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I recently test rode an Urban Arrow Family cargo bike and absolutely loved it. I'm planning on getting one as a car replacement for an upcoming move. However, it was a little ungainly (as one would expect) and the main problem had to do with the length. Urban Arrow also has the "Shorty" which is over a foot shorter and would probably work better for my use case, but sadly they don't sell it in the US.

I'm planning on visiting my family in Europe next spring and will be going to the Netherlands as part of the trip. I would like to buy a shorty while I'm there, then ship it to my home in the US. However, everything I've found about shipping a bike (from stackexchange and shipping websites) talks about disassembling a conventional bike and shipping it. Obviously, a bakfiets has quite a different size/shape and would require different shipping techniques. How would I ship one from the Netherlands to New Mexico, and does anyone have an approximation for how much it would cost?

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    You might ask the company whether they sell the bike disassembled and packaged. Perhaps that's how they get it from the factory. Nov 22, 2022 at 14:35
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    Have you contacted a shipping company such as DHL or UPS to get a quote?
    – Berend
    Nov 22, 2022 at 16:48
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    Another idea: ask a local dealer if they can import a shorty for you.
    – Berend
    Nov 22, 2022 at 17:43
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    An alternative to shipping companies like DHL might be a residential removals company with experience in international moves.
    – pateksan
    Nov 23, 2022 at 6:04
  • There are more makes of 'bakfietsen' which have alike models. Maybe a different brand will be available in the size you want. Alternatively, maybe you can find someone who is filling a container and has enough space for your bike. That is how Jason of Not Just Bikes got his bakfiets to the Netherlands, but in a container with his own things.
    – Willeke
    Nov 23, 2022 at 18:08

3 Answers 3

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The company has a lot of dealers in the US, listed here: https://na.urbanarrow.com/dealers/

You didn't say you want to personally buy it in Europe and then personally manage the shipping. You also haven't mentioned any contact with a US dealer so I assume it's not an option you have considered so far.

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  • I agree, but technically, this doesn't answer the question
    – Berend
    Nov 23, 2022 at 6:41
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    OP specified the "shorty" but "the US distributor doesn't sell it in the US." However its totally worth asking the US importer if they can import and sell one to order. There's a chance its not up to US/state legal requirements too. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    – Criggie
    Nov 23, 2022 at 9:34
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    Interesting point about legal requirements for bikes. Might be worth checking out. For a loosely related example, electric skateboards are not allowed anywhere on public roads in the UK: neither the vehicle nor the pedestrian bit, whatever terminology we use.
    – pateksan
    Nov 23, 2022 at 10:22
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    Sorry, "they" in my answer is distributors listed here. I contacted 5+ shops around the US and all of them said they couldn't get shorties in, urban arrow doesn't ship them to the US.
    – Robin
    Nov 23, 2022 at 11:42
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    @Robin try contacting UA directly and persuade them to ship one to one of your dealers.
    – calofr
    Nov 23, 2022 at 11:47
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My original answer was a suggestion to use the manufacturer's official (corporate) shipping channels.

But a private import might be a valid option too.

If you were to buy it in Europe and ship it as a private owner, it might be worthwhile contacting one of the many companies who serve car and motorbike owners.

A cargo bike shares many characteristics with cars/motorbikes: it is hard to put in a box, and needs to get a good level of protection from damage by impact or vertical compression. It might cost a lot more than DHL but the increase in safety might be proportional.

I'm not going to list examples, but I got a lot of results when I googled something like ship my motorcycle from Europe to the USA.

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    One downside worth mentioning is that any warranty will either be unapplicable in the destination country, or requiring the part/bike to be shipped back to country of origin. Not a big deal, but worth noting on a bike this expensive.
    – Criggie
    Nov 24, 2022 at 3:04
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    If it's true that the manufacturer is reluctant to officially sell these models in the US, then the warranty situation might well be one of the reasons. There is always a risk involved in using an unusual bike in a country where they are rare. If there is a fault, then someone is going to have to deal with the inconvenience of resolving it. I guess it's all a hard business decision, and a matter of who takes that risk on: manufacturer, retailer or a private importer themselves.
    – pateksan
    Nov 24, 2022 at 15:10
  • very interesting, in the land of liability that a bike seller might consider this, whereas a gun maker doesn't else they wouldn't have a retail product.
    – Criggie
    Nov 24, 2022 at 17:48
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Catch an ocean liner, like in the good old days.

It appears possible to take a cargo bike as luggage, which I doubt any civilian airline would even allow.

Services are not as frequent as in the first half of the 20th century. But you can still catch one at least a few times a year.

The most famous is the RMS Queen Mary 2. There is good provision for normal bikes but the website doesn't mention cargo bikes. However, it's such a luxurious service that I would imagine everything can be negotiated.

Travel website seat61 claims that other options exist: "some regular freight ships carry a limited number of passengers, and there are occasional crossings by other cruise lines". Luggage options may be more flexible, but you may have to get by without a private balcony and complimentary robes and slippers. Can you manage? :-)

Most of the above is super expensive but this looks a bit more reasonable. Clearly more research would be needed, but hopefully it's a starting point.

For me the main takeaway from this is that ocean liners are still a thing, and people still use the QM2 as their preferred mode of transport between Europe & the US (presumably those who can't or don't want to fly, not just those with unusual luggage).

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  • Not to knock the answer as I would love to do it myself and consider it anything but wrong. Would suggest a significantly more expensive weeklong sea voyage over a flight aren't really all that comparable.
    – Hursey
    Nov 25, 2022 at 2:28
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    I'm not trying to compare them though so I edited my answer accordingly. The whole point is that I'm not aware of any civilian airlines where you can check a cargo bike in as luggage, whereas it appears it could be possible on an ocean liner.
    – pateksan
    Nov 25, 2022 at 6:35

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