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In Europe, I've seen a common type of utility bike with the cargo basket on the front, and the rider behind it. Sometimes the cargo basket is a seat for children. To make this work, there is some sort of mechanical steering linkage from the handlebars to the front wheel/fork in the front. Is there a name for this type of bike and can you buy them in North America?

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What you are thinking of goes by several names:

  • Front-loader
  • Long john
  • Bakfiets

There are a variety of manufacturers of these style bikes available in the USA. Some of the big names are imported from Europe such as Bakfiets, Babboe, Riese & Müller, Urban Arrow, but there is an American brand Yuba that manufacturs them too. There are many other smaller manufacturers as well.

If you expand to trikes with a basket in front, those come in even more names, and even more manufacturers.

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  • There's also the "Bullitt" produced by Danish firm "Larry vs Harry". These are also available in the US. – Adrian K May 25 at 23:25
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The same kind of steering is also used on some recumbent bikes and delta trike and you can likely find second hand ones where other parts are worn out where you can still use the front portion. Mostly under seat steering on longer bikes and trikes use it.

On my trike, there is a pivot in the middle of the handle bars and a bar attached a bit to the left of that pivot point.
At the top of the front fork there is a plate which has an eye on the left of the pivot point and the bar is attached to that bar.
Both attachment points of that bar allow turning but no side to side movements.

On a 'bent trike you can easily see that bar, on a transport bike with a box or closed platform you can not as easily see it, but if you know what to look for you will often see it.

In this 'build your own recumbent bike' they make their own (adjustments) for the same kind of steering. With photos.

I did not find any 'off the shelve' parts or their names.

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These are simply called "Cargo Bikes", or "box bike" (which is "Bakfiets" in Dutch) and the style you describe with a "barrow" in front of the rider is made by many suppliers. Brands include Babboe and Radkutsche and Christiana.

The other style of cargo bike is to have the load behind the rider, on an extended rack or perhaps a tray between two rear wheels. You can even buy a kit that extends your existing bike. This would still be a Cargo bike but

You should be able to find a reseller of cargo bikes in your area, get busy with googling "cargo bike dealer near me" works quite well. Be mindful that they are not cheap.

Your next option is to look for plans like "Atomic Zombie" https://www.atomiczombie.com/dutchman-cargo-bike-diy-plan/ and https://www.atomiczombie.com/transporter-carg-bike-diy-plan/ for one of each style. Of course this presumes you have the wherewithall to weld, paint and so on.

Finally, I personally get on fine with an old kiddy's trailer, used to tow cargo. Its proven capable of moving 100 kilograms of UPS for 8 km, even though trailer is only rated for 35 pounds.


The linkage steering is known as "indirect steering" and does indeed use a push rod to actuate the front wheel. This one has a fancy push/pull bowden cable but fundamentally the same idea.

enter image description here

This technology is also used on some styles of recumbents where the handlebars are beside the rider's sides. Check the Atomic Zombie links above for more info on this style.

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  • 5
    "bakfiets" is actually just a Dutch word for this style of bike (literally "box bike") that is used generally as well as by one brand. In the United States, they are often called "Long John" bikes, although "bakfiets" is also used here. "Cargo bike" is a broader term that also includes rear-loaded cargo bikes. – Andrew Mar 11 at 12:58

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