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Dogs on bikes


On the 11th of July 2017 Amanda Coker set a new record, completing 100,000 miles, (161,000 kilometres) by bicycle in 423 days. Coincidentally it’s taken us about the same length of time to finally settle on and purchase a couple of electric bikes, but like Amanda it was worth it in the end.

Many factors needed to be taken into consideration not least of which was would we actually use them? Whatever we purchased needed to fit on, or in our self-built campervan which is not as easy as it might seem. Since we’d decided on electric pedal assist, that immediately increases the weight which in turn reduces the options for an external carrier unless you’re prepared to pay large, which is an anathema to a serial skinflint. Most are typically limited to 35Kg unless you want to add a towbar mount or bolt something to the chassis, which we didn’t.


Now for the biggest hurdle (or speed hump); whatever combination we went for had to also carry or tow our Whippet Tiggy, who as you may have gathered can be a bit of a princess. At the time, pre-health scare she weighed about 11Kg, so this raised the interesting prospect of opting for a single electric cargo bike and trying to get all of us on without hanging off it like the White Helmets motorbike display team of the 1970s and 80s.

We spent an un-godly amount of time trying to find something which could mount on the back of the van, not raise the ire of a local law enforcement across multiple countries and didn’t break the bank. We gave up, two bikes it would have to be so what to buy? Well, something folding and based on 20” wheels made the most sense as this keeps the weight and stowage space down to reasonable levels. If you have or are planning to get a big white coach-built box with a garage in the back, then you can ignore this bit.

After prevaricating between unknown Chinese brands and more proven recognisable ones a compromise was reached. First bike off the rack so to speak was a second-hand purchase of a Decathlon B TWIN folding 6 speed electric bike. Now, I don’t know why someone thought listing it with a closing time which coincided with the Queens Christmas Day speech was a good idea but I’m grateful they did, kerrching; £350 well spent.


So, we now had a “test platform” to work out how best to convey Tiggy. I came close to several eBay punts on trailers, a must for heavier pooches, but in this case I’m glad I didn’t. As mentioned previously space in the van is always at a premium so storing another bit of kit becomes problematic and you’ve also got to think about locking the whole ensemble up when you get somewhere. Another couple of eBay flutters later and a Basil Pasja basket (boom, boom) and a rear rack appeared. Some modifications were made to ensure the rack fitted securely but once done the basket attached easily. A single loop strap with a clip to secure to Tiggy were added along with some comfy vet bed then it was time for a try out.


So, we now had a “test platform” to work out how best to convey Tiggy. I came close to several eBay punts on trailers, a must for heavier pooches, but in this case I’m glad I didn’t. As mentioned previously space in the van is always at a premium so storing another bit of kit becomes problematic and you’ve also got to think about locking the whole ensemble up when you get somewhere. Another couple of eBay flutters later and a Basil Pasja basket (boom, boom) and a rear rack appeared. Some modifications were made to ensure the rack fitted securely but once done the basket attached easily. A single loop strap with a clip to secure to Tiggy were added along with some comfy vet bed then it was time for a try out.


Now, we can’t promise it’ll been the same for you, but Tiggy took to this like a dog to a basket, so much so that when she hears bikes being prepped, she’s there at our feet waiting for the off.


And yes, it’s now bikes, plural. Another one, barely used popped up on Facebook Marketplace, still with warranty costing us £450.


The overall impression of the B TWIN is excellent. Remember this is a budget electric bike, so it won’t have all the smarts or battery range that more money will (or should) get you but it’s well made and crucially light enough at 18.6 Kg for two (with the batteries removed for those of you doing the math) to fall under that magic weight restriction on the van carrying rack. Buying two bikes of the same specification seems a bit boring but all the parts are interchangeable, and Decathlon seem pretty good about carrying spares and ranging bike models for years rather than months unlike others. They’ve transformed the way we use our time. When parked up we can travel further afield before starting our walks or zip through the heat of the day with a cooling breeze. The stated range is 35Km (21 miles) so no good for Amanda but plenty enough for bobbing about although, weight, hills and power mode will all impact this. The 6 speed Shimano set up is adequate for us, although Tiggy’s chauffer can occasionally be seen hunched over the bars when the going gets really steep.

If it’s a while since you’ve ridden anything with wheels this small go careful and avoid the rough stuff, your canine companion will thank you too. Don’t try to carry too heavier dog in a basket, it already messes with the centre of gravity as kids on the back do too. While it’s tempting to go for even smaller wheels to save space et al, I really wouldn’t unless you know you’ll only ever be peddling for short distances along tarmac smoother than George Clooney’s driveway.

I permanently fixed our bike carrier (also a bargain off FBM for £120) to the drivers side rear door of the van. This avoids having to deadlift the thing to chest height, is more stable and doesn’t obscure the rear window. We did need to get a second magnetic numberplate made as the standard fit one on a Peugeot Boxer (X250: Relay, Ducato) is otherwise partially obscured, see earlier point regarding the law. Due to the bikes width we need to carry one bike externally, locked to a bolted through mount lon the door (The second bike folds up in the boot, still leaving us with plenty of space for the vanlife paraphernalia. Make sure whatever carrier you choose will enable both bikes to sit comfortably next to one another, especially if one of them has the basket fitted (The Basil basket is easy enough to remove if you want to).

Useful links below. All these items were purchased by us, sometimes late at night under the influence of wine, please do your research and have great adventures and yes, we did buy helmets too although still looking for one that will fit Tiggy. https://www.basil.com/en/bicycle-baskets/bike-baskets-for-dogs/ https://www.decathlon.co.uk/p/20-inch-electric-folding-bike-btwin-500e/_/R-p-145622?mc=8554706


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