Introducing the Donky cargo bike

New load lugger is priced £499

by Mat Brett   November 12, 2012  

Donky 5

A new utility bike has just been launched that goes by the name of Donky, and it’s priced at just under £500.

It’s the work of 3D industrial designer Ben Wilson, who is also a tutor on a design products course at the Royal College of Art in London.

“Donky bike is a versatile load carrier designed to be ridden easily and safely with whatever you need to take with you,” says Ben. “Cargo load is carried on the frame, not the handlebars, so the steering and handling remain light and balanced. The Donky is made with a tough steel frame equipped with simple low maintenance components.”

The idea behind was to create an affordable, practical bike with a large load carrying capability. Ben also wanted to produce a bike that would last a lifetime, with durable components that could be repaired or replaced easily anywhere in the world.

The Donky bike comes with Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub gearing that’s operated by a Twist Grip shifter.

Those are BMX wheels on there and alloy V-brakes take care of stopping. You also get an integrated lock that, although it doesn’t attach the bike to anything, will stop someone jumping aboard and riding off on it.

The racks on the front and back are removable for storage, or you can mount them vertically so the bike takes up less room. Ben reckons accessories that clip onto the frame will be available in the future.

The bike is made in Taiwan; having it made in the UK would have pushed the price too high. It comes in a single size and in two colours – black as well as this green – at £499 (plus shipping). It ain't light, by the way - but you'd guess that of a bike designed to lug loads around. You're looking at 18kg plus another 7kg for the racks. The groceries and wine don't come as part of the deal.

For more info go to www.donkybike.com.

21 user comments

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I don't see this catching on anytime soon in the US sadly.
http://new-to-cycling.com

new-to-cycling's picture

posted by new-to-cycling [47 posts]
12th November 2012 - 16:15

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Looks nice, simple and practical. Any idea where it's made?

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [227 posts]
12th November 2012 - 16:38

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I like it, although If you left it anywhere busy there's a strong chance someone will lock there bike to it. Thinking

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posted by boffo [30 posts]
12th November 2012 - 17:41

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Wonder how it goes up hills? Single gear, I take it?

Pepita rides again!

posted by pepita1 [175 posts]
12th November 2012 - 18:01

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The geometry looks a bit folding bike (short reach, high bars) to me. I'd love to have a test ride of one though.

posted by steff [81 posts]
12th November 2012 - 19:49

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Looks like a Moulton with all the interesting stuff removed...

Raleigh tried something similar in the 60s and it was utter crap to ride.

posted by gazza_d [200 posts]
12th November 2012 - 20:03

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pepita1 wrote:
Wonder how it goes up hills? Single gear, I take it?

nexus 3spd Wink

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7313 posts]
12th November 2012 - 20:41

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timlennon wrote:
Looks nice, simple and practical. Any idea where it's made?

Funnily enough, I'd sent them a mail to find out. Not surprisingly, it's made in Taiwan (added into the copy now).

pepita1 - That was always in the copy, along with a big old pic. Give yourself a slap for not paying attention.

posted by Mat Brett [1857 posts]
12th November 2012 - 20:53

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more about the design of the donky, http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=86dded8c8a68c1b6389d5911b&id=624f84571d it's part designed by Mark Meadows, who is behind Milk Bikes.
Good design for life principles behind the idea

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

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posted by zzgavin [208 posts]
13th November 2012 - 11:01

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Like the fact you can get a couple of cases of wine on the front. Majestic

posted by theincrediblebike [41 posts]
13th November 2012 - 12:34

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Heavy, uncomfortable, unsafe, ugly. Have I missed anything? If Mr Wilson seriously wants to make a bike with "durable components that can be replaced anywhere in the world" dare I suggest 26 inch wheels (the most popular size worldwide)? Combine this with a pannier rack system to keep the weight lower to the ground (and consequently safer), and unintimidating flat bars. In short, a bottom of the range "mountain" bike with decent racks will do everthing this bike can, and better.
Of course, such a bicycle has already been invented, and making one will give Mr Wilson little opportunity to dazzle us with his brilliance.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
13th November 2012 - 15:15

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That lock thing can be junked as it's a waste of time. I'd also want better chain adjusters than those cheapos if I was shelling out £500 for it.

But I'm not sure about the weight distribution as the rear carrier means that heavy loads could be carried rearwards of the back freewheel. If you ask me, a cargo bike needs to have a longer wheelbase than a normal bike, so that loads can be carried in between the wheels. Otherwise its balance will be compromised by anything but a small load. Of course I didn't go to art college and instead got a degree in mechanical engineering and used to design aircraft components (but I can't tell you which ones), so what do I know about design eh?

The 20" BMX wheels are a good compromise since you can get tubes and tyres easily. And the rims are also tough.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2177 posts]
13th November 2012 - 20:38

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OldRidgeback - usually you find the cyclist (surely they should be called cyclers?) between the wheels. Not to mention that a longer wheelbase will be more difficult to ride.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [279 posts]
14th November 2012 - 1:14

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yeah and I also noticed that this bike is simply an inferior copy of my wife's bike called Lorri from a Dutch cargo bike company Dutch ID.

The older version which my wife rides has a dual rack setup unlike the current model - front and rear - just like the Donky setup but has a better frame design distributing stress. The Donky design has a stress point in the centre of the frame where two triangles meet and it will eventually break under load while Lorri won't. The designer or promoter of the Donky has bombarded promo messages, clips and other materials all over the internet this month not only on the bike related web sites but also lifestyle and design websites claiming it's original. Sadly most webmasters wouldn't confirm the claim if true or not.....

posted by F.L.M. [3 posts]
14th November 2012 - 9:33

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Both bikes below for comparison. it's pretty similar, using a central beam. not a nailed-on copy, though.

re: the stress point in the centre of the frame: it's not where two triangles meet, really, as the central beam is a single member. so long as it's designed to be strong enough there's no particular reason it'll 'eventually break' as steel doesn't fatigue under stress.

lorri-large.jpg Donky 1.jpg
Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7313 posts]
14th November 2012 - 11:08

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the lorri looks like it'd be stiffer though Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7313 posts]
14th November 2012 - 11:09

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Plus the carriers extend further forwards and rearwards for the Donky than for the Lorri. This will make the Lorri more stable even when heavily loaded. I'd be curious how they actually perform, but it does look as if the Lorri's frame is considerably stiffer and combined with the better load placement, I'd expect it to handle a lot better.

Bikes in Africa typically get loaded way beyond what would be expected in Europe. We moved house using two bicycles in West Africa (and that included shifting a large kitchen table) and I've a photo somewhere of a bloke riding an old Raleigh while carrying a tree on his head. Those front and back carrriers would be used to transport people, and would make the Donky pretty unstable to ride.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2177 posts]
14th November 2012 - 13:06

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Tarted up Raleigh 20 Big Grin

posted by Grishnak [37 posts]
14th November 2012 - 20:09

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Lots of cargo bikes here in the Dam. The most popular model has the load carrying area set low and ahead of the rider and behind the front wheel within an extended frame. It may have a long wheelbase but is stable because the weight is kept low and within the wheelbase. It may not turn fast but is popular, and it works. The Donky's handling will be limited by having the point loads outside the wheelbase. Its design is flawed and I bet it handles like a very wayward Donky when loaded. The geometry is poorly thought out, no matter how novel the concept and it seems as if the designer has insufficient understanding of polar moments of inertia. I'd be interested to hear what the designer has to say - nice idea but poorly executed.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2177 posts]
14th November 2012 - 21:13

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Dave, you are comparing the current Lorri model with Donky especially the rear rack. Look at this one - the older Lorri model which uses same racks on both front and rear:
http://www.kemper-velo.de/bicycles/cargo-bikes/lorri/
which you can ask 100 people and probably more than 3/4 of them would suspect Donky is a copy.

and about the frame design and structural strength - Lorri has two front triangles - forget the rear triangle - meet with a line while Donky has two triangles meeting at a point which require a significant amount of strengthening using thick - thus heavy - tubing to counter the bending force....

posted by F.L.M. [3 posts]
16th November 2012 - 0:14

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like i said, the Lorri looks like it'd be stiffer. That doesn't mean the Donky would necessarily break though. certainly the older Lorri looks more like the Donky's older brother Smile

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7313 posts]
16th November 2012 - 0:27

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