Where to start? We love this bike!
Our friends at Babboe have given us the new Slim Mountain cargo bike to test drive and, bluntly, it is excellent. From the comfortable seats (for rider and passengers) to the powerful Yamaha mid-drive motor (for the gentle undulations of North London) to the Enviolo stepless shifting system (you don’t have to think about gear changes), this is a beautifully engineered family cargo bike and one that has become increasingly woven into our day-to-day lives.
Babboe Cargo Bikes
Table of Contents
Before I go any further, however, here’s what you need to know about Babboe. The Dutch company evolved from a group of eco-friendly parents who were looking for a well-made, well-priced cargo bike to use for the school run. When they couldn’t find any family cargo bikes on the market, they decided to create their own bakfiets (“freight bicycle”). The first Babboe bike on the market was the Babboe Big, which launched in 2007. Since then, Babboe have produced a wide range of cargo bikes such as the two-wheel City model, the pet-friendly Dog-E and the Curve, that even has room for a baby seat. Their collection also includes seven electric models which are powered by Yamaha mid-drive motors. Their most recent offering is the Babboe Slim Mountain, which we have been road-testing in London.
Discolosure: We have been given the Babboe Slim Mountain for the purpose of this review. All opinions are, as always, entirely my own. This post may contain affiliate and commercial links. If you make a purchase or booking after clicking on the link then globetotting receives a small commission; if you don’t then we don’t! These are not pay-per-click links. For more information see our disclosure policy.
The Babboe Slim Mountain
The Babboe Slim Mountain is a two-wheeler electric cargo bike designed to be extra manoeuvrable. We have had ours for nearly three months now and it plays an increasingly prominent part in our everyday lives from short trips to the shops through to the daily school run for our two youngest children. My husband argues that it is significantly quicker doing the school run on the Babboe versus the car. Add the environmental benefits and the calories burned (noting that the motor does make the hills significantly easier!), and this is a superb addition to our transport options.
And that is without mentioning the comments it prompts! Admittedly there are not many bikes that are as long as a car in our neighbourhood but as you gently cruise along the streets with three of you on the bike, it certainly turns a head or two. The highlight for my husband was on a recent school run. As he was about to pull up at the kids’ school, he passed a group of male sixth formers from the neighbouring college and one was heard to utter: “That is hot, man”, to which his friend said “yeah man, hot!”. My husband is pretty sure that the compliment was directed at the bike rather than him!
The Babboe Slim Mountain Specifics
Perhaps the most surprising element has been the bike’s handling. Considering it’s size (a shade over 2.5 metres or 8 foot for those preferring imperial measurements) and weight (around 200kilos or 440lbs when bike and passengers are added up), it handles beautifully. Admittedly, it takes a little time to get used to its turning circle and dimensions but once you have the feel for it, it is a dream. I’m also a fan of the double kickstand, which means that you can park it up quickly and easily.
So, what is the battery life for the motor like? Fitted with a mid-mounted Yamaha motor, Babboe says that it can carry an adult and two children over distances of up to 37 miles between four-hour charges. In real life, we’ve found that the Slim Mountain will comfortably do the school run for a week (approx. 30 miles, based on two return trips per day, Monday through Friday) on one full charge. And if it needs a top up, you simply remove the battery and give it a quick charge for a couple of hours. There are several settings that will also extend the battery life (and increase your workout) if you want to take on longer rides too.
And safety? The steel frame is sturdy and secure, while the kids each have a seatbelt to keep them locked in. The size and weight of the bike also adds an assuring solidity to the Babboe. The absence of cycle lanes in north London is an issue but hardly the responsibility of Babboe. My husband cycles to work every day and carefully plans his route to identify quieter and less congested routes; we apply the same logic to the school run route and other trips on the Babboe.
Are there any downsides?
At £3,550, the Babboe Slim Mountain is a sizeable investment but a comparison with the cost of running the Babboe versus a car, makes for a compelling financial argument and you can recover the cost relatively quickly if you are a regular car user or own several vehicles. A financing scheme to help stagger the cost would be great, whether via Babboe, a financial partner or the UK government (indeed, the government funded Own Art initiative “that makes buying contemporary art affordable by providing interest-free loans for the purchase of original work” would be a great model to follow to boost (cargo) bike ownership).
You will need somewhere safe to store the bike, which for a bike this size could be a challenge but there are multiple secure storage and locking options on the market. We bought a Kryptonite Anchor Bike Lock for our driveway and that works really well. If you don’t have a garage then you will need to leave the Babboe outside; currently there are no covers available from Babboe for the Slim Mountain but we found several low cost options relatively quickly online to shelter the bike from the elements; we bought this Vk Tandem Waterproof Bicycle Cover.
Currently Babboe don’t produce a rain cover (or “rain tent”) for the Slim Mountain and they are not planning on making one either, which means that we don’t use the bike when it’s raining hard (drizzle we can handle!). Ponchos, however, are available.
And, finally, the Babboe requires a certain level of bike confidence if you are going to use it on the open road (as with most bikes, to be honest). Some practice runs at the local park to get a feel for the bike and a couple of dry runs of your key routes, such as the school run, on a Sunday would be a good idea to get you ready for the main event.
We love our Babboe bike!
But to repeat my opening comment, we love this family cargo bike. It has added a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to many daily routines, and we look forward to using it through the seasons. After all, it’s hot, man!