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What is a Cargo bike – and can they really replace your car?

Cargo bikes have been around for ages and are basically regular bikes that can carry additional storage, however Electric Cargo Bikes with power assist have changed the game. Electric Cargo Bike sales have been growing 50% year on year. So here we are going to find out exactly what is a cargo bike, what they are used for and why everyone keeps saying they can replace your car…..

What is a cargo bike?

Cargo bikes usually have extended frames which include wider racks and storage boxes located either at the front, rear or both ends of the bike and are used for carrying cargo. They usually have reinforced frames, hydraulic brakes and puncture proof tires as standard.

Have you ever noticed on a regular bike how much harder it is when you are carrying any kind of load? Be it a child seat, rucksack or panniers, it becomes a lot harder, expends much more energy and limits how far and for how long you can ride.

Electric bikes in have eliminated this issue due to being motor ‘Assisted’. With so much potential here, Manufacturers have tapped into the electric Cargo Bike Space and created specially designed bikes to carry much larger loads for a multitude of purposes, I have seen some 3 wheeled ‘Trike’ models able to carry up to 250kg!

Powerful Mid-Drive motors are preferred over hub drives and I have seen some models come equipped with 2 x 500WH batteries fitted to the frame capable of better range with heavy loads on board.


Electric Cargo Bikes… Can they really replace your car?

Probably not for most people and to me when I first heard this seemed absurd, however after reading an article about someone who had ditched her car for a whole month to test this theory I was proved wrong…..well almost.

This person lived in a city suburb, her life revolved around a 30-mile radius most of the time ( sound familiar?) this included dropping the kids off at school, shopping at the local supermarket, trips the gym etc. Family and friends lived fairly local too so all of this was not a problem on the Electric Cargo Bike and In fact journey times were reduced as she did not have to contend with traffic congestion either.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after 1 month she was completely converted and sold the car due to the benefits of the Cargo Bike far outweighing the costs/hassle of running a car, and for her the main drivers were also the environmental impact.

My View on this is Cargo bikes are extremely practical and if 90% of the time you are using a car for short- trips then this really is a viable option as you will save on insurance, fuel, tax and the inconvenience of waiting in traffic. However, would you really want to load 3 kids onto one of these in torrential rain and get them to school in one piece? personally, I wouldn’t want to to ferry the kids around in one, but for anything else they can be very useful indeed.


What are the main types of electric cargo bike?

Where do I start, cargo bikes come in so many forms but the main ones are as follows

Boxbike: or otherwise known as ‘Bakfiats’ (Dutch) these have their storage located in front of the rider between the boxBikehandlebars and the front wheel. Box Bikes have much larger storage which can be adapted for a multiple of uses for example Child Seats for the school runs or can be adapted for small business enterprises such as mobile coffee stands. The Box Bike is becoming very popular for courier companies who are using them to complete ‘last mile’ deliveries from local depots looking to reduce their costs and carbon footprint.

 

 

Long tails: The clue is in the name – these bikes have a much longer frame with an extended rear of usually between What is a cargo bike10″ – 17″ and are great for carrying large panniers, bags or loads on the over sized racks. Unlike the box bike’s the is behind the rider so all the weight is at the rear which can be more difficult to control in slippery weather conditions and do not feel quite as stable as the Box bikes or mid-tail versions. Long-Tails come in 2 wheeled and 3 wheel ‘Trike’ Versions which are capable of carrying heavier loads than the 2 wheeled versions.

 

mid Tail
Mid-Tails: Similar to the Long-Tails but with a shorter frame resembling a more normal bike in terms of size. These still very sturdy bikes capable of carrying some heavy loads on the rear, but more manageable to use on a day-to day basis and easier to store.

 

 


How can Cargo E-bikes benefit business?

As I have already touched on earlier, I do believe this form of transportation has limitless potential to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and overheads – No fuel costs, road tax, insurance or parking!. UPS for example recently confirmed they have replaced over 8% of their vehicle fleet with electric powered ‘pedalecs’ alternatives in inner city areas.

In my view the opportunity here is not just for large companies to benefit, small independent coffee stalls, ice cream vendors and local tradesmen are also turning to Cargo Bikes – Cafe’s and cake shops can deliver easily within the local area taking their product to the streets rather than waiting for customer footfall in shops to dictate their fate.

With the decline of the high street over the past year and the strain on local businesses to stay afloat, I believe Cargo bikes are a viable option for businesses and will have their part to play in the overall economic recovery.


What are the environmental benefits of a cargo ebike?

They are HUGE! E-bikes, Cargo Bikes in fact any type of bike will reduce air pollution/ C02 Vs motorized vehicles in addition to reducing noise pollution as well.
I’m not going to go into stats and graphs but basically riding an Ebike will put out a tenth of the C02 compared to that of a car – its no contest.

If you are thinking of using an ebike to commute to work the you must read this post first


Conclusion – What Is A Cargo Bike?

On my regular commute into Central London I am seeing more of these bikes on the road and it fills me with hope that companies are taking carbon emmissions seriously. Using Cargo bikes for last mile deliveries and transporting goods is the way forward in my view and hopefully will reduce the number of cars on the road in inner city areas.

I have also seen some innovative ideas where Electric Cargo Bikes are being used for mobile coffee shops and ice cream stands so there are some great low cost start up ventures possible against using a van or having to rent premises.

I will be writing more content on these amazing bikes but for now I hope this article has helped answer the question of what is a Cargo bike and the many possibilities of how they can not only make your life easier but make a big impact on helping to save the planet.

If you own a Cargo Bike I would love to hear from you and how you use it, otherwise if you have any questions or would like any advice then please leave them below as I am always happy to help.

Interested in buying a Cargo bike? ===>Check out some great cargo bikes here<===

6 Comments

  1. Oh, thank you for explaining the cargo bikes. I’ve been looking to buy one of them since I’ve heard about their environmental benefits. I personally interested in electric cargo bikes, but how is the comparison with the normal bikes in terms of their cost? Even normal bike tend to be costly now, so I want to consider it carefully before buying. Thanks

    • Hi, they do vary in costs depending on brand and what you will be using the Cargo Bike for. Prices can range anywhere between £1500 up to £10K, but its worth getting something decent if you are carrying heavy loads as cheap components wont last in the long – term.  If you want some pointers please let me know your budget and what you will be using it for and I would be happy to help out.

  2. It is interesting that these bicycles with electric drive, that is, a battery, can carry up to 250 kg, which is a very large kilogram for one bicycle. I rode various but they were all with two wheels some road bike some racing I really hurt to spend time on the bike with music in my ears. I like the topic you chose I wish you a lot of success.

  3. Like you said, it probably can’t replace a car for MOST people. But for someone like me, it definitely could! I have been trying to find something reliable to spend less money on gas. i don’t really spend much on gas because everything is close to me. But I definitely could save even more money by just getting me one of these babies. Thank you so much for this review

  4. Certainly Dan, cargo bikes are the in-thing these days especially with all this talk about the negative effects of air pollution on climate change.  With most countries increasing levels of lockdown due to the second wave of the Corona Virus, the door to door delivery of both food and cargo are of paramount importance. 

    l can see these bikes being useful to food delivery companies such as Uber Eats. With huge fuel savings, this will substantially increase the companies’ profit margins. 

    Would you know where l can purchase a reliable cargo bike here in Sweden?

    • Hey Amos, Glad you enjoyed the post – There is a company called Triobike who  have 2 outlets in sweden, one in Limhamn and the other in Karlstad. Their Cargo bikes are good quality and they are an extablished brand https://triobike.com/en/. Let me know if you need any further help as I would be happy to assist. Dan

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