When I started reviewing electric cargo bikes years ago, they were expensive, niche vehicles for a specific subset of eccentric people. Today, electric bikes are everywhere. But there’s one demographic for whom an electric bike is especially useful—parents.
Parents, especially moms, travel a lot. In addition to a full-time job, I have a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old. On any given day, I’m dropping them off at school and running back home to get on the computer, shuttling them to playdates, or volunteering at events. Without a motor on my bike, I simply wouldn’t have the muscle power to carry my kids and tote all their stuff. I’d need a car.
An ebike changed everything for me. It turned my endless boring errands into windswept opportunities to simultaneously work out, take my kids on a joyride, and stop and chat with our neighbors. I love my electric cargo bike, probably a little too much. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
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Pick Your Ride
Bikes are incredibly personal. Which bike is best for you depends on a number of factors, like your budget, how big and strong you are (sorry), and the terrain and traffic around your house.
In general, cargo bikes come in two flavors. A mid- or longtail has an extended rear rack to attach seats or panniers, while a bakfiets or a Long John suspends a cargo box between the rider and the front wheel. I ride a Tern GSD S00 (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which is a mid-tail bike. It has a maximum weight capacity of around 450 pounds, and it’s not very long, which means that it can’t carry as much stuff as easily as a bakfiets, but it’s lighter and more maneuverable. If you live in a flat area with roads that are in good condition, I’d recommend a bakfiets; most people just throw garden tools and children into the box.