We love odd requests at Porterlight. Being a London based cargo bike manufacturer, it means we can adapt our production to build the most bespoke of bicycles, and when the need calls for it… some pretty impressive other bits too!
We were approached by Camden’s cycle training scheme to produce a new high-capacity commercial bicycle trailer to move their stock of children’s (and adult!) training bicycles to their free bicycle riding safety classes they run around the borough. They already had a simpler model running around the streets, but this time they wanted something that could carry more, that was easier to load up, and much much safer through the addition of double disc brakes on the trailer.
After a bit of head scratching to work out how to operate both the e-bicycle’s rear disc brake, and the double brakes on the trailer all off one brake lever on the handlebars, we got it figured out. We built a system that not only keeps the normal brake on the towing bike they use, but also can be quickly connected or dismounted from the trailer, and operate both of brakes on the trailer when they need it.
Carrying 30-40 bicycles, this bicycle trailer is a real bicycle hauling bicycle hauler. With a bed measuring 320cm by 80cm, it can still make it around the tight corners and narrow streets of the city, but can get you, the kitchen sink, the kitchen sink’s sink, and any additional sinks you have, there too.
We love when we get enquiries about whether we can build certain types of cargo bikes, because sometimes to people’s surprise, the answer is normally always yes! Being a bespoke manufacturer of London cargo bicycles means we can get down into the deep custom world of bicycle making, and turn out pretty much exactly what a company looking for a new marketing bike might need.
Getting a brief from Deliveroo Berlin recently, we manufactured a pair of company bicycles to promote the brand in the city, and distribute samples and freebies.
Building in our lovely pop-up table, the bikes can easily be ridden to any point in town before putting down the kickstand and unfolding the large table surface.
Custom branded up with weatherproof vinyls, we can match corporate colour schemes and branding to a T.
Here was a weird day. Standing in an underground lockup in the middle of London looking over a fleet of the Porterlight Deliveroo cargo bikes, I get a phone call from a stranger, with a very strange offer to make. Explaining they were calling from the Work and Pensions office, the caller described how they’d enjoyed having employment minister Damien Hinds come and open our new North London bicycle workshop last month, and wondered if I’d like to take part in another bit of PR.
‘Of course!’ I replied enthusiastically, never one to shy away from a bit of free publicity. OK great, they replied, well we’re looking to have a young entrepreneur take part in an event we’re holding where they could talk about the journey of setting up a new company in the UK, and their journey to get there.
All sounding good so far, I verbally nodded-along down the phone. Thinking about telling my usual story of cycling my prototype cargo bike to Kazakhstan back in 2014.
‘The only difficult bit might just be that the event is our Conservative National Party Conference..’
‘Oh!’ I replied
But placing my love of free publicity above any party-political concerns, and keen to spread the knowledge of how cargo bikes and cycle logistics can change our urban delivery markets, I said I would, and found myself on a train to Birmingham a couple of weeks later.
Taking to the stage later in the day for my allotted 5 minutes of Porterlight promotional story, I explained how I’d built Porterlight from the corner of my living room in 2014 into London’s leading cargo bike builder, employing staff, and exporting globally.
Broadcast live on BBC Politics, I got to wield dramatic arm gestures, and make serious faces to (not really) the whole country.
In July we were really pleased to welcome the Minister for Employment Damien Hinds along to open our new workshops, and show the minister how Porterlight Bicycles’ UK built cargo bikes could transform London’s urban logistics.
Ever since Porterlight’s founder Lawrence Brand started working on the prototype Bringley cargo bike at a bench in the corner of his living room back in 2014, the company has remained based in a small triangle around Seven Sisters, North London. An area close enough to central London to fly down and show off our latest bikes to potential buyers, but also unfashionable enough for a fledgling manufacturing company to find its feet.
Discussing our recent work building cargo bike fleets for Deliveroo, Hinds was interested to learn how a young British company was growing and scaling in order to meet a growing demand for international sales and exports.
Porterlight Bicycles’ needed to move to a larger production workshop in order to meet demand, and implement efficient new production methods for our cargo bicycles. In an amazing feat of destiny, a new workshop space became available only 50 meters from our then current unit, so we jumped at the chance to expand our production just round the corner. Making custom cargo bikes in London is no mean manufacturing feat. With the price of commercial space in the city soaring, we’ve been building the company with an eye to the most modern and efficient production techniques available to keep our hand made cargo bikes competitive on performance, price, and personalisation!
Waving goodbye to this fleet of delivery cargo bikes for London’s Deliveroo team at the moment. They’re off to bring fresh and interesting lunches to the office workers of the city, so keep your eyes peeled for their massive carrying capacity flying past you soon!
Cargo bikes are a great way to get started in a new business. Having an eye catching branded bicycle to serve as your transport, market stall table, delivery van, and mobile advertising billboard is a super efficient route to getting your new enterprise.
Throw in the fact you don’t need to pay for road tax, insurance, petrol, parking fines, congestion charges, or MOTs, and not only are cargo bikes a great way to kick start a new business, but also a affordable scalable option as your company grows.
Here’s five businesses you can easily start with the help of a branded Porterlight cargo bike.
1 – A commercial cargo bike for courier and delivery work
A great problem facing our towns and cities is the increasing volume of delivery journeys each day. From internet purchases, to on-demand curries, solving the logistics of moving these items on-time and efficiently is a key factor in future-proofing a city in terms of its environment, continued development, and reputation.
In the UK cargo bikes are supremely suited to these last mile logistics; the work of getting those physical goods that final stage across town, and into a customer’s hands. Unlike the traditional model of Postman Pat driving around in a van, a cargo bike can take more efficient routes, stop and park wherever they need to, all whilst dodging the traffic jams, meaning that a cargo bike can outperform traditional delivery vehicles, whilst carrying much more cargo than other options such as regular bicycles.
Grabbing potential customers’ attention is especially important in super competitive markets such as food and drink. With hundreds of start-ups and small businesses producing unique artisan offerings, these companies need to work not only to differentiate themselves but also get a competitive advantage on the raw-juice-company-next-door.
A UK cargo bike helps give food and drink start-ups the boost they need in a couple of ways. Firstly the custom design and branding of a Porterlight bike can instantly create a super visible brand identity. Whether the bike’s being used to haul snack bars to deliver across town, or is getting wheeled inside a corporate HQ for a sampling session, having this fun mobile billboard for your company roaming the streets is a slice of free advertising that you can continue to both have and eat.
Secondly the huge carrying capacity, and nice big flat top on a bike also can turn them into a mobile roadshow, allowing you to pitch up at markets, events, festivals, and street corners, and get trading quickly and easily. For a fraction of the cost of an equivalent van or car, a cargo bike can get your food or drink company on the road fast, and keep those all important overheads low.
Pop-up retail is a great opportunity for new businesses, but the high cost of renting a space without knowing whether it will work for you commercially is a big risk, especially in London. An alternative option created by owning a cargo bike, is that you can create your pop-up shop wherever you need it.
Functioning as both your transport to your pitch in the morning, and an eye-catching way to catch passers-by’s attention, a branded up Porterlight bike can allow a flower business to… well… bloom. There are no overheads to worry about, and you don’t need to pay for and run a separate works van either, just hop on your cargo bike each day and get around town.
The super mobile nature of a cargo bike also means you can take up new opportunities such as residencies in office buildings, or offering flower stall services at indoor events and shows. Being able to turn up to a corporate building and offer a great wellbeing service of free flowers from a beautiful cargo bike is a great way to build your brand, and your business.
Perhaps few products in our lives are more evocative of a happy childhood afternoon spent in a sunny park than an ice-cream. But the days of gaudy ice-cream vans traulling the streets are somewhat done. Instead, an ice cream cargo bike with a battery or propane powered freezer can offer an ultramobile, go-anywhere platform from which to sell ice-cream, making it a very viable affordable alternative.
Unrestricted by roads, ice-cream bicycles can take their goods direct to the customers at outdoor events, festivals, street markets, and even indoor corporate events. Custom branded for you, an eye-catching Porterlight bike can work double duty as a great advertisement for your lollies, and as your transport home once your freezer is empty!
With the weighty issue of environmental sustainability pressing companies and individuals to find new ways to minimize their waste footprints, a cargo bike (or two) offers an excellent way in which to help others become more green.
A high capacity bike allows for the collection of recyclable goods, or perhaps items being donated for charity or upcycling, in a way that is itself environmentally friendly. To use large diesel trucks and lorries to collect these goods only answers half the question of how we can make our current practices more sustainable.
By removing the running costs of needing a large refuse vehicle, smaller collection companies become possible, able to cycle around a city picking up recyclable goods and make the most of their recycling value.
London is a city well suited to the cargo bike. The winding mass of streets and roads are usually choked with traffic from early in the day, till late at night. Through that static bulk of trucks, cars, taxis, and vans, however runs an extensive network of clear, fast, and direct bike lanes. From shared bus routes, to dedicated bike paths through the parks, this network takes many different forms, and may not even be obvious at first glance. But once you’ve got your cycling directions memorized (or my preference, a phone running Google maps shouting turn-by-turn points at you!) crossing London by bike is a straightforward breeze.
It makes sense therefore that when the disruptive takeaway food start-up Deliveroo took a look at London, they realised that bicycles would be the fastest, and most efficient way of connecting their hungry customers with the city’s many restaurants. Deliveroo’s distinctive bicycle pannier boxes have quickly become a standard London sight, strapped on to their riders’ bikes with varying degrees of success. When it came to making large deliveries of food to whole offices, events, and promotional events however, a more efficient cycling solution was needed. Enter the bike lane, Porterlight Bicycles collaboration with Deliveroo to design an ultimate London cargo bike.
Deliveroo approached us with a brief outlining their cargo capacity needs, a reference for their favourite shade of green, but mostly with an enthusiasm for finding a London built solution to carrying cargo through the city by bike. We set to work designing an eye-catching cargo bike that not only communicates the Deliveroo brand instantly, but one that can also deliver those all important hot-food orders quickly and safely.
First up was stretching the main cargo deck beyond the normal 60cm long space on our Bringley cargo bike model. An easy adjustment to make in our North London workshop, and one that quickly makes this a super capable cargo bicycle. Next we fabricated a sturdy rear rack for the back, so that Deliveroo can continue to use their standardized equipment for their rear rack boxes on their new cargo bike.
We set up the 160mm Avid BB5 disc brakes back and front that we equip all our cargo bikes with, to provide ample stopping power no matter how wet the capital’s streets get.
Leading the way at the front, is a custom laser-cut logo emblem to really show off the Deliveroo brand (in case passers-by miss the other two metres of Deliveroo green bike arriving behind it!).
A classic centre board mounted in the bike’s frame provides additional branding power, and a hint of retro charm reminiscent of the old butchers’ bikes that also used to ply the same streets.
We also included our normal Porterlight branding flourishes on the frame.
Whilst some puncture resistant Schwalbe Road Cruiser 20” whitewalls finish the look.
All of which comes together to complete a tasteful, yet brutally efficient way for the company to get hot food around London at high speed.
We had a lot of fun developing and building up this Deliveroo concept bike, so if you’ve also got a need for an eye-catching, eco-friendly, low-running cost, and smile-to-face-bringing cargo bike for London, the UK, and beyond, drop us a word on our contact page, and we’d love to have a chat about all the possibilities.
Whilst you’re still reading on, why not take a look at another of our recent projects for the East London Liquor Company here, and see how a London built Porterlight cargo bike provided a modern way for the high-end distillery to get around town. Or hop over to our Twitter and Instagram pages, to see what we’ve been up to most recently.
Back in September we were gearing up to open Porterlight’s two week pop-up shop in central London. Wanting to make sure our evening talks about Adventure, Cycling, Technology, and Entrepreneurship go with a swing, we started contacting potential drink and snack sponsors seeing if they wanted to get involved.
Firing off the usual slew of emails that every drinks company has to wade through each day from hopeful event organisers begging for booze, one London distillery replied with an interesting counter offer. They weren’t interested in supplying our pop-up shop with free booze, but were very interested in ordering a cargo bicycle to use as a delivery bike.
As far as exciting orders go, it’s a great brief to receive!
Keen to lower their carbon footprint, East London Liquor Company want to use a cargo bike to deliver their premium London made spirits to bars and shops in East London.
I set to work, designing a bike that would reflect the artisan and handmade nature of East London Liquor Company’s work. The custom cargo bike would cruise London’s streets, and so be a great marketing and advertising bike for the company as they traveled around on their deliveries.
I’ve written before on why cargo bicycles in London make so much sense, and being able to customize the utility bike with East London Liquor Company’s own branding means it can blend into a bit of East London cool too.
Up front is a custom laser cut flying logo.
The main deck is occupied by a 148 litre aluminium weatherproof lockable crate.
East London Liquor Company wanted a bit of a retro vibe, so I sorted out the classic signboard for the centre of the frame.
Outback is a curving tailboard too.
Delivery day went smoothly, with the whole East London Liquor Company coming out to welcome their new London made cargo bike to the family.
If you’re interested in chatting about the potential for customising your own custom cargo bicycle, get in touch and see what Porterlight can do, or have a play with our custom cargo bike configurator. Getting a cargo bike handmade in the UK means that we can deliver a completely custom bicycle to perfectly suit your branding and delivery bicycle needs.
My ride across Turkey took about three weeks in total. Plenty long enough to find yourself building little habits and routines into your day based on the towns and countryside you’re traveling through. Waking up in the mornings in my tent, I’d listen for the crashing of waves, so certain was I that I had found yet another beautiful cliff top camping spot the night before.
It was almost ridiculous by the end. If my wild camp site wasn’t next to the sea, with a nice flat grassy floor, and shielded by bushes and trees for privacy, then I wasn’t quite happy! My best find was a perfect little cliff top soft spot, with steps down to the sea to swim, and some suitable bushes to hang my clothes to dry on too. Few campsites I’ve ever stayed at have managed to offer quite such good facilities!
Turkey also gave me every reason to expect the roads each coming day to be smooth well paved numbers, usually with a pretty fair margin on the right I could cycle in. Tunnels I came to were well lit and wide, and I would always expect to find a fresh water tap placed for public use every few kilometres. It is then a rather fine life cycling across Turkey, with the only spanner thrown in these works being, the hills!
I knew the hills were going to be there, but even so, as you find yourself grinding up the fifth ascent of the day in your lowest gear, sweating and tired, you long for that crest and the expected downhill the other side. When you then reach the summit and instead find another incline tucked away on the other side, it’s definitely a moment for a square of chocolate or two!
For all its ups and downs though (!) Turkey was extremely good to me. The people were always friendly, offers of chai plentiful, and ice creams available in every corner shop from one end of the country to the other.
By the time I found myself camped one evening on a little cliff top look out over the sea as usual, with the Georgian border in sight I was a little relieved if anything. After three weeks cycling along a fairly similar coastline I was excited to get into a new country and turn inland away from the sea and towards (well, around) the Georgian mountains.
As I sat looking out to sea from my tent, watching the sun go down and eating a hearty cyclist’s dinner of bread, cheese, and water, I was sad to be leaving Turkey but excited for the road ahead.
There’s a dread that fills my heart a little whenever I know I’m going to be entering or leaving a big city by bicycle. At their core these cities are usually pretty good, with pedestrianised streets and even the occasional bike lane. One ring further out, the suburbs also provide sometimes quiet streets and residential shortcuts. The real problem is the final layer, the mesh of highways, industrial zones, flyovers, and airports that snarl around these cities. They orchestrate thousands of cars and trucks on their intertwined journeys, but for all the vastness of their footprint, leave little room for a bicycle.
Pushing off in (the already hectic) centre of Istanbul then certainly reminded me of these concerns! I’d be crossing from the European to Asian continent and heading up to the follow the relatively less hilly north sea coast east. Once I’d cleared the maelstrom of traffic and noise.
I already knew that you weren’t allowed to cycle across the bridges over the Bosporus and that most attempts are met by a police car. Instead I headed to the ferry dock to take a small boat across the water, and in a sneaky tactical move, north along the Asian coast to just outside of the hectic city itself. This was my master plan to avoid repeating my grueling ride into the city, and so it will surely not surprise you at all to hear that, it didn’t work!
Three boats trips back and forth confirmed that no boat was going to take me north, so after eating a sustaining snack muffin or two, I pulled my socks up and cycled off into the traffic on this eastern side.
After a few hours the city started to subside, much faster than on the west. The hills began to roll, and the roads twist, and fold over them. The skyscrapers gave way to mansions, then houses, and farms, then forest. Perhaps the easiest departure from a big city I’d ever had!
Time passed, kilometres fell, and snacks were eaten. Eventually I started glancing around searching for somewhere to set my tent. The search was short and resulted as it so often does in a spectacular camp site. This one perched on a cliff overlooking the woods.
So began the Black Sea coast run. For the next few days I’d wake at dawn with the sunrise working it’s way into the tent, breakfast, ride, snack, ride, lunch, and ride onwards to the goal of Samsun.
The coast itself was at times disappointing, no beach, just sea defences (a theme that would continue for all of Turkey). But the real joy was the routine of cycling till I was tired, then resting, and repeating. The real joy of bicycle touring!