Posted on 19 March 2018
Bullitt was started by Larry (Lars Malmborg) and Harry (Hans Fogh) and the company isn't actually called Bullitt, but rather Larry versus Harry - because apparently they don't agree on everything. When they do agree the result is a scorchingly fast cargo bike with handling that makes a car feel boring.
Entering into the Bullitt world feels a little unorthodox, and it is. Harry and Larry know that the cargo bike rider is - despite all the mainstreaming of city biking - an outlier, a free-thinker, and they embrace this with a balance of tongue-in-cheek humour and a level of engineering the bike industry has never seen.
BULLITTS AND LONG JOHNS
Evolving the Danish cargo bike
Hans Fogh (aka Harry), the frontman. (Larry prefers to stay in the background)
Few people know that the two-wheeled cargo bike (aka, a "long john") was first invented in Denmark and was originally used for lightweight, speedy deliveries, usually by courier companies. Few people know this because in 1999 Andreas Van Andel - a Dutchman - took the Danish two-wheeled cargo bike and modified it for carrying kids. He lengthened the wheelbase to displace weight over a greater surface-area which increased stability, changed the steering angles to tone-down the high-performance agility, and put the rider into an upright position. This has become the most well-known style of cargo bike today. Meanwhile, brands like Nihola in Denmark took the Dutch three-wheeled bike and made it more kid-friendly by adding independent steering and a lighter, Lexan plastic box. This whole Dutch-Danish back-and-forth had one common aim: to create really great cargo bikes for carrying kids.
That wasn't exactly the aim of Larry and Harry. Hans (Harry) ran a building contract company downtown Copenhagen and used an old Danish long john everyday. Larry was a designer for Winther, a large Danish cargo bike company who made a lot of three-wheeled bikes, again, mostly for kids. When they argued they agreed that a cargo bike was a hell of a lot faster than driving a car, but Hans pointed out that his vintage long-john was still a hell of a lot faster than a three-wheeled cargo bike. But, no one was making long-johns anymore unless they were Dutch cargo bikes made for carrying kids. And so, the Danish long john was resurrected... and Bullitt began.
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING...? UM... YOU GET THE POINT.
Made for speedy deliveries or just amazing handling
Cargo ready, velodrome ready, child-ready
Ok, it's not for everyone and both Larry and Harry know it. They also don't care. There's a niche for a cargo bike with a forward back position (for power), steep frame angles for cornering, a short wheelbase that rips through corners, high-performance shifting, and powerful disc brakes that can stop the bike like a speeding (um) bullet. Got a business? This is your bike. Need to deliver stuff fast through dense urban gridlock? Nothing is faster. Need a commuter bike with trunk space? Check. Need to bring your kid from A to B? It can do that to, but like any high-end road-racing bike or mountain-bike the Bullitt is all about high performance handling. The cargo is only safe once you've mastered the learning curve. Of course, for anyone buying a Bullitt, the learning curve is half the fun (the other half is riding).
Bullitt's are custom bikes, except for the e-assist bikes which we'll get to later. You start with your favourite frame colour and then move to the parts. The parts are sold as complete kits, so while it seems like you're buying a drivetrain kit, the drivetrain kits all come with powerful four-piston Magura hydraulic disc brakes... yeah, the kind you'd stopping a downhill mountain bike at full throttle. The gear systems are many and vary between internally geared options, derailleur options, and of course, a one speed option for you minimalists. We tend to keep our part kits on the practical side, offering the Shimano Nexus 7, the Alfine 8, the Alfine 8 with the Gates belt drive (no chain!) and the Deore 20 speed and XT 22 speed derailleur systems. We recommend the internal systems if you're carrying kids or want super low maintenance and derailleurs if you want wide-range speed and climbing capability for all loads.
PEDAL-ASSIST FOR THE MASSES
Because we all want more...
From DHL to the European Sperm Bank; bikes that get down to business
If you need an e-assist, Bullitt provides you two options. Both are Shimano STePs 'mid-drive' motors that are located at the pedals so the bike is eminently serviceable and can permit use of internal or derailleur systems. We recommend the standard STeP's bike if you're carrying kids and need an extra boost for hills and longer distances. The power isn't explosive but its practical. This bike will give you roughly 90km per range in a single charge, up to 32km/hr speed and a four hour charge time on the battery. Not surprisingly, this bike is internally geared.
The other option is the new Shimano STePS E8000 Bullitt which uses a lighter and more powerful motor with significantly more juice in the battery. This bike is all about torque delivery. If you're using the bike for cargo delivery and time is money, the only way you can be fast in the city is to have high acceleration, since you're always starting and stopping. This is especially true when you're on a cargo bike full of heavy stuff. The E8000 has a massive 70nm of torque to the 50nm found on the standard STePS Bullitt. And, the battery is twice as big, 500W compared to 250W - so you can go further, faster. Not surprisingly this bike comes with derailleurs, this bike is all about speed, weight, and power.
ADULT TRANSPORTATION FOR KIDS
Everyone should be having fun
The most fun you and your kids could have
From there it comes down to the cargo options and this really defines use. If you're putting anything from Bullitt onto the chassis like the kid carrying options, and side-panels these all require the honeycomb base-board that forms the foundation you build other options on. Like the side-panels, the honeycomb board is made of super impact-resistant and very lightweight aluminum lattice to keep the bikes overall weight down and performance high. If you're carrying kids you're going to need the foldable seat, and from there you're going to need to protect the kids with some impact resistance, whether thats' the BBX side panels (also made of the same impact resistant aluminum lattice as the honeycomb board) or the canopy with the built in aluminum roll bar. Keep in mind that the canopy won't work with the BBX side panels so it's one or the other (both are easy to remove if you want to switch from side panel in the summer to canopy in the winter).
Cargo options are many and varied, this is the bike - after all - that DHL uses for deliveries in Holland. There are various metal boxes that fit onto the chassis (these do not require the honeycomb board) from the Aluminum Box to the Convoy box with its open/close lid.
Because one day cargo bikes will rule the road
They even come in amazing boxes.
So, why Bullitt? Because you want a bad-ass cargo bike that sits your hips over the cranks for power, your body over the bar for steering, uses a frame geometry that privileges speed, cornering and acceleration and parts that move away from all the drum brakes and whatnot found on traditional cargo bikes for lightweight, high-performance braking and shifting. Like we said, it's not for everyone, but for those who own one, there's nothing better.