A white plastic lamp, the lid of a dumpster or discarded kindergarten toys could all be part of the cargo bikes sold by Black Iron Horse, which combine original frames with boxes from fully recycled plastic.
The Pony cargo bike comes from a workshop in Copenhagen run by Lars Leikier, a blacksmith with a particular interest in bikes and sustainability.
He started more than two decades ago with the Sorte Jernhest, meaning “black iron horse” in Danish. This cargo bike has become a familiar feature in the Danish capital, with distinctive design and engineering. “It’s the rear wheel that steers the bike, the front wheel and the box are fixed. That creates more stability and it makes the bike more agile,” explains Jesper Lindahl-Berg, one of the company’s three owners.
But last year Black Iron Horse came up with a greener version of the cargo bike, with boxes made of entirely recycled plastics. The material comes from the largest plastic recycling firm in Denmark, to make sure it’s traceable and doesn’t add to the company’s carbon footprint.
“The boxes tend to be grey, but if the recycling plant just received a big batch of green garden furniture, then you’ll get a green box,” Lindahl-Berg said. He adds that the company is working on ways to make the colours more varied and predictable.
As part of its sustainable approach, Black Iron Horse is trying to educate Danish consumers about sorting their plastic waste.
Black Iron Horse’s cargo bikes are assembled in Copenhagen, using frames made in Jutland from Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish steel. They are so sturdy that some of them return to the workshop for service after more than two decades of usage.
The company is owned by Leikier, Lindahl-Berg and Mike Eschen, who has a background in banking. They changed the name last year from Sorte Jernhest to Black Iron Horse, which is helping to spread the sustainable cargo bikes in other markets.