BOAH Bikes: Breathing new life into old Cargo Bikes
In the latest Bafang Blog, we're chatting with Jaime, the brains behind the Cargo Bike conversion brand BOAH Bikes . This incredible project reconditions old cargo bikes into electrified rides, featuring our very own Bafang motors, cutting down on waste and unlocking green mobility for new riders. This is Jaime's story.
Hi Jaime, firstly, could you tell us a little about BOAH Bikes?
BOAH Bikes is a brand guided by passion. Passion for eco-mobility, passion for circularity, passion for sustainability, and passion for cargo bikes specially designed to carry children. It all started in 2017 when I bought my first cargo bike, “bakfiets” as we call them in The Netherlands, to carry my two boys Bo and Noah. That's actually how we came up with the name for the brand: the junction of their names.
At BOAH Bikes we recondition non-electric bakfiets into electric ones using a new mid-motor kit from Bafang, a new battery, a new display, and a full refurbishment of the bakfiets. It's practically a full recycling project as 99% of the parts that are removed from the bakfiets are used for a donor bike company that reconditions other bikes. (Fun fact: “bakfiets” bak+fiets means box+bike.)
That's an incredible concept, what made you want to start the brand?
As expressed above a lot of the work comes from passion. Every bakfiets is one single project with different needs in the refurbishment process. When they're finished, they're all baptized with a name. Usually, a name after a Portuguese beach (I'm Portuguese and a wave surfer).
And how exactly do you convert the bikes into their new electrified form?
The process of converting a non-electric bakfiets into an electric one starts always with a thorough clean and exhaustive assessment of what needs to be refurbished: the wooden box, the quality of the frame regarding paint, and then all the mechanical aspects from wheels to brakes, cables, steering, and tires. You name it!
After that, the bottom bracket, chain, pedals, and brake levers among other parts are stripped from the bike in order to give room for the new Bafang kit. The kit is very complete; it's not just a motor but also all the other parts such as brake levers with brake sensors, chain wheel, pedal levers, and all new cabling. Adding to these parts is everything else that the bike needs to be fully functional with total security. After all, it's to carry what's most precious: our children!
What made you choose Bafang motors for this project?
To be fairly honest there are not many brands out there with mid-motor options to retrofit in the bottom bracket. In my early market analysis, I noticed that Bafang has a great reputation and quality perception. The model itself is reliable with many years in the market. On top of that, I was very impressed since day one when I first got in contact with the Bafang Netherlands office: how approachable everyone is; especially because I'm a small brand with no significant volume! Despite that, the brand gives me full support for everything I need. Bafang engineers have visited my atelier a few times already and have listened to all my needs and suggestions.
…and how many cargo bikes do you think BOAH Bikes has converted up to this point?
I'm reaching almost 300 bakfiets so far. It's a small drop in the pond but with that I've helped many young couples to have a more ecological and sustainable way of getting their children to school, to go shopping, and to get out and about on the weekends. This all takes many cars away from the city center.
300 new eCargos on the road! How have people reacted to their new bikes?
That's the most rewarding part of my job! To see the joy of the parents and their children using the bakfiets. People often share their experiences on our Instagram page. Of course, everything doesn't always go completely smoothly, but the most important thing is that myself and Bafang are always there for the clients. One of my first customers, after many kilometers in her bakfiets, had a need for a repair that was out of the scope of the warranty, but Bafang in collaboration with BOAH Bikes managed to help her. She was so delighted that she surprised me with some flowers. How cool is that!
Do you have any tips for individuals interested in trying out cargo bikes for the first time? Electric or traditional.
I always say to people to try out different options. I can say a lot about cargo bikes and their differences and technicality, but the best way is for people to test-ride them. For example, there's a general perception that two-wheeled bakfiets are more difficult/dangerous to drive than three-wheeled ones, but in my opinion, it's actually the other way around. A two-wheel bakfiets drives like a normal bike and behaves very differently to a three-wheeled one, especially when doing turns The low center of gravity and the great agility of the Bakfiets NL cargo bikes (the cargo bike brand that I'm specialized in) makes them a winner for more than 95% of potential customers that come for a test ride.
And when it comes to electrified cargo bikes, what do you predict for the future?
It's a great future! We're assisting with the specialization of this bicycle segment, creating cargo bikes for specific purposes. Reliability, security, and autonomy are all developing further each day. It will only be a matter of time before all cargo bikes have Fully automated drive systems so the user just needs to pedal and the motor support will adjust automatically to their driving style. Plus, ABS solutions are being developed for extra security. The legal framework and road infrastructure in many cities around the globe accoming modate the bike (re)volution.
And finally, do you have any suggestions for Bafang?
My biggest wish is for Bafang to further develop and update the retrofit mid-motor model (BBS01) with the latest technology. I have a feeling that something will be released very soon and I can't wait to see it and try it!
Thanks Jaime, it was great to talk to you and learn a little more about BOAH Bikes and your eCargo project! We hope you continue to put smiles on the faces of riders throughout Rijswijk and beyond.
Looking for another powerful eCargo solution as versatile as BBS01?
The M410 is the answer, providing 250W of dependable power and 80Nm torque. Pair this mid-motor with Bafang's BT F08.600.C Battery and DP C270/271.CAN Display for a strong, reliable, and fun eCargo build.