This sweety was touched on recently by Treehugger (see Hybrid) after a comment from Reader Rob Baxter, but we thought you might like to have a little more info in English, in case your click to Leggero made your head swim. This device may look strange to the New Worlder's eye, but to the European accustomed to sidewalks crowded with shoppers towing creaky carts of plaid or patterned vinyl full of fresh bread, milk and veggies, this design seems like a breakthrough.The Leggero Shopper (leggero means "light" in Italian), known by its short name max in Switzerland, is a joint development of Leggero and the students of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Nominated for the Swiss "prix Pegasus" for innovative ideas in energy efficient mobility this clever caddy quickly and easily converts from bicycle trailer to hand cart to shopping cart, in addition to folding to load into most small cars. After eight years of research and study, the design engineers appear to have reached their vision of combining modern design, everyday utility, environmental sustainability, simplicity, lightness, and easy rolling with minimal compromise. The look may suffer a little in favor of utility, but you can let your imagination run wild: advertising for sponsored Shoppers, green-is-sexy slogans or artwork, do-it-yourself looks; the cover is simply screaming out: "have fun with me".
The 7 kg (15.4 lbs.) trailer has a box with 40 L (14 cu.ft.) capacity in two compartments. The box is made of what Leggero calls "environmentally friendly" polypropylene, but it is not clear if this implies a recycled material, or merely refers to the chlorine-free nature of this plastic. The frame is aluminum. The actual construction is a model of sustainable design, with key parts such as the box and the wheels easily removable for replacement over its lifespan.
Unfortunately, as so common in green designs, the price initially drops one's jaw. The shopper will set you back €218 if you want the cover and bicycle connector, €126 for the shopping cart alone, but don't forget to order the cover for €32.50, without which you will certainly leave a trail of tofu and tangerines in your wake as you convert to handcart for the walk home. However, if you assume the average shopper* puts over 800 km/year (500 miles) on their efficient 6L/100 (40mpg) car, at current oil prices, the cart will pay itself back in less than three years--not counting wear and tear these short trips wreak on your street machine.
For customers in the US/Canada, we can point you to Bikebox as one retailer, offering the Leggero Shopper (apparently complete) for 315 US Dollars.
Thanks to Rob Baxter for his comment to Treehugger's Triobike article for the tip!
*(Average miles reported in prix Pegasus application for shopping in Switzerland divided by total population, truly conservative since in spite of a low birth rate, there are certainly a few swiss not driving for their daily sustenance.)