I’m Ben, the owner and operator of The Cargo Bike Company.
I started the company in response to a demand from customers who required bespoke affordable bikes that couldn’t be purchased from anywhere else. The company originates from a single cargo bike which I made out of curiosity. When out on test rides, the bike got so much attention that I sold it, refined the design, brought some better tools and built another. That process of design, build, sell and reinvest has been the key to the company’s success.
I love the design and fabrication of custom bikes. If I was building one style of bike all day, each day, I think I might go mad! I’m an engineer and engineering is what I love. Most of the work is all done in-house here from cutting & bending the frame tubes, welding, sheet metal work, making the waterproof rain tents & covers plus final assembly and delivery. Some work is outsourced to local companies such as the powdercoating of the bike frames, waterjet cutting and producing the vinyl graphics.
Making the bikes affordable is very important to me. I manage this by keeping the overheads low, plus the organic growth of the company has meant there are no business loans, mortgages or rent expenses that have to be added to each bike.
I run the company because I love building bikes. I’m not in it to make huge profits or retire on a yacht; rather, enough to live comfortably and have fun doing it. I’ve received offers for celebrity endorsements of my bikes and have been asked by the producers of Dragons Den to appear on the show but after careful thought I declined these offers as I want to be the heart of the business rather than handing most of it over to ‘business people’ who don’t have their heart and soul in the company.
Read my full reasoning for declining the Dragons here >>>>>>>
I produce 50-100 bikes and trikes per year from a snug workshop in Derby. Specialising in one-off and batch production I make each frame ‘to order’ so producing one off designs or to your specific dimensions is no problem. Using steel tubing which is cut, profiled and bent; the frames are built on an adjustable jig which ensures the frame is aligned. This self-built jig is the clever bit as all the bikes and trikes can be made on it; ensuring quality and repeatability of small batch orders.
Although a small company, I have produced bikes for global companies such as Coca-Cola and Hendrick’s Gin plus a number of local government councils, all the way through to low-income families who need a trike as their sole family transport.
A bit about me:
Bike building for me started at an early age with this beauty I made when 13 years old; You’ll notice that the design features included a Dulux paint tin seat, fly-by-string steering system and buckled anti-gravity rear wheel.
I chose not to select the optional inner tube for the front wheel or fit any form of braking system as “brakes just slow you down” (!)
After completing a degree and masters in Mechanical Engineering, I worked overseas as a water engineer for a development organisation in the Sahara desert (Abeche, Chad). The work involved managing two water well construction teams plus repairing hand pumps and maintaining all the organisation’s equipment and trucks.
On my return to the UK I worked for a water utilities company for 12 years as a project engineer overseeing the design and construction of water treatment plants; whilst in my spare time I designed, developed and built cargo bikes. The demand for these early bikes was such that I quit my job and started The Cargo Bike Company.
Away from making bikes I love toad-in-the-hole, having ‘adventures’ with my two young boys, kicking back listening to a Jack Johnson tune, mountain biking and my lovely wife. I do my best to avoid painting skirting boards, stress and courgettes.
I’m told that planning for the future is very important. My plans? Well, this is my two stage retirement plan;
“The Cargo Bike Company and sons”