Unwrapping the Madsen, First Ride

We were anxiously anticipating the arrival of our Madsen kg271/Bucket Bicycle.  After ordering it on a Friday, we received confirmation that it was shipped the following week.  Approximately two weeks after shipping was confirmed an 18-wheel tractor-trailer truck showed up in the street with a large, friendly, smiling man and a big box holding the bicycle.  A representative from the freight company phoned ahead of time confirming the approximate date and time of delivery.  Very professional.  The truck showed up at high noon on a beautiful, sunny New England day.

After befriending the individual, I helped the driver move the bicycle to the backyard.  We slid it on the grass most of the way, picking it up a little to make it easier to slide.  He said he peeked inside the hand-holds of the box just to see what it was out of curiosity.  I thanked him kindly for delivering it without any damage and helping me get it to the backyard.  The box weighed around 95 pounds, so it wasn’t too heavy, but it wasn’t light either! This was a large box.  It was around 7 feet wide, 4 feet tall and about 28 inches deep.  Finally, the bike was here!  What to do?  Of course... OPEN IT!

Opening it gracefully was more of a challenge than I had expected.  I could have just cut open the box, but then the kids couldn’t as easily use it as a fort or slide.  Neighborhood cats couldn't curl up in it on random nights, preventing me from chasing them out of it in the mornings.  We couldn't admire the size of it from afar, since we'd never owned a box this big.  It was glued together and had some staples, so it made it a little challenging to open cleanly.  I wanted to make sure I got all the staples, since staples plus children are not an ideal combination. 

Once I got the box open, I had to figure out a way to get the bike out without messing up the box too much.  I tipped it on its side and pulled the bike out horizontally.  Not easy or elegant, but it worked.  I must have looked pretty funny doing it.  I then had to take off some plastic that was connected to the handle bars, the front wheel, the bucket, and other random places.  The wheels were strapped down to a board.  The whole process to unwrap the bicycle took about ½ hour, but I was taking my time.  I could have probably done it in under 10 minutes.  It could have been easier if I was a little more ruthless towards the box in my approach and had a bigger knife, or perhaps a jigsaw.

This is how it was packed in the box:

Once unwrapped, I realized that everything arrived in perfect shape.   The box held the bike, some promotional literature, order information, an extra front derailleur (different size for different range use), and a cool piece of cardboard with MADSEN kg271 written on it. Most people would probably throw that cardboard away, but I plan on keeping it.  And most of all, no packing peanuts or Styrofoam, hooray!  This was environmentally friendly packaging.  Frankly, unless one was to go the self-assembly route, this was the best way to ship it for a typical consumer.  The bike was beautiful, really, and other than being large and somewhat expensive to ship clear across the country, it was a great way to ship a bicycle.  Shipping cost was $270 from Murray, Utah to Massachusetts, a little more than I expected, but not outrageous.  There wasn't a local dealer in town (yet!).

Strapped to pressboard and cardboard:

The bucket and seat belts, paperwork, and derailleur in bubble wrap:

Although I took a while unpacking it, the bike arrived completely assembled and tuned up ready to go.  I didn't even need to add air into the tires.   

That afternoon, after I got it all ready to go, I decided to go to the post office to ship a medium size box, then pick up the kids at school.  The school was 6 miles away, and an extra mile to stop at the post office.  I didn’t exactly give myself extra time to make it.  My afternoon was busy with work, and this wonderful “distraction” ate into my work time.  Here’s the box I took to the P.O. in the bucket:
I rode quickly to the post office, and upon arrival locked the front wheel using the built-in front wheel lock.  That was awesome.  I felt that it was sufficiently locked, especially since I could see at least part of the bike from inside the post office.  If anyone was going to take the bike, they would be walking suspiciously with this rather heavy vehicle – not easy to do, and they wouldn't expect the front wheel to be locked.  Still, losing this bike to theft with only 3 miles on it (heck, any number of miles on it!), would have been a nightmare.

After the post office, I took the main road to the school the remaining distance, since it was more direct than the bike path.  In this section of road the bike handled very well and was surprisingly nimble.  It was mostly downhill but busy with relatively wide shoulders.  In town it was a little more work to maneuver, but only because it was a little wider, longer, and lower (at the rear bottom cog of the chain section) than an average bike.  The geometry of pedaling was great, and the overall experience was more comfortable than the 2010 Madsen bucket bike we rented earlier in the summer.

I got to the kids’ school, locked up the front wheel and walked in with 10 minutes to spare.  The kids were thrilled to see the new bike, and my daughter instantly told everyone she saw that she was going to be riding home in the bucket bike!
Here are some photos from that first ride home with the kids.  At pick-up:

One of the bridges we crossed on the rail trail:

Taking a breather (although it was only for the photo, really!):

After this first ride, I knew I would be riding this bike many more times in the coming weeks and months, hopefully several times per week.  What a fun way to travel, spend more quality time with the kids, and get some exercise at the same time!

All in all, the first day of owning the bike was sublime.  Not only did everything work as expected, but I felt like I was part of a new trend, at least in this part of the world.  It seemed as if everyone who saw it saw something that they've never seen before that day, and it frequently brought a smile to their face.  People were genuinely interested and couldn't resist the visual oddity of seeing little kids being transported in public in something other than a bike trailer or car.  Already, after only a few hours, I felt great satisfaction in having pedaled 13 miles on this unique human transport machine.


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