Cargo bikes with an electric motor (“cargo bike e-bikes”) are often used as a car replacement in large cities. GIGA editor Biagio has incorporated his many years of personal experience with e-cargo bikes in the following model overview and gives useful tips for this burgeoning e-mobility trend.
|GIGA savings tip||Best all-rounder||Best cargo two-wheeler||Best cargo tricycle|
|product||Bakfiets Cangoo||Babboe Dog-E||Urban Arrow Family Performance||Babboe Curve Mountain|
|Price (approx.)||approx. 1,800 euros||approx. 2,500 euros||approx. 4,500 euros||approx. 4,500 euros|
|advantage||Lots of space||Practical dog flap||Dynamic driving experience||Good incline in corners|
|disadvantage||Steering takes practice||Processing with slight defects||Maneuverability when driving slowly||Somewhat weak engine|
|offer||Internet bikes||Lucky bikes||FahrradXXL||FahrradXXL|
After a car accident two years ago, I made a decision: No more new car. Not for fear of accidents. My car has always pissed me off – the traffic in Berlin is just hell. Plus, the constant search for a parking space and all the parking tickets. And pollution. No, the accident was just a (painful) reminder that I should finally tackle a life without my own car.
As a train hater, the bicycle quickly came into focus as a car replacement. I didn’t want a trailer for safety reasons – and my children shouldn’t always sit at eye level with exhaust pipes in traffic. I initially resisted cargo bikes out of vanity – such a three-wheeled box vehicle really doesn’t look particularly dynamic. At some point that was too silly as a counter-argument, so I first bought a used cargo bike without an electric motor. I was so excited with the concept that just three months later I bought a brand new electric model.
After years of driving experience and everyday experience with my e-cargo bike, a new model will soon be available for me. The following buying advice has two levels. On the one hand, I’ll show you the best e-cargo bikes that I think are on the market. On the other hand, the listed models are owned by me or have been tested as part of my own purchase considerations – so to a certain extent represent my decision-making process on a meta level.
The best e-cargo bikes 2021 in a GIGA comparison
GIGA savings tip: Bakfiets Cangoo
- Good seat height
- High transport capacity
- Large space
- Steering challenging for beginners
If you have no experience with e-cargo bikes and would like to see whether the concept suits you in principle, you should perhaps take a look at an entry-level model like the Bakfiets Cangoo. That’s how I did it two years ago when I decided on an e-cargo bike as a car replacement. For less than 2,000 euros, the Bakfiets is a solid, robust and powerful e-cargo bike with which you can get a taste of the world of “Lastis” at a reasonable price.
Best all-rounder: Babboe Dog-E
- Dog flap in front
- Eyelets for dog leashes
- Foldable bench
- Gas suspension steering
- Equipment with minor flaws
If you see a cargo bike on the street, the chances are good it is a babboe. The bicycle with the large, brown wooden transport box with the black label from the manufacturer from Holland represents the entry into the world of cargo bicycles for many. This is partly due to the low entry price. Another reason is the high loading volume that the Babboe cargo bikes offer.
The Babboe Dog-E has some other useful features. The benches can be folded out, which is useful when transporting shopping (otherwise the carrier bags tend to slide between two benches and get stuck). In addition, the e-cargo bike has a ramp that your dog can use to climb into the transport box easily. Incidentally, this not only works for four-legged friends, but is also practical for toddlers who want to climb into the bike themselves.
In this price range, the Babboe cargo bikes have a few equipment deficiencies. The built-in tires (tubes) cannot withstand the load for long and you suddenly find yourself in front of a flat tire in the morning. But gaps in the transport boxes are also not uncommon for the entry-level models.
Best cargo two-wheeler: Urban Arrow Family Performance
- Robust and high quality workmanship
- Attachment for baby seat
- Very good electric motor
- Large loading area
- Difficult maneuverability with payload and low speed
- Large turning circle
The Urban Arrow Family Performance is one of the highest quality and best e-cargo bikes that you can buy right now and also the model that I will buy next. The Urban Arrow rides almost as dynamically as a conventional bicycle and still offers enough space for two children (optional accessories for a third child and baby seat) and shopping. The powerful Bosch motor ensures a wonderfully light driving experience, even with a load. Only when you drive slowly does the maneuverability of the Urban Arrow Family Performance decrease. Here, three-wheeled e-cargo bikes simply score with their more stable stance. The large turning circle can also be challenging on narrow sidewalks – a little practice is required here.
Best cargo tricycle: Babboe Curve Mountain
- Nice wood look
- High quality
- Tilting technique
- Hydraulic brake discs
- High transport capacity
- Benches a bit uncomfortable
The Babboe Curve Mountain is visually stunning. The wooden transport box looks like it was carved out of a single block. Despite the high load volume, the Babboe Curve Mountain does not look bulky due to the curved design. In contrast to the cheaper Babboe models, the workmanship is impeccable. When cornering, the e-cargo bike leans in the appropriate direction to counter the centrifugal force. With e-cargo bikes without tilting technology, you have to use your body as a counterweight when cornering at higher speeds in order to stay on track.
The only downer is the bench. This can be uncomfortable on longer journeys.
E-cargo bike test 2021: This is how I chose the recommendations
Buying an e-cargo bike: what else do I have to consider?
- How many children would you like to transport with the cargo bike?
Most e-cargo bikes can transport at least two children. From three children it becomes difficult for two-wheeled e-cargo bikes, models like the Urban Arrow Family Performance have space for three thanks to optional accessories. If you have four children or more, you should use a three-wheeled cargo bike with a large transport box. There are even models that offer space for six children, such as the Babboe Max-E.
- Can a baby seat also be fitted?
Yes. Most e-cargo bikes offer a corresponding option. A Maxi-Cosi adapter is built into the Urban Arrow. At Babboe you can have a baby seat with a Steco bracket also use a Maxi Cosi.
- Do you prefer to stay on the flat or do you also want to cover inclines?
The inner city of Berlin is quite flat. If you live in areas like Stuttgart or Lausanne, for example, you will find more hilly terrain. Regardless of how your surroundings are shaped, riding in fully packed cargo bikes is tedious in the long run because you have to move a lot of weight. If your cargo bike is supposed to be a car replacement, then I definitely recommend an e-model. So you can also overcome inclines without any problems.
- Which brakes are installed?
Your new e-cargo bike ideally has hydraulic rim or disc brakes. Variants with a transport box often have a combination of drum and rim brakes.
- Make sure that a branded battery is installed: safety, service life, range
In the cheaper models like the Bakfiets Cangoo, a NoName battery is usually used. This is cheaper than a Bosch battery that is installed in premium models such as the Urban Arrow. That doesn’t have to mean anything. As a rule, however, Bosch batteries are more durable and reliable – but they cost more.
- Online is usually cheaper. You can still take test drives at the dealer
A test drive and advice is possible at any reputable specialist retailer. Online ordering is usually cheaper. But if you want to support your local dealer, you still buy locally.
Do you prefer a two-wheel or three-wheel cargo bike?
That depends on the living conditions. E-cargo bikes with three wheels have a large transport box that can be used to transport more weight. With my “Lasti” I was able to bring home a small Pax cabinet from Ikea without any problems. Two-wheeled e-cargo bikes are more dynamic, more like a normal bike.
Do I need insurance to ride an e-cargo bike?
E-cargo bikes do not need liability insurance to be driven in Germany. In this country, they are legally allowed to have a maximum assistance speed of 25 km / h. Due to the high purchase price, however, theft insurance for bicycles is worthwhile. Most household insurance includes theft protection for bicycles, but you should make sure that the insurance pays the replacement value of the e-cargo bike. Even if liability is not necessary, private liability insurance is still recommended. In road traffic there can always be accidents with cars or passers-by.
Most e-cargo bikes have a built-in frame lock. However, this is not a substitute for a portable, high-quality bicycle lock that you should use to additionally secure your cargo bike.
Is there a subsidy for e-cargo bikes and how do I get it?
Yes, e-cargo bikes can be subsidized by your respective city or state. However, there are many different regulations that can only apply to individual municipalities. You can get a good overview of whether your e-cargo bike purchase can be funded on the website Greenbike shop.
What do I have to consider when buying a used e-cargo bike?
E-cargo bikes are relatively expensive, which is why the search for used Lastis is high. Personally, I usually advise against buying a used cargo bike. Cargo bikes with and without electric drive are very stable in value. Especially during this corona pandemic, many retailers are struggling with short stocks. In addition to the low savings on used e-cargo bikes, there is also the high level of wear and tear that these bikes usually show. Cargo bikes have to withstand high loads and cover many kilometers, especially when they are used as a car replacement. On a typical day, I cover about 50 km in Berlin.
We put the best e-bikes in our Purchase advice in front:
Twenty days a month, that’s 1,000 kilometers. I have to change the brake pads regularly (they wear out quickly due to the heavy weight of the cargo bike), which is accompanied by enormous wear on the rims. In addition, the spokes of the rear wheel tend to break, which has to be fixed quickly if you don’t want to risk an “eighth”. The bearings of the bicycle are also exposed to a high level of stress during daily use. Last but not least, there is battery wear and tear. Anyone who buys a used e-cargo bike can hardly understand how “healthy” the battery is – and a replacement costs from 400 euros and up.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy a used e-cargo bike in principle. Since most cargo bikes cost 2/3 of the RRP even after years, the risk is not worth taking.