Looking for a minivan alternative? The Bunch Bike should be on your short list of family cargo bike options.
This three-wheeled “trike” (it’s not actually a bicycle at all), is a bakfiets-style cargo machine. “Bakfiets” is Dutch for “box bike”, which is exactly what the Bunch bike offers: a large wooden box that can hold both kids and cargo.
Unlike some cargo bikes, the Bunch bike has been designed specifically for use by parents and kids. Inside the box, there are 2 wooden benches that can fit up to 4 kids (with seatbelts).
The fact that it’s a trike also makes it SUPER stable. You don’t have to worry about tipping over with precious cargo in tow. (This has been my favorite part of the Bunch).
Read on for help deciding if the Bunch is the right choice for your family…..
Review In A Nutshell
- Ability to haul LOTS of kids and/or gear
- Trike design is incredibly stable
- Hydraulic disc brakes provides plenty of stopping power
- Fits riders of all heights…can swap between adults
- Ride is “bumpy” for the passenger(s)
Price: $4,295 (electric version)
Front Bucket Can Hold Up To Four Kids…And All Your Family’s Gear
Squeeze ’em on in! The front bucket can hold up to four kids, and has seatbelts for all.
In reality, I think it would be pretty crowded with four kids (we’ve only put two in), BUT kids are adaptable and don’t mind squeezing too much. If you don’t have it filled to maximum human capacity, there is plenty of room for a child or two PLUS a dog, groceries, library books, and more.
I spent the better part of the fall using the Bunch bike for soccer mom duty. I’ve loved being able to haul the kiddo, soccer ball, camp chair and blanket, water bottle, and snacks to practices and games without ever getting in the car.
Unlike the Madsen bike (which had the rear wheel run thru the center of the bucket), the Bunch bike has the entire bucket available for cargo. This means you can make quite the haul.
While the Bunch is clearly designed to be a kiddo-carrying machine, there’s no reason you can’t use the Bunch sans kiddo to carry cargo as well. We’ve used the Bunch for picking up groceries and running other errands even when we’ve been out solo.
We also appreciated that the benches have (plentiful) storage underneath. This means that even when the bucket is full of kiddos, there is still space for gear under their seats. We’ve fit takeout dinner, library books, and more in the seats. I also like that I can put my purse in there and it’s out of sight while we play at the playground.
If you don’t have kids in the bike, you can remove the benches and seatbelts for additional cargo carrying space as well.
Rear Rack Can Be Used For Additional Cargo
If there’s not enough space in the bucket, you still have the rear rack! We managed to put the Burley Dash bike seat on the rear rack, and you could also use it for a milk crate or panniers. It can hold up to 66 pounds.
Riding A Trike Feels Different Than Riding A Bike….But Has It’s Benefits
As a die hard “bicyclist,” I never would have picked a trike on my own. But I’ve ended up LOVING it.
If you are accustomed to riding a bicycle, it does take some getting used to riding a trike. It probably took me 3 days of riding before I felt comfortable, so don’t panic if you don’t like it right away.
With the Bunch, the whole front half of the bike (box mounted on two wheels) turns, and the back half is independent. This feels very weird at first.
Aside from turning, riding on off-camber surfaces can also take some getting used to. If you live in a neighborhood with roads that aren’t flat you’ll feel this more severely.
We live in an older neighborhood with narrow streets that bow quite significantly. I’m always tilted quite a bit to the right (downhill side) of the road, and at first this really bothered me. Now I’ve grown quite accustomed to it, realized that I’m not going to actually tip over (even if I feel like it), and its barely noticeable anymore.
What I have loved about the trike is how stable and comfortable I feel riding with my son. While I’ve always ridden with him in a bike seat or on a two-wheeled cargo bike, there’s always a little part of me that is worried about tipping over. (And yes, I have actually tipped over with him on a bicycle and we’ve been fine).
On the Bunch trike, I don’t worry at all about tipping. I also love how easy it is to stop (you can balance without putting a foot down), and to get going again. This stop and go stuff is what has made me nervous when riding other two-wheeled cargo bike in the past.
The one caveat to all of this is that for a heavier rider (driver) it is possible to tip the bike if it’s unloaded. My husband is 250 pounds and riding around without the trike, he can tip it (easily) up onto two wheels. He also complains that he can feel flex in the frame, so the Bunch might not be best choice for heavier riders.
Get The Electric Assist
In my opinion, the electric assist is pretty much mandatory for this bike. It’s HEAVY all on its own, and loaded up with cargo, this isn’t the kind of bike that you’re going to be able to power up a hill sans motor.
I am a pretty fit cyclist and there were times that I came to a stop and then tried to start again, without the e-asist, and it just wasn’t going to happen. I suppose if you are riding the bike a mile to school and back on an entirely flat road, you might get away without it, but if you are riding any further or on any sort of an incline, you’re going to want to buy the e-assist version.
Hub-Drive Motor Is Low Maintenance And Provides Plenty Of Range
The Bunch bike (e-assist version) has a 500w hub-drive motor. This was actually my first time riding a bike with a hub-drive motor and it performed a bit differently than I’m accustomed to. Compared to other e-bikes I’d ridden, it felt a little punchy at times (vacillating between “on” and “off”).
Aside from getting used to it, this really wasn’t a big deal. I had plenty of torque (45 Nm) on all but the steepest hills. (I happen to live at the top of one that took quite a bit of human power to get to the top of).
The big draw to a hub-drive motor as opposed to a mid-drive motor is that it’s lower maintenance. Unless you want to be at the bike shop a bunch, this is a big attraction.
There are 5 different power levels, and most of the time I left it in 2 or 3. I wasn’t able to go quite as fast on this bike as other e-bikes I’ve ridden; I seemed to cruise around 15mph most of the time. This was probably a function of the weight of the bike AND the fact that I didn’t want to hit any bumps going too fast for fear of jarring my passengers.
The bike has plenty of range for every day commuting. I was able to run errands around town several days in a row before I needed to bother plugging the bike in. The official range is 35 miles.
The battery level is displayed both on the battery (on the rear rack), and on the digital display. Supposedly the battery display is more accurate, but I found that the two usually mirrored each other pretty precisely.
The digital display shows your battery level, speed, and power level. It also indicates if your lights are on, and includes a USB charging port in case you need to power up your phone while you ride.
The final thing worth mentioning on the e-assist is the throttle-lever. This thumb lever allows you to get a bit of power without pedaling, and is handy when you’re having trouble getting going after a complete stop OR when walking the bike over a curb.
Built In Lights Are Handy For Riding At Dusk….But Not Quite Bright Enough For Riding In The Dark
As it’s gotten darker this fall, I’ve appreciated the built in lights on the Bunch bike and have used them quite a few times trying to rush home before dark. There is both a front headlight and rear taillight.
While the lights provide a fair bit of visibility (the most important thing), the headlight wasn’t quite bright enough for me riding around in the true dark. If you live in a more urban area with lots of lights, you might be okay, but in my neighborhood, I need to add a Niterider light on the bars as well.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes Offer Plenty Of Stopping Power
The Bunch offers powerful Tektro hydraulic disc brakes (one rear, two front) that do a good job of stopping. We live at the top of a fairly steep hill, and I felt comfortable riding down it even when fully loaded with gear.
Hydraulic disc brakes do a superior job of stopping with heavy loads when compared to mechanical disc brakes, and they preform better in wet weather. This was important to us, as we want to be able to ride a cargo bike year round rather than having to drive.
While hydraulic disc brakes generally require more maintenance than mechanical disc brakes, Bunch points out that this isn’t true on a bike with two front wheels:
One unique challenge with cargo bikes, is that the front two brakes must be perfectly balanced at all times in order to be safe to ride. With mechanical brakes, this means you’d have to find the time for frequent service and inconvenient tune-ups. Hydraulic brakes overcome this, by requiring much less on-going maintenance. So you can spend less time in the shop, and more time out riding with the fam!
I do have to mention that the brakes are quite squeaky (even after being worn in). While this didn’t effect the function of the brakes, it was a little obnoxious.
Bumps Can Be Uncomfortable
The biggest complaint we’ve had with the Bunch bike is that it can provide a pretty jarring ride at times. To go over speed bumps, for instance, I have to come to a near complete stop.
When I end up going to fast over a pothole in the road or other uneven surface, it causes my son to bounce pretty severely in the bucket. He’s pointed out this is a lot worse than in other cargo bikes we’ve tested.
I’m not sure what the design solution is to this. Perhaps some sort of suspension system for the bucket, similar to higher-end bike trailers?
The other thing that makes the bike less than plush are the wooden benches. I actually rode as the passenger in the bike, and did find the benches a little too hard, especially on longer rides. Bunch sells cushions, but I’ve heard mixed things on how well they work. I may eventually try to make some myself.
Fits Riders Of All Heights
One nice thing about the Bunch bike is that it can be used by multiple adults of different heights. I am 5’5″, my husband is 5’11” and my sister-in-law is 5″ and we all three have ridden and are comfortable on the bike.
Hard To Change A Flat
There are not quick-release skewers on the wheels, and if you get a flat, it’s going to be challenging to fix. Additionally, the rear hub has the motor built in (on the electric version at least), which further complicates the prospect of removing the rear wheel.
The bike does have Schwable Big Apple tires that do a good job of being flat-resistant, but sooner of later you will get a flat. For this reason, we’re planning on converting the wheels to tubeless.
Cover For All Weather Rides Allows You To Ride Year Round
It’s getting pretty wet, rainy, and snowy in Idaho right now, so we’ve put the cover on the Bunch bike. With the cover on, and a blanket inside, the kiddo stays warm and cozy.
Compared to a long-tail cargo bike for instance, this additional protection from the elements make the Bunch an attractive option for parents who want to use the bike year-round as a car alternative.
Arrives Fully Assembled
We’ve received alot of bikes over the years, but we’ve never received one that required zero assembly–until now! The Bunch is delivered directly to your door on a pallet and is totally assembled.
Wheel Lock For Quick And Easy Protection
The Bunch Bike includes a super-handy wheel lock. Simply secure the built-in lock thru the rear wheel with it’s key and walk away. This is nice because it meant I could “lock up” the bike anywhere I could find an open parking spot, and I didn’t have to spend time searching for a bike rack. (Not to mention it wouldn’t be that easy to lock to a bike rack).
Other Things Worth Mentioning
- “Running board” helps kids climb in. There is a (textured) metal step on either side of the box that help skids climb in on their own. Even my 3 year old nephew was able to get in (and out) of the box.
- The box is made of marine-grade plywood. This means it is water and weather resistant while being beautiful. After a couple months of use, we’ve scratched ours up a (tiny) bit, but it appears it will be durable for the long run.
- The Shimano Acera 8-speed drivetrain provided plenty of range. I never felt over or under geared. You only have to worry about a rear derraileur (there’s no front derailleur) which keeps things simple and requires less maintenance.
- Front and rear fenders keep water from spraying up. I’ve ridden the bike in wet conditions several times and stayed relatively dry.
Battery 48v 13.6Ah Li-ion – 653 Wh, Samsung 35E Cells
Battery Charger UL Certified, 48v 2A Smart Charger
Brakes – Front Tektro Auriga E-Twin HD-E525
Brakes – Rear Tektro Auriga E-Tune HD-E530
Brake Rotors Tektro 160mm front and rear
Cargo Box Marine Plywood with 2 locking storage benches
Cassette Shimano CS-HG41 – 8-speed, 11-34T
Chain KMC Z7
Crankset 38T, 170mm DAPU crankset with torque sensor
Derailleur 8-Speed Shimano Acera
Fenders Included, black steel front and rear, full coverage
Frame Steel – Black CNC painted, ED rust-proof internal coating
Grips Comfort EVA foam grips
Handlebars Alloy, Height adjustable by 8.5″
Lights Front – Spanninga Axendo 60 – 60 Lux dual LED light, Rear – Spanninga Lineo – integrated in battery case
Motor 500W brushless, DAPU M155 Geared Hub Motor, 45 Nm of torque
Pedals Wellgo K79 with reflectors
Rims Samson, double wall, alloy, (36H front | 36H rear)
Saddle Selle Royal – Freeway City
Seat Belts Four 3-point seat belts included
Seatpost Promax, 28.6mm x 350mm
Seatpost Clamp Promax 319Q, quick release
Shifter Shimano Acera SL-M310 – 8-speed
Spokes 12-gauge stainless steel
Steering Damper Single gas-spring damper
Rear Rack Included, 66-pound load limit, integrated battery rack
Tires Schwalbe Big Apple HS 430, Performance Line, Level 4 Raceguard with Balloonbike air suspension, Front – 20″ x 2.15″ | Rear – 24″ x 2.00″
Throttle Wuxing 108XL side-pull thumb throttle
Bunch Bike Vs Other Options
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bunch bike is great for families, but is it the best choice for YOUR family?
Compared to a long-tail cargo bike, the Bunch provides the ability to carry more kids AND more cargo. It’s ideal if you want to haul a bunch of stuff, and want to replace your car for a majority of trips with your kids.
Compared to a two-wheeled bakfiets (like the Riese & Muller Packster), the Bunch Bike is a little harder to maneuver and make tight turns, but it does provide extra stability and feels less tippy. This makes it a good choice for parents who are nervous about balancing with kids on board.
The closest competitor to the Bunch Bike is probably the Christiana Model Light cargo bike. The bikes are incredibly similar, but the Bunch is arguably better for families. It has four 3-point seatbelts, rather than the 1 lapbelt on the Christiana.
Is There Anybody That Shouldn’t Buy The Bunch?!
Yes. This isn’t the bike you want if you’re looking for a long-distance commuter (the bike is too slow and doesn’t have enough range). Nor is it the bike you want if you want to ride off-road on rail trails, OR if you are looking primarily to carry cargo.
The Bunch is best suited to families with children, who are biking shorter distances, and sticking to pavement.
Bottom-Line: A Great Box Bike For Families
Soccer moms (and dads): this is the bike you want. It can carry your kids, your dog, and all your stuff. With the Bunch you don’t have to pack light, and you don’t have to drive either.
Aside from the functionality, the Bunch bike is fun (both to drive and ride in), looks great, and will attract lots of attention wherever you go. We highly recommend the bike for families looking for a pedal powered neighborhood commuter.
Even More Information On Cargo Bikes For Families
Want more family cargo bike options? Check out our guide.