As an avid bike commuter and athlete, I die a little inside every time I have to get in my car to rush somewhere. Some days I get it together enough so that I can tow my toddler in our beloved Thule Chariot as we run errands.
Testing cargo bikes hauling kids, dogs, groceries, and more; photo credit: Jason Cornell
But since I became pregnant again, that too had to be put on hold as my growing belly (and fatigue) made longer rides increasingly difficult. I needed a new way to ride. And an electric cargo bike seemed like the perfect solution.
For the past 3 months, our neighborhood has been testing a multitude of amazing electric cargo bikes. We’ve hauled everything from babies, kids, dogs, wood, and inflatable SUPs to huge Costco and farmer’s market buys. I’m happy to report I haven’t gotten in our car once for any trips around town. If our destination is within 15 miles, we go on cargo bikes.
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Since adding the bikes into our everyday routine, daily errands have been much more fun to run. So much so that my group of neighbors and kids actually volunteers to go! We no longer have to worry about rush-hour traffic. And the bikes, no matter the design, can carry nearly as much as a car without the extra impact on the environment.
Below, we highlight, categorize, and review the five best bikes we tested. They were all standouts in their own unique way. But before we dive in, check out the lingo below explaining the different styles of bikes.
Best Cargo Bike Styles
Longjohn: These have the cargo box up front with the front wheel way out. Some also have the capacity for another passenger to ride on the back. This style takes a bit of practice when you first get on, as it handles a little differently than a traditional bike.
Longtail: These ride more like a traditional bike and can fit up to three small passengers (kids) riding on the tail. Most can also fit a clip-on seat for younger kids (9 months and up).
Front-load trike: These have two wheels and the cargo box in front. This stable style can fit as many as four kids in the box and sometimes an extra kid or panniers on the back.
Best Electric Cargo Bikes of 2019 Best Overall Family Bike: Yuba Spicy Curry ($4,499)
Yuba’s mission is to make bikes that can easily haul kids, gear, and groceries, all while putting a big smile on everyone’s face (bystander included). Other than its awesome name, we love the Spicy Curry for its sturdy, tank-like feel. Even when it’s loaded down and our son is waving side to side on the back, we barely notice.
For some extra money, you can choose different add-ons for the bike depending on your lifestyle. We wanted to make this bike our main one for taking our son to preschool. So we opted to get the adjustable Monkey Bars ($199) as well as a Yepp Maxi Easy Fit kid seat ($220).
Our son loves the combination of the seat and the Monkey Bars. He gets to ride up high so he can see Mom or Dad and can hold on whenever he feels like it. Later, we added the 2-Go Cargo Bags ($199) and the Bread Basket ($180). This more than doubled our carrying capacity.
The frame looked big at first sight. But after adjusting the cockpit and seat to my 5’1″ height, I was pleasantly surprised at how natural and comfortable it felt. It has easily been the neighborhood’s most widely used bike. It’s simple to adjust the size of the bike, and it fits a wide variety of heights.
Cargo bikes are great for hauling kids and groceries; photo credit Jason Cornell
The components consist of a Shimano Deore 10-speed adjuster and Shimano Disc Brakes. And although I was wary at first of the non-internal hub, I grew to really like how much it felt like all my other bikes. The large front wheel helps smooth out bumps; it’s smooth enough that my son regularly falls asleep on the way home from school.
The motor is a very powerful and smooth Bosch Performance CX mid-drive with a 36V 400Wh battery. It has four levels of assist: Eco, Tour, eMTB, and Turbo. All of these are easy to click through on the control panel, which also displays the mileage, range, and speed.
On a single charge, I can get up to 55 miles on Eco mode or about 25 on full Turbo mode. The eMTB setting switches between all the modes depending on how it senses I’m riding, and I average between 30 and 40 miles.
Again, this bike has been the most used in our neighborhood of four families. It is easy to adjust, feels most like a regular bike, and can haul up to 300 pounds. At 60 pounds and 8 feet 2 inches in length, it’s not the easiest of the bunch to store. But it will hold its own against your average car for carrying capacity, length, and price!
Weight: 60 pounds (without any of the add-ons)
Length: 6 feet
Carrying capacity: 300 pounds
Range: 25-55 miles depending on mode and capacity
Pros: Rides like a normal bike, can fit a wide range of people, sturdy
Cons: Can be hard to store, on the pricey side
Best for: Around town errands, kid pickups and dropoffs, dogs, big grocery or hardware store buys
See the Yuba Spicy Curry
Best Compact, Daily Commuter: Tern GSD S00 Folding Bike ($4,999-$5,799)
The Tern GSD is simply a remarkable bike all around. Many of the complaints about cargo bikes are that they are big, heavy, impossible to transport, and hard to store. All of that (except weight) gets turned upside down with the Tern GSD, which awesomely stands for “Get Stuff Done.”
Tern Bikes is known for its ingenuity in creating folding bikes. So when the brand came out with a cargo bike that was the length of a regular commuter bike and could fold down to fit easily in most midsize SUVs or minivans, many bike commuters (including us) took notice.
The bike is even made to stand vertically on its back rack so that it takes up minimal space when stored inside. For the urban family who lives in an apartment building, people with limited garage space, or anyone who just doesn’t want to deal with a big classic cargo bike, the Tern is the answer.
Other specs that set the GSD apart are its carrying capacity of 440 pounds and ability to fit two high-powered Bosch batteries on it. This gives it an impressive range up to 155 miles. From the Green Guard non-puncture tires to the infinite-adjust internal geared hub, this bike is clearly made to last.
The Tern GSD can be customized with additional accessories; photo credit: Jason Cornell
Like the other bikes, you can customize it however you like. We opted to try the Clubhouse basket ($190), the Cargo Hold Panniers ($150), and a Thule Yepp Maxi child’s seat ($220). We were pleased to find out that the Cargo panniers were still usable with the Yepp Maxi seat over top of them. And with the batteries, panniers, and rack all sitting lower than your average bike, the handling and riding experience for both the driver and passenger is very smooth and comfortable.
Like all the other cargo bikes on this list, it fits a range of riders from 5′ to 6’5″. The unique handlebar, seatpost, and stem adjustment make it even quicker and easier to truly find a perfect cockpit for riders of various sizes. We used this bike exclusively for an entire week to see how quickly we would need to charge it. It lasted the entire week. We clocked 90 miles, using a mix of tour and eMTB mods, and it still showed two of five battery bars.
At $4,999 with a single battery and $5,799 with a dual battery, this one comes in at the middle of the pack pricewise. But it has our vote for being one of the most versatile, longest-lasting, and smoothest rides out of all of them.
Weight: 70 pounds (with one battery)
Length: 6 feet
Folded length: 71 x 16 x 33 inches
Carrying capacity: 440 pounds
Range: Up to 200 km
Price: $4,999 – $5,799
Pros: Stem/handlebars/seatpost can fold down in 5 seconds, allowing it to fit in many vehicles; can carry a ton of gear and people; compact for e-bikes; attention to total detail seems highest of all bikes; just an outstanding design overall
Cons: 20-inch wheels can be a little harsh on bumpy ground
Best used for: Ultimate one-size-fits-all family utility bike
See the Tern GSD S00
Best Kid-Hauler: Bunch Original Family Cargo Bike ($2,999)
This crowd-stopping, front-loading trike gets high points for its lower price range (compared to other e-cargo bikes) and ease of assembly. It literally showed up at my house fully assembled via a semi truck. All we had to do was take off the packaging, adjust the seat, and it was ready to go.
The big cargo box fits up to four kids and comes with comfortable cushions and easy-to-use shoulder straps. In the span of a few weeks, we took it out with all combinations of cargo: a dog and two kids, three kids and a cooler full of snacks, and even a week’s worth of groceries. Our 2-year-old loved it because he was up high and could chat with his friend across from him.
The bike has additional add-ons like a rain cover and a sun shade, which the kiddos and dog all appreciated when the elements became too much. Unlike other cargo bikes where it’s hard to secure your stuff, the cargo box has a lockable understorage box that can easily fit a purse, computer, and other smaller valuables.
The steering of the bike does take some getting use to. At 148 pounds, it’s not your normal ride. But with each ride around the block, I became more and more confident to take it out on the streets.
The components aren’t of the highest quality possible. But the combination of the Shimano Tourney SL- TX50 and the 500W 48V Dapu Hub motor created a smooth shifting and pedaling experience. And the easy-to-charge battery kept us motoring around town for almost 25 miles before we had to charge it up again.
The standover design and easy-to-adjust seat makes it fit a wide range of sizes. I’m barely 5’1″, and I can ride it just as well as my 6′ stepdad. The control panel is also very intuitive and easy to turn on your headlight and see speed and battery life.
For the family who wants something to replace their car for short, local trips, this bike is the perfect ride. However, it’s not for the person who wants to get to where they’re going fast. While the motor will assist up to 20 mph, it comes with a factory set max of 15 mph (this is easily changed via the settings).
And because it’s a trike, the bike’s handling is a bit unstable at higher speeds, especially in corners where you can’t lean like a normal bike. So we’d recommend keeping that 15mph limit for a while until you learn the limitations. Think of this bike as more of a “take it easy and enjoy the sights” bike. It’s a superfun experience to share with your kids.
Weight: 148 pounds
Length: 6 feet
Carrying capacity: 220 pounds; four kids, a mixture of one medium dog and one kid, or two kids and a big grocery buy
Range: 20-30 miles depending on load and speed
Pros: Comes fully assembled, has a secure lock box; thick, durable, flat-proof tires; can fit up to five kids (with one on the back)
Cons: Heavy; harder to back up and turn around than other more bike-like models; is big and can take up a lot of space in the garage
Best for: Taking multiple kids to the local park, dogs, and big grocery buys
See the Bunch Family Cargo Bike
Smoothest Ride for Big Loads: Yuba Supermarché ($5,999)
For hauling a big grocery buy, transporting your SUP to the local surf wave, or taking your dog and kiddo to the river for a hike, this bike is the ticket. With a Bosch Performance CX mid-drive motor and PowerPack 500 battery, the riding is fast and smooth.
There are a range of gears and four levels of pedal-based electric assist. Like all the others, it only can get up to only 20 mph, but it feels like you’re going much faster. And at stoplights, it was the easiest of the bikes to start due to the internal hub that allows you to switch gears while stopped.
It takes a bit to get used to the longer and heavier front end. But after a few practice runs, it felt very natural. The hard part is recalibrating your turns on your conventional bike! The control panel is the fanciest of all of the interfaces. It lets the user see how much power they’re using, how long the trip is, total milage so far, and how many miles left. The Magura MT5 Next Hydraulic Disc brakes coupled with the always charged LED lights keep the parents happy and the kiddos safe.
Hauling dogs, gear, and kids with the Yuba Supermarché; photo credit: Jason Cornell.
The range on the Supermarché lasts anywhere between 20 and 40 miles. For our family, we used it three to four times a day with an average of 7-mile outings carrying 200 pounds. We drained the battery down to one bar every day. Luckily, it’s very easy to park it in the garage and charge it for another round. The stepthrough frame and easy-to-adjust cockpit fit the entire neighborhood from 4’9″ to 6’5″.
$5,999 sounds like a pretty high price, but when we compared this to other premium brand longjohn bikes, it was actually one of the lowest prices. And if you know you’re going to use it on a daily basis (and save some money on gas), it may just be worth the cost.
Weight: 78 pounds
Length: 8 feet 5 inches
Carrying capacity: 300 pounds
Range: 20-55 miles depending on load and power-assist mode
Price: $5,999 (does not include the box)
Pros: Large capacity, can fit anything from a large keg to two kids in the front
Cons: The passenger can feel the bumps more than if they’re on the back of the bike, as it does not have any shocks; it’s long and on the heavy side
Best used for: Big Costco buys, giving the kids a ride to school, food or paper deliveries
See the Yuba Supermarché
Most Versatile Conversion Kit: ARGO Cargo Kit ($1,099) & Electrify Kit ($1,055)
With a garage full of bikes, we fell in love with the idea of the ARGO Cargo bike. A cargo kit that you attach to a bike you already own?! It sounded too good to be true.
Scott Taylor, the owner of ARGO Bikes, wanted to create a cargo bike that was cheaper, lighter, more adaptable, and more transportable than what he was seeing in the growing market. And, in my humble opinion, he succeeded. While there are some downfalls, the ARGO makes up for it with all of its pros.
At $2,150 (includes cargo kit and ekit, but not the base bike), this is a good $800 cheaper than the low-end longjohn-style cargo bikes out there. And it fits nearly any old road or mountain bike with cable-actuated brakes. For those who want the bike to show up ready to go on your doorstep, this is not the one for you. Both the cargo kit and battery need to be set up and installed.
It took our friend 2.5 hours to set up the kit and hook up the battery to our commuter bike. After the initial set up, it then took us all of 1 minute to disconnect the whole cargo unit and turn it back into a normal bike.
After the first ride to the farmer’s market with our 2-year-old, I was impressed with how good the bike felt. It rode very much like the Supermarché (above). Even though I knew that the bike was two separate pieces, I couldn’t tell at all. The battery comes with an easy-to-use controller that shows your speed, how much power you’ve used, the time, and the temperature outside.
Transform any bike into a cargo bike with the ARGO kit; photo credit: Jason Cornell
As a passenger, our son was a big fan of the cargo box. Other cargo boxes only come with a shoulder strap that falls off little people’s shoulders. The ARGO comes with a lap belt that keeps them secure and feeling safe. Depending on what battery you choose and how much weight you’re carrying, the range varies significantly. We went with the cheapest battery option, and the range is about 2-3 hours or riding. You can get up to 10 hours with the most expensive battery option.
The ARGO is lighter than all the others, but that depends on the base bike weight as well. Ours was under 40 pounds. With a 3×9 drivetrain, it’s by far the easiest to ride without any electric assist.
If you like riding your bike already but sometimes want to be able to transport more, this bike is for you. It’s also a great option if you have a more limited budget. It can fit two kids, a kid and a dog, a kid and groceries, and many other configurations up to 150 pounds of cargo.
Weight: 40 pounds (this does not include the actual bike frame, only the cargo kit)
Length: 6-7 feet depending on the bike you use
Carrying capacity: 150 pounds
Range: 2-plus hours with the smaller battery
Pros: Can fit on a bike you likely already own, can be taken on and off very fast, is the most economical and adaptable of all the bikes, can be ridden without the battery
Cons: The battery is louder than most, smallest range, requires full setup
Best used for: People who are happy with their current commuter bike
See the Cargo KitSee the Electrify Kit How to Choose a Cargo Bike What kind of family/rider are you?
Before starting your search, first ask yourself what you will be using the bike for most. Grocery shopping? Kid pickups and dropoffs? Delivering pizzas? Taking your dog to the dog park? Hauling the boards to the local surf wave? All of the above? When you narrow your search down in this way before you start looking at the options, it makes it less overwhelming.
Testing cargo bikes; photo credit: Jason CornellWhat is your budget?
New electric cargo bikes can range from as low as $1,800 to as high as $8,000. Cargo boxes, panniers, front boxes, kickstands, and kid seats all cost extra and can add up quick. However, after doing a quick search on my local Craigslist and Facebook online market groups, I have seen some pretty good options out there that are much cheaper than buying them brand new.
How long is your average commute?
Identifying how long your longest average commute is will give you a good idea of what kind of range you’re looking for. There are a lot of options as far as battery and motor power are concerned. And more and more bikes are coming out with the option of attaching another battery to the frame.
How much space do you have to store it?
Making sure you have enough space to store it is very important. Other than the GSD, many take up a substantial amount of space in your garage. Some like the Bunch Bikes have an outdoor cover that protects them if you are storing them outside.
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