CARGO BIKE FACEOFF
Posted on 02 March 2021
Riding a cargo bike through the city is a form of heightened consciousness and enlightenment. While once upon a time riding a cargo bike was a form of contrarian spirit, they are more and more becoming a mainstream item in the bike lane. And, that's because they make a lot of sense! What was once a costly battle through gridlock in a car becomes uninterrupted point-to-point ease in a cargo bike. And, an endless search for parking spots is replaced by front door arrival. Cars do their best work driving from city to city, but if you're negotiating short, gridlocked point-to-point intra-city distances, a cargo bike will literally change the way you transport yourself.
Is a cargo bike safe? Absolutely. Except for longtail models (which we'll discuss below), each bike we sell is tested to absorb impacts of up to 40km/h; that's why they all have some sort of bin up front that is clad in wood, EPS foam, ABS or Lexan plastic. Unlike a child-seat or trailer, a cargo bike is designed for cities and not just car-free recreational trails, although it can do both quite easily.
Are they expensive? In short, yes, but a little math shows that a cargo bike is a way to spend in order to save. After adding up ownership, insurance, maintenance, gas, and parking fees, operating a car costs more for a single year's use than most of the cargo bikes we sell. Many city dwellers live up to 90% of their lives within 7km of home, and most of those locations are too far to walk but also way too close to drive. A cargo bike safely links these points with less cost, more efficiency, and waaaaaay more fun!!! You can keep your car, but you'll use it as a secondary vehicle, and that means less cost, a healthier life, and way more great memories with your kids to share later on.
A quality cargo bike is not unlike today's baby strollers: they are carefully-considered products with price tags that demand discernment. And, since we carry not just one cargo bike brand but several, it's worth discussing which one is right for you.
LONGTAIL VS FRONT LOADING
This is a question we get asked a lot... what's the difference between a long tail and a front-loading cargo bike? The difference might be best described by the regulatory environment of Europe versus North America. In Europe, cargo bikes go through rigorous safety testing like cars do - they are required by law to be able to sustain impacts of 40km/hr, which is why you'll see boxes made of ABS plastic, EPS foam, wood, or Lexan plastic. In North America, no such legislation exists. In this regard, the longtail is very much a North American invention and doesn't have the same safety testing as EU cargo bikes.
Why put the load in the back? After all, one of the great advantages of a front-loader is that space is carved out in the bicycle design to lower cargo as close to the ground as possible, so that if you do tip over, the fall is shorter with much less impact velocity. Some ask: is a longtail really a cargo bike by definition? And, if not, what is a longtail's place in the market?
If there is a "safety spectrum" of cargo safety (with a bike with a childseat on one end, and a front-loading cargo bike on the other), a longtail would sit right in between. With a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axle), the extra weight of children or cargo is displaced over more surface area, creating much higher stability than a regular bike where the load is carried higher up behind the rider. And, unlike a bike with a childseat, a longtail can bear significantly higher weight loads. A child seat usually has a weight capacity of 45 lbs. max, whereas a longtail can carry up to 350 lbs. (combined rider + cargo).
IN FOCUS: BENNO BOOST
The Boost is just as stable as brands like Yuba, but they don't ride like a school bus. Wider tires and a smaller wheel maintain stability within a shorter footprint, so you have a fun, agile bike in corners and straightaways.
If you are dead-set on a longtail bike for carrying kids and want incomoprable performance, we recommend the Riese & Muller Multicharger, followed by Benno bikes. Riese & Muller's Multicharger is designed with as many top-notch European parts as possible, and with a full suspension system and e-assist, it's truly the best for hauling wicked loads up the steepest of climbs. A Benno's smaller 24" wheels and wider tires lowers its centre of gravity for better control and safety. The quality is much more to our standards than brands like Yuba, and they look nice too!
Another argument for longtails is that they fit two older kids a bit better than a front-loader, although the front-loading Babboe Slim offers a serious challenge to this (it does the same thing a longtail does, but puts the cargo back to the front of the b).
IN FOCUS: BABBOE SLIM
The Babboe Slim does everything a Longtail does, but it keeps your kids in-front, so they can enjoy the view (and you can keep an eye on them!). Around the kids is a heavy duty, impact resistant steel bar. Total safety!
But the big reason longtails were designed (or so rumour has it) was for cities with minimal bicycle infrastructure - where bikes were sharing the road with cars and had tighter spaces to negotiate, and so needed to be narrower to squeeze past cars.
We tend to raise an eyebrow at this reasoning. If a city has less infrastructure, then this puts more burden of responsibility on the bike itself to increase cargo safety. Then there's also the very valid question of why a cargo bike shouldn't take up space on the road? After all, the less space you occupy, the more "like" a regular bike you are, and the greater chance drivers will take risks around you. A front loader is the biggest "baby on board" sticker you could ever have, and in our experience - as the largest cargo bike retailer in North America - most drivers are happy to give you the room you need.
IN FOCUS: R&M MULTICHARGER
Carrying kids to work? Riding from Cairo to Capetown? The Multicharger is the Land Rover of longtails, designed for rugged trekking performance and daycare drop-offs.
Cargo bikes are about carrying stuff, but also keeping the cargo safe. Especially if your cargo involves human lives! (Or dogs, cargo bikes are great for dogs!) The big difference between a front-loading cargo bike and a long-tail is impact safety. Front loading cargo bikes (at least from the EU) are all independently impact tested. The box isn't just storage, but safe storage. Longtails don't have the same impact resistance but are closer to regular bikes in terms of feel, making them a popular choice. Ultimately, you decide what safety suits your needs. But we will always side with your Mama says: safety first!
The problem with cargo bikes is that they're big. Unless you have a garage, you can't exactly bring them inside. This is a problem in Holland and Denmark too, where people have no choice but to store their bikes outside year-round. Thankfully, Holland and Denmark are good testing grounds for cargo bikes. Close to the salt water of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, both countries also get a lot of rain and freezing temperatures - which they handle by pouring salt on every road surface. Hmmm, sounds familiar!
There are good cargo bikes and there are bad cargo bikes - and what separates the wheat from the chaff much is tied to all-weather outdoor storability. A bad cargo bike will have frames and parts that rust quickly, and cheap wooden boxes that rot in wet weather. A good cargo bike has a chip-resistant overcoat and a rust-resistant undercoat to protect when chips and scratches do occur. Chip-resistance is accomplished by powder-coating the frame, an expensive process that creates strong paint adhesion by charging the frame and paint with opposite electrical currents. All of the cargo bikes we sell are powder-coated. And, all of the cargo bikes we sell are also primed with some sort of rust-resistant undercoat, whether this is phosphate conversion coating, electrophoretic deposition, or galvanizing. In short, they're built for perpetual outdoor storage.
IN FOCUS: MATERIALS
The frame on your bike needs to be tough and weather resistant. A steel frame needs finishes that are as structural as the frame itself: chip resistant overcoats and rust-resistant undercoats. Aluminum frames are rust resistant but need to be made of tough aluminum tubes.
However, only a steel frame can rust, and that's why companies like Riese & Muller, Carqon, Bullitt and Urban Arrow prefer to use aluminum. Aluminum is lighter than steel, and also less flexy - and you can feel that stiffness especially on the longer two-wheeled bikes. The aluminum frames these brands employ have larger frame tubes to increase strength and weld-surface. They cost more money, but it's nice to have a lighter bike if you have longer rides - and the natural rust-resistance is a definite bonus.
The box also has to be weather-resistant, and all of the cargo bikes we sell are as good as they get. Urban Arrow bikes use lightweight EPS foam, Carqon uses ABS plastic, Riese & Muller uses EPS foam, engineered plastic, or metal exoskeletons, Nihola uses Lexan plastic (the same stuff in hockey rink boards), and Bullitt uses a ridiculously lightweight honeycomb aluminum lattice. All of these boxes offer superior impact resistance and are made for all-weather outdoor storage. If wood is used, it must be marine-grade. Brands like Babboe use fully immersible plywood that can weather decades of outdoor storage. We've seen cheaper brands use cheaper wood, and the rot creates splintering sharp edges that can catch small fingers - it's just not safe or nice to look at.
IN FOCUS: BABBOE
The wood boxes on a Babboe Cargo Bike are made of super-durable marine-grade wood, fully immersible and sourced from the hardwood forests of Finland.
Finally, while it's great to have a frame and box that are made for the Great White North, what about the parts? Most bikes in North America come with external derailleurs. A derailleur offers a million gears and is great for lightweight mountain bikes, but a cargo bike demands a different set of principles. A cargo bike must be low maintenance (it's your car, after all) and weatherproof. That's why most of the cargo bikes we sell come with internal gears. The gears are inside the rear hub - sealed from all the grit and grime of the outside world - and they require a bare minimum of maintenance. The more gears you get, the wider the range is. Hubs like the Shimano Nexus 7 are great for flatter areas, hubs like the Shimano Nexus 8 increase climbing range by about 20%, while hubs from Rohloff or Enviolo offer drivetrains that compete with derailleurs for gear-range, but without the high maintenance. You can find internal gears on all the cargo bikes we sell, except for a few high performance Bullitt and Riese and Muller models.
Brakes should also be weatherproof and low maintenance. Drum brakes are internal - like internal gears - and offer the same low maintenance. However, they do not have enough power to stop e-assist cargo bikes. That's why all e-assist cargo bikes are equipped with low maintenance hydraulic disc brakes. The best thing about hydraulic disc brakes is that they use fluid inside the housing, not cables, which means they continue to work all winter - avoiding the problem of 'cable freeze.'
Want even lower maintenance? A lot of our bikes come equipped with belt drives. These are a total game changer! Most bicycle chains only run for about 4,000km before needing replacement. A belt drive will run for 30,000km! And, whereas a chain requires weekly cleaning and lubrication, a belt drive never requires oil - ever! You can find belt drives on Carqon, Bullitt, and Riese & Muller bikes.
IN FOCUS: RIESE & MULLER
Riese & Muller and Bullitt cargo bikes come with the option of an internal gear hub and a Gates Belt Drive. Together this makes for the lowest maintenance, cleanest drivetrain possible.
- Steel bikes are stronger than aluminum, but they can rust. Frames must have strong finishes.
- Aluminum bikes are rust-resistant but need thicker tube walls to ensure strength.
- Wood boxes must be marine grade.
All of our bikes meet these standards!
Internal gears are sealed from the weather and very low maintenance. Bigger gear ranges mean more hill-climbing capability - especially important with cargo on board!
- Nexus 7 - 244% gear range (flatter terrain)
- Nexus 8 - 307% gear range (hillier terrain)
- Enviolo 330 - 330% gear range (steep hilly terrain)
- Enviolo 380 - 380% gear range (serious climbs!)
- Rohloff 14-speed - 526% gear range (definitely a mountain goat!)
- Drum brakes are low maintenance and great on non e-assist bikes.
- Hydraulic disc brakes are low maintenance, super powerful, and don't freeze up in winter.
- Gates Belt Drive is zero-maintenance, runs for 30,000km and keeps clothing clean.
STABILITY & HANDLING
A cargo bike is designed to be safe, and safety in the city has to do with two (often polarized) dynamics: stability and handling. On most bikes, you generally get one or the other. On a cargo bike, you really need a balance of both.
A three-wheeled cargo bike will always be more stable than a two-wheeled cargo bike. A three-wheeled cargo bike plants a wider footprint across three points, "gluing" the bike and rider to the ground. Three wheeled bikes are the most approachable due to their low learning-curve.
In terms of approachability, the Nihola cargo bike offers the finest out-of-the-box stability and handling on the market. Secure three-wheeled footing means a Nihola requires zero learning curve, and due to its light weight, it's remarkably efficient for longer rides. The brilliance behind the Nihola's design is how it seamlessly combines the stability of a tricycle and the handling of a regular bicycle. Let us explain.
Most three-wheeled cargo bikes like the Babboe Big and Babboe Curve are stable, but they do lack something in the way of handling. This is because it's not the wheels that steer, but the entire box. The rider has to throw their weight into the handlebars as they literally swing the box left or right. It's fine for short rides, but on longer rides it can feel a bit burdensome, especially considering that these boxes are made of heavy wood. In this respect, Nihola is a game-changer.
A Nihola uses independent steering, so it's not the box that moves, but only the front wheels. It's little wonder that Nihola is our best selling cargo bike brand and a solid investment. That said, the Babboe models do tend to be more economical, and they fit more kids in the bin for the money too.
IN FOCUS: NIHOLA
Three wheels. Impact-resistant. Best-in-class handling. And lightweight! No wonder the Nihola bikes are our best selling cargo bike. Maximum stability with highly reactive handling. Made in Denmark.
Two-wheeled models achieve stability by increasing the length of the footprint (the technical term for this is "wheelbase"). Bikes like the Babboe City, or the Urban Arrow Family all have long wheelbases, and all feel nearly as stable as a three-wheeled bike once the bike is at cruising speed (say, 6km/hr and over). Below cruising speed, however, the bikes do require a bit of 'oversteer' or extra handling to keep stability. This is because the bikes are all a bit 'top-heavy', meaning that both the cargo and the rider sit a bit higher than the bike's centre of gravity. And, while gaining confidence in the bike's stability entails a slight learning curve, the learning curve is easy for most to master.
Then there are bikes like the Bullitt. These bikes were built completely around highly responsive handling, and once you've mastered the learning curve, the bike feels like it's wired to your brain. Bullitts are light, stiff, zippy and fast - they are as close to a regular bike as you can get. Then again, bikes like Carqon, and the Riese & Muller models blend an intoxicating two-wheeled responsiveness with absolutely zero learning curve. These bikes all use new-generation geometry that ride without the top "heavy" feeling of traditional Dutch cargo bikes (like Urban Arrow and Babboe). However, the riding position isn't quite as upright - and many love that bolt-upright Dutch feel.
But, what if you want the independent steering of a Nihola for dense city traffic but two-wheeled handling for trips on higher-speed off-street bike tracks? The answer lies with Babboe and their new and amazing Carve model. The Carve takes the same independent steering found on the Nihola but combines it with tilt-steering. Tilt steering glues all three wheels to the ground, while the bike itself leans into the corner. Best of all, with the Babboe Carve, you can turn the tilt-steering on and off. Turn the tilt off and you have the same super-safe handling of a Nihola. Turn the tilt on and you have the same exhilarating handling of a two wheeled cargo bike. As a super-bonus, the Carve also comes with a Yamaha e-assist morotThe Carve is our all-time favourite bike for daily errands and weekend adventures.
IN FOCUS: CARQON
One of the easist-to-ride two-wheelers on the market, the Carqon feels super stable. Many cargo bikes tend to feel 'top-heavy', creating instability at slow speeds. The Carqon keeps weight low across a stable footprint. It's total two-wheeled confidence! Made in Holland.
So, why would someone accept a learning curve in order to balance stability and handling? Two wheeled bikes are often for those who have longer commutes or want to do longer rides with the family on weekends. They feel more like a "regular bike" and tend to have much higher efficiency due to lower drag with one less wheel on the ground. Of course, an e-assist on a three-wheeler gives you all the efficiency of a two-wheeler, but battery consumption will be higher due to increased drag.
In sum, you might say cargo bikes often have a learning curve, and how much learning curve you want is the key to choosing the best bike for you. A three-wheeled bike like a Nihola, Babboe Big or Babboe Curve are the most stable, and that makes them remarkably approachable. On the other hand, bikes like Bullitt, Babboe City and Urban Arrow depend more on rider experience for stability, and to facilitate this, they give the rider as much responsiveness as possible. It takes a bit of a learning curve, but if you have the confidence, hey, it's half the fun.
IN FOCUS: BULLITT
Designed for performance, cornering and high-speed chases: the Bullitt is the lightest and stiffest cargo bike on the market with specs that get the nod from every dyed-in-the-lycra cyclist.
The Babboe Carve gives you the best of both worlds: Independent steering for absolute safety in dense city traffic and a tilt feature for higher speed riding on recreational bike paths. Just turn the lever "on" or "off" to choose your safety and handling. Perfect for all levels of cyclists.
- Tilt Steering with on/off feature
- Strong steel frame with marine grade wooden box
- Powerful Yamaha engine
- Hydraulic disc brakes and internal gear hub
The Nihola cargo bikes all have independent steering. On most cargo bikes, the wheels are attached to the box and the whole box steers. Not Nihola. Just the wheels turn on a Nihola, just like a car. Perfect for inexperienced and experienced cyclists.
- Independent steering
- Strong steel frame with LEXAN cargo box
- Available in manual or e-assistr options
- Option for drum brakes or hydraulic disc brakes
Bikes like the Babboe Big and Curve use traditional 'box steering.' While you feel very stable on three wheels, the steering is a bit on the slow but steady side and takes a little more. Great for inexperienced cyclists.
- Box steering
- Strong steel frame with marine grade wood boxes
- Available in manual unassisted or with Yamaha motor e-assist
- Option for drum brakes or hydraulic disc brakes
LOW AND FLOW
Bikes like Carqon and Riese & Muller keep the centre of gravity very low, making handling - whether at slow or high speeds - something akin to Jedi mind-control. Perfect for all levels of cyclist.
- Aluminum frames with ABS or EPP boxes
- Powerful Bosch motors
- Wide range gearing options
- Gates Belt drive options
- Hydraulic disc brakes
The Babboe City and Urban Arrow bikes are both from Holland and have that bolt-upright design that feels super safe and comfortable. Can be a touch wobbly at slower speeds. Perfect for most cyclists.
- Bolt upright 'Dutch bike' position
- Babboe has a steel frame with marine grade wood box
- Urban Arrow has an aluminum frame with EPP box
- Powerful Bosch or Yamaha motors
- Disc brakes and wide range internal gears
Bullitt bikes are often 50% lighter than most cargo bikes (depending on accesories), making them the performance choice. These bikes are made for speed, cornering, and toughness. Perfect for performance cyclists.
- Super-light and very stiff aluminum frames
- Lots of cargo options (for kids or cargo)
- Shimano E-assist or manual drivetrains
- Optional Gates Belt drive s
- Hydraulic disc brakes
Ultimately, a cargo bike is about carrying stuff, so how much stuff can you carry? Below, we cover the right bike for 3-4 kids, 1-2 kids, dogs and even bikes for business! Let's take a peek!
CARRYING 3-4 KIDS:
Carrying four kids and want Nihola's spectacular handling and lightweight design? Look no further than the 4.0! This bike has two padded benches, two seatbelts, and two Y-straps (you can buy more Y-straps too, it takes up to four!). Available in e-assist or regular.
The Babboe Curve comes equipped with two benches and four Y-belts. Kids can climb in easily with foot stirrups near the fenders. The Curve comes in an e-assist version and a regular version. If you're carrying four kids, we highly recommend the e-assist version!
The Babboe Big is the original three-wheeled cargo bike, seen all over Holland. It comes stock with two benches and four Y-belts. Big on quality and low on price. Not available in e-assist.
ADDING A BENCH:
You can add an extra bench inside the box in each of the following bikes!
- Babboe Carve - four kids total
- Babboe City - four kids total
- Urban Arrow - four kids total
- Riese & Muller Packster - three kids total
ADDING A CHILDSEAT:
Carrying five children? Put the oldest on the BoBike Guppy childseat behind you, designed for kids up to 80 lbs.
NOTE: the Guppy only works on EN certified racks found on the following brands:
Babboe | Urban Arrow | Riese & Muller
CARRYING 1-2 KIDS:
The Carve comes with a single bench with two Y-belts - and the option for a second bench, for four kids total! The Babboe Carve has an on/off tilt feature, the perfect bike for urban errands and weekend adventures. Powered by an incredibly powerful Yamaha e-assist with remarkable range. Marine grade wood is highly impact resistant.
The best selling cargo bike in the world! This is the original two-wheeled cargo bike updated with a curved box (no sharp edges!) and the option of a powerful Yamaha electric assist. The marine grade box is weatherproof and highly impact resistant. Family growing? You can add a second bench, making it a four-kid cargo bike - the Dutch SUV!
Bullitts are high-performance cargo bikes, designed to be lightweight, stiff, intuitive, and above all, fun! You can carry two small kids (or one bigger kid) with the impact-resistant Bullitt Canopy and Kids Pack, or choose the equally impact-resistant Convoy Evo Box, which carries two kids with aplomb!
From the makers of Babboe comes Carqon, a new generation of Dutch cargo bike that updates the classic design with advanced geometry, materials and clever features. This lightweight bike carries two kids and even has a door! Powered by a powerful Bosch Cargo Line motor. Double walled ABS box for maximum impact resistance.
Our most popular cargo trike, partly for its lightweight design, partly for its incredibly safe handling. The Family comes with a padded bench, a seatbelt, and one Y-belt (you can buy another Y-belt too). E-assist option available. Box is steel framed and surrounded by high-impact resistant Lexan Plastic (the stuff used in hockey rink boards!)
The Packster 70 fits two kids on a luxurious padded bench with the ability to recline and the opportunity to add a second seat for an extra child. The Packster uses the powerful Bosch CX motor and comes in too many configurations to list. Box is made of super high-impact EPP foam (same stuff used in bicycle helmets!)
The first Dutch cargo bike to move beyond steel and wood designs to advanced materials like aluminum frames and lightweight boxes. The Urban Arrow carries 2-4 kids (extra bench required for 3-4 kids). Equipped with a powerful Bosch motor. Box is made of EPP foam for maximum impact resistance.
CARRYING INFANTS & TODDLERS
Carrying an infant in a cargo bike is not at all unusual in Holland or Denmark, but obviously you need to be very careful. The seat should be designed for infants, with extra comfort, neck-support, and if possible, extra shock absorption. Let's take a look at the options for each brand.
Babboe offers a fully suspended adaptor for Maxi Cosi brand carseats (pictured). This mounts in the front of the box, allowing for legroom for the kids on the bench. Need more space? You can add the Baby Seat, made of impact and shock-resistant EPP foam, or the Toddler seat, made of synthetic shock-absorbing rubber.
Unfortunately, there is no approved system for carrying infants in a Bullitt cargo bike. However, we have seen Babboe Maxi-Cosi adaptors bolted to the floor plate. While this seems secure, we recommend installing the canopy or BBX sidepanels for increased impact resistance.
Lots of options here!
Carqon offers a Maxi-Cosi adaptor for Maxi-Cosi carseats as well as a toddler seat made of shock and impact-resistant EPP foam.
The Nihola Family and 4.0 are both equipped with X-straps on the bottom of the bike to strap in car seats. However, a bench must be removed. The Weber Babyshell is made for Nihola bikes and maximizes space and safety. Made of shock-absorbing and impact resistant EPP foam. For toddlers, the Babboe Toddler seat fits like a charm in the Nihola, and is made of shock-absorbing synthetic rubber.
Just announced for 2021 and coming soon - The Riese & Muller baby seat. Stay tuned!
Urban Arrow offers one option for infants and one options for toddlers. The Maxi Cosi adaptor fits a Maxi-Cosi carseat and is fully adjustable, to give the kids on the bench the legroom they need. The Yepp Adaptor lets you mount a Yepp Mini child seat in the front area of the box - again, allowing for ample legroom for the kids on the bench.
The front door on the Nihola dog opens up so that your four-legged friend can hop in and out! This bike features the same lightweight design as other Nihola bikes, as well as its superior handling.
The Babboe Dog takes the popular Babboe Big bike and adds a ramp so that your dog can hop in and out with ease! Optional floor mat is recommended to keep the floor scratch-free and your dog comfy.
FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Did you know that Curbside has sold hundreds of cargo bikes to businesses across Canada and the USA? From FedEx North America to small Mom-and-Pop operations, we work with local partners to offer full customization, branding, and door-to-door delivery across the continent.
We'll show you some of our greatest hits here, but be sure to visit our B2B page for more.
E-assist and cargo bikes go together like bread and butter. A cargo bike, after all, is always heavier than a regular bike, and while adding weight to the bike may add to the stability, the weight does make it more work to pedal - especially if longer distances or hills are involved. Electric assist isn't cheating - you still have to pedal - it's just that the e-assist helps you pedal.
E-assist bikes have had their own genesis to arrive at where they are today, and there are multiple generations of systems on the market today, some more evolved than others. Because these e-assists are pedal-assists they use sensors to collect data inputs and computers to process and adjust power-feed. That's how a pedal-assist is different from a lot of (cheap) throttle-assist systems. With a throttle you're always using your thumb to modulate the level of power assist. On a computer assisted pedal-assist, the computer is doing all the work. On a big hill it cranks up the power. On flat terrain it hums in the background. It even knows when it's windy. It's sensational, like it's reading your mind.
IN FOCUS: MID DRIVE MOTORS
It makes sense for a 'pedal assist' bike to have its motor next to the pedals. A mid-drive motor offers the best safety, balance and long-term repairability than any other type of system.
But, you have to be careful. We only carry e-assists with motors by reputable companies. And, we only carry mid-drive e-assist cargo bikes, where the motor is between the pedals. Why?
E-assist bikes began with front motors and we advise to stay far away from these. If the computer senses that you need assist while you're slowing down on a wet corner the chances are high that you can slide out. It's just not safe. Rear wheel motors aren't any better. They force you to use derailleur systems, which can be high maintenance. But, the biggest problem with front and rear e-assist bikes are the companies who offer them. Most of these companies offer unproven products of mediocre quality and very poor after-sales support. The rule with any e-assist is that someday something will go wrong - so, product quality and after-sales service is absolutely essential.
Mid-drive systems are the evolution of e-assist systems. The pedal-assist motor is attached to the pedals, and you can use any drivetrain system you want, whether internal gear hub or derailleur. The bike companies that have signed on also show just how mainstream e-assist has become (it's nearly 40% of the market in Holland). Names like Yamaha, Bosch, and Shimano ensure that you'll always be well supported, and they ensure our staff are supported too with great training and certification.
With an e-assist motor, you can pedal your cargo bike up hills at speeds close to 32km/hr. The range is upwards of 100km on a single charge, and the battery takes a short 4-5 hours to fully recharge. If you prefer the stability and handling of a three-wheeled bike but are concerned about the reduced efficiency over distance and hills, an e-assist solves this problem immediately. If you prefer a two-wheeled model, the e-assist once again flattens hills and makes distance a joyful thing. Like we said, they go together like bread and butter!
Here are some terms you need to know:
- Motor Wattage - the higher the wattage, the more baseline power you have.
- Battery Wattage - the higher the battery wattage, the more range your bike will have.
- Torque - the more torque you have, the more the bike climbs and propels heavy cargo.
BOSCH CARGO LINE
The Cargo Line is a high torque motor that works especially well at low cadence (pedalling).
- 350W Motor
- 500W Battery
- Dual Battery is possible (1000W)
- 85NM Torque
Found on: Carqon } Riese & Muller
The Performance Line is a legendary motor, perfect for lighter-weight cargo bikes.
- 350W Motor
- 400W Battery
- Dual Battery is not possible
- 65NM Torque
Found on: Urban Arrow
Remarkably intuitive performance-tuning. Huge range outputs. Crazy torque. Very light.
- 350W Motor
- 630W Battery
- Dual Battery is not possible
- 85NM Torque
Found on: Bullitt
Highly tuned performance. Huge range output. Great torque. Very light.
- 350W Motor
- 418W Battery
- Dual Battery is not possible
- 60NM Torque
Found on: Bullitt
Famed for their low maintenance. Incredibly powerful. Amazing battery range.
- 350W Motor
- 400W or 500W Battery
- Dual Battery is not possible
- 70NM Torque
Found on: Babboe | Centaur Cargo
Price + Philosophy
As North America transitions from sprawl to greater urban density, our transportation needs will surely change. Cargo bikes are one of the most compelling answers to this challenge. In a culture that has traditionally made cars a necessity - meaning all those yearly costs of ownership are also a necessity - a cargo bike is a one-hit cost that saves you money year by year. So, whether a cargo bike is replacing your car, or your second car, you're not only getting places faster, but also with less cost - and you're smiling too!
Studies in Holland show that most urban dwellers have two things in common when it comes to daily trips. First, most distances are too far to walk. Second, most distances are also too close to drive! And, because transit systems rarely do door-to-door service, you need a solution that works. Enter the cargo bike. It's a bike with trunk space! Think about it: if you were to geo-map your life, how many distances would fit into this radius?
One great example of this radius can be seen in real estate. Today, a home will cost more based on its 'walk score.' A walk score is a way of measuring the high proximity lifestyle a property has. And, while most walk scores refer to distances that are much better bike bike, the higher the walk score, the more bikeable your area. Transportation companies also refer to this radius as the 'last mile'. The more congested urban density is, the more expensive the trip. This is also true for urban driving. From parking to gridlock to monthly operating costs, a car just doesn't add up.
In short, most urban dwellers live up to 90% of their lives within a 7km radius of home. That means that owning a car for distances greater than 7km might make sense. But, for 90% of all other journeys, a cargo bike makes the most sense! It saves you money, busts a huge hole in gridlock, and keeps you happy and healthy.
Another interesting thing about Holland? They have very high car ownership. Why? Because car ownership in Holland is directly correlate to high bicycle ownership. If a bike can multitask up to 90% of your daily transportation needs, that's putting money in your pocket. The money you save can go to luxury items. Like nice furniture, travel, or sure - maybe even a car!
EXPLORE OUR BRANDS
At Curbside we pride ourselves on careful curation. And, we take this seriously. We travel yearly to Europe. We walk the streets, checking wear and tear, seeing which brands are used and which one's aren't. We visit tradeshows and we visit factories. We build relationships. We've been importing cargo bikes since 2006 and the brands we carry all have to follow four strict guidelines:
The brands we carry must be experienced leaders in the cargo bike market
The brands we carry must be durable, functional and above all: proven.
The brands we carry must be able to support excellent after-sales service.
Babboe model the Dutch love for economy, and economy is a good thing! Economy means spending money to save money, but not too much money. Babboe bikes are great quality, made to last, with no unnecessary frills.
The most popular bike in Denmark, and for good reason! Amazing quality (made in Denmark), 40% lighter than most competing brands, and the perfect combination of stabilty and handling. Copenhagen's bike culture was built on this bike. Your city can be too!
The evolution of the Longtail... the mid-tail! Benno builds stability with a wide tire, safety with a low center of gravity, and excellent handling with it's short wheelbase. Equipped with powerful Bosch motors, these are
A side-project of Babboe, Carqon takes Babboe's wealth of experience and applies it to a next-generation cargo bike packed with amazing features. A double-walled ABS box keeps the kids safe and even features a door! A total game-changer.
Urban Arrow took the Dutch cargo bike and revolutionized it. Based in Amsterdam, their bikes combine modern materials with the conventional upright Dutch riding position. Aluminum frame, impact-resistant EPP boxes. An established leader.
Bullitt revolutionized the cargo bike by resurrecting the famous Danish long-john, a bike originally designed for speedy freight delivery. Bullitt's are light, fast, and spec'd with high-end parts that give the Bullitt it's legendary feel.
RIESE & MULLER
Produced by upper echelon engineering gods, Riese & Muller bikes are pure perfection. Intuitive handling with almost no learning curve and a diligent, empirical approach to each nut and bolt. Made in Germany.
THANKS FOR READING!
Cargo bikes are something we really believe in. We want to help build a world where cargo bikes are used everywhere, making our cities healthier and more beautiful too! We've been importing cargo bikes since 2006 and we're pretty confident that no one has the experience we do. And, we'd love to share that experience with you! We know that buying a cargo bike brings up a lot of questions, and we'd love to answer those one-on one. You can email info@curbsidecycle, call at 1-866-920-4933 or (even better!) book a remote or in-store sales appointment.