number you see on the front is also on the frame and serves as a theft deterrent or at least a way maybe to get the bike back if a thief tries to sell it.

ID number for theft, front kickstand

Overall, I’m highly impressed by this bike. The design is ingenious for kid-carrying, the ride is smooth and the handling is superb. The limitations of my short test ride without kids in the front means I cannot give complete information about using the bike, but I know that when the time comes for me to buy a family bike, I will be going back to test ride the Kangaroo again.

better than a Subaru

For more info, check out this Danish article via Copenhaganize that test rode several family bikes and ranked the Kangaroo as the best, giving it a 5 out of 5 rating. The article also calls it the Volvo of bikes and says it has a suburban look to it. Certainly, the Kangaroo is not sexy like the wood and steel Bakfiets, but that would be the least of my concerns while toting a kid around the city.

The company has another version, the Wallaroo, that is shaped like a two-wheeled bakfiets, but has a similar child compartment on the front. I’d be interested to try that version, as well.

As far as I know, the Kangaroo is carried by only one store in the USA and, lucky me, it’s in Chicago. The store is J.C. Lind Bikes.

{As always, we at LGRAB receive nothing for our reviews except the joy of spreading beautiful bike love.}

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40 thoughts on “Beautiful Bicycles: Kangaroo Family Bike

  1. maureen says:

    Wow…that is genius! Adorable and functional! You look like you had a lot of fun!

  2. Eric says:

    But how much does this thing cost? I’m guessing 3-5k. I don’t see how one could justify spending that much money on a bike when you can spend $500 on a fantastic Chariot trailer that provides essentially the same functionality. I do think that the feature of being able to turn the seats around is really cool so that you can look at and talk to your kids, but it’s a pretty steep price you’re paying for that.

    • Dottie says:

      Yes, the price is around $4,000, which includes everything shown. You make a good point and I could see my husband making the same argument when the time comes. I think it just depends on the individual. Personally, I am not at all interested in using a trailer and am quite committed to the idea of one day owning a bakfiets. The fact that my household is carfree makes me comfortable with the cost. How one chooses to spend one’s money is a personal decision that not everyone has to agree with.

      As an aside, I forgot to say that an optional accessory is a baby seat for infants.

    • neighbourtease says:

      Trailers are not a very good option for those of us who live in big cities — you don’t have as much control of where your baby or toddler is, when turning the children are not visible enough, nor can you have much interaction with them. They are also down at the level of car and truck exhaust, dirt and other nasty city things. These bicycles are also more nimble than trailers and much more stable. They feel far more safe to me.

      I suppose I understand that this seems like a lot of money — but it isn’t when you consider the degree to which this would replace a car and that a stroller for more than one child is impossible to maneuver onto a subway or bus and they are not cheap, either. And they are slow. A metrocard in NYC is going to be 100 dollars next year and is now 90. One year and you have a nice bike. A couple and you have this thing.

      Of course, this would be a costs/benefits thing. But I wanted to point out another view . . .

      Design-wise, I’d rather have a Workcycles bakfiets. They are awesome.

    • Herzog says:

      Do you regularly pull a trailer with children through the city? I personally find the idea terrifying, but I would be interested in hearing someone’s actual experience.

      • neighbourtease says:

        I have seen only one person doing it since I started paying attention to babies on bicycles — a thing I did not pay attention to at all before having my son :). It looked absolutely bone-chilling to me. I have a rear bobike seat for my son, who is almost 2, but if/when we have another child, I will either do one baby seat on front and one on back or a bakfiets, depending on where we are living at the time and where the bike would go.

        Some friends left their trailer at our place on Martha’s Vineyard so I did try one out there in that cycling paradise, but I didn’t like it. My son didn’t seem to enjoy it much, either, but loves to be where he can see.

      • Kelly says:

        I have biked with our daughter in Chicago since she turned a year old; she rides in a Chariot Cougar trailer. It’s frightening at first, but you quickly learn the ins and outs and the fear leaves. Avoid congested streets – take side streets as much as possible. Make sure that your bike and trailer are properly lit. Have helmets that properly fit. Use signals, know the rules of the road, and bike safely but aggressively.

    • Trailers are a bummer.

      The great thing about this expensive bike is it will encourage imitators who will sell them for much less. The high end bikes of today will be the moderately priced bikes of tomorrow.

  3. dukiebiddle says:

    $4G is definitely in the ‘if you need to ask you can’t afford it’ category of cargo bikes; which is totally fine in my mind. After all, Mercedes S-Class sedans make wonderful family cars. Just because a Subaru Outback is a more economical car doesn’t mean that every family has to pick a Subaru over a Mercedes.

    • Herzog says:

      I’m quite familiar with the justifications for $3k+ bikes, but whatever their merits, I don’t think they will ever sell on a large scale. A $900 Yuba on the other hand…

      • dukiebiddle says:

        Yes. :) The Yuba Mundo was in the back of my mind too when I was thinking of an economical option for hauling cr*tch fruit. ;)

  4. Dweendaddy says:

    That looks very cool, a welcome addition to the family bike options here. Have they set a price on these?

    • Tinker says:

      @Dweendaddy, not to mention that by putting the kids in front of the operator instead of in a trailer you create a crush zone that protects YOU when a car insists on making a turn across your path. You don’t get that benefit from a $500 trailer.

      And a Bakfiets with a plywood box, that weighs a about a hundred pounds, has to be safer for kids in a collision than some contrivance of aluminum and nylon.

      It’s pretty, though and seems to be light, but whats practical in Holland or Copenhagen may not be as practical here in the Home of the (very) Brave and the Land of the Free.

  5. Dweendaddy says:

    Now I see the price! After owning a trailer and a box bike, you really cannot compare the feel of having your kids in front of you. There are no data on this, and rear end accidents are not that common, but having your kids in front of you feels so much more secure. Plus, if they are fighting or whining you can keep an eye on them better.

  6. Scott says:

    That’s really cool, Dottie! I think one day I may be riding around Chicago on one of these. Is there a headlight?

  7. Miss Sarah says:

    Okay, really jealous. That is definitely a more elegant set up than I have with the mountain bike and trailer at the moment.

  8. I love the bike as well as your way of reviewing them! One rectification: De Fietsfabriek is not bankrupt. They have a new owner and are more alive than ever before (see my website for all our current models; if you can arrange cheap transport, you can get them for around 1500 Euro)!

  9. I love it! I totally would want something like that when the time comes. Except, I think I would need to have electric assist. I can barely get myself up the steep hills around here. Hauling 50-100 or so extra pounds just wouldn’t be physically possible for me.

    I really like having the kids up front. A trailer would scare me too much, not being able to see the kids and being a afraid that a car would hit us from behind (though I know those are not the most common type of collision)

  10. Elaine says:

    Wow!!!! I want it!!

  11. Julian says:

    Nice review Dottie! I’ve been wanting to try one of these since that Danish review came out. The Zigo Leader (US company, Asia-built, I believe) is a similar design with some convertible functionality that I’m less compelled by, but at a lower price point, with correspondingly less “evolved” spec and design. I wasn’t loving the trike feel (counter-intuitive leans, etc) compared to bakfiets on my admittedly brief test ride, but would want to spend more time on one before making up my mind. I’d be curious to see how you thought it compared, if you can find a local test ride (I believe the Kozy shops carry them).

    • rokut says:

      We’re having a second child and looking for trike/bikefiets options. Currently, I have a front Bobike… we LOVE that. But this bike is amazing.

      As another more inexpensive option, has anyone seen/tried the Taga (tagabikes.com)? Seems like a very versatile option, since it folds into a stroller, and can carry two kids! I’m just not so sure about taking it on the street… any impressions would be great.

  12. erin says:

    Those turning pictures are amazing. What a clever bike!

  13. Wow, that trike is so totally a car! The handlebars shaped like a steering wheel are pretty neat, too.

    I think that a kid-specific trike/bike could be pretty useful for a family with several children close together in age – which seems to be popular in “family planning” nowadays. Unlike a regular cargo bike, this design has the kids’ comfort in mind first and foremost, which must make for a nice traveling environment for them.

  14. Cherilyn says:

    Having transported multiple children by bike, I have to say that this is da bomb. I’ve never seen another bike/transport system with as much flexibility in the seating as this one. That plus the handling you describe would make it hard to beat. Must have been fun to ride!

  15. Amy says:

    Very cool! Almost makes me want to have kids. Might be more fun to have one and borrow some friends kids. :)

  16. We found that most of the time we need to use a car is only to take our dogs somewhere around Chicago, so as absurd as it sounds, we are actually looking into a cargo bike for our dogs. I wonder if this option is a bit smaller and better for storing.

  17. nicolas says:

    Huh. The frame of that Wallaroo bakfiets looks very much like a Larry vs. Harry. I was kinda thinking I’d love a LvH bike when I have kids (because it looks like a a “pony bakfiets”, which would suit my daddy riding style), and this looks even better because the kid capsule seems to be pretty well engineered. Gotta research this.

  18. adam says:

    Very nicely equipped and engineered. However, trikes are always a wee bit too wide for my taste. I transport my one year old on a larry v harry and plan to do with both when my second child is old enough. Where I live, most bike lanes are far to narrow for this beast.

  19. bongobike says:

    Excellent! What an amazing design. They’ve thought of everything.

  20. Rebecca says:

    WOW. All I have to say. $4K is not in the budget right now, but as a car-free family, it’s not completely ridiculous either.

    We live in Atlanta, have one toddler, and have been car-free for 8 months now (not long but we’ve almost made it through one Atlanta summer – that’s big :-)

    We have a trailer and use it to carry our kid to and from daycare mostly, using back roads, and occasionally to the park, pool or train station. I was a bit terrified at first, and insisted my husband ride everywhere behind us, with me pulling the trailer because I thought only I could do it right! But over time I’ve realized pulling a trailer means very wide berths from passing cars, and that committing to staying off heavy-trafficked streets is hard but worth it.

    Hopefully one day our major streets will go on road diets and be safer for biking with kids, but until then it’s helped me get to know the neighborhoods and neighbors better.

    I do love the kid in front design on the Kangaroo. Maybe if/when we have another one we’ll invest.

  21. Frits B says:

    Did you see this series of posts by a Scottish owner:

    http://stonehead.wordpress.com/kangaroo-bike/

    (Jon Lind already knows :-)).

  22. [...] okay back there). Just wear a helmet, please, unlike the model in this picture! I love this review of it, too—lots of great [...]

  23. Jesper Kodahl says:

    Wow Dottie! Cool review. And you ( if that is you) look way cooler using the bike than the official model of the bike’s official homepage!
    Let me elaborate: I just bought the bike yesterday for my girlfriend as a birthday present. (we also have a wonderful little daughter, age one point two.)
    I’m from Denmark and have always loved the design of the bike, minus a few “provincial” add-ons by Winther. So I guess I will have to pimp it a little to get it to where I think it looks awesome. Personally I think it looks way cooler than it’s original heritage “The Christiania Bike” from which both this and the dutch one has inherited it’s design cues. I’m glad we’re finally moving away from heavy wood panels and steel frames. They are NOT necessarily more safe.
    But having said this I took a look at Winther’s own homepage for the bike: http://www.kangaroobike.com and boy does that stink!
    Your review in it’s simplicity and with the pictures you have taken, have already made a more convincing case than the official site. Their site is so pathetic that you would think that they don’t really want to sell the bike.
    No pictures of different parts of the bike and the few pics there are, are so lowres and old that it’s and embarrasment. It’s almost like there’s a cultural gap between the people who make the bike and those who buy them. As if Winther knows they sell and then they keep producing them, but they don’t really know why.
    That’s a bit sad because if they could sell the bike on a larger scale maybe the prices would drop a bit. However as some has commented they would go with a cheaper alternative. Well… you get what you pay for. Sometimes even less… But never more! Quality has a price and the parts on this bike are premium.
    Denmark is “bike central”. More bikes here than citizens (at least that’s how it feels) so I have tried every conceivable trike on the market and to me there has not been a bike with better handling than this one.
    Now I just dream of getting a Larry vs Harry bike next summer cos there’s a cool cargo bike! I just can’t seem to find any justification for it just having bought the roo. someone please help me out here?

  24. Jesper Kodahl says:

    Oh and BTW, cars in Denmark are so ridiculously expensive that the price on the bike is a steal! a 40K car in Denmark would set you back 120K!!

  25. [...] to take out the Winther Wallaroo, a super-fancy Danish cargo bike, especially after reading the Let’s Go Ride A Bike review of its three-wheeled counterpart, the Kangaroo. I was a little intimidated by its adjustable seats [...]

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