Biking with kids in Brussels : the ‘bakfiets’ Urban Arrow

Urban Arrow

The bakfiets (cargo bike) is hype in Brussels – at least among families in the Dansaert area.
So we needed one.
You bet we did. It is a fantastic way to bike with kids in the city.

I have been willing to present you our new family member for some time now.

We all love our Urban Arrow.

The kids, firstly, to whom every trip in the city feels now like a ride on the merry-go-round.
Mister K. and me, because we spare so much time in our morning routine : thanks to it, bringing Ruben to the nursery and Emma to school takes us now 10 mins.
I just can’t imagine getting back to this 40 mins walk pushing the stroller while pulling a reluctant toddler (40 mins for a 1km course. I said reluctant.)

Mister K. is a huge bike lover and I am getting back to bike commuting after a few years abstinence.
The bike is not only ecological, it is also the fastest way to cross Brussels during traffic peaks.

We used to carry Emma on a bicycle seat, but with the arrival of Ruben it was not an option anymore (I am a bit concerned about the stability issues of two baby seats on one bike).

©A cup of Jo

We also tried the bicycle trailer (see my review of the Maxxus here ), but if I still believe it can be a good option for a bike ride during the weekend, I am not comfortable with not seeing what is happening with the kids behind me, especially in Brussels’ traffic where you definitely need to stay focused.

So we had been thinking about the cargo bike for some time, and made our decision during the Car Free Sunday when Provelo organized a bakfiets test morning.

We had the opportunity to try several cargo bike brands, but the Urban Arrow was what we needed : sporty but still comfortable (especially for the kids), scalable and design.

Now, we asked ourselves many questions back then and if you are interested in the subject, I guess you do too.

How much does it cost ?
The standard Urban Arrow cargo bike costs around 4.000€, so yes, it is clearly an investment.
And we (read my bike expert and me) strongly advise you to opt for the hydraulic disc brakes, which are a bit more expensive, and for the rain cover (+- 265€) if you plan on using it for your daily trips.

I am not saying I eat fish and chips on a daily basis

Is it safe ?
Well, of course if you are not used to bike in Brussels, it can seem an insuperable challenge : few bike paths, inattentive or aggressive car drivers, the I-always-have-precedence trams…
I reckon biking in our city is a bit adventurous, but less when you drive such a vessel. Is it because you could damage more than their paint or because they can’t ignore your little passengers?
Somehow the cars spot you, they almost respect you and you don’t need to slalom between them – they even happen to make way for you on the bike path.

I admit, this was on Car Free Sunday.

The kids have safety belts and sit in a solid foam box made of EPP (this material is used for motor helmets).

Is it easily manoeuvrable ?
It is, but you’ll need to give it a chance.
On the Car Free Sunday, Provelo had freed up a small circuit for the testing of the cargo bikes without stress.
On the first lap I thought : NE-VER. On the second one, I got the knack of it.
Now, when I happen to put Emma or Ruben on the child seat of my regular bike, it really feels unsteady compared to having them both in the cargo bike.
And the fact that you get more consideration from the other road users combined with the use of the electric motor helps you riding smoother.

Shall we take an electric assistance ?
Yes, definitely.
The cargo bike is quite heavy and we are talking about Brussels : wherever you wanna go, you’ll meet a slope. The whole point of making such investment is to make your daily life easier : take it.
It has four levels of assistance : eco, tour, sport and turbo. Additionnally, in each level, you can modulate the assistance thanks to a very user-friendly controller on the handlebar.

Its autonomy is of around 45km when you use the turbo mode, 70km in eco and the removable battery needs 3-4 hours to charge.

How many children can it carry ?
3 to 4.
The standard version of the Urban Arrow is provided with one bench on which two children can sit. You can also buy an extra bench (€150).
For younger children, you can buy a maxy-cosy or a yepp seat adapter set.
Mister K. managed to install the baby carrier of our bicycle trailer for Ruben.

Is it a real alternative for a car ?
That’s a tricky one.
I guess it depends on how much you used your bike before having children and obviously on how much you use your car right now.
What I can tell you is that riding with the Urban Arrow is so much fun that you are very likely to use it more than you thought…

It allowed us to dispose of one car – the other we use for long distances or very rainy days.
We added two big lateral bags which enable us to go to the grocery store, even with the kids.

Did/will we become bobos ?
Come on, guys, if you are only considering this purchase, of course you are.

In Brussels, you can find the Urban Arrow at :

  • Velodroom : Rue Van Artevelde 41, 1000 Bruxelles
  • Au Guidon Vert : Chaussée de Wavre 354, 1040 Bruxelles
  • Velonaut : Avenue Rommelaere 49, 1020 Bruxelles

Have fun !

8 Comments Add yours

  1. De portbail tiphaine says:

    Hello! Nice article! We did exactly the same and are so happy with our urban arrow in the center of Brussels!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. albertomz says:

    Hi there, great review. We are based in Brighton, England, and have had an Urban Arrow for about 9 month now and recently wrote a review based on the experience:
    Definitely the best purchase I ever made….
    all the best

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janne says:

    I also bought UA this spring and it has been a very useful purchase. It is very sturdy bike, nothing rattles when driving even on a bit bumpier roads. It is simply a wonderful bike and our kid seems to like it too. Now I drive our car only on the weekends when need to go somewhere further. Will be interesting to see how the battery keeps it up over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janne, I am sorry your comment got lost somehow! we didn’t have any problem with the battery so far, did you ?


  4. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the blog. I’m also living in Brussels and I’m really keen to invest in a good quality cargo bike such as the urban arrow. The one thing that is stopping me from doing so is that I’m afraid of it being stolen. I live in an apartment without access to a garage. So the cargo bike would be in the street day and night. Would you mind sharing your experience with how you secure your bike in Brussels?


    1. Hi Catherine, I am sorry it took me so long to answer you. Our bike is secured in our parking garage, but I’ve heard that some people keep it outside with some kind of a motorcycle cover and a very good lock. You also must know that Urban Arrows provides a good theft insurance : you just need to prove that you still have the bike’s keys. Hope this helps!


    2. sasha says:

      I leave mine on the street locked to a lampost with a hardened steel motorcycle chain. 1.5 years now and no problems. After all, most people don’t bring their motorcycles inside either. Also, the urban arrow is well thought out for this – the seat post does not disconnect and the wheels are not quick release. This is seriously the best purchase I’ve made: life-changing. I no longer have a car, so this is good for grocery shopping and in a pinch you can even take adults in it – weight is almost never an issue, even on hills.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. so true! great ! indeed it is not different from a motorbike to keep it outside. thank you for your input!


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