CleanTechnica Tested: The Flyer L885 Long Tail Cargo E-Bike. Longtail e bike

CleanTechnica Tested: The Flyer L885 Long Tail Cargo E-Bike

As kids, many of us grew up with the Radio Flyer brand and its iconic red wagons. Whether it was a signature wagon or another multi-wheel device designed to maximize joy for children, they’ve been around for decades.

Radio Flyer is pushing into the electric mobility space with a line of electric bikes and scooters designed to carry forward its legacy of high quality products for the masses into the next generation. Looking at its line, the L885 electric cargo bike, which does have a strange name, seemed like an innovative design, so we moved in for a closer look.

One Bike For Every Job

For its electric lineup, the company chose to simplify the brand, going simply with Flyer. The L885 electric long tail cargo bike is clearly of a different breed from the rest of the mass produced electric bikes out there. The tail has been pulled out to provide a longer cargo platform for the bike. It has accessories that allow for two children to sit comfortably, or you can attach one or two Yepp Maxi infant seats. Alternately, the integrated rear rack can be loaded up with cargo baskets and bags with a carrying capacity of 150 pounds.

The smaller rear tire has shielding around the upper with significant frame support for the long rear rack. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

To keep all that weight on the rear rack as low as possible, Flyer opted for a 20-inch rear tire. This stands in contrast with the front 26-inch tire, both of which utilize 3-inch fat tires for additional comfort as there is no suspension on the bike. The 20-inch tire in the rear keeps the rear grounded while the larger front tire gives the bike a better approach angle and better handling. It looks awkward at first but feels super comfortable when riding it.

Taking off on the first ride, the L885 feels super comfortable. This was no accident and is the result of a few key design choices. First off, the fat tires make for an extremely comfortable ride and insulate the rider from the typical blips and bumps in the road. For your rear end, the Selle Royal saddle is nice and comfortable and provides a nice base of support.

The geometry of the bike is more upright than most American bikes and works in tandem with the adjustable stem. This allows riders to adjust their seat and handlebar position to optimize the ride for their style. Finally, and somewhat surprisingly, the the oversized handlebar grips are made from a nice comfortable yet dense rubber that gives solid feedback for great control of what is a rather large bike.

Speaking of its size, the 73-pound weight of the L885 does make it a bit cumbersome to assemble. Extracting the partially assembled bike from the box can be challenging. We found that it’s best to cut the sides of the box to reveal the bike instead of attempting to lift it out the top. As for the assembly, in addition to the standard handlebar attachment, pedals, etc., the rear foot pads also need to be attached to the bike. That’s an additional six screws and while that’s not a lot, it does add weight to the bike and a bit of extra time to the assembly.

If you’re comfortable changing out a flat on a rear tire and using basic hand tools, assembly of the L885 should not pose a challenge. For others, it’s best to find a local bike shop that is willing to assemble it for you and have it shipped directly to them.

Accessorize Your Ride

The hefty weight of the bike is largely due to the fact that it was designed to carry cargo. It boasts a total weight capacity of 400 pounds, which includes the weight of the rider. Up to 150 pounds of that can be carried on the rear rack alone. Flyer has a wide range of accessories that allow you to customize the rear cargo area. A mounting plate on the front head tube makes it easy to mount a front rack for additional cargo hauling capacity.

We were sent a front and rear basket with our bike, which are great default options for increasing the cargo capacity of the bike. Our favorite accessory for the Flyer L885 is the sick two Kid Cargo Carrier option for the rear rack. It looks like a fairly standard cage that bolts onto the rear rack to give kids some protection and something to hold onto when riding.

A closer inspection shows that it has a trick up its sleeve in that the fabric liner that comes with it can actually zip up, transforming it into a cargo basket. This is a really cool hack that we haven’t seen anywhere else, but which makes a ton of sense whether you have kids or not. Using it in Carrier mode even seems like a better option than Flyer’s large basket as it is deeper, resulting in a larger storage volume.

The wide range of accessories make it possible to customize the bike to exactly your needs and as such, make it a solid option for young families, last mile delivery, as a work bike, and much more. Its aluminum frame and steel fork make it feel like a much lighter bike than it is and with its impressive 30-50 mile range per charge, it is extremely capable. In our testing, we found this rating to be a bit conservative as we were able to squeak out quite a few more miles per charge, even with a heavier rider than average at speeds of 15-20 mph, and that even held true on hilly routes.

It’s almost as much fun as the Radio Flyer trikes from childhood. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

For folks looking to haul a ton of weight, ride more miles, or who just love going fast, Flyer built in the capability to add a second battery to the bike. The 672Wh Extended Range Battery for the L885 bolts right onto the bike and runs in tandem with the primary battery, effectively doubling the range. Most people shouldn’t need this option, but for those who do, it’s great to have the option to not only carry a second battery, but to have it fully integrated into the system.

Overall

The Flyer L885 packs in a handful of new innovations and design choices that set it apart from the masses of electric cargo bikes. The smaller rear tire and standard front tire improve the stability and handling, both of which are increasingly important as the weight being carried increases.

Flyer has built out a range of accessories that not only work well, but they look really sharp on the bike as well. On top of that, the Flyer brand brings back memories from childhood and is frankly just a feel good brand. We love that it comes in a throwback red that connects with the original red wagon, but in a modern matte finish. It comes in black, red, white, and blue and in sizes small, medium, and large to ensure a good fit for all types of riders.

The Flyer L885 long tail electric cargo bike sells for 1,999. To pick up one or to learn more about it, head over to Flyer’s website.

Disclaimer: Flyer provided the L885 to the author for the purposes of this review.

Specs

  • Battery: 48V, 15Ah (687Wh) UL Tested Lithium-Ion pack built with Samsung 50E 21700 Cells
  • Motor: 500 watt brushless rear hub motor
  • Range: 30 to 50 miles of assisted riding per charge
  • Throttle: Half twist throttle
  • Pedal Assist: 5-level pedal assist with cadence sensor
  • Display: LCD display that shows speedometer, battery charge level, pedal assist level, odometer, and light indicator
  • Speed: Up to 20 mph with motor assistance
  • Total Weight Capacity: 400 lb
  • Rear Rack Capacity: 150 lb
  • Passengers: up to 2 additional passengers
  • Kickstand: center kickstand for stability when parked
  • Lights: Front LED headlight, Rear Integrated tail light with brake light function

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So.

If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you! Advertisement

I’m a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Electric cargo bikes explained | Plus, three of the best e-cargo bikes

Almost every area of the bicycle market has been electrified, with the best electric bikes encompassing the full range of bicycle styles.

An electric motor is a particularly useful addition to a cargo bike. Cargo bikes tend to be heavy to start with and are designed to carry yet more weight. The assistance provided by an electric bike motor can up usability and comfort for a wider range of riders, use cases and fitness levels. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about electric cargo bikes: what they are, how they work, what they’re useful for and their advantages and disadvantages.

You can also skip to the end of this article to see three of the best e-cargo bikes, as rated and reviewed by our team of testers.

cleantechnica, tested, flyer, l885, long, tail

What is an electric cargo bike?

A longer wheelbase and substantial rack add load-carrying capacity to a cargo bike. Steve Sayers / Our Media

A cargo bike is a bike designed to carry loads. Most feature a longer wheelbase than a standard bike to increase stability, as well as a rack or hopper to place items on or in. A cargo bike will normally have a sturdy load-carrying area or rack instead of a standard bolt-on pannier rack. This is usually built into the frame and is non-removable.

An electric motor helps lower the effort needed to pedal a cargo bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media

An electric cargo bike adds an electric motor and battery to a cargo bike. As with other electric bikes, this provides extra power and assistance up to a speed at which, governed by electric bike laws, the assistance has to cut out. In most of the world, that’s 25kph/15mph, whereas in the USA it’s normally 20mph. You usually have to pedal for the motor to provide assistance, although some electric cargo bikes might be throttle operated. Check out our electric bike basics guide for more information.

What can you use an electric cargo bike for?

An electric cargo bike such as the Raleigh Pro electric trike can carry large loads of up to 100kg in its case. Raleigh

Electric cargo bikes are a really versatile option for a range of load-lugging duties. The most obvious is carrying cargo that is too heavy or bulky for a regular bicycle. A 2019 report from the UK Department for Transport found that around 16 per cent of all vehicle miles on UK roads were driven in vans. It also found a 50 per cent increase in van trips made on urban roads in 10 years, with 23 per cent of total van miles being for delivery and distribution. Load sizes are getting smaller and routing less efficient as customers demand faster delivery from services such as Amazon Prime. For short urban deliveries, electric cargo bikes provide a viable alternative to motorised vehicles. They’re as fast as a van, non-polluting, cheaper and parking is less of an issue.

For everyday riders, electric cargo bikes also make transporting children or other passengers a practical alternative to car journeys for school runs and other trips. Built-in seats with harnesses and rain covers make for a safe, comfortable environment. Electric cargo bikes are also a good option for shopping, their ease of parking and navigation through crowded streets again making them a good alternative to car journeys. Camping trips and other excursions are also a possibility. In fact, an electric cargo bike could provide a car replacement for many users.

Electric cargo bike vs non-assisted cargo bike – the pros and cons explained

For moving larger loads around, the electric assistance of an e-cargo bike makes riding a lot easier and makes travelling longer distances a more practical option. In fact, there are many more cargo bike options available with a motor than without. The frequent starts and stops for traffic in urban settings and on delivery runs make getting a cargo bike – whether assisted or non-assisted – moving from a standstill harder than a steady run. Likewise, any hills you encounter on your ride will be a lot easier with electrical assistance. But the motor and battery add yet more weight to an electric bike over a non-assisted bike. Any cargo bike tends to be heavy, due to the extended wheelbase (which means more frame material), substantially built carry area, and chunky wheels and tyres. The frame is often made of steel too. Even the lightest cargo bikes start off at over 20kg; 30kg is more typical, even before you add extras such as seats or a box. In contrast, a normal bike is likely to weigh well under 20kg, even if it’s built heavily. A typical electric cargo bike motor will add just under 3kg, while you can expect even a low-capacity battery to double that. A high-capacity battery can weigh over 4kg, so a double-battery configuration could add over 11kg to the cargo bike’s weight. Riese Müller’s electric cargo bikes weigh around 35kg and the electric Cube Cargo Hybrid can weigh close to 50kg, for example. Electric cargo bikes are built tough, however, and you can expect to be able to carry a load of over 200kg (including the rider) on many models. That’s a lot of mass to get moving, and the motor and battery – even with their additional weight over a non-assisted cargo bike – are definitely an asset.

Electric bikes are also, generally speaking, quite expensive. A quality electric bike motor system is likely to increase the price of an electric cargo bike by around £1,000 over a pedal-only cargo bike. You can expect higher maintenance costs for an electric bike over a normal bike too, due to the extra wear on the drivetrain, the possibility of electrical issues and the impact of the extra weight on tyres, wheels and brakes. With a heavy frame and often sporting small wheels with chunky tyres on a long wheelbase, don’t expect a fast or lively ride from a cargo bike, whether electric or not. On the other hand, an electric cargo bike can be surprisingly agile and will enable you to zip around stationary traffic and through bike-only shortcuts to get to your destination faster.

What about battery range?

If an electric cargo bike is going to be used extensively, it’s possible the battery won’t have enough capacity to last an entire day. This means you’ll either need to swap in a spare battery, recharge during the work day (which can take several hours), or suffer through the arduous task of pedalling without assistance. The stop-start nature of urban riding means the battery is likely to be drained more quickly as well.

Types of electric cargo bike

Electric cargo bikes typically have an extended wheelbase over a conventional bike. That allows the inclusion of a cargo-carrying area either fore or aft of the rider. Often, cargo bikes will have smaller wheels than a standard bike, or different-sized wheels front and rear, so the load can be carried lower on the frame and the centre of gravity of the bike is lower. Both of these design features improve handling compared to strapping a load to a conventional bike. Many cargo bikes enable you to add different load carriers to suit different uses.

Cube’s Cargo Hybrid, for example, enables you to fit seats inside its front hopper so you can carry children. The Mycle Cargo comes with footrests and removable pads for its rear rack, so you can carry passengers. You can also fit child seats to it. Cargo bikes with a built-in box often go by the Dutch name bakfiets (which translates as ‘box bike’). It’s a popular way to carry goods and luggage, but also enables you to fit seats for children for the school run and other excursions. Bakfiets is a brand name for a Dutch maker of cargo bikes as well. Other electric cargo bike designs, such as the Surly Skid Loader, include a beefed-up front and/or rear rack on a more conventional, shorter-wheelbase bike frame. That has the advantage of manoeuvrability, but may limit how much you can carry. They’re generally less stable too, because a poorly distributed rear load may tend to shift the bike’s centre of mass behind the rear-wheel axis and a large front-end load can affect steering.

Electric cargo tricycles

Not all electric cargo bikes are technically bikes, because tricycles with three wheels are available as well. The configuration usually includes two wheels at the front, as with the Raleigh Pro Electric Cargo Trike. This enables the fitment of a large front container for goods or passengers (this is sometimes referred to as a ‘tadpole’ trike). An advantage is that stability isn’t a problem and it’s easier to park because you don’t need a kickstand.

Cube’s Trike Concept electric cargo bike has double wheels at the rear and a mid-frame pivot so you can lean into corners. Cube says having the load at the rear and a conventional-looking front means it’s easier to steer and see where you’re going. In some cases, such as the Tern Quick Haul, you can hitch up a trailer for even more carrying capacity.

Electric cargo bike motors

Most electric cargo bikes have their motors mounted in the bottom bracket, where it’s central and can provide power to the rear wheel through the cargo bike’s drivetrain. Other electric cargo bikes may have a rear-hub motor – the Mycle Cargo is an example. Recognising the potential of the electric cargo bike market, both Shimano Steps and Bosch, brand leaders in electric bike motors, have released cargo-specific versions of their electric bike drive systems. These have high torque output and a power delivery curve that’s geared to getting the extra weight of a loaded electric cargo bike moving.

Bosch’s Cargo Line motors give 85Nm torque and 250 watts of assistance, and can provide up to 400 per cent of the rider’s power output. They also provide walk assist and a hill hold function so your bike won’t roll back downhill if you stop. Bosch offers an anti-lock braking system for electric cargo bikes using its system.

Shimano has a range of three Steps cargo bike motors with 250 watts power output, either with 85Nm or 65Nm of torque. Like Bosch, it offers ABS. Shimano also has automatic gear shifts as an option and free shift, where you can initiate a gear change when you’re not pedalling. Shimano’s drivetrain tech includes Linkglide, designed specifically to be more durable for electric bike use. Other brands provide motors that are fitted to electric bikes, although they may not be specifically designed or tuned for high-load, low-speed cargo bike use. In the EU, a separate class of electric cargo bikes can be powered by more powerful 1,000-watt motors and throttle operated rather than requiring pedal input to provide assistance. Riders must hold a licence to operate them and, as electric bike law dictates for other ebikes, assistance is speed-limited at 25kph.

Which brands make electric cargo bikes?

Electric cargo bikes are sold by quite a range of brands. Some are well-known, but others are smaller outfits that specialise in cargo bikes. Brands with an extensive range of electric cargo bikes include Riese Müller from Germany, Tern from Taiwan and Surly in the US. We’ve already mentioned Dutch brand Bakfiets, which makes exclusively electric and pedal-only cargo bikes. Some big players see the potential in electric cargo bikes too; Raleigh and Cube sell a range of models and Specialized is about to launch its own electric cargo bikes.

Accessories

The Mycle electric cargo bike can be fitted with two batteries to increase its range. Steve Sayers / Our Media

Many electric cargo bikes offer the ability to fit more than one battery to up the bike’s range. Shimano, for example, has opened up its Steps electric motors so you can fit multiple batteries, including high-capacity options from third-party battery makers. That opens up very high battery capacity options of up to 3,000Wh from four batteries, to give the range for intensive day-long use. Often, there’s a variety of accessories sold by the cargo ebike’s maker. If the bike doesn’t come ready-equipped to carry cargo, the brand may sell purpose-made boxes or open baskets. You may be able to buy seats for transporting children or adults, rain covers and lockable tops. Some electric cargo bikes have been designed to accept standard accessories such as child seats. We mentioned fitting a bike trailer above. Many electric cargo bikes come ready-fitted with other useful accessories such as a kickstand, which needs to be extra-robust to handle the weight of the bike and its load. Often, you’ll get lights too, which may be powered by the motor’s battery.

What else to consider?

The main issue with an electric cargo bike is where to store it. Most are substantially larger than a standard bike, so you need extra room, particularly if you have boxes attached for load-lugging. The Tern Quick Haul is designed so you can stand it on its rear rack when not in use, but you may need a dedicated storage area such as a garage to store an electric cargo bike. Where you store the bike needs to be on the flat too – you’re not going to want to lug a 30kg electric bike up stairs. Walk mode can make off-bike manoeuvring easier. You may also need an electric power output close to where you keep your electric bike. Many electric bikes have removable batteries, so you can take them indoors to charge, but some may not. It may be more convenient anyway to charge the battery in situ. Charge times can be several hours, so if your bike is used intensively, you may need spare batteries to keep the motor running. Electric bike batteries are usually quite expensive, so spares will add significantly to the purchase cost.

Want the latest cycling tech news, reviews and features direct to your inbox?

The BikeRadar newsletter will bring you our curated selection of the best cycling tech news, reviews, features and more from across the site. Just enter your email address below to get started.

What Is An Electric Cargo Bike?

Electric cargo bikes are fun, practical, financially-accessible, and save people time and money. Over 500,000 electric bikes were sold to in the US in 2020.

People are using electric cargo bikes for all kinds of things instead of cars: transporting kids, grocery shopping, deliveries, adventure trips, even going on dates.

An electric cargo bike meets the following criteria:

  • has an extended frame
  • designed to carry one or more passengers in addition to the rider
  • designed to carry the extra weight or cargo (groceries, tools. )
  • has attachment points on the frame or racks to attach racks, baskets or seats
  • has an electric motor to provide pedal assist and throttle-only assist.

Benefits of An E-Cargo Bike

The primary benefit of electric cargo bikes is that they are fun. That extra pedal-assist makes you feel like a kid again. You will ride more often, go a little faster, and ride further.

Gotta run an errand? Get your kid to practice? Get to the grocery store? Check out this video of Car Versus Electric Bike to see how one rider saves over 10 minutes of time riding an electric bike.

Electric cargo bikes are saving people gas money, parking fees and other expenses related to automobile use. You might not ditch your car completely, but with an electric cargo bike, you’ll ride more and drive less.

As New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie Комментарии и мнения владельцев on his account: “since getting my ebike (I) almost never drive. (I)t has really transformed my daily life.”

(What’s that, Jamelle, a 50-lb bag of charcoal?)

Most electric cargo bikes are setup to carry adults as passengers. If your passenger is a smaller child, you can easily attached a child bike seat to the rear platform.

Want to really haul some gear? Attached a flat bed bike trailer to your e cargo bike.

Perhaps most importantly, electric cargo bikes are helping people get more movement and exercise.

How To Buy An Electric Cargo Bike

When you start your electric cargo bike buyers journey, think about what is most important to you. Consider:

  • Type of frame style
  • Fat tires versus skinny tires
  • Components (motor, battery, brakes, etc)
  • Quality of frame finish, styling and personalization
  • Factory-assembly versus USA hand-built quality
cleantechnica, tested, flyer, l885, long, tail

Types of Electric Cargo Bikes

Electric cargo bikes fall into three primary categories:

Longtail electric cargo bikes are the most similar to regular bikes, with an extended frame behind the seat to allow for a longer rack to support extra riders or cargo. These perform most like a regular electric bike, and are more versatile than box-bikes or trikes.

Since longtails are by far the most common electric cargo bike found in the US, we’ll FOCUS on those.

Image: Longtail electric cargo bike.

Fat Tire Versus Thin Tire Electric Cargo Bikes

Think of thin bike tires as up to 2.5” wide, and fat tires as those over 3” to 4” wide.

Thin tires are the tires you are likely used to riding. Thin tires are cheaper, lighter, and have less air and road resistance than fat tires. The upside is that you can achieve higher speeds with less effort (human or electric). The downsides are you have less traction, longer emergency stopping distances, and are limited to smooth surfaces.

Many people fear the extra weight of fat tires on bicycles. With an electric cargo bike, that issue becomes moot, as you have the pedal assist and throttle options to help you pedal your electric cargo bike from stops, up hills and across further distances.

Image: 4″ fat tires give your electric cargo bike comfort, traction and stability when braking.

Fat tires provide more comfort and safety for electric cargo bikes:

  • comfort due to lower tire-pressure requirements
  • traction on all surfaces
  • Shorter stopping distance, and more controlled emergency braking
  • puncture-resistant

With fat tires, you will ride with more confidence over all surfaces.

Components For Electric Cargo Bikes

As with any complex machinery you buy (cars, dishwashers), there is a balance between quality and price of components that make up that item. For your electric cargo bike, you want quality and long-lasting components right at the ‘sweet spot’ of performance and price.

Electric Cargo Bike Motor and Battery

While mid-drives (motors positioned in the middle of the bike) may provide a smoother feel to the pedal-assist, they put a lot of strain on the chain and gear set. You’ll break chains and get stuck out there, unable to pedal or power home.

Rear-hub motors eliminate strain on the drive train. You can still power the bike with a broken chain (again, less likely to happen). We recommend going with a rear hub-drive motor for your electric cargo bike.

A 750w motor will provide ample power and torque to help you move your cargo.

Battery: Most of your cargo bike riding will be relatively close to home, though may use more juice than a standard electric bike. We recommend a 48V, 14.5 Amp/h battery, unless you expect longer rides with a lot of cargo, then upgrade to a 19.2 Amp/h.

Brakes

Most electric cargo bikes come with disc-brakes. Hydraulic versus mechanical brakes? For your electric cargo bike, we recommend mechanical disc brakes as the best value for the purposes of your cargo bike. That said, hydraulic brakes will generally feel a little smoother, so you can opt to upgrade to a hydraulic option.

Image: Mechanical disc brakes on front wheel of an electric cargo bike.

There are a lot of components that go into an electric cargo bike. Ask a lot of questions about the selections made for any bike made. Where do you install the controller? Why? Where is the kickstand positioned? A lot of these ‘little things’ can make a big difference in the long-term performance and your overall happiness with your bike.

Quality of Frame Finish, Styling Personalization

Your electric cargo bike frame should last a lifetime. How it looks over time is another matter. Most manufactures use urethane-based paints, which eventually chip, fade and peel.

The best frame finishes are powder-coated for durability and long-lasting beauty. Powder-coating is also environmentally friendly, as it is a zero-waste process that doesn’t use any solvents. We recommend a powder-coated electric bike frame.

Fenders

You will ride more often with fenders installed on your electric cargo bike. Fenders keep you. and your bike. clean from dust and dirt, and dry from rain or snow. Many companies give you plastic fenders. Yuck! While cheaper and lighter, these will fade, crack and ultimately break. We recommend a bike that has durable, aluminum fenders.

Seats and Grips and other Styling Options

Seats: Electric cargo bikes come with either velo-style or cruiser-style seats. Velo-style tends to give you more control, particularly during turns and riding on rougher terrain, while cruiser-style seats give you more comfort. Pick the seat style that best suits your style of riding.

Grips: You’ll also find round sport grips or ergonomic-shaped grips. We recommend ergonomic grips for long-term comfort.

Seat post: Most electric cargo bikes will come with a seat post you can manually adjust. Consider adding a dropper-seat post so you can make getting on and off your bike easier, while enjoying full-range of leg motion while pedaling.

Handle-bars: Most electric cargo bikes come with standard straight, or slightly bent handle bars. These give you maximum control over your front wheel, which can be great for rough terrain. Swept-back handlebars reduce the need to reach and lean forward, so you have a more comfortable ride. Pick the handlebars that will be most comfortable for you.

Lights: Look for bikes with brake lights and at least one headlight included. We recommend dual headlights for the highest visibility.

Mirrors: If you ride in traffic, mirrors help you not only see behind you, but be seen. We recommend dual mirrors for most electric cargo bike riders.

Regardless of your styling options, the important thing is to find an electric bike company that enables you to choose these options. so you aren’t stuck with somebody else’s decisions.

Overseas Factory-assembly Versus USA Hand-built Electric Cargo Bikes

Overseas factory assembly lines result in limited quality control, zero personalization. and bikes that have never been tuned by a professional bike mechanic. The bikes ship unassembled, with your to figure out the rest.

Bikes are part art and part mechanics. Ride a professionally tuned bike and you’ll immediately notice the difference. The brake rotors are perfectly aligned with the wheel rim for smooth braking. The motor is tuned with the main bracket for smoother pedal-assist. the bike runs and rides smoother.

Fortunately, you can get an electric cargo bike built in the USA. Not just ‘designed in the USA’, but BUILT IN THE USA by Master Bike Mechanics and tuned by Master Bike Mechanics.

A hand-built USA bike will feel better when you ride it, and the components will last longer. Budget a little more for a USA built and tuned bike and you’ll get a lot more and save money over time.

Image: Master Bike Mechanic building an electric bike in the USA.

“Bike Assembly Difficulty Meter? What?”

Many companies ship unassembled electric cargo bikes. That means either you build it and have an untuned bike, or you have to find and pay someone to do it for you. That’s extra cost and extra hassle.

We recommend buying a fully-assembled electric cargo bike, so you can ride on day one.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Cargo Bikes

Are Electric Cargo Bikes Hard To Ride?

Electric cargo bikes are much easier to ride than regular cargo bikes, especially when you have passengers and the extra weight of your cargo.

The pedal-assist of an electric cargo bike makes going up hills a breeze, and having a throttle makes starting up from a stop-sign or other stops much easier and safer, as you get up to enough speed to have balance much faster. Crossing four-way stops is faster and easier with an electric cargo bike.

Is it Hard to Pedal a Fat Tire Bicycle?

Fat tires add traction and comfort to your riding experience, though the added traction translates to added friction. Electric fat tire bicycles eliminate the added difficulty of pedaling a fat tire bike by adding electric-assist to your pedaling effort.

What are Electric Cargo Bikes Used for?

Electric cargo bikes are good for basic transportation like running errands, grocery shopping or transporting kids and friends to school or other events. You can even use your e cargo bike for work if you need to carry goods or tools around. Many businesses use electric cargo bikes for deliveries.

Are Fat Tire E Bikes Good on Pavement?

The lower air pressure provides a more comfortable ride and more traction, making fat tire e bikes excellent for riding on pavement, and ready to ride on other surfaces easily. With a fat tire e bike, you can pick your own routes, from pavement to dirt, gravel, sand and snow. The fat tires also give you shorter emergency stopping distance, if you need to stop quickly.

Why Electric Cargo Bikes Are the Future of Transportation?

The future of electric cargo bikes is looking bright. With advances in battery technology and a growing interest in sustainability, electric cargo bikes are poised to take over the last-mile delivery market.

Cargo bikes are already popular in Europe, and their popularity is growing in the United States as well.

Electric cargo bikes are a cost-effective, sustainable, and efficient way to move goods, and they are only going to become more popular in the years to come.

The future of electric cargo bikes is looking bright. With advances in battery technology and a growing interest in sustainability, electric cargo bikes are poised to take over the last-mile delivery market.

Electric Wheelers is reader-supported. Although we independently research and test products, we may receive a commission on purchases made from our chosen links. Read more…

  • What is an electric cargo bike?
  • Different Styles of Cargo Bikes
  • The Benefits of Electric Cargo Bikes
  • The future of electric cargo bikes
  • Increased Range
  • Power
  • Better Battery Technology
  • Should I buy a cargo bike to transport my two young children?
  • Conclusion

What is an electric cargo bike?

Manufacturers design electric cargo bikes to combine the best of two worlds resulting in large, gear-hauling bikes with motors. Essentially, the bikes can be loaded with groceries or kids and still be able to handle uphill climbs on the way home.

Electric cargo bikes are quite popular in bike-friendly countries like Denmark. However, their popularity is constantly growing in the US.

In our opinion, the ability to haul things more easily is one of the main pros of electric bikes.

Electric cargo bikes are so good that most delivery drivers have chosen to switch up and acquire power-assisted bikes for an easy and environmentally friendly alternative for transporting goods. Also, riding with companions between various locations is so much easier with cargo bikes.

Read on to find out more about different styles of cargo bikes.

Different Styles of Cargo Bikes

Long-John Bike

The Long-John cargo bike is quite popular as a cargo bike and has a flatbed positioned in front of the cyclist. Manufacturers designed the bike with a long wheelbase, allowing it to carry lots of weight. The bike is easily maneuverable and perfect for long-distance cycling with more cargo than you would transport on regular bikes.

Riders can also fit the bike with a specially designed kid box that kids can ride in, allowing you to keep an eye on them while you cycle. The bike has a good steering motion, similar to regular bikes, and a slim design perfect for riding on busy roads. You can find an electric Long-John model for a smoother riding experience.

Longtail Bike

Longtail bike designs are just as their name suggests. The bikes have longer rear ends than present in regular bikes. The design helps make it easier for cyclists to haul cargo between destinations. Cyclists can place cargo on or on either side of the deck. Longtail bikes have regular handling, making cyclists feel like they would when riding regular bikes.

There are various long-tail bikes in the market with several options to choose from, including folding bikes. The bike’s design makes it easy to use by various individuals, including children and adults. They also come in various electric model variants that ease the transportation of cargo between destinations.

Front-Load Trike

Front-Load trikes’ design allows cyclists to load their cargo on its front end. The trike is more stable than regular bikes and can accommodate much more weight because it has two wheels at the front.

Additionally, the front-load trike has a lowered center of gravity that helps cyclists maintain their balance. Acquiring an electric front-load trike greatly improves the riding experience compared to regular, two-wheel electric bikes. They are more comfortable and better at transporting heavy cargo.

Enough Load Capacity

A study done by Transport for London found out that most cargo transportation vans are about 38% full, and close to 40% of transportation vans are close to 25% full. Most cargo bikes have a 250 kg potential load capacity, making them a direct competitor for transporting cargo.

Quicker in City Centers

Additionally, electric cargo bikes are quicker than vans when transporting cargo in city centers. They have an average drop-off speed of 10 parcels an hour compared to a van’s six parcels each hour. Cyclists using cargo bikes can navigate through traffic fairly easily by taking shortcuts through streets closed off to traffic.

No CO2 Emissions

Electric cargo bikes do not produce CO2 emissions, helping prevent environmental pollution. The transport sector is the biggest contributor to several pollutants, including NOx, PM25, PM10, etc. Companies and individuals that switch to electric cargo bikes will greatly help reduce instances of pollution.

Reduce Traffic

Electric cargo bikes can help reduce traffic because they cover less space and transport the required amounts of cargo. This reduces the number of vehicles that need to be on the road, consequently freeing up the highway. The bikes also improve cyclists’ health through physical exercise, eliminating cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.

The future of electric cargo bikes

Electric cargo bikes have a greater future than regular electric bikes, scooters, etc., because they have more applications and room for improvement. They are practical, adaptable, and can be used by individuals and companies. Here are some features that can be improved on with electric cargo bikes.

Increased Range

We can determine the range electric vehicles travel by comparing battery designs and capacity. Logically, better batteries can power an electric vehicle for longer, allowing it to reach greater distances. Additionally, more batteries also mean longer distances, and this can be improved for electric cargo bikes.

Unlike regular electric bikes, their electric cargo bike variants offer a greater opportunity for improvement. You may witness range improvements in the future due to improved battery technology and battery additions that’ll provide the e-cargo bikes with increased range. The designs may also incorporate better recharging technology like solar power to boost the bike’s range.

Power

Electric cargo bikes are likely to become more powerful with technological advances.

They are currently more powerful than regular electric bikes. There is a possibility that manufacturers will look for ways to make them even more powerful since they are designed for carrying heavy loads.

Better Battery Technology

Most people are ditching regular vehicles for electric variants, and while they may seem appealing, they are costly. As such, more demand seems to shift to electric means of transportation that are more cost-effective.

Increased demand forces manufacturers to create better products. Creating better batteries is quite critical in the industry since users will be able to ride longer distances. Thus, there is a chance that more efficient batteries will be invented in the future.

Should I buy a cargo bike to transport my two young children?

Electric cargo bikes are great for individuals that want to transport cargo between locations. However, they can also be used to transport children, especially for individuals who don’t have access to a vehicle or those that are environmentally conscious and want to reduce their carbon footprint.

You can buy a cargo bike and use it to transport your children to school, playdates, etc., but you have to ensure you follow specific regulations like staying safe in traffic, following traffic laws and using straps and other safety accessories.

Also, your children should be old enough to hold their heads in an upright position for extended periods.

Conclusion

Electric cargo bikes have emerged as a promising alternative to traditional transportation modes, and they are likely to play a crucial role in shaping the future of urban mobility.

With their ability to carry heavy loads, reduce traffic congestion, and minimize carbon emissions, electric cargo bikes offer a sustainable and efficient solution for transportation and logistics.

Therefore, electric cargo bikes are not only the future of transportation, but also the present, and we should embrace them as a Smart and responsible choice for a better world.

You don’t need an SUV. You need a (much) cheaper electric cargo bike. Here’s why

America has an SUV problem. Or rather, just a big vehicle problem in general. The land of SUVs and pickup trucks has somehow been tricked into thinking you need a 4,000-pound vehicle to carry 20 pounds of groceries home from the supermarket.

But there’s a better way, and it’s called an electric cargo bike. It will save you money. It will save you time. It will make you more attractive. And it will make you happier. I all but guarantee it.

Now let’s be clear about something. When I say “You don’t need an SUV,” I’m speaking in general terms. It’s true – generally – for most people reading this article right now.

Sure, there are some of you that regularly transport seven people across vast distances on highway and interstates. But most of us don’t. It’s a simple numbers game. Most people in the US live in cities and urban centers. And that’s why you don’t need a massive SUV.

And even for those that do “need” an SUV for certain specific tasks, you don’t need it most of the time. I’d bet dollars to donuts that most people reading this right now who own an SUV do most of their trips in it with just one or two passengers.

For those that really need a car, you probably only need a small hatchback or sedan. But I’m going to make the case for why you probably don’t even need that, or at least not for most of your trips. Especially when you consider just how far electric cargo bikes have come.

Twenty years ago, a cargo bike was a nifty invention and fun to look at, but they cost a fortune and lord help you if you ever had to pedal one up a hill.

But electric bikes have come to the rescue. Electric motors now allow e-bike builders to make cargo bikes that are easier to pedal up hills (or that don’t require any pedaling at all in the case of throttle-enabled electric cargo bikes). are also quickly dropping, meaning you can get a great cargo e-bike for a song. Instead of buying an expensive second car, you can probably get away with one car and one cargo e-bike.

There are two main styles of cargo e-bikes: front-loaders and longtails. (Technically there are also cargo e-trikes as well, but we’ll leave three-wheelers for another discussion soon.)

Front-loaders have a big cargo area in the front and are generally more expensive due to the funky frame and complicated steering linkage that front loaders require.

Longtails look more like a normal bike but have loooooong rear ends that are stretched to give more rack and seat space behind the rider.

cleantechnica, tested, flyer, l885, long, tail

Front-loaders are a bit more advanced and can take more time to get acclimated to, as the rider is much farther from the front wheel than they’re probably used to. If you’re new to cargo bikes, a longtail is probably a better place to start.

Both offer great cargo space, they just do it differently.

Can cargo e-bikes actually replace SUVs?

Okay, so cargo e-bikes sound neat and all. But c’mon, can they really replace cars and trucks?

Yes, for most people they can. And you might balk at that, but there’s a reason why I’m confidently correct here.

cleantechnica, tested, flyer, l885, long, tail

It’s true because most people don’t use their SUVs to explore to the Amazon. They use them to go buy the stuff they can’t find on Amazon.

Picking up groceries. Dropping off a kid or two at school. Driving to work. These are all normal, everyday tasks that for some reason people think requires heavy machinery. Which is as ridiculous as it is depressing. If you live in a city and you drive a massive car, then you’re probably in the wrong. Unless you’ve got several dozen 2×4’s hanging out the back of that truck or the entire starting lineup from little Jimmy’s T-ball team in your SUV, then you don’t need that massive vehicle.

I’ve actually used cargo e-bikes to carry construction material before, including bags of cement and dimensional lumber. It’s just not that hard.

And I’ve carried multiple passengers on them as well. Three people on a cargo e-bike is pretty standard, though it helps when one or two of those extra souls are also children.

A reddit commenter in a walkable cities advocacy group recently put it best. As the redditor explained, “Are there viable bikes that can replace the true power and utility of an SUV? Not even close. Are there bikes that can replace what 99% of drivers use their SUVs for 99% of the time? Absolutely.”

Now again, there are going to be those people who say, “But I need my truck, I use it for XYZ that a bike can’t do!”

And I get it. There are some big jobs out there. My sister runs a furniture refinishing business and regularly hauls dressers, desks, and other big things around town.

But then again, maybe you’re just still stuck in that “I need a car to do this” mentality. Did you know there are actually moving companies that work entirely by bicycle? They’ll move your apartment without getting trucks involved.

When there’s a will (and a cargo bike), there’s a way.

Cargo e-bikes save money

Not only can cargo e-bikes do most of what most people use their SUVs and trucks for, but they do it cheaper.

The hundreds of dollars per month that your truck or SUV burns in gasoline would equate to probably less than a dollar of electricity to power an electric cargo bike. If you do some serious mileage then you might be looking at as much as two dollars of electricity per month.

And don’t forget the hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of dollars you’ll save each month on parking, insurance, car payments, maintenance, and all the other costs associated with car ownership.

Even the purchase price is usually 10x less. If you go nuts with the best electric cargo bikes out there from the highest dollar manufacturers, you could be looking at expensive 8,000 e-bikes. But if you are more reasonable, there are great options in the 4,000 range and still very good options in the sub-2,000 range.

Heck, you can even get close to 1,000 if you really try. Take for example the 999 Lectric XP 3.0. It’s not a cargo e-bike (but rather a fat-tire folding e-bike), though it turns into a cargo bike when you add the 110 cargo package. Or add the 74 passenger package to easily carry a second adult rider on the bike.

Other affordable e-bikes like the Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 (or RadRunner Plus shown in the video above) are purpose-built for carrying passengers and offer a comfortable way to bring a friend or loved one on back.

You can even fit two riders on the back of a RadRunner as long as they’re fairly small.

Why drive to dinner in a massive car when you and your wife could zip there on an e-bike built for two? Add a little excitement and adventure into date night!

Look, just think about it

Let’s get real: Most people could do most of their daily travel needs in a city on an e-bike. But because of the world we live in, that doesn’t mean that a car can be totally replaced all the time.

For some people, that means not owning a car and occasionally using a car sharing service for the once-in-a-while Ikea trip or other car-related journey. My wife and I did that for years. If we needed a car for a couple hours here and there, we rented a car for a couple hours. It was waiting on the street corner and that’s where we left it when we were done. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Top comment by nateh

That is quite a statement. In my state the vast majority live in suburban areas where bikes are not only not practical but often outright dangerous. Maybe if there was a separate infrastructure for bikes it would be ok but there are a lot of 45 mph roads with no bike lanes.

For others that still use a car somewhat frequently, perhaps that means having one family car but getting an e-bike instead of a second car. And of course, that also means trying to use the e-bike for as many trips as possible.

If you live at the end of a 3-mile private driveway that connects to a 70 mph six-lane highway, then an e-bike probably can’t be your only vehicle. But you also don’t exist because that’s a silly made-up scenario that the anti-anti-car crowd tends to think is all too common.

In reality, of course there are people that an e-bike won’t work for and of course there are still some cases where a big vehicle may be necessary. But those people and those cases are much fewer and farther between than most will realize. Sometimes it just takes looking at the problem from another angle.

Stay up to date with the latest content by subscribing to Electrek on Google News. You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.

Leave a Comment