The three guys behind REcycle Cargo Bikes turned a pretty wild vision of urban mobility and bike (re)building into reality with their Bronte. For the mot part starting with an existing steel bike, one customer at a time they deconstruct that old frame, then give it a new life with their own cargo bike platform front end, all made in Italy at a surprisingly affordable price.
REcycle Bronte modern, upcycled steel cargo bike
REcycle wanted to make it easier for cyclists to replace car trips with bike trips, and found potential in the huge existing stock of durable, well-made steel bikes. So that’s when developed their own steel cargo bike concept. With a straight forward cargo platform front end using simple tubing bends, a basic load platform, and an extended double downtube they could cut the standard headtube & downtube out of most old steel bikes, then rebuild them into an affordable steel cargo bike.
Each Bronte is made to order for the customer, so details vary from bike to bike. This bike started its life as a Bianchi Thomisus hardtail mountain bike with a unique mix of brazed and welded construction, straight sloping toptube all the way to the dropouts, then those extra two struts that reinforced the frame from the headtube to the seat cluster. The unique look of the original bike was the obvious reason to use it as a donor frame, and REcycle made sure to maintain the look once they added their cargo front end.
All of REcycle’s Bronte cargo bike conversions use the same front end with its paired tubes that extend forward from the bottom bracket, then split to become the outline of the front platform and curve back together to meet the new front fork (all with CNC machine bends).
Actually there are two possible front ends. The standard Bronte with a 52cm long load platform, and the Bronte XL with a 72cm long platform (both 53cm wide.)
REcycle build several options to complete your cargo platform setup, staring with the 150€ aluminum tread-plate bed, new 280€ wooden box, new 150€ wooden child seat with optional 150€ raincover, up to a 650€ lockable aluminum box.
Not every bike starts with a recovered frame though. While REcycle loves to give new life to an old steel frame, not everyone has something appropriate to work with. REcycle can supply some donor frames as well, but they will also build you a completely new cargo bike from scratch entirely in their Modena, Italy workshop for the same price.
A lot of their works it really looking into the details. They are talking about repurposing an old steel bike into a workhorse city cargo commuter, you might not be looking at immaculate deep glossy paint jobs that you can see your reflection in. But REcycle prides themselves on the ability to match the original style of a donor bike, and no cargo bike should be made that doesn’t build in a stainless beer bottle opener.
REcycle builds all their cargo bikes with disc brakes. That likely means full or partial conversions on almost any recycled bike. But they seem happy to work with each buyer to give them a proper custom experience.
REcycle also partners with fellow small Italian-made bag producer Kicking Donkey, just up the road in Parma, to create standard & custom bags for the Bronte. The lower roll-top bags sell for around 60€ for the pair, while the two water bottle bags with external storage pockets are 50€ for the pair.
Pricing & Availability
REcycle Bronte Cargo bikes are available as framesets or a number of complete bike build options. The Bronte frameset retails for 950€ in standard length or 1100€ for the XL. (They will even sell the DIY conversion front end for the most adventurous hobbyist!)
Complete bike builds start at 1750€ for the standard & 1850€ for the XL, or from 3500€ as an e-cargo complete build with an Alfine internally geared hub and a high-powered mid-drive pedal-assist e-bike motor.
All of their cargo bikes are made to order, so production time depends a bit. But whether you are looking for a bike from scratch or upcycling an old steel frame you have lying around, they say they can usually get a finished bike out in one month’s time.