Seeking test rides — Zigo Leader, Madsen, Nihola, Sun Atlas Cargo

We’re considering adding a bike to our fleet (more details on why will follow, presumably when we figure out what we’ll get, if anything), but alas, Cambridge is not Portland, and rustling up test rides of family and cargo bikes is quite a challenge. If you live in the Cambridge/Boston area and have a Madsen, Zigo Leader, Nihola trike or a Sun Atlas Cargo bike that you’d be willing to let us test ride, could you please contact us at

Opinions from folks who are more far flung who have actually ridden any of these bikes (particularly if they have ridden them in winter weather conditions, with multiple children, or are very short) are also welcome!

(And for the record, anyone considering an Xtracycle set up should always feel free to contact us for a test ride)

About Nathan

Nathan lives in North Cambridge, MA with his wife and two kids, and prefers never to be in cars if he can avoid it. Nathan thinks parenting is way more fun when you don't have to worry about car seats.
This entry was posted in Biking with kids, Cambridge and Boston area, Links and reviews, Problems and issues. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Seeking test rides — Zigo Leader, Madsen, Nihola, Sun Atlas Cargo

  1. casey says:

    We definitely need an xtracycle test ride! Not quite yet but eventually. We are suddenly considering a school for Roozle that is 4 miles away and 1 mile from a commuter train that goes straight to our office. If we drove, it would double our commute (and make us sad) but if we took her on the xtra it might work (though would require leaving the xtra at the train station for the day). Still trying to figure it out. She would be 6 at the time, so maybe a trailabike is an option too. Though not in the winter. Hmmm.

    • Dorea says:

      Now that we have a 5 y.o. who pedals enthusiastically, I do think a pedaling option for kids 4 or 5 and up is really great. It really does help to have the extra power back there and if I’m heading out alone with H, and don’t need to carry more than what fits in panniers, I prefer our trailer bike (a burley piccolo). Another fancier option is a kid-specific tandem, or a standard tandem w/ a kidback, but this only if your kid can really keep pedaling whenever the captain is (we do know a real live 6 y.o. who can do this). All of these would have the same stability issues in winter as an Xtracycle though. My view may be heavily colored by my individual kid, who is quite persistent in her desire and willingness to pedal, and I know that’s not universal (though we know plenty of 4-5-6 year olds who ride trailer bikes happily, with varying degrees of actual pedaling). That said, being able to carry stuff and kids at once in a fairly compact form is awesome, and it’s hard to beat a long bike for that.

  2. Yes, it’s crazy that we don’t have a dealer in Cambridge. Let me know your needs regarding a carrier bike, and we can try to figure how to find you a test ride.

  3. lia says:

    Just this morning I spotted a Bakfiets parked in Winchester center with a carseat attached inside the cargo bay. The owner let me do a test ride and it was fantastic! Are you considering a Bakfiets?

    I too am in the market for a cargo bike for carrying a toddler. If you find any offers for test rides, could you let me know too?

    • Dorea says:

      At this point, we aren’t considering a bakfiets (the reasons are a little complicated. Honestly, the whole motivation for shopping again is a little complicated, but we will tell all once we have a better handle on what approach seems like the right one…)

  4. Vanessa says:

    Hey. It’s not mentioned, but my sorte is for sale and you can test ride it in sept when I get back. I’d give you a good price if you like it. I’ve ridden with four kids and am 5 feet…..


  5. Dorea says:

    My hunch is that the sorte will be impossible for us storage wise and a challenge weight wise, but we may still take you up on the test ride if it hasn’t found a new home come Sept!

    • mamavee says:

      FYI- Sorte is still around. I am here but not so much on weekends ( the 25th could work though).

      And I have another bike you might want to ride as well…. ( although I am curious by a Madsen would/nihola would be easier to store?)

  6. Bluefish says:

    I would love to let you borrow my Nihola, but I’m in California, so that isn’t any help.

    But I love love love my Nihola. People are just nice to me when I ride it. It was designed to hold a case of beer and two kids. I don’t have kids, so I figure I can carry three cases of beer… Okay, I haven’t done that, but I have carried my husband, he has carried me (and once my 6’2″ cousin). I’ve also completely filled the cargo area with books to take to the Friends of the Library booksale, and also six cubic feet of potting soil. It holds 220 pounds, and fully loaded it is still fairly easy to peddle around town.

    I’ve driven it in the rain, even heavy rain. The cover over the cargo area has kept everything nice and dry. It doesn’t snow here, so I can’t report on that. But in one especially blinding rain, I realized how happy I was to be on a trike and not have stability issues a problem as I was having to go super slow because I just couldn’t see where I was going.

    I’ve had a toddler in it once. She got a little worried she couldn’t see her mom, so then we stuck her mom in with her, and then everyone was happy. I’m 5’7″, but the mom is about 5’2″ and we adjusted the seat for her and she seemed fine with it.

    I think of the Nihola as my truck. It isn’t the lightest or speediest peddled vehicle on the road, but I am so in love with it. If you have any specific questions about it, let me know.

  7. hannamay says:

    I do really enjoyed reading all your blog post here, specially riding..I do love joy riding…

  8. Cecily says:

    Hi Angela and Dorea, we saw a Nihola parked near the Cambridge Common playground Sunday evening. Left a paper note on the bike to have them contact you if they can help out with a test ride. Hopefully they’ll come through!

  9. Heather says:

    We have a Madsen and also plan to sell it in the next 6-18 months. You are welcome to give it a spin but we are in the metrowest off public transit. I think the closest commuter line is in Acton, about 12 miles from us. If that could still work for you let me know.

  10. BJ swingle says:

    Hi, I am an avid cyclist. I own a zigo. I bought a few months ago.. I live in NJ but I have family in Boston. If you are interested, I would sell my gently used Zigo to you and I will deliver.

  11. Ash L says:

    I have a Madsen and use it year round in Chicago. Of all the cargo bikes I’ve ridden (Bakfiets, Defietsfabriek, Bullitt, Babboe, Xtracycle) it handles the most like a regular bike. The frame is very stiff and there’s no wiggle when loaded or empty. I’ve ridden it for one full winter with close to zero maintenance aside from greasing the chain a couple of times. I’ll make it through this winter too before needing to replace the chain and check the status of the rear derailleur.
    We’re at a precipice now of whether to rebuild the back wheel with a Nexus 8 internal hub but see none of the money we might put in on resale or sell the Madsen as is and get a Joe Bike or Onderwater tandem that’s already internally hubbed. Julian at Totcycle is a good resource for Madsens and my little blog and my kidical mass page have more details and photos of people all of Chicago on them.
    Good luck on your hunt!

  12. Pingback: Family Bike Shopping Part I: Why another bike? — Carfree with Kids

  13. melissa says:

    We are new to cycling as a family and live in the south shore. We are interested in cargo/family bikes. Not sure if anyone is still on here and considering selling a used long tail or cargo style bike. So many options out there. Thanks in advance. Oh and this blog has been super helpful!

  14. Angela says:

    Hi Melissa — Sorry it took me a little while to get around to approving this comment. You might find someone that can help on the family/cargo bike list that Nathan started:

    Most people I think are a little closer in that you are, but you might have some luck! I also know a woman that found a bakfiets on craigslist — she had to go to New Hampshire to get it but the used price was worth it!

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