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Load life: "It opens up whole new perspectives in mobility."

Photographer Sven "Svenssøn" Kleuter (45) grew up in Siegen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and then moved to the Rhine-Main region before setting up home with his family in Bochum-Ehrenfeld – where people wear their hearts on their sleeves. His greatest passions are cycling, photography and music, plus good coffee and cheesecake. He preferably likes to experience all of this in the form of urban adventures, throughout Germany and internationally. In this article, he describes his experiences with the Load 75.

Sven Kleuter with girlfriend Lisbeth and daughter Hedi.

The Load at just the right time.

We got the Load last summer, just at the right time, and it has been a massive help and support. Our car had just broken down and the bike took its place immediately. We used it for all our daily trips, especially to the childminder's and to the shops. We realised how flexible it made us as a family and regarded it as a second fully-fledged vehicle for transporting all kinds of things.

After the first coronavirus lockdown, we had a nice, hot summer and so we were out and about with it a lot, transporting plenty of water bottles for grandma. The bike’s full suspension makes it extremely comfortable, especially when riding over bumps. Kerbs are barely noticeable, even when carrying cargo or our daughter in the front.

Our current circumstances mean that we can't quite do away with our car yet – but that's nothing to do with the Load. We are both freelancers and have jobs and appointments outside the area. My partner Lisbeth has an art studio and goes to Holland every now and then to visit a wholesaler. We can't manage that with a cargo bike.

The Load is a time saver.

The spring and summer were ideal for using the Load. It's -13 degrees here at the moment. We don't have the right clothing yet for cycling in these conditions. You also can't really ride on the cycle paths in the neighbourhood at the moment.

Overall, the bike has major benefits, especially in terms of saving time. Getting to the city centre for small errands, such as picking up prescriptions or shopping, is much quicker, and I’m much more flexible when it comes to getting around. And of course, by travelling in a climate-neutral way, you are doing your bit to protect the environment. At the start, we needed a car very little, for instance really only to drive the 100 kilometres to Siegen to visit my parents. Apart from that, we just used the bike or walked and didn't miss the car at all.

When returning empties is fun.

It gives you a new perspective and you start to reflect much more about how you travel. Do I really need to take the car now or can I do it quickly by bike or on foot? It makes you question things. And the questions usually have a quick answer: things don't need to be done by car. It's now even fun returning empty bottle crates by bike.

The cycling infrastructure here in the Greater Ruhr region is generally very good. But I think it could still be better in Bochum, especially for Cargo Bikes. It is sometimes difficult, say at cycleway junctions, because of the bike's size. And we can only negotiate some cycleways by dismounting and lifting up the back wheel. Space for bicycles on trains is also still problematic. But plans are in place to address all of these issues, which will hopefully make riding Cargo Bikes even more attractive in the future.

A mobile icebreaker.

People are curious. E-Bike’s have now become everyday and many people are familiar with these kinds of bikes from the Netherlands, where they are primarily used for transporting children. But the Load looks very different and, more than anything else, it is much bigger. Questions range from facts and technical aspects – What kind of drive does it have? Two batteries, really? What does it cost? – through to what it can be used for. Many people can imagine using it instead of a second car, or adding to their 'fleet' of transport options.

The Cargo Bike is a nice way to get into conversation with people. My daughter is usually still sitting at the front, so it's a great opportunity to talk to other parents. And cycling connects people. I'm witnessing a cycling boom right on my doorstep. Even at -10 degrees, people are still queuing up in front of the local bike shop.

To the North Sea by Cargo Bike.

I'm planning to take Hedi along the Rhine to Holland as far as the North Sea as soon as it's possible to do so again. Maybe we'll go for a little test ride beforehand for two or three days. I'm also a big fan of fresh, good third-wave coffee and there are lots of small coffee roasters around here. I'll certainly be making more regular trips to Dortmund to pick up my coffee beans. And, as a photographer, I also plan to use the Load whenever possible to get to my photo shoots here in the area. The bike is a great icebreaker, for instance if you want to start chatting to parents-to-be.

Photography: www.svenkleuter.com